26 September 2012

Devil's Kitchen on Autumn First

Was last Thursday as I was just beginning to feel the disappointment of not being able to rally a motivated crew, Jamie Emerson asked if I would be interested in a Devil's Kitchen trip. For sure I was and made immediate plans for the trip. Good reviews of the area had been coming in and I had yet to see the established areas. Something like 8 or 9 years ago I had been into the valley that makes Devil's Kitchen, but had never come back due to the hideous walk from up valley.
I was feeling super psyched about the whole thing and definitely thankful of the invite from Jamie as Dave Graham and Daniel Woods (and Benson Dog) would be coming along too. Wanting to see something hard get done in Wyoming has been a long time motivation of mine. I've tried incredibly hard to put an 8B problem up around here, have come very close on a few occasions, but the goal is still unreached for me. I knew if Dave and Daniel made it to the outstanding rock of the Wind Rivers shit would get done and it would be at least 8B. In addition, it would be the maiden voyage of my new expedition bouldering rig. There should be a certain relevance to the first trip in a new rig and this day was indeed relevant.

The new rig absolutely ate the trail alive. We rolled in easy and parked where the view was maximum. Only a fool would not be impressed with the setting of Devil's Kitchen. It is a scenic climax in an already beautiful area. The only negative was the increasing heat of the day. From the moment we began our descent into the canyon it was HOT! When Dave started talking about dealing with heat and how frustrating it has been this past season I started to think the day may be a wash for anything hard getting done. We agreed that a sort of residual heat builds in a person even after the summer has slowed. It effects the inner condition of a person longer than it should. As we reached the canyon rim and the first sector of boulders tucked in between water falls appeared, the heat didn't feel so hot. The mind is a powerful thing!
The walk into the highest sector of good boulders is pretty easy. I was impressed that this new way into the canyon is so good. Great problems and projects abound in the highest sector and the setting is ridiculous. Water falls stream down and into the boulders while the sector sits high above the canyon floor. Jamie gave a quick tour of the area and suggested further descent into the canyon. I couldn't believe it. We were mostly in the shade, the water falls kept the air cool, and the super strong were motivated to get on a possible 8B+ project. None the less, we descended and in doing so entered another world. The canyon is not just another great bouldering area, it is a spiritual place.
Dumping pads at the "Black 45 Project" we ran around for what must have been hours looking at good problems and projects. It was super motivating to be out in the boulders with such a high energy crew! The group psych is such a factor in bouldering and sadly hard to find in Wyoming on a continued basis. I'm feeling it still, super excited every day now!

I tried to focus on the small area around the Black 45, but my wayward ways took me and I ended up exhausting myself on a huge loop. First down valley and across the river, then all the way back up valley, almost to the top end where I had wandered many years ago. The heat was intense and I was feeling pretty cooked. Finding Jamie along the river bed on the way up, we headed back to the pads. Dave and Daniel were chalked up and ready. I felt the motivation coming back too.
Daniel made the problem look pretty straightforward. I snapped a few pics and went at it. First go, it felt like climbing in a jungle. The holds are river polished, the heat was in the 70s (or felt like it), and the humidity in the valley was pretty high for Wyoming. Dave and I tuned in on the heat and started bitching. Jamie was all smiles and worked the moves with good progress. Daniel climbed like a machine and showed very clearly why he is so good at what he does. He is stronger than anyone I've seen boulder. I've watched Daniel climb every once and a while over the past 6 years and he is without a doubt beyond his past fitness levels. It is a new level. Dave found the focus too and did the hard moves of the project. The day was fading fast, the project had to go within a few tries or it would remain a project.

Very, very motivating to see the black 45 transition from a project to a complete line! It is a complete line. Hard and climbs out a perfect face of solid stone. The top is real and there is no turning back after the mail slot edge is taken out to the apex of the face (there is no landing after that!). We threw pads into the void and were ready to huck a pad under Daniel should he slip. He rallied and in good style crushed the dicey top.

Wyoming's hardest problem is now Never Cry Wolf 8B. It is a proud line and one put up in a day.

After the problem went down, psych was really high. There were a few more goes from each of us to use up some energy and figure/remember moves for the next trip into Devil's Kitchen. It got dark fast. The walk out sucked. It was dark and the hill steep. The next day my legs were completely shot. The thrill of the day however keeps me thinking about when I can return. So excited for the boulders!

I can't thank the crew enough for the day and what it did for my motivation. All in the days leading up to the fall season, which is always the best bouldering season.


  1. Great Post! I'd been wondering how your day went. Glad you had a good one! I'm so excited to spend more fall days in there, and psyched that such a cool project got climbed.

  2. Whoa, one hole in your tire, and you go and buy a whole new FA rig? Dayum, big spender here. Everything I hear about the Kitchen makes me wish I was still in Wyoming more and more and more. Never Cry Wolf looks freaking amazing, but let's face it, Daniel only got the first because I'm stuck here in the gray and rainy east. Keep these updates coming, they're doing great things to keep me sane.
    R.I.P.- B.R.V. Your mud holing, gun toting, minty green self may be gone, but you'll never be forgotten