Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Weather Driven Life

Snow has been falling. The wind has been blowing.  And we've been climbing.  Our goal is to get outside for a great day of bouldering every weekend.  During the last three weekends, the weather made it look like a tough thing to achieve.  Yet that made the nice bouldering conditions that we managed to get even sweeter.  

Yesterday, the plan was to get back to our projects at the Norwegian Wood sector.  But when we hit the top of Beaver Rim the wind was howling from the south.  Rather than drop our plans, and head to the gym, we drove to boulders on the north side of a formation.  The "Weapons of Mass Destruction" sector.  It was quite sheltered, and we had a really nice day out there.  The wind at Sweetwater can wreck your day, but it doesn't need to.  There are so many blocks and big formations out there, it's always possible to get out of the wind.

To start the day, I put up a great V3 called "Technical Difficulties." 
 Ashley put up a V5 called "Falkor" and then a longer variation that tops out six feet to the right called "Fight the Nothing."  "Falkor" is most likely a first ascent, but it had already been brushed up to some degree.  "Fight the Nothing" hadn't been cleaned.

Ashley climbing "Falkor."
 Both of us ended the day by climbing Jesse's line "Weapons of Mass Destruction."
 It's such a great line, I was happy that the wind sent us out there.

Last weekend it was the snow that determined our plans.  The boulders around Lander had been covered in a recent storm, But I'd seen that the storm hadn't been as strong to the north.  So we checked out Torrey Valley.  I was hoping that at least the boulders would be snow free.  Turned out the entire northern side of the valley was dry!  We warmed up on The Croquet Ball.  Then added a V6 low start to "Wild Berry Power" that moves into the pinches from two lower holds.

Then we hiked up to The Balcony.

We climbed "Broken China" V3.  Here's a shot of Kian pressing out the mantle.
 Then Ashley unlocked "Dinner Rain." It's a V7 put up by Davin many years ago.
 I managed to put it together after a few more tries.

Sierra almost sending "Broken China."
 Three weekends back, the wind kept us in Sinks Canyon.  We decided to finish off the lines on the Puzzle Block.  All the up lines had been done, but not the variations.  Ashley got the first ascents of the five variations we could think of by starting on the two starts and traversing into the top outs of each up problem.  The longest, and most difficult, is "Gordian Knot" V6.  It starts left on "Tetris" and traverses right to end on Jason's line.
 That's all the news for now.  We didn't finish as many first ascents as I'd planned, but each day was better than expected.  And I learned that it is possible to find stillness, even in the midst of the chaos called Spring.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

So Many Spring Break First Ascents

This year's Spring Break was a little different.  We stayed in Lander and focused on putting up first ascents.  We also went out with other boulderers, which upped the productivity of the week significantly.  More brushing got done.  And more lines got climbed.  Thirty in total!  I needed to write this post just to make sure I didn't forget any of them.

On Sunday, the wind got to Sweetwater right after we did.  Jason still got the first ascent of the best looking line on The Great Wall of Warmups.  He was able to commit when the rest of us wouldn't.  The wind didn't seem to bother him.  He also added another new line to the left.  
 The theme of the entire break was avoiding the spring wind.  The wind kept us off of the projects we drove out there for.  But on the east side of the ridge we managed to find some climbable blocks mostly out of the wind.  The Scorpion block was one of them.  We climbed "The Scorpion Arete" V1 "Scorpion Stand" V4 "Scorpion Mantle" V3/4, and "The Scorpion Traverse" V3.  We also did a couple unnamed lines on a block just behind it.
 Kian found a sheltered alcove of solid stone reminiscent of Vedauwoo.  Sierra put up one of the first lines there from a sit start and called it "Cookie Pizza" V1.
 Kian put up a really nice line that I didn't get a photo or a name for.  Then he started working on this line.  Ashley sent it and called it "By the Slice" V3.
 Ashley put up a fun V0 in the alcove as well called "Pepper Flakes."

From the Alcove I caught a glimpse of a patina covered block high on the ridge.  I hiked up and was happy to find that it had perfect lines and was sheltered from the wind too.  We got started by climbing "The Downclimb."  Jason got the first ascent. It is a good down climb, but getting up it was harder than expected.  Sidepulls with poor feet allow you to stab for a good edge.  It felt like a V4 move to me.

Jason climbing "The Downclimb" V3/4

Kian got to work on a great looking line on the other side of the boulder.  He cleaned it up, found the sit start, and worked out most of the beta.  Then Kian, Jason and I all made ascents.  It's my favorite line of the day.

"Fade to Black" V3
We stayed around home during the break for three reasons.  The first is that we were recently adopted by a cat named "Piper" who just showed up at our house one day and wouldn't leave.
The second was that all the other climbing areas within an 8 hour drive were going to be too windy for comfortable camping.  And no where looked like it would have nicer climbing conditions than Sinks Canyon.  The third was that I had plenty of undone projects near Lander that I really wanted to try.

On Wednesday we took advantage of a cold front by going to the Beach.  Two boulders way up the hill on the left side of the mini canyon had caught my eye.  The big one and the one above it in the photo below.
 We started on the one above and named it the "Fire and Ice" boulder.  The south face has nice sandstone patina and nine distinct lines on it.  The three on the right are short and about V1.  Most notable are the traverses.  Right to left is "Fire" V4.  Left to Right is "Ice" V4.  "Fire and Ice" V5 is a back and forth linkup of the two traverses.  Of course, being traverses, Ashley got the first ascent of all of them.

She also got the first ascent of the tallest and most difficult straight up line on the block.
"Combustion" V3
 The big block below had a line that suited me better.  Big moves, nice pockets, interesting sidepulls, and a committing top out.  My favorite new problem of the week was
"April Fool" V5.  And that's not a joke.
We also spent two days climbing and cleaning lines on the Falls Trail.  On Monday, Matt, Steph, and Jason met us out there.  We had six pads so we used them all at "Rivtown Takeover" a somewhat tall V4 with a talus landing.

Matt working on the bottom.
 And me figuring out the top.
 Jason unlocked it first, with Matt and I climbing it a little bit later.  It probably is V4 for tall climbers, but seems like a solid V5 for short climbers, with tricky beta too.

Most of our time on the Falls Trail was spent cleaning and climbing The Puzzle Block.  It surprised me how many loose pieces of the puzzle block needed to be pushed from the top. And a couple big loose blocks had to be lifted out of the top right side.  Once the cleaning got started it felt like the best/only option was to finish the job.

Ana climbing "Tavern Puzzle" V2.  Jason did the first ascent of a great V3 just to the right.
 We also did a V2 called "Tooth Pick" to the left, and the line on the east face called "Tetris" V3.

Devlin climbing "Tetris."
 After a difficult start using a key heal hook, one gets to the top of the boulder by squatting onto a slab and a balance move as you stand up to reach to the lip.  It's a classic and memorable V3.  My favorite line on The Puzzle Block.

Uphill from the Puzzle Block is this short block.
 It's home to a lowball, somewhat contrived, heel hook dependent, sandbagged traverse on perfect stone.

"Ashley's King Line" which she calls V4.  I tried really hard, but haven't sent it yet.

I also spent a half day exploring, hiking past the Falls to see what I could find.
 I hiked until I hit winter, and then hiked some more.
I found some great looking blocks, like this one.
 But I never found a large concentration of blocks at one spot.  The glaciers did a good job of spreading the big blocks around.  So I might as well just keep brushing my way up the canyon.  No reason to hike for an hour when there are still new things to be done just ten minutes up the trail.
Thanks to everyone who lent a hand exploring, brushing, and sending with us over Spring Break!  The plan is just to keep on putting up new problems every weekend until summer vacation arrives.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Wyoming Bouldering Hits Film and Podcast

Spring is here, the winds are back.  But temps have been good, and at least 25 new problems have been put up during the last week at Sweetwater, the Falls Trail, and The Beach!  A post will be written about those lines soon.  But tonight I'm compiling a few other good things that followers of this blog should enjoy.

Louder Than 11 released a video they filmed at the Rock Shop, the Falls Trail, and Worthen Reservoir, with landscapes thrown in from the Sweetwater area.  Hopefully you've seen it already.  But it's so well done, I think it's worth watching a few times.

I bouldered with Jon at a couple areas, and he used my guidebook to get to a few more.  It was fun to help out with this project, and I'm very happy with how it turned out!

Last fall, Paul Robinson posted this video of his ascent of Komodo a V14 at Neverland.  It's an amazing and difficult looking line.

Jimmy Webb also did another V14 ascent at Neverland called "The Multiverse."  Davin showed him the project, and it's one of the most inspiring lines I've ever seen photos of. Video of that ascent hasn't surfaced yet, but I'll let you know if it ever turns up.

And then the other night I was listening to the most recent Enormocast Podcast episode with Anna Stohr and Kilian Fischhuber.  Imagine my surprise when the conversation travelled from guns in America, to guns in Lander Wyoming, and then they mention that they want to get back to Lander because there has been a bunch of bouldering development there.  The conversation quickly moved on to other topics, but just the fact that the best climbers in Austria are aware of the bouldering development being done around Lander is pretty cool.  You can hear the full conversation at the link below.
The Enormocast Episode 77

I've felt for years that a few parts of Wyoming, such as the Lander area and Neverland, have the potential to become world class bouldering areas.  One key part of that is having the strongest boulderers of the world visit the areas and put up amazing problems.   Because all truly world class areas have inspirational problems at the upper end of the rating scale.  Just looking at really hard lines, feeling the holds, and wondering what it would be like to be that strong is an important part of the bouldering experience.  News of Wyoming's bouldering potential is starting to get to the world's strongest and most dedicated boulderers.  And it's a good thing to see.

So if you think you might be able to give Wyoming it's first V15, feel free to get in touch.  There are a few projects near Lander that I'd be happy to show you.