05 December 2012

Bennett Peak in December

The day began as many do, with wind and a forecast for 60mph+ gusts. Southeast Wyoming can be a menace on those particular forecast days, with otherwise sunny weather going to the birds. The birds of course can't even fly on those days. So, we drove West over the pass of the Snowy Range. Open even as winter has cooled the high mountains. I had never been over it in a vehicle in December. It looks like early November up there and everywhere else for that matter. Caleb, Bryan, Brian, and I drove west to Bennett Peak to escape the wind, to ford the wide Platte River of water that would be frozen if not for it moving, and to boulder. The pass though open was ominous in clouds and sleet. The day looked doomed from beginning but sun shown through in the end. The boulders were amazing and too many to climb.

Brian and Caleb cleaning fine rock in the December sun
 After crossing the Platte we dumped pads and gear and all went in separate directions, re-cleaning some old warm ups that appeared to have never been climbed. So little traffic in those boulders they reclaim a vintage look in only a season. Some new problems were cleaned too. Good new problems. Once again Bryan cleaned and climbed a problem he did not name. A V4 of top quality. Caleb and Brian cleaned as well, some problems that were finished that day and some that are now projects. My focus went to a strange blob of a stone in an odd jumble of downed and now grey trees. Awkward from the start it continued that way to the top. I named it Swamp Donkey V6 after a story of sort and some words of advice from Bryan and Brian about just that, Swamp Donkeys. Brian repeated the line and mentioned it was his hardest line to date. Well done for such an awkward problem. I attained the first ascent through precision foot work and intense core tension, while Brian went at it with purely random feet and thrutching jerks between holds. Either way it worked.
Brian on Swamp Donkey V6
Bryan cleaned a nice and simple line up hill from Swamp Donkey that should have been climbed last season if not for the rain. A hard and touchy start into a barn door gaston, went to a long and loapy dead point to a sloping lip. I stole it from Bryan, but only because he was resting his sore toe. Moments later on the first ascent I too sprained my right toe and it made a pop noise when I moved it. Nothing the hot springs wouldn't take care of later. Time Will Tell V6 is a short classic reminiscent of sandstone with fine-grain and good friction.
Time Will Tell V6 with the toe pop getting set by Bryan
An old project from last November caught my eye on the way in, first thing in the morning. Convincing the crew to drag pads that way, the sun grew heavy and around 3pm went to the canyon rim. What we thought would be Winter's cold in the evening dusk was strange calm and warmth. Energy was fleeting in my body. The longer set of moves wouldn't be going and that was clear. I reminded myself of the sequence, failed a final time, and went to the crossing of ice water for the trip home. Brian wore waders which is a fine idea, but removed him from the experience of being half way across a hundred yard ice bath when the instinctual brain takes over. There is no longer a decision, just fight, and you go for shore any way you can.

A fine day was had. An amazing day actually. When December in all past years has the roads closed and wind digging into our minds tiring us from hope to climb outside, we climbed outside. In the protected and sun warmed canyon of the Platte a winter paradise was found again. The bouldering is a different style too. Different than all the other places in Southeast Wyoming. The entire Bennett Peak area reminds of sandstone, the one stone we have a rarity of in these parts. It climbs like it, feels like it, weathers features like it, but is not it. It is gneiss.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Can't beleive you got conditions like that in December and the roads were still open! The problems look fantastic.