Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Slow Fall in Laramie

Not too much to say this evening.  The semester has flown by, and, fortunately, my shoulder has finally (hopefully) healed up.  With far too many stories to tell in a single post and without further adieu, I give you a brief photo journalistic synopsis of the recent bouldering developments in the Laramie area . With most of our regulars being exceptionally preoccupied with other business, it's been a little slow; however, some quality problems went up and we're still getting a few reasonably warm days out there. 

FA of Nick's Pipe Dream Slab (V0)- Curt Gowdy

Atari Jr. (V2+ish) - Curt Gowdy

Long Undercling Traverse (V3)- Curt Gowdy

FA of Butch Cassidy and the German Kid (V7)- Curt Gowdy

FA of Belly Full of Redman (V7)- Curt Gowdy
Open Project (V13?)- El Dakota
 Of course, my season hasn't been without its share of roped climbing.  Oddly enough, I've found myself doing primarily crack climbing and aiding in preparation for (drum roll) Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park, which I will be scaring myself half to death on alongside my dear German friend, Phillip (Hans!) Peters.  Do expect a through followup post within the next 3 weeks! 


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Downtime and the Devil's Kitchen

To put it eloquently, athletic injuries fucking suck.

Over the past 3 months or so, I've been struggling with a nagging shoulder injury that flares up and dies down almost unpredictably at times.  I took a month off right after the spring semester ended, where Marina & I took a trip to the Moab area for some hiking & Canyoneering.

Southern Utah is a place that will always be special to me. I have many fond memories of the spectacularly carved canyons and fierce desert landscapes.  The Needles district of Canyonlands National Park stands out for me in particular, with it's easily accessible, but rugged and adventurous trail systems.  As far as National Parks go, the Needles are just so...non-commercial.  Unlike the tourist havens of Yellowstone or Arches, the Needles still remain a very wild and remote place where you'll see only a handful of other hikers on most days.

Enjoying lunch under the Druid Arch in the Needles

Canyons for days...
 Apart from our stay in the Needles, we stopped in to Arches (CROWDED) for a day where we did an easy technical route called U-Turn.  It consisted of four easy rappels and outstanding views of the park that get you away from the hordes of visitors.

Our last day in Utah, we did a slot canyon just outside of Arches, dubbed the Winter Camp Slot.  Though the route itself is easy, it's really off the beaten path, and the hardest part can be finding it!  Once at the start, you encounter a 190 foot rappel into complete darkness, followed by a 1 mile hike through narrow slots that eventually open up.

The initial rappel
 Our trip was made substantially easier with the aid of detailed route descriptions, maps, and photos from the "Circle of Friends" program at, well worth the annual $40 fee if you're into it.  Also, I've finally rid myself of the Sienna and bought Bryan's '99 Cherokee Classic, which may or may not be one of the best decisions of my young life.

 A few weeks and one pain-free session at the 420's later, I figured I'd be good to get back into climbing again, so I made the classic pilgrimage to Lander for a weekend of bouldering and sport climbing.  I was most excited to see the Devil's Kitchen, an extensive (almost endless) talus field of granite gneiss boulders in a breathtaking location.
I met up with David Lloyd at 8:00 a.m. sharp Friday morning, where we made the arduous journey into the Popo Agie Wilderness.  In the growing warmth of the morning sun, we arrived at the trailhead and began the hike down into the bowels of the Devil's Kitchen. You really have to visit these boulders in person to appreciate the scale of the area; the pile literally goes on for miles.  David and I chose to spend the day in the Upper Kitchen, which is the smaller pile near the waterfall.

The Upper Kitchen

After a quick tour of the established problems (such as One Shot Antelope) and some snooping around for new lines, we started the day at a boulder high up on the ridge.  I cleaned and climbed an easy V2ish warm-up deep inside the little pit, then turned my attention to the harder line that David cleaned off.  The line turned out to be a little more difficult than we originally guessed, and after some work, David pieced together most of the moves.  We left it as a project in favor of finding something more doable.

I was psyched to get on Paradise Found, an excellent and tall V5 with a high crux.  I cruised it a few times to the crux sequence, which involves a funky dead hand/foot swing move on small crimps.  After several solid efforts, I tweaked my shoulder again on the crux move, which more or less ended my day of climbing.  Frustrated, I turned my attention to photographing David's new line which climbs out of a small chasm between two boulders.  After a few burns, he cranked out Mosh Pit (V4).

The Mosh Pit
David also sent a V6 just right of the problem Black Sea (V11) and a no-name V4 traverse nearby, while I gingerly made my way up a fun V1.  

Unnamed? V6
About to call it a day, we crossed the river and explored a small area of boulders near the trail.  We found several blocks with potential, but one in particular stood out.  It was a dead horizontal roof with a line of good holds moving straight up its face.  We initially thought that it would go around V3/4, but quickly realized that the opening moves were very hard.  With immense motivation, David pieced together all of the moves and was able to pull of a last-minute FA of the Resurrection (V7).  The crux is about 3 strenuous moves on bad slopers.

The Resurection
Thoroughly satisfied with the day's happenings, we made the steep trek out.  After getting back on the two-tracks that lead into the area, David pointed out that we could take an "alternative" route out which goes straight up a steep hill to gain better views.  Figuring the jeep would hold up, I blasted towards the hill, crawling up at a steady pace.

About 20 feet from the top with the pedal to the floor, the jeep came to a dead stop.  Unsure of what to do, I put it in park and the two of us frantically jumped out.  For the next 20 minutes or so, we stared at the jeep, which was sitting at a 30 degree angle 300 feet up some hill in the middle of the Wind River mountains.  How the hell were we going to get out: a) alive? and b)alive with a working vehicle?

We eventually devised a method of backing the car down, consisting of me backing down in intervals of about 2 inches at a time while David held the door open for me to escape, just in case.  A half hour later and we were down the hill, with both our bodies and the car intact.  With the sun's light fading over the mountains, our adventure came to an end as we laughed and sighed our way home.

Not the place you want to get stuck
 Obviously, my climbing summer is somewhat jeopardized by this shoulder injury.  The next few weeks will be focused on getting to the bottom of it and healing so that I can hopefully get in some hard climbing this summer!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Phone Call From Dr. Thunder

Sitting in the cluttered dining room of Burger Xtreme, I looked down upon my veggie burger and fries, contemplating the greasy death which I was about to put inside my body.  Suddenly, I felt a strong vibration come from within the depths of my pants...

Dr. Thunder was calling.
Around 10:30 a.m. the next day, Andrew Hudson and I met him out at the Grove, casually pooping behind a rock in the company of Oscar Dog.  Having not seen Bryan since November, it was good to catch up with my dear friend/mentor/object of sexual desire.

Man and Beast

We started off the day at Downtown Stickworm Town (V6/7), which I had tried last September when my fitness was not its greatest.  With a little less effort than I expected, I sent the line in a handful of burns, feeling rock solid on all of the moves.  Definitely one of the best moderates in all of Wyoming!
Bryan on Downtown Stickworm Town
 A newer climber and Neverland virgin, Andrew worked Tree Bender (V2) on the other side of the boulder, where he unfortunately fell and scraped his back along the namesake aspen tree.  I suggested we move to the Evening Wall recess so he could work This Will Destroy You (V4), which has lots of nice long pulls between good crimps and edges.
Upon arriving at the Evening Wall, I managed to climb the nearby unnamed(?) V5 first go, while Andrew cleaned a new line on it that traverses the opposite direction.  Unable to do a few moves, he told me to finish it, so I quickly put up Egg Salad (V2/3). 

Andrew on Egg Salad

   Andrew, obviously inspired by This Will Destroy You, worked the crux sequence a few times until he stuck it, at which point he put down the entire line from the second move.  I repeated it soon after, and I must say, the topout is a little scarier than I remembered.

This Will Destroy You
 After hanging around there for a while, Bryan showed some interest in the Sienna Boulder, which is just down the hill from there.  After a mini tour of the problems, a new line quickly caught our eyes.  After I gave it a few shots, Bryan tried it and nabbed the FA of Sex Crumbs (V4), which is a steep jug haul sandwiched between 2 distinct cruxes.

Bryan on Sex Crumbs
Shortly after, I repeated SC, and we then moved to another nearby wall that had Andrew psyched.  He cleaned and put up Bloodbath (V1/2), which can be done statically, or as two dynos.  I cleaned a crimpy problem directly to the right, which I also made him FA along with a third one that combines the two.

Cleaning away
Andrew on one of his new lines
 Finally, evening rainstorms arrived, and with them our farewells to Dr. Thunder and the Grove.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Warm and Moist: the Return of Spring Weather

Warm weather is back again, and what better way to see it in than with a long weekend!

Rainstorms over Curt Gowdy
After my morning shift at work, Nick and I made it out to Curt Gowdy for the afternoon.  The climbing didn't last long, as the characteristic rolling rainstorms of spring quickly shut us down.  We put up an easy problem called Creekside Squeeze (V1), hiked some, then cleaned and got shut the hell down by a new project.  This thing is a real beast: clean, proud, and hardMy guess is at least V10, since I couldn't even pull the first moveHopefully it'll see a send soon!

Creekside Squeeze
The new compression project
 I also found the most perfect rock penis ever, which I feel compelled to share with the world.

Tell me that's not hilarious
 Saturday was the first Neverland day in months.  I was joined by Spencer and Nicole, as well as Davin and Julian for about 5 minutes in Coal Creek.  A mix-up with the parking situation left us unable to find each other, causing the group to split.

After about 20 minutes of searching for our comrades, we stopped to warm up on The Sienna Rides Again.  I initialy called this V2, but upon repeating it, its definitely V1.  Ironically, the Sienna got a flat tire that day.  Afterwards, I put up a new line on the backside of the boulder that I called Spare Tire (V3).

Nicole on the Sienna Rides Again
Spencer on Spare Tire
  We then walked downhill a ways and came to a prominent overhung face with a long, obvious line.  It traverses left on good jugs to a short crimp sequence and a dicey topout.  After sorting out my head for the mantle, I topped out Buttery Heart (V2).  Nicole and Spencer dropped down for the lip, avoiding the mini adrenaline rush.

Spencer mid-way through Buttery Heart
 With the wind starting to pick up, we relocated to a more sheltered area, not far from the Evening Wall.  There, Nicole put up a nice V0/V1 line and we all worked a long traverse with another cruxy mantle.  After a few burns laced with excessive lichen and a few broken holds, I bailed on the traverse in favor of a nice clean line on the boulder to the immediate right.

The Traverse

Artistic rock shot
After cleaning my problem, I convinced Spencer & Nicole to come work it with me.  Starting on huge jugs,  the line goes up and right where the holds diminish in size, leading to a long cruxy move to a sidepull crimp.  I kept falling at the topout, which I found very frustratingThere's something about falling at the last move of a climb that just makes you go "shit, I did all of that for nothing!"

With the sun retreating and Nicole getting really antsy with the dropping temperature, it came to be crunch time.  After about 10 solid goes, I executed the climb with machine-like precision, and finally finished Emotional Discharge (V5).   Great Success!

At the crux of Emotional Discharge
With my tips shredded, muscles fatigued, and a return drive in complete darkness, it already feels like summer...and I'm sooooo stoked!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bishop, Scro

 Scro:  noun
a: One whose friendship surpasses the level of bro.

See also: Scrosef, Scrosefina, Scrolita, Scrodom

At 3:00 p.m. last Friday, Evan, Meredith, Joyce, Bart, Nick, and I hit the road on a trip with no particularly set destination.  We had tossed around ideas with Joe's Valley, Indian Creek, Red Rocks, Yosemite; the only place we planned on for sure was Bishop, California.  Looking through the guidebook on the way out, the hype quickly increased, and we decided to drive through the night, which led us to an hour-long dinner epic with an exploding Dr. Pepper machine and a full-length Californication sing-along.  We finally rolled into the Pit at 6:00 a.m., where we quickly set up camp and went to bed.

We woke up to climb at 8:30.

 We spent our first day in the main area of the Buttermilks, Bishop's most famous boulders.  The boulders there are really breathtaking, being tall and monolithic with very proud, perfect lines-- easily capable of making a creationist out of the average boulderer.

We hit the Green Wall boulder first, which was still in pleasant shade from the blazing California sun.  After warming up on the fun V0's, I quickly realized how spoiled I've been from climbing on heavily textured Wyoming rockA lot of the holds are very polished, but the real shock was in the feet, which have the texture of glass that has been massaged with KY Jelly.  This definitely made what could have been a casual send of Green Wall Essential (V2) borderline desperate for me.

Nick on the Green Wall Center (V6)

We took the rest of the day to get an overview to the Buttermilks, mostly getting on easy problems. By the end of it, we were all pretty certain that we would be spending the remainder of our week in Bishop.

Meredith on the Hero Roof (V0)

Nick working the ultra-classic Iron Man Traverse (V4)
 The next day was spent in the Pollen Grains, where the highlights were Evan's send of Suspended in Silence (V5) and his and Nicks sends of Jedi Mind Tricks (V4).  I had kind of a crappy day, getting shut down trying SiS's very long opening moves on a bad crimp, where I should have tried to dyno through it to the jug.  I then proceeded to work a few no-star really sharp problems instead of saving my tips for JMT in the evening, which kinda killed my day.  Still in the weekend warrior burnout mindset, I quickly realized that I had to pace myself this week...or die.  On a lighter note, the scros and I discovered the magic of Schat's Bakery in downtown Bishop that day.

Evan sending Suspended in Silence

Nick on Jedi Mind Tricks
Schats: the breakfast of scros.

The third day was spent at the Happy Boulders in Bishop's Volcanic Tablelands.  The rock there is volcanic tuff, which is much easier on the skin than the Buttermilks' granite.  These boulders have a lot of really steep climbing on crazy features, which is a good bit more fitting for my frame.  Highlights included Evan's nighttime send of The Hulk (V6) and my (almost flash) ascent of Son of Claudius Rufus (V5).

Evan working Atari (V6)

Joyce on a nice V0 warm-up
 We took a single rest day on Tuesday, which we mostly spent eating, with a short hiking break to the Druid Stones in between.

Nick,  sans crash pad, checking out some easy Druid problems

Wednesday saw a stop at the Sad boulders, which is another mini canyon of stellar tuff boulders.  There, Evan and I both managed a send of Strength in Numbers (V5), which is super fun and worth getting on, even if you can't pull the crux.  Everybody in our group got on and was able to at least pull the first few moves.

Yours truly on SIN
 Nick's highlight was his send of Gotta Be Kiddin' Me (V5) which, in classic Nick fashion, was the most heinous slab that nobody really wanted to get on.

Heinous, I tell you...
 We spent most of the day's remainder playing around in the Ice Caves on the Mothership Connection (V4 my ass...) and Rio's Crack (V6), which I came close to sending, but sadly, no cigar.

Bart on the Mothership Connected, a really cool V6 variation
 We went back to the Milks Thursday morning, starting the day at the isolated Get Carter boulder.  There, I gave a few burns on Seven Spanish Angels (V6), which I really think is one of the greatest problems I've ever been on.  Seriously.  The movement is soooo fun!  Evan and I both got to where we fell at the last move, and with the incoming sun, we decided to leave it for next time and bail to the shade.

Evan on Seven Spanish Angels-- so much fun!!
Back in the main area of the Buttermilks, Evan managed a send of the Birthday Direct (V3), which combines horrid glassy holds and long reaches to create the short person's worst nightmare.  Afterwards, we met up with Mike and Abby at the Bowling Pin boulder, where Evan, and I sent the Bowling Pin (V4) and Mike crushed the sit-start variation, which goes at V8.

Evan sending Bowling Pin
 We returned to the Happies that night for some nonchalant headlamp climbing, where we drank beer and climbed pretty much everything on Girlfriend Rock.

 And then came the last day.  Everybody was pretty burned, but Nick was dead set on going back to the Iron Man Traverse one more time, which spit all of us off last Saturday.  With perfect sending temperatures that morning, his psyche spread to me and we rushed everbody out of camp.  Oddly enough, we arrived at the boulder with an army of 11 Wyomingites, since Mike and Abby came by, as well as a group of 3 Casper climbers who frequent the FNBS comps.  With the unprecedented levels of scrodom, perfect temps, and a little Crystal Castles bro proj music (courtesy of Evan), I managed to send with relative ease, which ended the trip on a very positive note for me.  Afterwards, we all said goodbye to Bishop with a few final ascents of an unnamed V0 highball on the Sunshine boulder.

One last send...
 Only one day back and I miss it.  The views, the weather, the otherworldly vibes; the Bishop area is a really special place, and I can't wait to go back again (yes, I'm already planning my next trip).  So much to send, so little time.