Wednesday, June 17, 2015

An Early Summer Trip to Neverland

Finally, three empty days in my schedule corresponded with three nice days in the forecast for Neverland.  I love the place, but good bouldering weather out there and time in my schedule don't overlap very often.

My goal for the trip was to climb "Wilford's Reserve" V7/8, a great line put up by Collin H.  Davin introduced us to the line last year, and Ashley got it then, but I always fell jumping for the lip.  Even when I started at the move just below the lip.  Whether I'd be able to catch it this year or not was a mystery.

We set up camp, and got out there in the evening to take advantage of cooler temps.  Since Ashley had already climbed "Wilford's Reserve" she got to work on "Wilford's Reserve Right" V7, and finished the line before the evening was through.

I didn't climb "Wilford's Reserve" that evening.  But I finally did all the moves.  Including the jump to the lip, just barely managing to catch the swing.

I had warmed up on the amazing line "Aging Moose" V2.  Collin also put up this line with some of the best solid incut holds anywhere.  Ashley decided to try it at the end of the session.
And she did it!  She's been getting brave.
The next day was a rest day.  We hiked to look at some formations, but I tried not to hike too much.  Mostly I just sat in the shade, reading Zen of the Plains by Tyra A. Olstad, and enjoying the birds, butterflies, and wildflowers.  Thirty-six hours with nothing that I had to do, except rest up for the next bouldering session.  Wonderful!
That evening we hiked to the top of the formation just east of camp to watch the sunset.  Some pretty little thunderstorms were moving around the area.  Strange since there wasn't supposed to be any chance of storms in the forecasts I had checked.
After the sun went down, the little storms grew together into a massive thunderstorm with the most intense lightning I've seen since my childhood in Iowa.  The crazy thing was the storm didn't seem to be moving, just growing.  We were lucky not to be in the center of it, but the edge reached us late that evening.  We all got into the truck, and waited for an hour while lightning, rain, and small hail slowly moved through.  When the storm finally moved away it was traveling to the northwest.

The next morning was my one chance to finish "Wilford's Reserve." But the crux hold at the lip was wet.  Rain water was leaking out from under the flake above it.  I stacked pads and stuffed my wool sweater under the flake to stop the slow trickle.  Then used chalk and my cotton shirt to dry off the hold.  After warming up, I was feeling pretty good.  A breeze was picking up, and I thought it might happen.  I got through the beginning feeling pretty good.  I jumped to the lip, started to swing, and my hand ripped right off.  The hold was still damp!  

I was desperate.  What was I going to do?  I decided to give Ashley's beta a try.  Her method includes a heel toe lock in the roof, and moving to the lip to the right of the wet hold.  I'd refused to seriously try it that way last year, because I hate the sensation of having insecure hands with a high foot locked in.  If my hand popped I might fall on my neck/head!  But when I tried it this year, it felt much easier than the throw to the lip.  Maybe I was lucky that my crux hold got wet? So I tried it from the start with the new beta.  
Here's the uncut footage.

With that, I felt finished.  But we still had plenty of time in the day, so we walked down to the Black Boulder.  We have a lot to work on down there, but not much that could be completed in a session.  After spending some time on projects, I decided to brush up something I thought we could do.  The overhanging rock on the southern side of the Black Boulder always looked interesting to me.  But it's about twice as tall as I feel comfortable with, and the top looks like it has loose blocks.  I decided to try and figure out how to get to a large secure looking jug in the middle of the face.  Below it was a perfect hold for a sit down start.  The line of least resistance goes left slightly to get up past the small roof and diagonals right through edges and slopers to grab the jug.  Then you down climb/jump off.

Ashley nabbed the first ascent, and once everything was clean, and the moves were worked out, we decided it was probably a V4.
"Black Ops"

It was a great trip! But it was probably the only one we'll get to Neverland this Summer. It will be too hot from here on out.  We'll see what we can do to get back in the Fall...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Three Days at City Walls

Kian hunting for boulders at The City Walls.
 I'd waited since October for another try at a great project out at The City Walls. Justin L. introduced me to the line last Fall, and it had been on my mind.  But once we got back out there, I got completely distracted by a bunch of moderates at a place we're calling the Sage Sector.

"Fish in a Barrel" V1
 "Cilantro" V3 SDS
 The Warm Up Block
 Sierra climbing "Sagebrush Sea" V3 SDS.
 The boulder above also has a great V1 called "Sage" SDS and a contrived line called "Greater Sagebrush" V4/5 SDS that off routes the arete on the right and the large flakes out left.

This boulder has a very low starting jug that leads to two problems. "Awkward" SDS goes right at V2, and "Inappropriate" V3 SDS uses slopers on the left side to reach the highest point.

Ashley climbing "Tenacious D" V2 SDS.  "School of Rock" V2 SDS goes up the arete on the left.  And "Tribute" V1 SDS goes up a crack/rail left of the arete that isn't shown in this photo.
 After climbing thirteen new "warm ups" we were too worked to even get on the main project.

After one rest day we went back to The City Walls, and warmed up on this short cube on the east side of the southernmost formation.  We were covered in sunscreen, a steady breeze was blowing, birds were calling, and the air smelled like water from the marsh below.  The atmosphere reminded us all of our trips to Hawaii, so we named this block the Hawaii boulder.

Ashley topping out on "The Hoff" a V3 with a SDS to the right.
 We climbed a few warm ups on the Hawaii Boulder, and had some tries on a harder project.  But pretty quickly we moved on to what I dubbed the "Technicolor Project." Named after the many colorful lichens found on the wall.
 We didn't finish it that day, but we thought it was possible. On our next day out there Kian came out to try it with us. We all gave it strong tries with various sequences.  Eventually Ashley unlocked the crux by adding a high step to our original sequence, and sent the project.  It was cool to watch it happen.
 Here's video of the entire line, so you can watch it happen too.

I had rapped the line hoping that the line could top out straight up.  And it might be possible if one is willing to use micro-crimp flakes above a high and uneven landing. The obvious line of holds leads off to the stance on the left, so that is what we decided to do.  Even without a traditional top out, this is one of the best V6/7 lines in the Lander area.  I'll get back to finish it myself when we get another cool day.

To finish the session we returned to the Hawaii Boulder.  Kian added a SDS to one of our warm ups, which made it a much better problem.

Kian getting the F.A. of "Ancient Hawaiian Saying" V3
And that wraps up the first few sessions of our Summer.  Now that we've finished most of the undone gems at City Walls, and the weather is warming up, it's time to move on to shaded stone in cooler places...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Nowhere But Cody, and Then No Way Home

Still catching up here on the Lloyd Climbing Blog, and today I'll be recapping our experience over the Memorial Day Weekend.  The forecast called for a lot of rain, and I had a full day of school work to do.  Based on forecasts, I decided that I'd work on Saturday, and we'd climb on Sunday and Monday in Cody, where it was supposed to be drier.  

While I sat working all Saturday, Instagrams kept popping up from the Rock Shop.  It turned out to be a good day up there, despite the rainy forecast, and we had missed it.  But it was too late, we just had to stick with our original plan.  On Sunday morning it was raining steadily in Lander.  Ashley mentioned that she was worried about rock fall in Wind River Canyon after so much rain.  I reassured her that it would be fine.  But when we drove through the canyon, I was dodging some grapefruit sized rocks that were sitting in the road.  It was sketchy enough that at the end of the canyon I gave Ashley a celebratory fist bump.  The rain was still falling when we got to Cody.  So we just spent the afternoon at the Rec. Center, checked into the hotel, and went out for dinner.

But Monday morning was beautiful!  Partly cloudy, 60 degrees, and no wind.  We were in just the right place, at just the right time.
 We climbed a lot of fun problems at the Sphinx Boulders.  Highlights included ascents of "Mini Cave Center" V6 by Ashley and me, and then Ashley climbed "F.G.," a V7 just to the right, using intricate beta.
 We had a pretty full bouldering session, and then it started raining again.  Back in town, we found out that the road through Wind River Canyon had been closed due to landslides!  I looked at a map to figure out how to get home, and realized that we couldn't get home. Not in any reasonable way.  Instead of a three hour drive, getting us home by mid-evening, we'd have to drive to Sheridan, or over the Bighorn mountains to Buffalo then down to Casper, and home from there.  With some snow predicted for that route, we probably couldn't get home that way until the middle of the night.  The only other route was through Yellowstone, at the end of the holiday weekend, which (best case scenario) would also not get us home until after midnight.  So we called our school principals, and made emergency substitute plans for the next school day.  We booked another night at the hotel, and then went out for sushi.  An evening of emergency and extravagance. We decided we'd wait in Cody until noon the next day to see if the road would open.  If not, we'd drive back through Yellowstone.

That left the morning to fill, so we got up early and went bouldering at the Highway Boulders.  We started on the Cornflakes Boulder.

Ashley climbing "With or Without Sugar" V3.
 And that's when it hit me that Cody is one of the most fun bouldering areas I've been to.  Rock like Joe's Valley with the features and angles of Hueco Tanks, just minutes from the car without any bureaucratic hurdles to jump over.  It's perfect!

We climbed a couple convenient V5s  on The Fishhead Boulder including
"Tuna Town."
 And really enjoyed "Barely Hanging On" V3 and "Barely Right" V4.
 We left at 11 o'clock, and the canyon was still closed.  So we drove home through Yellowstone.  It was a long drive, but spectacularly beautiful.  I somehow resisted pulling over for photos all day, but had to pull over for this rainbow about a half hour from home.
That's the full Memorial Day weekend report, and we're almost up to date.

Next time, the first week of Summer Break spent at the City Walls.