Monday, May 6, 2013

Good Times

I've been feeling lucky lately.  A couple weeks ago I got to spend three days leading my students on field trips in Torrey Valley.  The students learned what I wanted to teach them, but even more importantly they were able to experience the grandeur of the place.  Part of the lesson included ten silent minutes of free observation.  The sound of the river, and the bird songs would emerge as soon as everyone stopped talking.  Winds were blowing plumes of snow off the ridges above us, while the air was warm and still on the small hill on which we sat.  One group got to watch a herd of bighorn sheep graze just a couple hundred feet away for the entire activity.  The field trip was initiated due to my experience with the place through days spent bouldering there.  And the teachers on my team supported the trip by leading other activities in the valley, like hiking and a tour of the nearby fish hatchery.  About one hundred and twenty students spent the majority of three school days outside in the mountains.  That's a significant amount of outdoor time when you add it all up.    
 Some students saw more wildlife than others, but they all saw at least a few bighorn sheep.
And while showing groups of students glacial erratic boulders, I noticed new chalk here and there.  Someone has been spending time on difficult sit starts recently.

Last weekend, Ashley and I had such a busy day working on projects at Sweetwater that I barely took out the camera.  Most of the things we worked on are still projects, but Ashley enjoyed sending "Metropolitan Glide" at the end of the day.

Here is one new project I'm working on.  I'm pretty sure I can do it if I get back out there with a strong spotter.  I just couldn't get myself to commit without one.
 The rocks out there are blooming with phlox.
 And on the drive home I pulled over for a landscape shot in the afternoon light.
Yesterday was another nice day at Sweetwater.  Ashley decided to give herself a week off of climbing so she'd feel recovered and ready for more climbing into the summer.  I decided I wanted to try a roof crack called "South of Heaven."  It's a problem first done by Vance that I'd never attempted before.  It's at the Hampi Boulders and requires full tape gloves.  Devlin and Ana decided to take a break from their sport climbing projects in Sinks to check out the area with me.  I enjoyed giving them a tour of my favorite lines in the main sector.   

Ana climbing a problem I dubbed "Sloper Line" in the guidebook.

 I'd looked at the glassy boulder behind "Sloper Line" on many occasions, but never padded up the landing and tried the climbs until yesterday.  It offers a couple technical, insecure, but really fun V3 lines.

And I just can't get over the surrounding landscape.

Here's Devlin climbing one of the problems.
 Ana and Devlin spent time working on the Hampi Boulder Traverse.

 And then we walked along the slabs to the south side of the formation for "South of Heaven."  It starts 30 feet deep above a somewhat steep slab landing.  Sometimes the pads would slide a little, but we had enough to cover everything well.  The length and angle remind me of the problem "Analog" at Vedauwoo, but the climbing here is all hand jams.  Some that are perfect, and a some that are a little bigger than I would like.
 On my best attempt I made it out to the spot seen below.  The line is so stout!  But based on the hardest move it probably is accurate to call it V4.  No individual move is that hard, but it's such a full body workout.  There isn't a good way to rest, and by the end it's really difficult to finish it off.   5.12 crack climbing, is a number that better expresses the difficulty.
 I'm excited for a rematch.

We ended the session by hiking around and looking at a few more projects.

 Sweetwater offers everything.  Plenty of established lines, and lots of exploration to do as well.
Only two more weekends, and then my summer break is here!  It's hard to contain the excitement.

If you're excited to check out the bouldering at Sweetwater, or at eleven other areas within easy striking distance of Lander, you can buy the guidebook Bouldering in the Wind River Range from Wild Iris, Fixed Pin Publishing, or ClimbingWyoming.Com.  Climbing Wyoming recently posted a variety of action shots from the guide, and is also helping  promote the guidebook with a 10% discount right now.

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