29 February 2016

Wyoming Bouldering, Spring Update: Year of the Monkey!

Dr. Thunder on an undone project in the lowlands of the Snowy Range, Wy.
It's here! Spring at last. Only the final day of February, but it's warm and the feeling even in the high mountains is one of an oncoming sun and warmth. The snow will still come, the wind will blow, but sun is winning the day. The bouldering has once again been excellent. It's the Year of Monkey too. For Monkeys like me that's a huge deal, once every 12 years kind of deal!

Personally, I couldn't be more excited. A long break from the boulders this season with a bad knuckle and a wintry winter combined for not much on the rock. For me, it is a deep feeling of gray cold that hasn't been felt in several years coming to an end this spring. Not being able to even pull on plastic was beyond a bummer. On skis I covered endless miles of forest, ridge line, and canyon to find rock and get in some turns of sanity, but it was gray nonetheless. Climbing is life and it must be done.
On the hunt in the Snowy Range back in early January

Sunny and windy days have provided a quick melt from the drifts of a few weeks ago (and made really poor roads, so be cautious out there and have 4WD plus off-road tires!) Some low lying stuff in the Snowy Range has been visited, and Needle Peak has once again been a strong pull for development. The Snowy Range stuff is completely new, so no surprise should be felt in the pull to those hills for exploration, but Needle Peak is now an old area. How can new lines continue to get done on a mountain with so many boulders already completed and every single rock having been seen, sometimes many years back? The complexity of the place is the only answer. A boulder of every kind is there for the motivated. Short, tall, immense, hard, easy, and back to extremely difficult, holds of every shape, and landings of every posture and attitude provide what is becoming a very good pile of stones to play on. The latest wave of development started off 2016 with an encouraging step up from the normal. Focus has gone immediately to the last great lines of Needle Peak. The ones with faces that are too tall, or landings that have been too poor. Some maybe are too hard, but we'll get them done!

FA of The Deer Hunter. One of the first walls we ever looked at at Needle Peak, but has simply been too tall and the landing too much of a ledge. My first FA of 2016!
Working a project on the "ball sack" boulder, less than 100 yards from the parking lot. We had this down to a final move, but sun drove us off the warm stone.
Needle Peak can be thought of as low lying extension of the Snowy Range. The back roads all touch and one can be seen from the other. The complexity and variety of boulders only increases as you move from the low lying Needle Peak to the forests and valleys of the Snowies. Rock changes but sometimes remains the same, walls fall apart more easily in the alpine weather but shields of resistant and amazing rock become more clean, and big boulders hide in forests to be hunted by only the most dedicated. Really, it's all one mountain anyway, just a big expanse of mountains all touching with boulders connecting it all. Finding all the Snowy Range boulders has become an incredibly strong force in my life. Maybe too many resources spent on those random piles of stone, but it only takes one to be great. The hunt is as good as the bouldering! 2016 is the year of Monkey, projects getting done, and new lines being found and climbed!

Unexplored canyons with boulders. The foreground gives an idea of rock quality.


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