21 April 2014

Neverland Again

 It has been a long while since updating this blog. The busy busy schedule of graduate school has allowed the quick gratification of instagram to be my bouldering update method. That may work for some people all the time, but I have found a lack of detail with the quick post social network method lately. So many new and really high quality areas, boulders, and problems have been found that a grainy cell camera pic will not even come close. A high quality image won't do well through the instagram filter either. The rock is just too good. The demand for wasting so many of my days on such good rock is ever growing and maybe, just maybe sharing some of the good stuff will help justify my addiction. Spring has been a fine time to explore and temperatures have lagged far behind the warming of last year at this time. Good conditions!

A lot of time has been spent walking across as much rock as possible. During the opening days of Winter Break last December I managed to expertly blow up my MCL on yet another Neverland project. With rehab in mind and too much rock I haven't seen it has been a productive combination of motivations. I also feel the conclusion of my graduate studies on the very near horizon. How much more time will have to understand Neverland? How much time to understand some of the finest bouldering I have seen?

Over the past three weeks two major new sectors of many boulders have been found. Some of the highest concentrations of good rock in southeast Wyoming. Some of the best single lines have been uncovered along the way. It is a strange place to be in ones life where the past two years have been in a transition to continue bouldering but with an emphasis on real life being dominant, and yet the best boulders are now being found. Damn the curse.

It would be silly to list everything or try to explain the almost delusional wanderings through so many damn boulders. The details are too much, but the highlights are worth a bit of time here.

We drive past several miles of boulders every time we roll out to the developed areas in Neverland. During the bitch of winter we sometimes stop and look at them. Finding good rock is not a problem along the main roads, but returning to actually send the problems has been. Finally we developed a few and lot more have been cleaned.
Nathan and Bryan chatting it up under The Nest V6 and It's All You V3ish. The county road is about two hundred yards distant
The Cow Cave. Just another road side attraction.
In the lone wanderings I do with my dog Amiee, some serious stuff has been found. Bouldering can be fun and it can be serious too. On a random two-track along a random fence is a small (very small) pile of a few boulders. Anyone looking for boulders knows to find the biggest boulders first and in the largest piles. This knoll of a few gneiss blocks was a good vantage point for binoculars to be used looking across the valley. It was also the end of the road, so foot travel was next in line for accessing the huge pile of boulders across the way. Where I would never expect it is a monster of a roof made of absolutely steel hard stone. I spent around two hours freaking out chalking holds. I returned with pads and felt all the moves and possible hold positions. I can't climb the line, but someone can, and they better! It is one of the most superb lines I've ever seen. Estimated at 8B+ to 8C it should be pretty serious, but all the holds are there.
Not much besides crippled kids makes me cry, but this did. That whole thing is the beast and the finish jug didn't even get into the photo. Bryan standing at the start of roof for scale.
Several young climbers over the past seasons have asked me how to get sponsored or if I would help them attain sponsorship. I strongly believe one should be satisfied with their own climbing and that is all they should worry about, so never have been able to answer the sponsorship question for them. Now I have an answer for them that is 30 feet long and has a ripping hard sequence. So go west young man into the vast emptiness of Wyoming and put down the mega-roof.

An amazing amount of time has been spent finding and even cleaning giant hard lines that I'll never climb. There is something special about those rare gems that hold an aesthetic almost impossible to find in smaller and easier problems. Every once and a while I amaze myself with a lucky send of a giant, but far more wait for a stronger more focused climber. The list of giants is growing and becoming a heavy load to remember.
A major focus for me lately to alleviate the giants problem is to find a good concentration of great rock where I can put up a lot of new lines. The hunt for the best possible problems has me fondly remembering the days of Needle Peak or even young Vedauwoo where we would add problems by the page full every trip. Two such areas have shown themselves lately. One is completely new and just a few hundred yards beyond where we had last looked. The second is actually an old area, but for some reason we had not focused or looked at it with the right gaze. We certainly had not walked it all and that was a mistake. Either area would satisfy the need for new lines at a good pace, but two are even better.
Another damn roof. Luckily a small one, but this new area has some huge ones.
Until the heat of summer rolls in my weekends are obviously gone now. Then El Dakota season comes in and the Winds after that, then late season El Dakota, then Neverland again, then somewhere in there a job I suppose.

30 October 2013

Fall Bouldering In Southeast Wyoming

It has been a busy fall to say the least, and a difficult one to find time for bouldering. Several snow storms have blanketed Laramie and my graduate work continues to challenge any sort of balance in my climbing life. Any available time has been spent bouldering rather than updating this blog (as you have likely noticed). I've tried to keep up with the easy way of updating by adding photos on Instagram (@davinbagdonas). After all a picture speaks a thousand words or something like that.

Early season bouldering was a bit warm and rain continued through September. A large amount of sandstone only 35 miles out of Laramie had been my primary focus. El Dakota as Josh Oxner and myself have titled the area has turned out to be an enormous addition to Laramie bouldering. It is a mountain of Dakota Sandstone that sits at nearly 9800 feet in a deep forest. Because of this, bouldering through the summer and especially early fall has been fantastic! How did this large new area hide for so long and how many more can we possibly find out there? Bouldering potential within a two hour radius of Laramie continues to grow at what seams like an ever increasing rate. I never could have imagined the potential, but will gladly take it as it comes. Should climbers continue to motivate and put up new problems, Laramie area bouldering will have many thousands of problems in a decades time!
One of a hundred boulders or more at El Dakota. Alca V5/6
We had planned a rebirth of the Vedauwoo Bouldering Festival, this time at Curt Gowdy State Park. Much of my late September was spent at the Hynds Lodge cleaning and climbing new problems for the planned competition. The best lines put up were never repeated as snow and below zero windchill forced a cancellation the day of the event. Obviously the problems are still up there and several are very worth while. 68 problems were selected for the festival out of around double for the entire area of the state park. I kept problems on the down low in an attempt to keep the competition fair. I got really excited about a few and ended up having Bryan Vansickle and Nathan Hough help develop. Cross Country Connection in down town Laramie has the Hynds Lodge Bouldering topos available. Please go grab a map and try the new lines. Some of the best new additions to Curt Gowdy and the Vedauwoo area include Waist Land Boogy V9, Up and Away V1, Old Aspen Prow V2, and The New Nathan V3. I also included 23 projects on the topo in a range of estimated difficulties from V2 to V13. That's right, there is a pile of cleaned and unclimbed lines just sitting there. If you finish one, please record the name and grade so we can add it to the guide book for the area.
Hynds Lodge Crag and a whole lot of boulders
What about October? Yeah, that has been a good one! After the time spent on the failed Curt Gowdy Festival, a few weeks of catch up work were needed on the academic side of things. Neverland was always calling, and without fail I followed the call. Now into my 30s, I have started to feel the constrain of time to finish the hardest and best lines found in the area. Triple X is one of those and for me the most difficult that feels like it is still possible. At great risk to all other aspects of my life I started going out every other day. During the week this includes a two hour drive in the afternoon, two hours on the project, and a drive home after dark. I vowed to continue in this schedule until the line is complete or winter blocks the road. All other previous sessions on the project had been random and spaced (not a good way to finish something hard). Four days on so far and the progress is much better than I had hoped for! The process of breaking down something nearly impossible, making small steps add up to larger steps, then seeing the possible from what was previously not is an experience beyond words. It is why many of us boulder and is an experience all it's own. I am completely taken by it! The motivation ours into other aspects of bouldering and life too.
Of course other boulders have to be climbed on some of those trips. The motivation is high and progress only adds to the addiction/madness. An example, Bryan Vansickle and I spent way too much on gas and time to drive three hours around the mountain to Bennett Peak. We spent a day there, crossed the ice cold Platte River, quickly finished an old project (now Down River Vibes V9), and drove all the way back to Laramie the same day. This allowed for a two hour session the following day on Triple X in a snow storm. It is border line crazy when you add up the two days and ten hours on the road for a V9 and an ass kicking in the freezing cold. I would do it again, probably this weekend.
At Neverland, Vansickle had cleaned a beautiful and huge roof, very reminiscent of Hueco Tanks. Luckily it is close to Triple X, so we managed to feed addiction for both of us. During the last trip Vansickle completed his line. Ultamak V8? and it is one of the best new big lines to go in at Neverland. It climbs like New Religion in Hueco Tanks, but has a harder start, longer moves, and a big round top. It is an area classic. The roof has several other possible problems and a long traversing problem Green Machine V6 I added as a warm up. An 8A+ feeling project climbs into Bryan's line, then follows a huge slash out the length of the beast, for what must be one of the finest power endurance lines I've seen. Anywhere but Wyoming this thing would be on glossy paper with a bunch of strong dudes talking about a stunner.
Going back tomorrow, and this weekend, just me and the dog.
Vansickle on his new problem Ultamak V8? in the huge Fern Roof of Neverland. Green Machine V6 starts on the far right near the blocks and climbs all the way left into the black flakes.

20 September 2013

Vedauwoo Bouldering Festival Lives Again

I am pleased to announce the rebirth of the Vedauwoo Bouldering Festival! This has long been in the works and is now a reality. With the local Forest Service office declining to allow both the bouldering festival and Fat Crack Festival of years previous, we have been in search of a venue. This past summer Wyoming State Parks offered Hynds Lodge at Curt Gowdy State Park for a possible location. We gladly accepted the offer making it the 2013 Curt Gowdy State Park Bouldering Festival with Organic Bouldering Mats as our title sponsor! This is an exiting time for Wyoming climbers and all of you who can make the festival this year. We want to make the most of this opportunity and show the folks at Curt Gowdy why previous Vedauwoo Bouldering Festivals have been so fantastic.

The festival will be held the first weekend in October (5th and 6th of October). Many local businesses have sponsored the event as well as national sponsors. Food will provided as will drinks, especially for those who volunteer Saturday morning. 

Free camping for the event will be provided by Curt Gowdy State Park.

Saturday, October 5th:
Volunteer trail work with prizes. The park has several bouldering areas being developed, we just need help setting up sustainable trails so we can climb in Curt Gowdy for years to come.
The Bouldering Competition!!! For all ages and abilities. We will have categories for every level of boulderer and a marathon catagory. This is an amazing chance to get out and sample the newest problems in the Vedauwoo area and climb like crazy with climbers of all abilities.
6pm-into the evening: 
Competition prizes, raffle, and entertainment into the evening.

Sunday, October 6th:
All Day:
Climbing and bouldering all over Curt Gowdy State Park. Many new areas will be introduced to climbers as well as areas that were previously closed years ago. The park is tremendously supportive of climbing in the park now, so lets make the most of it.

Curt Gowdy State Park has several Scarpelli lines put up many years that are some of the best in Vedauwoo. There are other routes in the park to do as well. Bring a rope and a pad. The Hynds Lodge area where the Festival is being held is likely the most concentrated of all Vedauwoo areas and has some of the best problems and projects around. Several other areas in the park have been developed recently and are among the best fall/winter areas for bouldering around. This is a great way to see the new stuff and maybe finish some new problems too!

Come join us for some great bouldering!