Saturday, May 27, 2017

Last Go, Best Go

"Together Alone" V4 Sweetwater Rocks, WY
Word has gotten out, but it hasn't been announced on this blog yet, that we'll be leaving Wyoming this summer.  Wyoming is still amazing, and I highly recommend the Lander area for any climber, but life isn't just about climbing.  Great teaching jobs opened up for both Ashley and me in the Grand Junction area.  We applied.  We were lucky enough to be offered the two jobs we wanted the most, and we decided to take them.  Since then, every bouldering trip this spring has felt like it could be my last one to each particular bouldering area.  With a teaching schedule, it's easy to envision summer bouldering trips back to the Rock Shop, or into the Winds, in my future.  It's harder to imagine a way that I'll make it back to shoulder season areas such as Sweetwater.  This season we ended up spending three sessions at the Weapons of Mass Destruction sector.  Abundant snow in Sinks canyon, and abundant mud on the two tracks to Oz made it the best option for multiple weekends this spring.  On Earth Day we decided to warm up on the balanced block seen north of the road on the way into Weapons of Mass Destruction.
I knew that Jesse, Justin, and Matt had spent a day on this boulder and I wanted to repeat "Together Alone."  It's a great line, and challenging for short climbers.  We saw other undone lines on the block, and we started trying them.  By the end of the session Ashley added two lines to the left of "Together Alone" and I added a classic line to the right.

"Earth Day" V6 sit starts with a good hold under the overhang.
Moves up the left side of the arete.
And traverses to the top of "Together Alone."
Our other two Sweetwater sessions were spent on the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" boulder proper.  "Weapons of Mass Destruction" V7 was at the top of Sierra's boulder project list.  She worked it for an entire session.
And she sent it during the next session!

While Sierra worked on her project, we enjoyed the sun.
And put up an interesting V4 to the right called "Mean Little Flower" V4.

Once the days got long enough, I was psyched to get Sinks Canyon sessions in after school.  Snow limited my options though, and I found myself back at the Kingsford boulder trying to add the full sit start to the "Seam Project" I'd put in the guidebook.  Towards the end of the session I noticed a line of vertical edges to the right, and it looked like maybe I could use them in opposition to the rail on "The Seam" and finish on nice edges just below the top, at the highest point of the boulder.  It looked beautiful, and I couldn't believe I'd never noticed the line before.  I tried it out, but was too tired to put much together.
One more session, and I thought it was possible.  At the end of my second full session on the line I put it all together.

Once I figured out the beta, it was even better than I ever hoped.  It ranks as one of the best dolomite boulder problems in Sinks, and it's the best first ascent I've put up in Sinks Canyon.

Only one weekend day was warm enough, still enough, and dry enough for my family to make it out to Oz this spring.  Sierra and Ashley worked out all their beta on "Heart Sing" V7.  I even set up a top rope so they could practice the committing top out.
And I got heartbreakingly close to finishing "Wild Thing Stand" V8.
We were all set to send next session, but we never got a next session.  Nick, Wendy, and Philip came out with us. Nick set up cameras and recorded the day.  He put together the following film from it.

Working beta, falling off problems, and talking a lot.  It's an accurate look at what it's actually like to boulder with the Lloyds.

We hiked up the Granite Buttress one weekend.

I scouted and brushed some lines for our day.  But we only finished one good line before we got stormed out.

"Hang Nail" V1
While hiking out in the rain and thunder we were passed by two cowboys on horseback followed by a pack of Corgi dogs.  They chased a marmot into it's burrow, and then caught up to the horses by running incredibly fast on their short little legs.  An interesting and unexpected sight!

Then came the highlight of my season one afternoon, after school.  I did my first V10.  The Camera at the Cabin Boulders is a short boulder, but the holds are very small, the move is big and surprisingly intricate. It has thwarted my countless attempts over multiple sessions for many years.  During my second session this spring, and my second "last go," it all came together.

I'm not sure that I'm actually stronger than I was last year.  But the thought that I might never get to try "The Camera" in good conditions again made me try harder than I ever had before.

The next weekend I gave Ken a tour of one sector at City Walls.  A cold wind from the west meant that the day wasn't as productive as I'd hoped.  We stayed on the downwind side of the formation, put up a few good warmups and then spent some time cleaning up "The Good Life" wall.

Ken helped brush from a six pad stack.
He gave me a great spot on the committing first ascent of "Wetland" V4.
And sampled a bit of the upwind patina covered stone before driving back home.

I've always been motivated by the knowledge that it might be a long time before I will get back to a project again.  But the knowledge that I might never find a chance to get back to something again was extra motivating.  It lead to a new level of productivity for me this spring season.  I thought I was already trying as hard as I could, but this season taught me that I can dig even deeper.  I'll try to remember that, even when there isn't a deadline looming.

I fall in love with wild landscapes, and I'm going to miss so many places that I've grown attached to over our last eight years in Lander.  Magical areas full of fond memories.  I've enjoyed small town life, teaching at the Lander Middle School, and the Lander community.  Moving here from Ft. Collins was a great decision, one that I'd never take back.  But the west is big, and life is short.  Good books have many chapters, and we're turning the page to the next one.