Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fall Wrap-Up & the "Biggest Day in Wyoming Bouldering"


Dearest readers, its been quite some time.  I've come to the firm conclusion that never again will I take 20 credit hours for the rest of my college career.  It takes valuable time away from the things that are really important in life...namely rock climbing and blogging about rock climbing.

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Its not like I haven't gotten out at all, just not quite as much as I would've liked to.  I did have a pretty great Vedauwoo season though.  I finally committed myself to manning up and getting on some harder routes- Friday the 13th (5.10a) and Plumbline (5.9+) became my major objectives this Fall.  I only went to Plumbline once, and came within 5 feet or so of sending before I had to hang on gear.  This caused me to realize that maybe it wasn't necessarily my climbing strength that kept me from sending that day, but my lead head yet again.  I placed 8 cams in the route, which is 35-40' tops, quite the monumental waste of energy!  Lesson learned, I tried to be a little more sparse with gear placements on my first redpoint attempt on Friday the 13th. 

 My first time on the route, I practically aided my way up, and with all my beta perfectly worked out, I went for it again with high hopes to send.  My hopes were shut down, but not entirely.  In fact, I was able to climb the entire first half (aka the 5.10a half) completely clean, which is a pretty big landmark for me.  Again, more efficient gear placement seems to be my key to sending harder crack climbs.  In stark contrast, I've felt more comfortable than ever on easier cracks; I even led both pitches of Ed's Crack (5.7) on only 2 pieces of pro...may as well have soloed it!

Plumbline


 Friday the 13th

 Rebecca topping out Ed's Crack 

Working as a UW route setter has also been great this year.  This year will be our last season with our current wall, which will be torn down and replaced with a free standing column with lead routes and 200 square feet of bouldering space!  This also marks the 10th anniversary of the Friday Night Bouldering Series, which we hope to continue once the new wall is completed.

Looking fresh for the Costume Comp

Mikey Mills throwin' down

But now for the real business...

I was only able to make it out to Neverland 3 times this Fall, and fortunately, winter still seems to be holding off.  I was still rather out of shape our first trip, and didn't really send anything.  We went to the grove, where I came quite close to finishing a 30' 5.12a traverse Davin put up, but the ever persistent pump struck me yet again shortly after the crux sequence.  I also felt out Downtown Stickworm Town (V6/7), which I know I can send right now, just a matter of getting back out there.

 The traverse problem

Our next venture a few weeks later was much more successful.  After a long hard night of post-comp partying, I was a little concerned that my performance would be rather lackluster, which it was initially.  With an arctic wind blowing across the  Neverland landscape, Bryan, Davin, Nathan, and I fled to the Finger Paint Cave, which remains exposed to the sun and sheltered from the wind in the morning hours.  After a few hungover attempts, I sent Triangle Man (V3) and almost instantly felt ready to climb hard.  Nathan and I then walked a little ways right of the cave and cleaned two more warm-ups while Davin and Bryan worked the 2 Finger Paint Cave projects.

 Nathan on Triangle Man
 
 One of our new warm-ups- V3ish

Davin working Finger Paint (V11), which he finished the next week

With plenty of time left in the day and the relentless wind still blowing, we headed to the quiet caves and recesses of Douthitt Gap, where Nathan and I repeated Cold Wind Blows, which we confirmed to be V4.  Nearby, Bryan put up a fun and powerful prow which I also repeated and called V5, while Davin established Firecracker (V8) on the same boulder.  Feeling pretty strong, I was actually able to work through the first few moves of Firecracker, which gave me quite a bit of incentive to start projecting more problems in the V8 range.

We finished off the day in the massive cave that we visited back in March when Neverland was but a frozen hell on Earth.  Nathan established a really fun and long V3 which finishes on a jug slightly below the the lip of the cave.  I repeated it, Bryan gave a half assed attempt in his approach shoes, and we called it a day, everyone thoroughly worn out.

 Cold Wind Blows

 Bryan on Firecracker

 Cave problem

Finally last weekend, we returned to Douthitt, but this time with an epic crew: Evan, Meredith, Bart, Joyce, Nicole, Rebecca, Tad, Kyle, Brandon, Josh, Josh's Girlfriend (I'm not good with names!), Davin, and ISomewhat surprisingly, it was a lot of fun to have everybody out there at once.  It was a really positive group which divided into a few smaller ones so no single problem was ever overwhelmed.

Posse in effect

  About half of us started the day at the classic Columbine Cave, which I had never climbed before.  The Widow and the Fly (V4) had been on my tick list for a while so I was excited to get on it.  I sent it in 3 goes after warming up on the easy V2 just to the left of it.  Tempted to work So Sexy So Soon (V7) which traverses almost the entire cave, I opted to head downhill to a long boulder where the rest of the group had been cleaning new lines.

 The wind polished Columbine Cave

The Widow and the Fly

At the other boulder, some 6 problems were clean and established, 3 of which I repeated.  The furthest left one is a tall wind polished face with excellent crimps and good feet, about V2.  On the right side, a crimpy traverse and a short, thuggy line with cool pockets and a sidepull went up, both in the V3 range.  Off to the side, Davin finished a short funky problem with hard liebacks and fat pinches- Vhard.

Nicole on the traverse

Bart on the pocketed route

Around noon, Evan, Meredith, and I walked the hillside to scope out new lines.  We found a few really cool ones on the very top of the hill, but were pretty enticed by a beautiful wind polished face just above where we had been all day.  Being on the backside of the notorious When Black Mambas Attack (V11), we figured it must have already been done long ago, yet Davin informed us that it was still a virgin line.  Overly excited to put up the next Neverland classic, Evan and I furiously cleaned the boulder and worked out beta. The first 3-4 moves are the crux, consisting of half pad crimps and delicate foot placement, which leads to a cruisy V2ish finish.  After some 45 minutes, Evan beat me to the FA of Copperhead (V5).  I sent shortly after he did, and its undeniably the kind of boulder problem that just puts a smile on your face- a true classic.

 The crux sequence of Copperhead

The big, but casual topout

After the excitement of Copperhead, we walked up the hill to check out a few more nice moderates that went up on a tall black granite face. About half of the group then left for the day and the rest of us headed across the gap to the big cave area.  There, Davin showed off a few great hard roofs that he finished the week before, while Tad and I worked on a fun and powerful new line just right of the roofs.  Unfortunately, the topout was horrifically wet from recent snowmelt, and we hopelessly flew off of it time and time again- it will go quick next time when its dry.

With so many people newly exposed to the vast amounts of high quality rock and the extra long season, it looks like Neverland may finally start getting the attention it deserves from the Laramie climbing community.