Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Never-Ending Weekend and Death of a Sienna

The past two weeks have been a bit of a change.  Most major crags in the area are free of snow, and its been warm enough to rope up and climb some routes.  On Easter weekend, we got in a solid four straight days of climbing.  Shane and I started off the weekend at the lesser-known local crag of Rogers Canyon.  Rogers is a small canyon that can be reached via North 9th street (which turns into Rogers Canyon Road), less than 10 minutes out of Laramie.  The rock is rather sharp, but good limestone with a variety of routes, mostly in the 5.10-5.12 range and 30-45 feet long.

Shane on top of one of the cliffs

 At the top of an easy lead

We did three easy leads- all of which were of good quality and pretty fun.  I onsighted all except for the last one we did, called The Negative Creep (5.10 variation), due to the fact that I bitched out of the move to the last clip.  When it comes to heights, I'm a complete gumby and I'm not afraid to admit it.  Its always been a big problem for me, but I've been gradually developing a better lead head and getting more comfortable doing harder moves high off the deck.  I've been super motivated to translate my bouldering strength to my route climbing, so naturally, sport climbing has been taking high priority lately.

The next day, Shane and I were joined by Nick Turner on another afternoon session to Pilot Hill, an even more obscure local limestone crag.  What we found was mostly top rope anchors and a handful of bolted, really hard looking routes (I later found out we weren't in the best area of the crag, which is surprisingly long).  Unsure of the routes, we ended up setting up some TR's on a few of the anchors and winging it.  The rock was super sharp and definitely needs some cleaning; we all lost a good bit of skin and I broke of a pretty significant hold on one route.  Like Rogers, the walls are pretty short, however I found Pilot Hill to be more aesthetically pleasing.  The cliff band sits up on a small ridge, overlooking an archaic Eastern Wyoming landscape that our paleolithic ancestors once roamed.

 The beginning of the cliff band

 View from the base of the cliffs

On Saturday, Nick and I went to the Sport Climbing Center in Colorado Springs for our final regional CCS competition.  It was good fun, and all the routes were well set.  Neither of us won anything, but we were just happy to go compete and rep UW.  Afterwards, Nick called up the local chapter of his fraternity, SAE, and they let us crash at their house for the night.  It turned out that half of them were climbers too; one even mentioned looking around the Laramie area for a mythical place called the "boulder lands," which I found pretty amusing.

After a recovering from a pretty wild night, we stopped by Clear Creek Canyon near Golden, CO, for some quick cragging.  Since he was pretty hungover, Nick made me lead everything, which I had no complaints about- I was in route mode!  We only did two climbs: Poker Face (5.9) and Deuces High (5.10a), and I didn't let fear get the best of me that time.  The only off-putting thing was climbing with crowds again.

A few of the many Clear Creek Canyon crags

 Classic shoes-looking-down-the-route shot

Sadly, like all things, the Never-ending weekend had to pass, and life moved on.

After a week of normal life, it was time for more adventure.  Davin, Nick, and Seth Sivinski drove out to Neverland on Saturday to attempt to boulder.  With a terrible weather forecast, we weren't sure if we would climb at all.  At the Snowflake sector, good conditions turned into hell on earth, which turned into GREAT conditions, all in less than an hour.  The Mountain West is truly a meteorologist's dream come true.

The group split up and 13 new problems went down that day.  Davin and Seth stayed low on some egg-like boulders with flat landings, while Nick and I did some work higher on the nearby hill.  I put up two problems: Derailed (V2) and Vanity (V3).  Derailed works up a system of angled crimps and edges to an easy 5th class topout, while Vanity shoots straight up a beautiful overhanging face.

Nick working out his beta on Derailed

 Seth working on Vanity

Since the weather turned out to be really nice, we decided to drive into the Grove sector, which led to some misfortune for my van.  I believe it was Socrates who once said "shit happens."

 Not my finest hour

That made me feel pretty shitty.  But we climbed anyways.  Climbing with a bit of frustration is good sometimes, I nabbed the third ascent of This Will Destroy You (V4), Seth's project on the Evening Wall that he finished moments earlier, and almost onsighted an unnamed V5 of Davin's just to the left.  A pleasant ending to a day with extreme ups and downs.

One day and one Sienna rescue mission later, Seth and I went out to Vedauwoo to get our crack on.  We started by working on the Beer Crack, which is a steeply overhanging hand crack boulder problem.  Seth, having significantly more crack climbing experience than me, cruised it up to the crux.  After about a half hour of work, I was able to work my way through the first 4 or 5 moves, which reassured me that I don't suck too terribly.  

  The Beer Crack

In the last hours of daylight, we hiked to Reynold's Hill to get on Pooh Corner, which has a very popular first pitch of 5.9 jamming in an interesting corner.  Seth made easy work of the route on lead, despite loss of blood that got everywhere, and rigged a TR for me to try it out on.  My performance was nothing short of pitiful: desperately hanging on one good jam and trying to work out foot beta while weighting the rope every 30 seconds or so.  Seth is a fun and motivating climbing partner though, and only made fun of me about 80% the time I was climbing.  Crack climbing is yet another one of my weaknesses, which I also plan to work super hard in the near future.  With bloody and numb hands, the two of us left Reynold's excited to climb some more cracks, and formulated plans for an all day crack marathon next Saturday.  Can we survive "100 points" at the Voo?  

 We shall soon find out...


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