19 July 2011

Lake Marie Boulders

Having just passed on a trip to the cool weather of an Alaska bouldering trip the focus now has been on finding cool rock closer to home. The challenge this season is doubly so. Summer is getting hot. It has become a challenge to find cool rock, but spring was wet and winter snows were record breaking. With snow melting and pooling all the water has equaled thick bugs. A thin window exists between snow line and thriving insect line. Having successfully spent this time of the year in the higher mountains of past summers myself and Mike Haftner decided to give the boulders of the Lake Marie area in the Snowy Range a try. There are several good bouldering areas in the Snowy Range including Lake Marie and a few I've posted on before, Horatio Rock and Bear Lake. At this time Horatio is well within bug hell, while the 3 mile long road into Bear Lake is still buried under 20 foot drifts.
I was hoping to show Mike some newer areas that had been developed a few summers back. Knowing Mike has just started climbing again after a long injury break, I was thinking his perspective on grades would be foggy and down rates would be far less likely. Snow from the past epic of a winter didn't give us a chance. Boulders that were developed three years ago in early July aren't showing themselves yet. Not even a hint was given as to were we could start digging for most of them! Luckily there are some old classic lines on lower boulders that melt out sooner. Some of those were still half buried in what has to be some sort of skier cult curse. In any case, the classic boulders of Lake Marie, including an old John Gill line are as good as they ever were. Mike too showed he had some fire left after a long hiatus from real rock.
Mike warming up on a V3 on the Iced Earth Boulder
 It was a god day on cool rock in an absolutely beautiful setting. If you've not been to the Lake Marie area for bouldering I would highly encourage you to go. The rock is not the best in most cases, being a brittle quartzite with poor friction. There are however a few boulders with a few lines that are incredibly good. It's the kind of place you bring a wool hat no matter the date. Summer bouldering in the high mountains can't be beat this time of the year.
To get to the Lake Marie boulders from Laramie:
Drive Wyo 130 from Laramie to Centennial and continue through Centennial after a coffee stop. Drive Wyo 130 to the top of the mountain and park under the looming 900' wall of Medicine Bow Peak either at the Mirror Lake picnic area (closed now under 20 feet of snow) or at the Lake Marie parking lot and walk the paved path and gravel road back around to the Mirror Lake picnic area. From the out house on the top of the hill in the picnic grounds (closest paved area to the alpine walls) walk directly at the biggest alpine face. walk through the meadow or snow drift under the small talus field and drop down toward the inlet creek of Lake Marie. The Gill Boulder, home to one of America's oldest problems, sits along the creek at the base of the talus. Above the Gill Boulder, in the talus coming off the diamond of Med. Bow Peak, is the Drift Boulder, The Iced Earth Boulder, the White Cube and many other smaller boulders all around. Those boulders listed are from bottom to top of the talus. Sure, I should leave a topo on this blog as there are many problems in the area, but time hasn't allowed it yet.
Mike on the V6 sit start to the classic Gill Problem. Look for the Gill arrow painted on the wall above Mike's right hand.
Mike in his sexy short shorts trying Magdalena V8 on the Gill Boulder.
Three seasons ago while wading through the oppressive heat of a hot summer I started looking for harder lines in the Lake Marie area. Several went up, but the classic for sure is Magdalena V8 on the Gill Boulder. It starts under a small roof on the far right side, climbs to good incuts, then fires directly across the entire face of the boulder to link into the Gill Problem. It was the same summer that Ethan McMahan and Austin Jenson joined me for developing the newer stuff in the area. Those were the best days I've spent at the Lake Marie Boulders and I think of them often when motivation is scarce.
Mike on an unnamed V7 on the White Cube Boulder. One of the very classic lines for the area.
 There is a lot more to show for the area, but snow will have to melt. If my intentions have some sway I will make it out to Bear lake and Horatio Rock too. Posts with directions will be layed down here shortly after those visits. Until then you can go back through my blog archive to find images and some info on those other areas. If you have questions regarding the boulders in this post or any other for that matter, drop me an email and I can give better info/directions.


  1. Soooooooo I feel like I've asked you this before, but do you know anything about a big, super clean and sharp double arete that looks something like roast possum on steroids? From what I remember, it was a short distance uphill from drift, and sat down in a rather large hole. Judging from the pictures, it's not going to be climbable at all this season, but rather buried in snow. If it is exposed though, go check it out, probably in the 6-7 range and as classic as classic gets (that might be an exaggeration).
    Hugs and kisses from out east

  2. I don't know what your talking about unless it's the thing over a death pit? It is out of the snow now and you should come out and climb it. Will help you build a landing and thank you for the chalk bag you so expertly sowed.