20 February 2012

Neverland Update

A good weather forecast on Saturday encouraged a few of us to commit to a day in the new Neverland sectors of last weekend. Predicted was 45 degrees and sunny with a 5mph breeze. Perfect conditions and more than enough to get us psyched for a good day. Mike Hafner, Shane Williams, and Brian Capps were all in for some excellent new rock. Upon arrival the breeze was more of a gale force wind with blowing snow. I doubt the day broke 40 degrees and the wind was a frigid 30mph with gusts into the 40s and 50s. To give the fool weatherman some credit the sun did shine most of the day.
We hiked directly to the most sheltered looking hill side in the sun and a completely unexplored boulder pile. The rock was initially less desirable than what we knew was nearby and really good. A more in depth search of the sheltered boulders did reveal better rock and some absolutely amazing lines, but they all sat in deeper snow or wind. Clearly it will be yet another great addition as a new sector, but there's a lot to do already. A quick warm up on a chunky prow, some lunch while sitting on chunky stone, and we decided to take the wind like men. We took it right in the face. We packed and hiked into the "breeze" destine for the Snowflake Sector. Within a short walk the rock became very good, and the Snowflake sector even better! Despite a tormenting wind we managed a few good lines and spied many more for the future. Shane, Mike, and myself started identifying holds on the first boulder we stopped at. A huge gneiss bloc with a steep 40 on the main side so clean we identified holds with chalk and features. There was little to actually clean. The rock is lichen and grunge free with a few exceptions on top and on huge flakes. I would suggest 80% or more is chalk and go bouldering development. Maybe brush a top out and feet near the soil level and thats about it. While holds became white, Brian ran around the front side of the Snowflake Sector returning with a grin and stories of amazing lines.
Shane Williams on the starting holds with Brian Capps on the upper in-cuts of a surprisingly technical warm up. I nabbed the  FA, but haven't named it yet.  
Shane on the opening moves of the warm-up link-up that is yet to be named.
We started on the steep 40 of the boulder on the right side. A good warm up from a flat edge had a natural sit start in the deep center of the overhang. We were quickly surprised by the technical nature of the thing as each one of us completely blew our onsight/flash attempts. Eventually figuring the thing out we were warm enough to attempt the king center line of the overhang. From the same sit start, this time going left on a big foot rail, things got hard fast. A small slimper to a crisp side pull/undercling lead to a big crux move to a small crimp, then a big sloper edge and the second half of the line. All the beta was figured out in pieces, but the problem is now a project. As moves were refined and put into larger pieces the wind picked up and some thin clouds rolled in. I don't want to make excuses, but there is little doubt Brian would have finished the line in less frigid windy conditions. I never stuck the crux crimp, but tagged it several times, feeling a warmer day would yield a new problem quickly. The last goes of the project showed without a doubt we were loosing the battle to the cold.
In an attempt of warmth for the last problems of the day we moved to the sunny and windy side of the boulders. Small bushes protected the faces from wind and allowed just enough sun to barely warm the rock. I managed a new line that will become a classic warm-up of the area. it is a long left to right ascending traverse of an in-cut seam. Again it is not yet named, but is well worth climbing on. Shane gave it some good effort and would climb long after his fingers went numb. Rolling onto the prow with no feeling in the tips, on slopers, was not a good time. Or maybe it was. After all, a bad day climbing beats a good day in the office anytime.
Shane on the second half of the long traversing seam. It starts in a roof back behind the big prow, under the tree. It finishes up the prow. 
Brian didn't change boulders, just changed sides, and cleaned a smaller, but fantastic roof in the evening sun. There are two difficult an obvious options for a longer problem in the roof, but very hard. Brian put up his problem, a V7 from good slimpers and crimps in the middle of the roof. It is a great addition to the area, climbing on amazing holds and perfect rock.
Brian under his V7 roof problem. Obvious sit start possibilities are on either side of him in the depths of the roof. His V7 starts on the holds at his head level on either side of him.
Overall the day was good. It was cold, for sure, but it was good. Now that we better understand the Snowflake sector and surrounding areas, future days can be better adapted for wind and cold. We can chase sun in the boulders while staying out of the main gusts! Our day was a bit backwards for avoiding the cold and wind, but well worth it and a lesson learned. The boulders have a micro-climate in spots. Some of the well protected areas actually had miniature green plants poking up! It's a pretty good winter area for Laramie and will provide years of development.

1 comment:

  1. It took a full day almost for my fingers to warm up man, but I'm ready to go back out as soon as possible.