Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Trip to Bear Valley and Beyond

"Boulder fields of the Wind Rivers are among the most beautiful and unique in the world.  They have the power to change a person on a single visit." a quote from Davin's bouldering essay in the guidebook.

Davin overlooking a vast boulder field in the Winds that hasn't even been named yet.
 Davin invited me to see another life changing bouldering area last week, and I jumped at the opportunity.  It's almost become an annual tradition.
 I met Davin and Jamie in the northern Wind Rivers, and we got into Davin's lifted Tacoma for about two hours of driving on the worst road I've ever ridden.  We entered a high alpine land inhabited by ravens, pika, coyote, wolves and grizzlies.  Luckily we didn't have any grizzly encounters.  We made sure to make a lot of noise whenever we were hiking.

We actually spent most of the first day hiking.  When you're developing a new area, the temptation is to look at everything.  You want to see all the possible lines, so that you spend your time working on the best ones in the area.  But Bear Valley has so many sectors and boulders that it's impossible to see it all in a day.  We saw as much as we could.

The second day was devoted to bouldering on a few of the blocks we had looked at.  We started on one that is now named the Projects boulder.

This line looked like it could be V7, but after a lot of work we found out that it was much more difficult.
Davin working one sequence.
 Jamie almost staying on using another sequence.
 Eventually it felt like time to work on some other lines.  Davin and Jamie got to work on the gorgeous main line out the Projects boulder.  It will should be a committing, super classic one day.  It's probably V10 or a little harder.
 Just below the Projects boulder is this stunning roof line.  It's also still a project.
 While Jamie and Davin pursued the major league lines, I looked for things that I could climb.  I did a lip traverse that comes in from a sit start on the left side of the roof and tops out at the top of the project. It's named "Mountain Flowers" V4/5.
 I also did a warm up just east of the Projects boulder.

"Mini Miracle" V2.
 Eventually, Davin and Jamie moved on to lines that were doable in a day.

Davin got the first ascent of this line on the black boulder in the bottom of the valley.  A nice V3/4 on amazing stone.

Jamie climbing the line.
 We ended the day on a shaded east facing wall with a couple variations up widely spaced crimps.  Davin did a low start on the left, and Jamie added a more difficult line that comes in from a low start on the right.
 On our final day we hiked through a narrow pass to a vast boulder field that hasn't been named yet.  It sits under steep north facing walls holding small glaciers.
 Under the walls sit ridges of talus holding more climbable boulders than one would ever want to count.
 The field contains gneiss boulders of all sizes.  On the side near the glaciers the stone is very clean and unweathered.  The north side of the field has more lichen and is more weathered.  This area is as vast as the Cirque of the Boulders, but has stone that is much more featured.  And once you've made the difficult drive, it's only two or three miles from camp.

One featured roof.
 Davin had hiked uphill on his last trip.  So we explored downhill on this trip.  Plenty of blocks to examine.
 Beautiful stones.
 I was drawn to the meadow at the northern edge of the field.
 We didn't bring pads, and it was the only place I dared to boulder without one.

"There Can Be Only One" V1.
 It felt so good to climb in the place.  I ran around for a bit, climbing corners and traversing lips.  It was nice to spend a little time moving over the stone.
 In hindsight, I think I could have hauled a pad in and out from camp, and still would have had enough time for a full bouldering session within a long day.  A calculation you need to make in alpine bouldering.  I call it a grade III boulder field.

 Jamie still smiling on the hike out. 

The Winds continue to amaze me with their vast untapped bouldering potential.  Thanks to Davin for showing me this incredible area!  So much to be done, so much to be done... I'm not sure how to even handle the situation.  Lives and summers are just too short.


Unknown said...

I am continually jealous of all these wild adventures you get to go on up there in Wyoming! Living vicariously through your blog while I am trapped here in the Vegas heat just isn't cutting it anymore. I will be heading north in a couple weeks... Hopefully we can meet up for a rockshop session.


Lloyd Family said...

A perfect time to make the trip! I'd enjoy showing you around the Rock Shop. Thirty new problems have gone up there over the summer, and I'll do a post about them soon. School's starting, but I'll be free on weekends.

Noah Kaufman, MD said...

Holy cow