Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Latest From Sweetwater

 We've spent a couple days climbing at a sector at Sweetwater that's new to us.  Some the rock is naturally very clean, so it's hard to say with certainty that all of these lines are new.  But I didn't see any evidence of prior bouldering in the area so I'll call these first ascents until I hear otherwise.  This sector has a lot of walls and boulders that I'm interested in climbing, and is incredibly scenic.  On our first day of climbing a strong wind kept us on the eastern side of the formation until it calmed down in the late afternoon.  We did a few short lines on a sheltered boulder.  The best and most difficult was this V5 SDS done by Ashley.

She still hasn't settled on a name.
 When the wind stopped we walked a short distance to what I'm calling the Ocean Boulder.  It's the centerpiece of the area, and now has three classic problems.  The first line I put up goes right up the center of the face from an obvious sit start jug.

"Another Toe in the Ocean" V4.

I put a few tries into a dyno to the left, but we had to go before I finished it.

 It wasn't long before I returned with Jesse.  He did the dyno from a stand start, and also added a line up the left side of the right arete.

"Debaser" V2/3

 I managed to figure out the dyno from the stand.  And before we left I linked into it from the sit start jug.

"What Goes Boom" V6

It looks like good weather and more new discoveries will be converging soon.  I'll let you know what develops.

Access Note:  The access situation at Devil's Kitchen seems sensitive right now.  The reservation has put up new signs, and it's possible that they could close the two-track access road if they decide it's getting too much traffic.  If you're planning to visit the Lander area to boulder this Fall, I recommend erring on the side of caution and not visiting Devil's Kitchen this season.  The Rock Shop and Sweetwater are great alternatives and have good conditions this time of year.  Please don't be the climber that gets the Devil's Kitchen closed for everyone.  If you do decide to visit Devil's Kitchen despite this warning, please make sure you have a Fishing Permit, keep a low profile, carpool, be friendly, and go up in a vehicle with Wyoming license plates if at all possible.  Fair or probably not, out-of-state plates attract extra attention.  Three Wyoming plates go past, no one notices.  Three Colorado plates go past and suddenly people remark on how much traffic there is.  Thanks for understanding, and helping preserve access up there.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Finding Autumn

We were on top of the Tombstone formation at the moment this year's Summer died.  A storm came out of the mountains, and sent us back to our truck.  It brought a couple weeks of wet and unsettled weather, and just days after that, Winter started to visit.  We had just one sunny cool breezy weekend, and then weekly snowstorms started hitting Lander.  During the last week of September, and the first week of October, back to back Thursday snowstorms broke the branches off the green leaved trees, knocked out the power, and covered Sinks Canyon and the mountain boulders in a foot of slush and powder.  After the first storm, we managed to find snow free blocks away from the Wind River upslope conditions by driving to Sweetwater.  Our number one project out there was too cold and windy, but we were able to find some shelter from the tempest at the Hampi boulders.  We had fun and got a great workout on a variety of lines.  Here are a couple we enjoyed that we hadn't tried before. 

"Center El Herman" V5      

 This unknown V6 SDS has great moves, but the strong wind, possibly loose top out flakes, and not enough pads kept us from committing to the top out.
 We hope to get back soon.
 Last weekend I noticed that the northern Winds didn't get nearly as much snow as Lander did in the latest storm.  We drove up to Torrey Valley and had a nicer day than we ever expected.  Snow free, and 60 degrees.  I got a sunburn.
 Ashley got "The Good Earth Traverse."  Right to left, and then after a rest she jumped on and did it left to right.
 I got through the crux going right to left, and then pumped off the easier part before I could get my feet established. It was getting late in the day, and I was getting worked.  It should have been disappointing to come so close and not send the line.  But the weather and scenery were so good, I couldn't be upset in the slightest.
 On the drive home I decided it would be safer if I pulled over and took a photo.  It's hard to keep your eyes on the road while driving in a landscape like this.  I often wonder how many cars actually go off the road each year due to scenic distraction?  I bet it's under reported.
Unfortunately, Autumn can't be found everywhere this year.  In western Wyoming she's seemed conspicuously absent. But we've been able to find her on the weekends so far, hiding out of the wind, or in a sunny mountain valley.