18 September 2011

Falcon's Lair Update

Yesterday was another day in the Falcon's Lair for me and several others. Lander locals David and Ashley Lloyd, and Chris Marley, four of the crew from Casper, Wy, Cory Cummings, Danny Baker, Jeff Nielson, and Tony ??, and Seth Sivinski and myself from Laramie made up a large crew.
Rain and storm greeted us for our 8am start. As we drove the rain fell harder then became sleet, which became a light snow at the trail head. Just as we had begun to contemplate a day of walking in the storm to find new rock the sky started to clear. It was enough to encourage us into the wilderness. The day eventually turned to blue sky and the best conditions of the season. All the signs of autumn completed the alpine experience. It is a limited time frame now to boulder at the Lair this season. Some of the snow from last weeks storm system remains on the upper sections of the valley. Conditions however are the very best.
The group walking past another unclimbed classic. This one a huge roof on very good rock, large enough that the entire group pictured stood under it groping holds for a while. It looks to have a V11/12 from the center of the roof and a V14/15 from the depths. 
Another view of the unclimbed with Danny Baker 
Being the first trip into the area for the majority of the group we started warming up in cold conditions at the Lander Boulder and neighbors. We quickly gravitated to sun warmed stone and avoided the shadows. A first for the season! It felt remarkably sticky with the exceptionally clean rock and the crisp, cold air. I could tell some serious bouldering would get done. While the group climbed in the middle of the boulder field, Chris and I went up to the upper end. Chris has been very active in the Falcon's Lair the past weeks and was anxious to get on some projects. I was excited to see the new lines and finish some things my self. Last week, by himself, Chris went in and completed the central line in the Ice Cave. It is a mega-classic and now World Conqueror V10. On the first go I hit the last crux move, then promptly popped my heel and dabbed. Two more goes were less successful and after that my body felt overly tired and wasn't recovering. A scratchy throat and aches later in the day gave me a better perspective on the cause but still feels like a weak sauce excuse. It was frustrating to fail yesterday, really frustrating no matter the cause. It reminds me to try harder, focus, and make the most of every go.
I tried a few of the other projects that Chris had been working on his own. Beautiful lines on their own and even more impressive as additions to the Lair. Chris finished both in good style. The first was a short and very powerful roof that was dug out of from the snow field that caps the valley. From full power underlings to a balanced and core tensioned end it is a good, solid line. Chris called it Spitfire V12 and is now the hardest line in the Falcon's Lair. Only enough snow was removed to allow for exiting the cave, so please excuse the less than inspiring picture of a very inspiring line. The second, later in the session was Raspberry Delight V10ish? that moves out of the depths of the left side of the Ice Cave. The start is the crux and hard to grade while the entire rest of the problem is far easier. So, that's two V10s in the Ice Cave and a V12 just up the hill! When the valley is finally developed it will be very impressive to see the total of hard lines that Chris will have contributed!
Chris going from the powerful to the delicate on Spitfire V12 
It was greatly motivating to watch someone climbing at their best on the best rock! I was inspired to try much harder, going from not being able to start Spitfire to making progress on the V12 first move and feeling good on the next moves which involve a double toe hook lip move!. Despite the encouragement from Chris and his story of many tries to leave the ground too, it was slow progress and I never hit the move. It felt damn hard. Below us the yells of encouragement resonating up the boulder field as others worked their lines. For Wyoming it was a different feeling to have other voices in the area. Normally a Wyoming boulder field is almost completely void of human sound. The silence can be a powerful experience and tool to use for focus on hard lines, but this day was nice to have others around.
All but Seth had to leave early so the valley quickly returned to it's usual silence. I didn't get to spend much time with the rest of the group, so you'll have to view David Lloyd's blog to get the details. I would have liked to gain some perspective on what the newcomers think of the place. Even without getting to spend much time with the others I am really appreciative that they made the trip to join us in such a beautiful place. Hopefully they return to put up some lines of their own. Seth had the goal of climbing Barnyard V4/5, an unbelievably clean sloper line that requires some quickness and fitness to complete. Seth was very close to finishing it, but was thwarted by picking it at the end of a long day. He gave it hell, came close to sending, and inspired Chris to keep bouldering into the evening.
Seth on the classic slopers of Barnyard V4/5
With dwindling light the pads were moved to a gently overhanging wall with small and unique holds. As time ran out on the day another project was left at the Lair. This one, maybe will be Chris's first V13?
Small, perfect, and clean crimps up a very hard project.
The awesome quarter pad  tri-pinch on the possible V13 project
Seth, Chris, and I walked out in the dark and stumbled down the trail in the growing darkness. We missed a turn and wandered in pitch black forest for a while, but did find our way out. Our way out to climb another day in an incredible area. Next weekend will be another day in the Lair and maybe one of the last for the season. I have some things to make up for and finish and am very stoked. Those of us going in will be  bringing a ton of motivation, but are wondering who else will join us?


  1. Well written, and quickly too! I'll get a post up by the end of the week, and I should be able to join you this weekend.

  2. Thanks David, Sorry we didn't get to boulder together much on the last trip. Next weekend will be a good one!

  3. Thank you both for this amazing journey into the wild new boulder fields. I look very much towards my next visit to Falcon's Lair. I may not make this weekend... maybe the next. :)

  4. Hey, I'm passing through wyoming this week, would you mind shooting me an email sharing some beta on the best spot to visit if I only have a couple days?