Conditions generally determine where I go bouldering. I'm very aware of shade, sun, elevation, hourly temperature, cloud cover, and wind forecasts. I'd rather do a circuit of boulders I've already climbed, or go sport climbing, than try new boulder problems in excessive heat or cold. I know that not every climber shares my priorities.
After a session in Devil's Kitchen with Brian earlier in the summer that was on the verge of too warm, I'd decided to avoid the Kitchen until fall conditions settled in. So when Kerrek and Jesse F. both contacted me, and both were interested in a tour of Devil's Kitchen, I was somewhat conflicted. I could only fit a couple bouldering days into my schedule before school started, and both available days looked too hot for a pleasant bouldering session in the canyon. But I'd recently returned from a camping trip to Bear Valley, and realized that camping at the Kitchen would allow us to climb in cool evening and early morning temps. Jesse, Kerrek, and Ina were camping in the park anyway, so I figured it would probably work for them. Plans were made, and I picked everyone up at the park in the mid-afternoon.
A morning view, just before sunrise.
Some of the road as seen from above.
I was pleased at how much better the drive felt than the last time I'd driven in. We made it there just fine, and set up our tents. A storm on the higher mountains cooled everything down dramatically, and I was excited that we'd be able to climb in perfect conditions.
Kerrek's post send pose in his skater shoes and puffy.
Jesse and Kerrek both repeated "The Resurrection," discovered new beta, and think it's a V6.
Kerrek's main goal was to send "One Shot Antelope." While he worked on that, I climbed this unnamed V3/4 problem put up by Tim L. It's a fun line in a very photogenic spot.
The next morning Kerrek came heartbreakingly close to sending "One Shot Antelope." Afterwards he was worked. But he still sent my project "French Montana."
On the drive out Jesse mentioned "Devil's Kitchen is not an inexpensive bouldering area. People need to buy special vehicles just to be able to get in there." He's right about that, but I'm starting to think that many of the "difficulties" that Wyoming bouldering areas present are actually attributes in disguise. It's good to have high quality tires, and a vehicle that's stocked in case of emergency. It's fun to carpool and take long hikes with other climbers. An incredible opportunity to get to know people better. It's amazing to have such spectacular, vast, and scenic areas all to ourselves. We wouldn't if they were easy to get to. And camping in these areas is much more memorable than heading out for a day trip. I woke up in the night and was amazed at the brightness of the Milky Way. I watched three shooting stars streak across the sky. In the morning, the high peaks lit up beautifully as the sun came over the horizon. The area feels even more vast in early morning light. I'm glad that Kerrek, Ina, and Jesse gave me a reason to go camping up there. It was a really good time, and a perfect way to wrap up my summer break.
Now school has started. But with the guidebook finished I have a little more spare time this year. Instead of typing into the night, I'm getting a lot of housework done, with the weekly goal of freeing up every friday evening for bouldering exploration and brushing. I'm hoping to keep up this schedule until snow storms or short days shut it down. Sierra went with me on a recent trip, and we found this nice block which will require some attention soon.
The best bouldering months of the year will soon be upon us! And if you'd like to check out all the new bouldering near Lander, it's time to start making plans. The guidebook is sold online at ClimbingWyoming.com, Wild Iris Mountain Sports, Fixed Pin Publishing, and Wind River Gear. Or you can pick up a copy from the Wild Iris shop when you get here. Giddy Up