Sunday, June 15, 2014

One Avocation, Many Ways to Contribute

The wildflowers this year at the Cabin Boulders.
I'm so fond of summer, and time off.  Time to feel un-rushed.  And to pursue the more time consuming aspects of bouldering development.  Last week after work, Justin gave me a tour of boulders he's been developing up canyon from the Cabin Boulders.  Calen arrived that day from Las Vegas for an extended Wyoming trip, and joined us at the fresh blocks.  We warmed up, tried a very difficult project, and then went up to "Ocean Man."  "Ocean Man" is a great V5 Justin put up that moves up progressively smaller crimps.  You can crank off a tiny crimp to the top, or dyno up from lower holds.

Justin also got the first ascent of the V4 SDS arete just to the right of "Ocean Man" that evening.
The Upper Canyons still have a lot of lines to do.  So we cleaned up the boulder below.  Often bouldering developers spread out, find their own line, and clean it alone.  But on this night, all three of us brushed up this block at the same time.  I climbed the left line first try, despite the fact that it was still a little dirty, and called it "Scrub a Dub Dub" V3.  Calen did a line from the same start moving right called "Three Men in a Tub" V1.

Calen climbing "Scrub a Dub Dub."
It got dark, and was time to go.  But I was impressed by the bouldering Justin developed in this set of boulders.  I'd already hiked through this area years ago, and had dismissed the blocks as being too dirty and lichen covered to be worth developing.  Justin had a different vision.  He's developed boulders at Lolo in Montana that were just as moss and lichen covered when they were found, so he knew that good bouldering might be found underneath.  The area has so much lichen and moss because the blocks are very shaded and very near to the river.  Those two factors improve the venue once the lichen and moss are removed.  The Upper Cabins still have work to be done, but it's already a good area and will only get better.  A great contribution to Lander bouldering!

The next day Calen and I hiked way up into the Roaring Fork and found a new sector of blocks.  It's a good sector and it will be developed, but I didn't take my camera, and we were too tired to hike back to it again the next day.  So we went to the Rock Shop instead.  Every time I go up there I'm reminded that we have very high quality rock to develop that you barely need to hike for.  I know I've gotten a little stronger, because I climbed two lines that I couldn't quite finish last Fall, "Escape From Reality" and "If, Then, Because."

Calen is off the couch from a finger injury.  So he's brushing easier lines than when he visited last fall, but he hasn't lost his eye for good lines.  On the "Chocolate Thunder" boulder he added two great looking problems.  Both begin underclinging the hueco.  Going up the arete is "Big Fudge" and going up the crack is "Skid Marks."  I haven't climbed them yet, but plan to soon.  
The day after that, we drove to Neverland for a three day trip.  It was just as gorgeous as I remembered.
Conditions were amazingly crisp for June!  On our first morning the dog bowl was covered in ice, and frost covered our truck.
Clear fall-like skies, cool air, low humidity, and everything was green!
Davin had taken advantage of the recent cool weather to do his V10 crimp project.  He climbed up to the high jug, mantled onto it, and then down climbed a little and dropped off.  Nothing wrong with that. When a V10 line leads to an obvious jug, and can only be topped out with a free solo,  I think it's better to leave the line as a drop off problem.  Bouldering is about hard climbing, not risking your life.
Davin drove up back up to Neverland to meet us, gave us a tour of blocks further down the hill, cleaned some lines, and almost got sucked into starting on another spring project up there.

On Tuesday, Calen and I hiked east from camp to a ridge that looked good from a distance.  We found some good lines, but nothing like the blocks Davin showed us on the tours.  All of Neverland is good rock, but the outstanding lines aren't everywhere.  That's why we drive miles of two tracks past dozens of gneiss formations to camp at an area with many outstanding lines.  From the initial discovery of Old Neverland by Bryan V., to Davin's exploration of at least 20 other sectors, the driving and hiking required to get to know this entire vast area is staggering.  And it's really paid off!  The best of Neverland is world class, and finding the best spots took a lot of work.  Thanks again Bryan and Davin!

Off the couch, Calen lacked the power endurance needed for "Wilford's Reserve."  Turns out that I still lack the power endurance for "Wilford's Reserve," but I didn't realize that until the end of the trip. Calen was able to make impressive progress on "Wilford's Reserve Right"  
Warming up on Monday, I added a new line that starts on "Aging Moose" moves left past an amazing jug, and past a nice crimp rail, to a top out right of "Bullwinkle."  Great climbing on amazing stone!

"Rocky" V3
We spent the afternoon in the Black Boulder sector.  Calen went up the formation where he cleaned and climbed two new lines.  "Surf Wyoming" V4 uses big moves between big holds using both sides of a large feature up the roof.  His other line goes up the crack to the right, (seen above Roo) moves to another crack out right, and then hits the top.  You rock over your feet to the left and top out.  It's called "Toes on the Nose"V2.
In addition to exploring the new ridge that was somewhat disappointing, we spent Tuesday exploring the main sector too.  I'm excited about, and a little scared of, lines on Wilford's Boulder.  (Not to be confused with Wilford's Reserve)  All the lines look amazing enough to pull me in, but are also quite tall.
Tuesday evening, it was time to decide what I wanted to climb on Wednesday.  One line on the Black Boulder had gotten my attention.  I liked the fact that no one had been working on it yet.  The stone on it was amazing.  It was a long problem, but not too long, and the top out looked doable, but difficult.  It would need some cleaning, but I'd brought the gear.  I set up an anchor using 4 cams, and rapped down to brush off the top.  An hour later it was ready to go.  I got back to camp just in time to watch the sunset from a formation above camp.  We hoped to hear and maybe see the coyotes that sing most nights as the sun goes down.  It was windy, and we didn't hear any howls, but quite a few nighthawks flew right past us in the fading light.  I was reminded that I really like nighthawks.  During my childhood in Iowa I carved and threw cross stick boomerangs.  At sunset the nighthawks would swoop at them.

Roo in the breeze at sunset.
On Wednesday, I only gave myself two attempts on "Wilford's Reserve" because I wanted to save some juice for the new line.  I'm glad that I did because the project took all the juice that I had.  The end is really hard to do after hanging on through the start.  No single move is that hard so I'm calling it V6.  But in total it's really difficult, and I don't suspect anyone will want to downrate it.  Without Calen's spot I probably wouldn't have finished it.  Thanks Calen!

"Nighthawk" V6
It's my favorite first ascent ever.  I think it's a world class line, and I hope others will enjoy it as much as I do.

Back in Lander, I took Ashley on a tour of the Upper Cabins.  We were greeted by this marmot on the hike in.
Ashley and I did a few of Justin's established lines like "The Mollusk," "Bananas and Blow" and "Ocean Man."  Then we ended the day by cleaning and climbing a new traverse.  It's a V4/5 that Ashley did first.  It's named "Blow It or Blow It."  If you don't blow any dirt off of the holds before you're attempt you'll probably fall off.
Today was Fathers Day, and we spent it at the Source.  I didn't send anything new, but I figured out beta on the new "Southern Smoke."  A crimp broke last Fall, and I think it's a V8 now.  I also figured out my moves for "The Caterpillar Arete Traverse."  You can't send everyday.  But if you brush something, explore someplace new, pick up some litter, or just share a few inspiring photos, I think you've contributed to this avocation we call bouldering.

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