08 June 2013

Spring Bouldering Wyoming

Spring is here and moving quickly to summer. A long while has passed since my last post, but not because of any lack of bouldering. Because of too much bouldering in a time of decompression from a long year of graduate school, which I can add along with desk jobs as something that potentially kills people. The past weeks have been a time of failing on old problems, regaining fitness, and a few surprises including sneaking up a spectacular hard project from a season past (an event I have dubbed the "Fat Kid Miracle"). I have been amazed by how seamlessly a life of academic rhythm can flow so quickly into one of wild places and good stone where a calendar is lost to meaning. Complete abandon of one to reach into another. With summer on the way, and conditions changing daily, I will show here what has passed in the month behind us and a hint of the month ahead. So many good boulders in such beautiful places make for a classic Wyoming spring.

Spring in Neverland is always a reminder of lost fitness from a season bouldering inside. Winter training just doesn't prepare one for the rigors of full days and long walks to many problems. This spring was one of particular struggle for me to regain fitness. A long winter with little climbing yielded great entertainment as I struggled on my own problems from seasons past. It is always interesting to rework a known problem, and a great lesson.
Dr. Thunder on Memory of Ankylosaur V7/8, a problem with a touch of new beta putting the original V8 grade to question
Some help came this season from the south as Jamie Emerson, Justin Jaeger, and Wendy (who's last name I don't know) drove up to enjoy the good stone and conditions of a Neverland spring. They made the most of their trips and added several good lines to the area and repeated several others. Jaeger has turned the Columbine Cave into a finer variance-link-up-mayhem-problem-to-problem-chalk-every-hold-boulder than Morrison could ever be.
Jaeger on some sort of mega link up in the Columbine roof
Jamie completed a long standing project of good quality on fantastic slimper holds, The Arkenstone V11, of which I hope to repeat when it cools again. Jamie also spent some time repeating older lines in the Neverland sectors we visited. It was good motivation to see many of my established lines completely quickly and to see new beta on many of them.
Jamie on the opening crux of Moon Dust V9, a picture to quench your thirst as I don't have an image of Jamie on The Arkenstone V11. (see B3bouldering)
Devil's Kitchen:
With Neverland growing warmer and my body getting into bouldering shape again, Josh Oxner and I drove north to the Wind Rivers. Our hope was to sneak a few days in at Devil's Kitchen before the sun torments the place through summer. With Torrey Valley as a back up plan just in case, we never left, and Torrey remains destination I have yet to check off this season.
On the first day we hiked and made our way into the upper canyon where much virgin rock awaits a suitor. The way was blocked by thick forest, sharp bramble, a moose, and white water that would swallow a man whole. We became men in an afternoon. Josh tore both pant legs to shreds and blew out a shoe. We found immense amounts of boulders and an approach that will actually be pretty reasonable come fall. And we found a beautiful and desolate canyon with no one in it.
Josh's new pirate pants and scars to be
Day two I bouldered while Josh rested. I developed above the previous "Upper Kitchen" boulders and finally went to work on a new prow in the Upper Kitchen. Several good new lines went up and many others were cleaned. The prow I left in the Upper Kitchen will hold my attention until I can return to complete it. I finished the day tired and with ruined skin, but with a feeling of great potential for the Kitchen.
Day Three Josh and I both bouldered and descended into the "Lower Kitchen" along with Tim, Shannon, Rob, and Justin, while Jesse cleaned lines up top. Josh and I made a short recon once again into rugged and thorny wild. We found some good things to do in the fall. Several good lines went up throughout the day, but a highlight was Shannon making a quick FA of Crystalis V6?, a direct line going up from near the start of Bumble Speak V8. It is a beautiful line with a committing top out. no one else repeated it that evening.

Josh on a new Kitchen problem Neon Aphid V3? baking in the sun on this day.
The FA of Crystalis V6
The Crystalis ascent motivated me enough to chalk my sore tips and spread pads under a stubborn project of a prow on perfect rock. One I had spent some time cleaning and trying on my last trip into the Kitchen last year. It is the first thing Jamie Emerson had put chalk on in the Lower Kitchen and I am incredibly thankful for him suggesting I try it during a trip last year. I expected a trial on bad holds and a difficult evening, as Jamie and I had both agreed it was a difficult line. At a minute or so past 7pm I performed the "Fat Kid Miracle" and managed the crux move, then the rest of the line in grunts and core tension. A rare moment in my bouldering indeed. The line simply went, and went quickly. What felt like 8A+ on previous trips, felt much easier a minute or so past 7pm and is now Viscountess Olive, a problem I won't grade at this time, but is an amazing problem none the less.
The beautiful Viscountess Olive
Day Four I rested while Josh cleaned and chalked boulders above camp in the heat. A strange dream found me sleeping on my pad and I woke up in burning sun. We drove home and rested our wounds for another day.

That day came quickly as Josh and I visited an older sand stone area just out of Laramie. A short walk from the limited problems of the past two seasons, we wandered through thick forest and found a bouldering paradise. Several days of exploring are now ahead of us and many problems too. So, that will be the future at least until the heat or bugs chase us away. Hopefully that day is weeks ahead as snow still hides in the thick gnarled forest among the sand stone boulders. El Dakota...

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