01 August 2012

Bear Lake Bouldering

A few days back, Marla, Bryan, and Rachel went into Bear Lake with me for a bit of new rock. The week before while hiking in the rain, Marla and I had spied some short walls and boulders peaking up above the tall timber of the Snowy Range. Bear Lake has been known for bouldering for several years now, dating back to when Josh Helke and I first went into the area and started putting up problems on the amazingly good gneiss. Usually a trip per season is all that is needed to do some laps of the classic lines, then stare at the very tall and now legendary wall along the lake. This wall has never been bouldered. It is very tall, with a good landing, but overhangs slightly and has a glacially polished slab to roll onto for the exit. There are a few undone lines around the lake that remain, but the area really is pretty limited. Too bad, because the rock is as good as it gets!

The rock of Bear Lake
Another factor is the punishing 3 mile road from the highway. Bumpy, bumpy and high clearance with 4wd is required. The first two miles are reasonable, while the final mile is poor. The rock filled mud hole that snakes through the timber is the driving crux and has broken many a vehicle. Part of the adventure at Bear lake is watching the "stock" pickup trucks, SUVs, and some other beaters drag tail pipes, break lines, and random bent parts into the woods after a run on the deep holes. I've dinged the bottom of my jeep bottoming out in the holes but have armor and no damage was done. Just be aware that the road is bad and take care driving in. It is well worth it and you will forget the new oil leak as soon as you see the place and touch the stone.
This year being dry, thus a better road, we've gone in twice now and hopefully will go in more to complete the development of the beautiful forest boulders. On this last trip we made our way around the lake and into the thick forest. After some wandering and a long story including an "adult content" update from Bryan about the state of things in his life, we found the area Marla and I had spied. It is a great addition to the area and doubles the amount of rock at Bear Lake. Excited with the new and very quality gneiss we went to work brushing in a light drizzle of rain. The new sector of boulders is a bit of a wall(s) while also being a bit of a talus field. A little of both styles varied the landings from flat green grass to hectic and sharp talus. The rock is fantastic!

Between spitting rain followed by flashes of sun Bryan managed to put up three new lines. Two clean and almost vertical lines, and one on a bloc perched above, a steep 4 move problem out a steep face. So, two V0-1 problems and a V3 without names (or maybe he did name them, but never tells me anything these days). I put a ground up high ball in on the near vertical wall that was pretty simple at V1. It is named Moss Green.

 With a huge dark beast of  storm moving in we quickly traversed the talus/walls to the far end of the sector and cleaned a few more lines. Bryan nabbed two very good steep lines on big holds in the top of the talus field where the blocs are just beginning to peal off the walls. I don't know what he named or rated them. While Bryan climbed I was busy brushing three good lines in the talus below. An awkward prow was first to go down and was only around V3/4, but took me a bit to figure out. I named it Indian Ladder. Bryan walked it and gave me a bunch of shit without actually saying anything. I could see it in his eyes, pure shit.
We moved pads a few feet over into a steep and clean roof. Very widely spaced holds to start the roof felt like a real shoulder ripper. We briefly tried the start and figured out some good foot beta, then rain in sheets came in. Bryan and I built a romantic fort in the back of the cave after kicking rat crap off the seats. The Ladies and dogs stood in the rain. They wouldn't come into the cave. We packed and wandered, soaked, into the valley and spied yet more rock to explore. The rain grew darker and cold and we couldn't get across a creek. Once back at the jeeps the sun emerged. Fooled again by storm we discussed going back to the new rock or putting something up in the older sector of Bear Lake, but in the end drove around on bumpy roads looking for even more rock.

Indian Ladder V3/4
Every day at Bear Lake is a treasure. Sure, it may not have a huge number of lines and no one famous has ever been there. There is nothing very hard there and the road is a major factor. But, it is a beautiful and classic place to boulder. It is a place to remind yourself why you climb and enjoy the simple beauty of what we do. If you get the chance you should go to Bear Lake.

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