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.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Gettin' Psyched

It's been bitter few weeks in Laramie, with the wind being far worse than the cold.  Everybody's been stuck on plastic, which really isn't a bad least for training...

Our climbing team here at UW has seen a pretty successful season this spring, with a solid group showing up to weekly practices and weekend competitions.  We even got us some fancy schmancy matching tank-tops and shorts-- quite the step up from last year.


 Now cycling 3x3s, lockoffs, and enduro circuits into my training, I've been making notable gains in fitness.  Unfortunately, I got shut down by a particularly long move last week and strained my left shoulder, which has forced me to stop training for a bit.  Now just 4 days away from a trip to Bishop, I'm a little bummed, but the shoulder is feeling about 90% better at this point.  To boost my psych, I drove out to Neverland in the wake of the weekend's "blizzard" in search of some new boulders.
The first area I walked was small and dense, littered with an odd type of granite that forms blocky chunks reminiscent of  petrified tree stumps.  The rock has a lot of patina and wind-polished faces, which will make for some s(l)ick problems!

The Petrified Boulders

 After that, I just drove one of the public access roads through a local ranch and found a few lil' gems.

Just another roof in Wyoming

A nice cluster with an almost alpine feel to it

Always cool to find some archaeology!

The climber's worst nightmare...

 I found plenty to be excited about for the spring season, from big compression lines to overhanging crimpfests.  There's seriously so much out there its hard to try to prioritize your hiking time.

On the way out, I decided to check out the obvious limestone buttes that flank the Southern outskirts of the mountainous area.  As I walked up to the cliffs in the dying light of the evening, I couldn't help but notice a very distinct change in the layout of the soil.  And then I saw it-- flakes.  Thousands of them.

What I mean by flakes is the scrap pieces left behind during the process of flintknapping, or making stone tools such as arrowheads.  After some excited surveying, I formulated a quick interpretation that the buttes once functioned as a chert quarry and/or defensive settlement.  Pretty cool stuff, and a good reminder to tread lightly in these areas.  The mysterious hills of the Neverland area are rich in early Native American history, which I consider something very worth preserving.  Because of that, I think I'll stay off those cliffs. If I want to climb ungodly sharp 20' limestone routes, I can go to Rogers Canyon...

And thus another splendid day amongst the boulders came to an end, complete with the mandatory 45 minutes of dirt roads in the dark.  Spring is a-comin'!