29 March 2016

Needle Peak: The Project Project

Well, it's Project Project time again, this time at Needle Peak. A place where the rock quality is too good to loose interest and spring season is prime. Since early March we've made a strong effort to complete all the last great projects at Needle Peak. The guide book I am working on (actually a free PDF and/or google map for all of you) is nearly complete, and the research has uncovered some forgotten places on the mountain. Beautiful rock and undone boulders found up to a decade ago, and for whatever reason we did not return to finish, are catching my interest. In some cases less than a hundred yards form the parking lot.

Two of the more eye catching lines were exactly that, less than a hundred yards from the parking lot! Here is a link to my Vimeo page for the FAs of The Deer Hunter and Krinklesac.

Spring comes in fits in Wyoming, so the progress has been slow enough. Sun on a single day might give enough time to finish something, but snow has rolled in more than not. Twice as many projects than days to climb them, but a few more will get done. A few more will not and there will be a project or two listed in the guide book. It is worth noting that I do not close a project, ever. So, get over to Needle Peak and put some chalk on the rock! If you do something new, let me know a name and grade and I will take a look and add it to the topos for the guide. Needle Peak is a treasure, go enjoy it this spring.

29 February 2016

Wyoming Bouldering, Spring Update: Year of the Monkey!

Dr. Thunder on an undone project in the lowlands of the Snowy Range, Wy.
It's here! Spring at last. Only the final day of February, but it's warm and the feeling even in the high mountains is one of an oncoming sun and warmth. The snow will still come, the wind will blow, but sun is winning the day. The bouldering has once again been excellent. It's the Year of Monkey too. For Monkeys like me that's a huge deal, once every 12 years kind of deal!

Personally, I couldn't be more excited. A long break from the boulders this season with a bad knuckle and a wintry winter combined for not much on the rock. For me, it is a deep feeling of gray cold that hasn't been felt in several years coming to an end this spring. Not being able to even pull on plastic was beyond a bummer. On skis I covered endless miles of forest, ridge line, and canyon to find rock and get in some turns of sanity, but it was gray nonetheless. Climbing is life and it must be done.
On the hunt in the Snowy Range back in early January

Sunny and windy days have provided a quick melt from the drifts of a few weeks ago (and made really poor roads, so be cautious out there and have 4WD plus off-road tires!) Some low lying stuff in the Snowy Range has been visited, and Needle Peak has once again been a strong pull for development. The Snowy Range stuff is completely new, so no surprise should be felt in the pull to those hills for exploration, but Needle Peak is now an old area. How can new lines continue to get done on a mountain with so many boulders already completed and every single rock having been seen, sometimes many years back? The complexity of the place is the only answer. A boulder of every kind is there for the motivated. Short, tall, immense, hard, easy, and back to extremely difficult, holds of every shape, and landings of every posture and attitude provide what is becoming a very good pile of stones to play on. The latest wave of development started off 2016 with an encouraging step up from the normal. Focus has gone immediately to the last great lines of Needle Peak. The ones with faces that are too tall, or landings that have been too poor. Some maybe are too hard, but we'll get them done!

FA of The Deer Hunter. One of the first walls we ever looked at at Needle Peak, but has simply been too tall and the landing too much of a ledge. My first FA of 2016!
Working a project on the "ball sack" boulder, less than 100 yards from the parking lot. We had this down to a final move, but sun drove us off the warm stone.
Needle Peak can be thought of as low lying extension of the Snowy Range. The back roads all touch and one can be seen from the other. The complexity and variety of boulders only increases as you move from the low lying Needle Peak to the forests and valleys of the Snowies. Rock changes but sometimes remains the same, walls fall apart more easily in the alpine weather but shields of resistant and amazing rock become more clean, and big boulders hide in forests to be hunted by only the most dedicated. Really, it's all one mountain anyway, just a big expanse of mountains all touching with boulders connecting it all. Finding all the Snowy Range boulders has become an incredibly strong force in my life. Maybe too many resources spent on those random piles of stone, but it only takes one to be great. The hunt is as good as the bouldering! 2016 is the year of Monkey, projects getting done, and new lines being found and climbed!

Unexplored canyons with boulders. The foreground gives an idea of rock quality.

21 November 2015

Snowy Range Update

It is cold outside! We already have more snow in the mountains than most of last winter. It has given me some time to rest and reflect on a great season, and some time to finally put together a few video clips which I have never done before in my climbing life!

Years of searching finally produced some good bouldering in the forests of the Snowy Range. Much of the summer I skipped work in the late afternoon or evening and hiked to find and develop the new stone. There was a usual silence I came to enjoy and ended up spending the vast majority of those summer evenings climbing alone. It became my mission to walk the entirety of the Snowy Range and see every last boulder I could find. Of course I didn't see all of them, but I did see what I needed to. Some good boulders in deep forest shade! I was also motivated to record the majority of FAs from the season. Even with the areas being kept in secret I have intended to reveal them in good time. Hopefully some of the video encourages to get out into the woods on the new rock.

Sure it may be selfish to go at it alone, to each new area, one after another and just keep climbing first ascents. But reality is, I have spent a huge amount of time looking, year after year, for anything worthwhile in the Snowy Range and so have many others in the past decades. A few areas I did share. Others I have enjoyed in solitude and probably will for a while longer. Not forever, some will go into the guide book in time for the spring season and next summer, but others may be silent for a longer period of time. It is continued proof that there are life times of rock in southeast Wyoming and other regions close by. Hopefully this motivates you to get out and boulder on both old and new rock!

Anyway, here are bunch of good problems, some easy,some hard.
Snowy Range Bouldering 2015

And one of the best FAs I've put up in a long while!
The Willwood