Sunday, January 27, 2013

New Problems at Curt Gowdy State Park


Nick Turner's passionate and rather bizarre war cry echoed through the forest as he flung off of my most recent boulder problem, Face Full of Nothing.  As I lowered my camera and took in the vibes of our crew and the boulders, I couldn't help but think...

Holy shit, Vedauwoo bouldering is actually fun!
In the weeks that I've been out of town, there has been a recent surge in development of a sector of boulders in the heart of Curt Gowdy State Park, which is a mere half hour away from Laramie.  This new sector is littered with the usual blank eggs that you'll find in most of Vedauwoo, however, several boast clear lines that are just begging to be climbed.  That, paired with the relative shelter of the forest, allowed Davin and Josh to explore and begin developing the boulders throughout December and early January.  They had a certain psyche about the area that was just contagious, so I was nothing short of eager to go check it out.

My first weekend back, Davin, Josh, Nick, and I set out hungry for some new problems.  Upon arrival, my first impression was not great.  The rock was, as per usual Vedauwoo, super abrasive- "suprabrasive", if you will.  On top of that, our first stop of the day was getting blasted by wind, making the would-be comfortable 45 degrees miserable.  Needless to say, nothing really went down there.

It was not until we relocated to a more sheltered cove that we really started climbing.  We also met up with Nick there, as he showed up late and spent about an hour and a half wandering through the woods until he happened to find us.  Anyways, Davin put up Deck of Cards (V3), which we all repeated and shared similar moments of terror on the topout.  The line starts on an obvious cobble, which leads to sloped jugs and a balancey mantle with a good crimp.

Davin on the FA of Deck of Cards

We then headed a little ways down the slope and put up two lines on a boulder with two big flake systems.

At the end of the day, we moved back up the hill to a boulder where Davin wanted to work a powerful compression line.  On the opposite side of the boulder, I put up a really fun easy problem I called Dihedroid (V2), which comes out of a small dihedral on good incuts and a bomb undercling.
 Despite the less than underwhelming first impression, I quickly began to realize that the largely unpopular style of Vedauwoo bouldering just takes some getting used to, with the sharp crystals and the blood and what not.
We returned the next weekend, with the additions of Bart, Joyce, Nicole, Chris, and Tim.  It was slightly colder and completely overcast, but utterly still- conditions were perfect.  While everybody warmed up on the flakes from last time, I wandered off, always in preference of something new.  I cleaned and warmed up on Lowbrawl (V3), which moves up nice incuts to a classic sloper mantle- a swift reminder of where it is you're bouldering.
From there, Nick called me up to check out a small recess he found with several nice lines to choose from, which we quickly got excited with.  Nick was focused on a gentle overhang with good holds, while I turned my attention to the intimidating slab across from it.  Once joined by Chris, Nicole, and Tim, we worked the slab.  I first finished an easy variation, which uses the juggy edge of the boulder, but what I really wanted was a direct finish, which involved a few key inverse crimps on crystals to get to the last good crimps.  After a few tries, I worked out the sequence and topped out Face Full of Nothing (V4), which is by far the best slab problem I've put up.
Face Full of Nothing

Nick reaching for the last good crimp
 Shortly after, Nick made a quick ascent of Lost in the Woods (V2 or V3), which we all repeated.  It starts with a big heel hook which leads to good crimps and jugs at the top.
Nicole at the start of Lost in the Woods

Nick topping out

 Following these ascents, everyone except Davin, Nick, and I headed back to town.  With the last hour of daylight, the three of us walked to the top of the hill, which proved to be fantastic on this windless dayThere, Davin worked a very difficult overhanging lowball while Nick and I worked a big and very obvious roof problem.  The roof begins on good crimps which lead to a short sequence on progressively worse crimps, climaxing at a powerful gaston and cross into jug city.  I couldn't finish it that day, but definitely next time
 Tired and physically abused, we called it a day at 6:00 p.m., unheard of on a late January day. With several projects now in the works, I'm actually pretty excited to go back soon.  Being as popular a climbing destination as Vedauwoo is, I feel privileged that I can still be out there establishing lines on virgin boulders.  There are even a few towers in the area with great cracks and slabs just waiting to be climbed!  We here in Laramie sure have our work cut out for us...and its great.


  1. Low ball? No, the ground rises with the problem on that hard one, but is never "low". Lowbrawl is a low ball for sure, but you could fall off the low landing to a taller one. But yes, the roof at the end of the day is obvious if not big (i.e. medium), but maybe has a bit of a dab at the end. Does that make it low ball or is it tall and daby?

    And all the kids who traversed and stepped off Deck of Cards, thus avoiding mantle and the actual problem, did not climb that line. It is not a low ball unless you traverse off to a dab, stand off finish onto a slab. But, then you ruin a proud line that is nice and tall.

  2. Fair enough, I didn't really look too carefully at that problem, it just looked low from my view. As for the dab potential on the roof, I think can be pretty easily avoided by following and tracking the obvious jug line, however, a fall from there could still be an ugly 12-15 feet. I definitely agree with the fake finish to Deck of Cards though, they missed out on the really worthwhile sequence!

  3. I was trying to get a little shit talk started, with a little coming back. Rather than "fair enough", something like "that hard one was not only low ball, but a choss pit too" would have worked.

    Anyway, Face Full of Nothing is V2 and Lowbrawl is also a V1/2.

  4. Oh I see how it is. Well XXX is definitely like a one move V7 and Lord of the Forest is one of the biggest pieces of choss in the West, in a cold and miserable location for bouldering. Who the hell is gonna come repeat this shit?'re just scared I'm gonna flash all your projects.