Tuesday, January 17, 2012

FoCo Fa-Sho!

This past weekend was a mixed-bag with regards to climbing.  Saturday yielded temps in the mid-50's and plentiful sun in Northern Colorado, so I headed down to Fort Collins' Horsetooth Reservoir with a farily large crew consisting of Evan Martin and his wife, Meredith Neill, Bridger Huhn, Kenny Gilbert, Jake Williams, Austin Holler, and Sarah Rea.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the boulders, having heard contradicting remarks about them; some said that they were garbage and others raved about them.  So it was time to find out for myself.

The first thing that I noticed was the vast differences between the climbing scenes of Colorado and Wyoming.  I mean really...how many crags, even back in the heavily trafficked East Coast, have big signs labeled "The Bouldering Revolution" with a map of all the boulders!?  Also, the whole park was bustling with climbing activity, not just limited to the dozens of boulderers, but also a few trad climbers on the fairly short (35') cliffs.  Some easy V0-V1 problems introduced me to the Horsetooth rock: heavily featured, fairly smooth sandstone with a lot of incuts, crimps, and plenty of feet.  Like most old and popular crags (climbing at Horsetooth goes back to the 1950s and 60s), the holds are somewhat polished, but not terribly so.  You do get a little spoiled climbing on that untouched Wyoming granite, but hey, polished or not the Horsetooth rock is still pretty nice. After the warm-up, the group split into two to go work different problems.  I went off with Evan, Kenny, and Jake to do some V2-V4 type problems, including a cool V3/4 sloper problem that Evan had put up the last time he visited the area.

We later headed over to a more popular boulder, called the Mental Block, to check out one of the area classics, Mental Standard.  We found ourselves amongst about 10 other climbers and tons of pads, and one after another, everyone began attempting the problem.  From our group, only Evan and Kenny finished it, along with two other locals.  It climbs up a line of crimps to one big move to the lip, followed by a terrifying whale-flop-of-death top out.  At V4, its generally considered a sandbag, but V4+/5 seems right to me.  After that, we regrouped at the cliff line where everyone else was working a nice V2 line ascending a clean face.
Bridger on the V2 problem

A typical climbing day at Horsetooth Reservoir

After regrouping, we all decided to drive off to another outlying boulder field called the Tropics, which turned out to be a bit of an epic.  After about an hour and a half's effort, including hiking up steep ridges and miscommunications, we ended up following a road to where the area is located on the guidebook's map only to find several barbed wire fences and "NO CLIMBING" signs...so we called it a day and went to the local Culvers for dinner, where my Butterburger cherry was popped.  It was a good day.

The rest of the weekend did not bring very pleasant climbing weather...

The view from the Source Gym

...so the rest of the weekend was spent working on a new crack machine for the Source Gym.  Upon completion, it will about 15 feet long, completely overhung, and conveniently tucked behind the 50 degree wall.  Yet another tool to become stupidly strong with.

And in other news, I began efforts to start a climbing team for UW last week, and the mailing list has now grown to about 90 recipients.  I'm super psyched to see how the organization will work out; we'll have competition and recreational memberships, pretty much giving everyone everything they want.  The comps are organized by U.S.A. Climbing's Collegiate Climbing Series, which is an intercollegiate climbing competition series (duh).  We will compete in the Rocky Mountain region this year (Colorado & New Mexico), and hopefully have a new one started by next year, which would include Idaho and Montana.  It's been so much fun to see people get excited about the idea of the club over the past few days, and I can't wait to see where it goes.  From absolute beginners to some of the area elites, everyone has been signing up, so it will be interesting for sure.  In other words, 2012 keeps throwing logs on the stoke-fire!

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