05 November 2011

Fall Bouldering, Wyoming Style

One month since the last post and for good reason. It has been a busy fall season of bouldering. I've not had time to post, to finish the chores, or do much of anything not related to boulders. Conditions have been absolutely perfect! Time has been split between several areas. At the always classic Needle Peak, where a sort of resurgence in interest is taking place, fueled by the next generation of Laramie boulderers. At Bennett Peak where new sectors are always around the corner. And at Neverland where my long term project of the Triple X is now almost finished and new harder lines are being added to the list. I haven't even been motivated to take pictures and document that much. The bouldering has been too good.

For many years Bennett peak has been a sort of forgotten area for southeast Wyoming. About ten percent of the boulders are lower quality with a sandy surface and this lead to an image of the peak as being below average. Funny, because the entire choss story is based on a single trip from early on in the history of the area. Ridiculous, because the other ninety percent is good gneiss. Well featured and highly varied. In reality the area is large with a lot of future development ahead.
The focus lately has been on a fantastic sector of large boulders tucked along the Platte River in a gentle canyon (The Rose Boulders). The setting is superior and as beautiful a place as any I've bouldered. It does have the one draw back of having to wade the river in autumn (by boat in the spring). The last trip, a week ago, involved a hundred yards of moving ice flow. Like wading a giant slushy. A set of waders or even trash bags would at least keep the the feet dry and hopefully deny the hot aches of warming the feet. Pain of course, is part of bouldering, as is the reward.
A number of very good if not classic lines have gone in at the Rose Boulders. A long day of cleaning had us rained out of climbing and has left a number of the best lines still unclimbed. The list of classics so far is a good variety of styles and grades. Ass Like An Apple V2, River Dance V5, Victory Tots V5, Squirrel Town V7, Faust V7, and Southern Drawl V10 are all top of the list so far. One more trip this season and the list will change.

The classic Needle Peak is finally getting the attention it deserves. Several of the boulderers here in Laramie have been doing weekly trips to the peak in motivating style. They're focused on repeating as much as possible. Seth Sivinski, Dylan Stowers, and Brian Horlick are the instigators of the resurgence. It's really fantastic to have problems repeated that really haven't seen traffic since the day they went up. Of course there is a core group of problems at Needle Peak that have had lots of repeats, but areas outside of the central valley rarely see anyone. This despite being as good, if not better than the know lines. I've given directions to as many problems as I can remember and have managed a few trips for repeats myself. It has been surprising to get on problems that went up in a flash or a few goes, years back, and still know the intricate details of the line. To remember a hidden crimp or trick heel from 2005 is something to be proud of. Really makes me feel like I'm home.
Needle Peak has far too many good lines to list here, but classic three and four star problems range from V0 to V11 with many harder projects waiting. Some of the out of the way gems with recent activity have been Belafonte V3, Primordial Soup Prow V5/6, and The Game Of Life V8. Belafonte is a good steep line with a dynamic finish over a pit.
Primordial Soup Prow is a good introduction to compression.
One of the really promising aspects of Needle Peak is not only the remaining 40 or so projects, but the potential for many three and four star high balls, as well as a few hundred easy to moderate lines. The potential is still good! Each trip is only complete after a few new lines go up. In some cases a sketchy and insecure, ground up, high ball. I've noticed a trend lately with the new kids enjoying this style of near death experience. The latest was a finger to cupped hands crack that involved standing on a bush at leg breaker height while getting a fist pump from the spotter below. Strange indeed and maybe a new style all together.

Again, Neverland has held my core motivation. The best lines I've seen in Wyoming are there and a few have become either my problems or my projects. One in particular has bee at the fore-front of my bouldering mind for two years now. I'm sure some strong kid could come up and link it all quickly, but for me it has been a struggle to take a step up, into the next level. The Triple X project has been not a nemesis, it is too nice a line for that, but a long learning experience. I've finally completed each move including the long sought after crux, and have only to put it together now. It is a deep and open cave feature from 50 degrees overhanging to 70 with 12 hard moves and 18 in total to the top. It is really two lines in one with a long, 9 move, power endurance V10/11 into a short and very powerful V9/10 to the top. Finally, a breakthrough and the possibility came to me this fall!

I estimate 2 weeks of fall bouldering are left in this corner of Wyoming. Then the struggle, but good conditions of winter bouldering will begin. So far the pass over the Snowy Range remains open and fast access to both Needle Peak and Bennett Peak remain. Make the most of it!
Neverland will be good for another month if conditions continue. I hope they do.


  1. Great to hear from you again! I'd assumed that you'd been taking advantage of the perfect conditions to develop more stone. I need to make it to Laramie sometime.

  2. Yep, It's been busy. Would be great to get you and Ashley down to Laramie before all the snow comes in.

    It looks like your busy up in Lander too!