Friday, August 28, 2009

One more before the Road

Now it may come as no surprise to any of you that know her, so I'll just say it " Alli Rainey is one tough Mofo!" Don't believe me, check this out.

Alli Rainey on Galactic Emperor 5.14a from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

No, she is not sending but this whole effort was done with two falls. She cruised the first boulder problem which is like V9 and fell at a reachy section that plagued her back when this route was only Sky Pilot .13+. Now it has three more clips and another heinous boulder problem near the end, which she nailed as well. She is very close and it will most likely go down this season.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chuggin Away

Its been awhile since I've posted anything, climbing or otherwise. In fact there have been two moderate days at the Island, two trips to Tensleep and two bouldering evenings on Cedar Mountain, one finished kitchen, one torn apart and one appeal to the City Council since the last post.

Two weekends ago was the last family outing to Tensleep. We harranged some friends into joining us and had a mess of kids in tow. Wouldn't you know it we picked the rainiest weekend in the history of rainy weekends to try and pull off camping and climbing with that many kids. Stir crazy would be a word that could be used to describe this experience, soggy, flooded, condensation, waterlogged are others that come to mind. Fortunately the sun came out Sunday by late morning and afforded us a little salvation. We headed up to the Wall of Denial and climbed two chunky and funky 10's ala Mr. Kardalef. I hopped on an old Stan Price .12a called Speak of the Devil and realized by the 3rd bolt that I never wanted to touch this route again so I had better not fall. Old skool rawl 5-piece bolts siliconed to the rock and spaced way too far apart at the bottom and way too close together up high were the theme here. I've climbed some excellent SP routes and this was not one of them, in fact it scared me away from the 130' long 12+ namesake route to the right. Enough for one weekend.

The following week saw a trip to the Island with Mikey and Jason. We strung up a cool 5.9 called Feeling Alright and then turned our sights on the classic V4 boulder problem, Kirts Corner right next door. Jason would love to climb the route Horn of Plenty .12a that extends up and out of this problem. After a half an hour or so of work, he had it wired. During this process I asked him to shoot a vid.

Mike Snyder on Kurts Corner V4 at The Island from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

We then headed to the back of the Island for Mikey to lead Illegal Dihedral one of the best 5.10's that I have done anywhere. I figured if he could pull it off, it would be great for his confidence. I hung the draws for him so he could steal some beta, and he nailed it in great style.

The following weekend Meg and I planned to go to the Crazy Woman crag up on top of the Big Horns. I had finally located it the previous weekend in the rain with the boys during an exploration drive up Hazelton Road. Unfortunately that didn't materialize and I ended up flying solo over to Tensleep instead on Sunday to meet up with Alli and Kevin. Since all of their house guests were gone, I had them all to myself, which was nice cause I haven't climbed with them much this summer. They showed me the new trail into the French Cattle Ranch which gets you there in about 1/3 the time as from the main parking area. One caveat, you have to cross the river on a fallen log, pretty casual this time of year, not so in the spring though.

The ten minute hike in had me staring up at Esplanada a route I bolted years ago, in fact the first route bolted in the FCR. The grade has bounced around a bit over the years since the original Wutang sandbag .12b was hung on it, it seems to have settled in at .12d. We warmed up on the diminutive Little Smokey a three bolt .11a with a hard move off the ground. Apparantly the proper warmup is to lead it and then run two more laps back to back with no rest in between. It was fun and effective as I now felt ready for Esplanada. Someones draws were hanging which was nice, Kevin said they had been there all summer and the route had seen a lot of traffic. He asked if I needed any beta, I said I remembered it pretty well though as we discussed some key points I learned that people were now using the rose move sequence between the 3rd and 4th bolts because it made the clip easier and it was cooler that way. I smiled because that was the way I intended the route to go and the first ascentionist found a direct sequence with a shitty churt piece that screwed up the clip. With Kevin on belay I started up and the route just flowed pocket after pocket and before long I was at the top struggling to remember the crimpy exit sequence. Kev yelled something about standing on my feet and I realized he was right and adjusted my foot placements and it all fell into place. What a great route!

Alli and Kev whacked away at Galactic Emperor .14a which is the extension to Sky Pilot .13c. SP is another sandbag route that finished in the middle of the wall, it starts with a V8 or 9 boulder problem and is .13a after that to the low anchor. Three more bolts now take it to the top of the wall and through another hard boulder problem at the end. Apparantly the hook making up the other side of the low anchor had to be removed as it was catching climbers knots and harnesses, so only a single chain remains as the 9th clip. It can still be done as Sky Pilot but will probably always be taken to the top from here on out. I belayed Kevin on his second go of the day, and after working out some key beta on the previous try, he fired it off with some very loud and determined breathing. Very impressive to say the least, I'm sure Alli will send soon as well.

Kevin has been using Sugar Mama a sharp climb with tiny holds that is graded .13b as his second warmup. The first half is very easy and the second is very balancey and reachy. He falls every time and still hasn't red-pointed it yet, though he isn't trying very hard. I was thinking of trying it since it was drawed up though I changed my mind after looking at his mangled finger tips. I decided instead on the climb to the right the brilliant and deservedly popular Super Mama .13a. Kevin sprayed me down with some key beta as he had done the climb this season and belayed several people on it also. I went for the flash and fell about half way up, half way through the business section. The rest is no picnic either though it was easier and felt manageable. I decided on my second go to try and sprint it since the bottom 5.11 felt easy and if I could get through the hard stuff I thought I'd be home free. Not the case, I did make it through the tough stuff only to come flying out of a big pocket on a long move above that. Alli shot a video with her camera.

Mike Snyder on Super Mama 13a from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

A little more study and a new plan was the formula and I fired it on my third try. There are two good rests, one below the .13a section and an even better one below the last .12 part at the top. I took them both and it was the ticket - my first bonafide Wyoming 13a. Quite pleased with our individual performances we hiked out and went back to the house for a delicious meal.

The bouldering crew presses on each Tuesday and Thursday evening and I'm beginning to become interested again. I joined them for a Thursday evening session though abbreviated by a prior obligation by my child's school. I only had a thirty minute window before dark. I wanted to help Jason out with Billings Shopping Trip a cool and kind of long V6 on the Good Foot Boulder. Of course I had my own agenda as well, a project that I still haven't decided on a good name for or if it is an eliminate. I was able to convince Dan and Clint to come along for the fun and we all set to work. I have tried this project on several occasions in the past and was still unsure how the upper moves were going to go, but I new it was all there. With Dans urging and ample pads I managed to hang on to the tiny side pulls and get the send. I think it checks in at V7 or 8, harder than BST but easier than Arizona Heat V8, all of which are on the same boulder.

This past Tuesday night was a mob seen with ten dudes and one girlfriend. It turned out to be a great session with lots of problem tried and sent. We started at the Bat Cave, moved to the Good Foot and then on to the Cozzens Boulder. At the end of the session I added up my V-points earned by completing each unique problem I did and came up with 26 for the 5 problems I completed. This little game seems to be gaining popularity as I troll the web, so I thought I'd give it a try. It got me thinking that this may be a good way to stay motivated and in shape for the upcoming season. I have set a goal of 50 points per session initially. This means I'll have to do somewhere between 8 and 25 problems per visit to the mountain to maintain my set goal. Considering we choose different sectors each time we head out this may be more difficult some nights than others but we shall see. Just something to help me stay on task.

This weekend we are heading to Red Lodge for some granite bouldering. I am excited for some cooler temps and a few projects that have shut me down in the past. Good friends and two days of pullin down should prove fun. Adios

Friday, August 14, 2009

Week Day Fun

How bout that, I finally had a climbing week in Cody! Tuesday night bouldering with the boys brought us up to the Fort area. There are new boulders and newish problems plus a bunch more development that needs to be done there. I was excited that the prevailing winds had blown the crew up there and that no one had even shoed up by the time I caught up with them. We rolled a large boulder out from the base of the Fort, one of the last that needed to go as it is pretty much flat all the way around now. We all warmed up and pretty soon Dan had directed the crowd toward the V4 dyno Trebuche. I videoed everyone trying from a couple different angles then thought I caught Dan succeeding, but couldn't locate it when I got home. Bummer, that would have been fun to sew together.

We wandered next door to the Ra Boulder and Get Your Spoon On V4 was first up. This is a very involved problem with several tricks that need to be discovered for a send. Clint and Dan and Jason whacked away at whilst I videoed and I caught a pretty good angle of Clint sending. Dan pointed out the obvious sit start to Ra Nights right next door. Strange how Jrow and I never noticed it before. I was immediately psyched, dropped the camera and started brushing. I nearly flashed it for the FA but fell half way up Ra Nights. I was able to pull it out second go and it seems to bump the grade up to maybe V6.

Get Your Spoon On V4 from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

It was close to sunset and I needed to manuever the troops around to the other side of the boulder, to my main objective Flash Of The Blade V7. Fortunately a cool somewhat scarey V2 called Purple Cobra is right next to it. I figured with all the pads and a little prodding we could lauch the send train and sure enough everyone but Jason flashed it. Finally to the Blade, this is an approximately 4 year old Victor Blanco addition I have always wanted to try but never have due to different lame excuses. It is a jump start problem with side pulls, its tenuous and kind of low percentage. It took many tries but I was able to send as we lost the light. Sweet!

Thursday came with a text from Dave Klug about bolt clippin at The Island our local granite sport crag. All summer I have declined due to being busy tiling and remodeling a kitchen. I finished the other day so I was free and Meg had secured a babysitter because she was kayaking with a friend and knew I wanted to climb. We warmed up on a cool 5.9 and went into the back to do some of the cool long 5.11-'s. Clint had showed up to round out our party of 3, which was cool because David had his sights set on Certain Damage a very difficult 5.12b and I wanted to go have a look at Redhead 5.12d. This climb is the only one at the Island I hadn't done and not for lack of trying, it had always shut me down. I hadn't tried it in many years so there was not much beta left floating around in my head. Once again with the light fading on me, I went for it knowing I would only have one chance. Holy shit! What a fight, I made it through the steep tiny crimps at the bottom and rested in the middle for the mind fuck 5.11 at the top. I climbed slow and methodically and after about 20 minutes arrived at the chains. Now I need to bolt some more.

Off to Tensleep today for two weekend days.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nowoodstock Festage

No climbing whatsoever this week. Much rain and busy-ness conspired to keep me occupied and off the rock this past week and I felt really well rested heading back to Tensleep for yet another weekend of blissful pocket pullin'.

We had many friends from Cody joining us for camping, music festivities and climbing this weekend and we headed over early on Friday to try and secure some campsites. Fortunately a site over in Tensleep Campground that stays cool in the morning was open so we snatched it up. This site is desirable because it has its own private creek for the kids to play in and several tent sites as well as a long driveway for the camper and extra vehicles. The walk in sites in Leigh Creek Campground were open and I directed Pat L. from Cody there. He decided to take both knowing that more folks would be showing up and it made a good home base for his crew.

Mikey and his kids were there Friday night and due to overcast skies Saturday morning we were able to head up to the crag early. The Cook family arrived in the morning and after a quick tent set up Clint was fired up to climb. We headed to the Mondo, as I had my eyes on Screaming Night Hog .12c and Aunt Jemimahs Bisquick Thunderdome .12d for today. I warmed up on Mommas Meds .12a because its short and has a quick powerful crux with good holds. Clint was psyched to try and flash it but failed at the last hard move. David and Ben walked up and were interested in trying the climb as well. David studied it and after a few questions went for the onsight - I made a video. I am not really concerned with polishing up my vids with music or anything fancy right now so here is the raw footage.

David Klug onsighting Momma's Mental Medication .12a at the Slavery Wall in Tensleep Canyon from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

While Clint put the wraps on the 12a I went over and got on Night Hog. I usually try this route from the Schools Out/Jackabite intro as it is a lot more fun, though the route was intended to go up the slab to the left. I felt like I had a good shot at sending quick so I did the proper start hoping to only have to climb it once. The bulge is really quite easy with deep pockets leading to one stopper move. I almost pitched but managed to stick the awkward move and actually clip the last bolt. As I clipped the chains I was already studying the cruxy move on Thunderdome as it finishes on Night Hog also. I remember struggling with that move years ago, though today it looked manageable. After an hour of rest Clint belayed me and I sent it 1st try.

Reveling in my successes my wife reminded me that Gold Member 14a was the next route for me to do at the crag. Great! Only 5 grades harder than what I have been concentrating on consolidating this summer. What the hell? Alli asked me to remove her draws if I decided to get on it, so I went for it with her assurance that I could pull on quickdraws through what I couldn't climb. What a stunning route marred only by the shitty 40' of slab you have to start out with. Steep awesome pockets lead to a very difficult move using a 1/3 pad intermediate to set up for a big throw. Not happening, I pulled through on the draw right into another crimpy sequence leading to a weird side pull. This is the set up for another move I almost did but not quite. Another 4 or 5 bolts of really fun thought provoking 13a that is easy to mess up leads to a kind-of-topout and the anchor. An eye opener for sure, I felt like I could possibly do the two hard moves and definetly wire the upper section. I will marinate on that experience until a later date.

We ran down the trail and raced back to camp to change, cleanup and grab chairs for Jalans performance at Nowoodstock. The man is truly a professional and dazzled the crowd with a too short set due to a short time slot. The music afterward was not anything I was interested in and the kids were tired so we drove back up canyon to our little villa in the woods. We built a fire and settled in for the evening, quite satisfied.

Sunday morning brought coffee, delicious bacon and eggs, plans for an FCR day and keys locked in the car. WTF? This unfortunately would uncontrollably alter our plans for the day. A friend from Cody drove a set of keys over late in the afternoon and saved our asses. Meg and Julia took most of the kiddos to the park to see Sundays music lineup and the boys and I marched up the Leigh Creek Trail. We ran into a group of 7 or 8 that had tackled a cool steep charlie .12a at the lower Psychoactive Wall. They had the draws hanging but no one was climbing or even waiting to climb it, so we asked if we could run on it, they were very accomodating. I asked to borrow a harness and Mikeys size 11 slippers for my size 9 feet, because all my gear was locked in the car. My feet flopped around but managed to stick well enough to get the onsight. I belayed Clint as he easily soared up the route too. Feeling satisfied clint and I ran off down the trail with little Sarah on my shoulders to find the Haunted Wall.

After checking out this diminutive but intriguing wall we marched back to the Godfather Boulder to find Mikey finishing up one of the best steep 5.10s in the canyon. Hell yes! we want you to leave the draws. I did it in my tennies and Clint ran a lap as well. Good enough for a f'ed up day we headed for town to find the women folk and tribe of kids. We caught the end of Jalans set, more (now very cheap) concession food and a couple very light beers. The road home is quick after a good weekend and before I knew it I was backing the trailer into the driveway.

We saw so many people we knew this weekend, non-climbers and climbers alike and it was great to catch up however briefly with each of them. I brought the kids gear with me this weekend and my daughter Eden was excited to climb. We set up some easy top ropes and let all the kids play, though not nearly as amazing as the 60' rope swing we set up last weekend, but fun nonetheless. Also James Litz has struck again sending one of Kev's new projects at the Superratic. F'ed in the A, right of Pick Pocket is apparantly 14b, the first of the grade in the Canyon. Good onya!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pushing It

The week flies by with endless perfect lattes and kitchen remodel stuff and I barely realize I'm working. Maybe I'm only resting, yes that's it, I'm resting in preparation for the weekend. The Tuesday and Thursday evening bouldering sessions come and go and I could care less, for my focus has narrowed to achieving some long sought after sport climbing goals.

The Thursday get together included plans for a rad dyno problem called Fuc%ing Death V5 which is quite a stunner, I had to tag along. DMiller has been trying this problem, and with a little tinkering with the already benign landing has made it even safer. I shot video hoping for a send but to no avail. I encouraged Clint away from this highly improbable for a shorter guy dyno, toward its crimpy and powerful brethren Life Wish V8. I knew this climb was his cup of tea and unfortunately put the camera down right before he sent it. Bravo Clinton!! Good on ya. We marched over to the Contact Boulder where more landing tinkering had revealed a better intro on slopers to 3-2-1 Bombtrack V4. With a bit of grunting I pulled through to connect and send the new problem at V5 or 6. Dan immediately dissected it adding different holds and two alternate endings. C'est La Vie. This is just one more boulder that for years had only a handful of problems and now has so many cleaned holds and options we can't count all the variants.

Kids, Food, Trailer, Wife, water - off to Tensleep. A dreary Friday reminiscent of any day in February had me wondering what the other side of the basin looked like. A quick call to Kev allayed my fears, as the weather was fine in the Canyon. I packed the drill bag the night before and planned another Friday Bolting Blitzkrieg with my sights set on a short steep roof left of Papa Knows Best .12d. We got a primo campsite near the river and tucked in the trees, set the trailer up, got everyone situated and I was off.

I didn't even get to the crag until after 6, but was excited to bump into Micah and Colby from Casper along with Doc Tom R from Lander who were packing up as I hurriedly unpacked my junk show. I stick clipped up and swung over, and was happy to find bomber juggy pockets so I slammed in an anchor and began cleaning and exploring the tiny roof. Ambitously but naively thinking I could start and finish in two hours, I began to realize daylight was fading and the secrets hadn't all been unlocked. Blast!! It would have to wait until tomorrow. Oh how obsession is a naughty mistress and the nights I've spent agonizing over an unfinished route are truly cruel. Marky D. caught up with us raving about another 5 star steak meal from the Tensleep Salon and we drank and told stories around the campfire.

Saturday brought perfect weather and an opportunity to get up to the crag early with Mark as he can't sit still long enough in the morning to wait for the cliff to go into the shade. Brilliant! I could finish the route before my kids and other climbers showed up. Things went as planned and the hordes of people that showed up that day was impressive. The new route which was to potentially be for my wife turned out to be a bit on the bouldery side with a cruxy but short V4 after interesting 5.9 flake climbing. More than she wanted to deal with, I flashed the 4 bolt route and we called it Mommas Mental Medication 5.12a. I watched Mark, Mikey and Meg flounder with the tough section and though I intially thought 5.11 something, I think .12a is about right. People love short 12a climbs so we shall see what happens.

My real goal for the day was Aaron/Alli/Gilly's new route Crown Prince Abdullah .12d. I wanted to check it out and hoped it would suit me. Lucky for me Micah was there and also hot to trot for this new addition to the crag, he hung his draws on it. I watched like a hawk gleaning as much minutia as I could knowing I might have a chance to flash it. I had already watched a handful of people try, redpoint or flash this route and knew about as much as I felt I needed though still apprehensive about the bouldery crux at the end. As luck would have it, I pooped out up high at the last crux wrestling with the tricky footwork and gave up unable to recover. It was a pretty good fight and after hanging for a minute and discussing options with Micah, I worked out the sequence and felt confident I could do it if I could get back up there again. After about two hours I warmed up again on Mommas Meds to get my draws off and went for it. I climbed the lower boulder problem quickly and only took one short rest then launched into the upper crux. Before I knew it I was clipping the chains and already planning which other routes of this grade range I might try next.

Here is a video of Micah on his best burn of the day on Crown Prince. Its not a redpoint but I sewed together the pieces eliminating rests and a fall from the upper crux.

Micah on Crown Prince Abdullah .13a from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

After a fine feast, some beers around the fire and a kid puking incident you don't want to hear about, we all headed off to bed. I awoke the next morning to the sound of someone or something banging on the camper right under my head. I ran out half naked to find Mikeys kid Danny with a stick and a rock in hand and a big grin on his face. I shooed him away back to his campsite only to realize I promised to make coffee for the troops in the morning and they were already up. Damn! I forgot to fill the water jug the night before.

Meg wanted more time on the ultra-goodness that is Circus in the Wind .11b and I realized maybe Circus in my Pants .12d, its neighbor might submit with some effort, so off to the Circus Wall we headed. This particular 12+ had damaged my fragile feelings on both prior seasons and I wanted revenge. Same as previous sessions I put the draws on CITW and swung over to draw up CIMP and have a quick refresher. Now the Circus Wall has a different sun aspect being on the back side of the main cliff, so its sun/shade schedule is different. It goes into the sun at around 3 o'clock, so morning is the best time to be there. We warmed up then prepped the climbs we wanted to do and I waited for my turn. It was close with the sun only a few feet away from the wall I knew I would only have one shot. Fortunately things went well and I fought through to clip the chains. I now only have one hard climb over there left to do and a handful of easier ones and I'm done with that corridor. Woohoo!! Progress!!

Our expeditiousness today put us at the TS Saloon salivating over the pizza menu only to find out we were too early. They hadn't even fired up the pizza oven yet. Shit! That place is expensive when I have to order individual meals for each of us, a pizza is much more cost effective and filling.

Next weekend is the Nowoodstock fest and hopefully we will have many Cody friends joining us for climbing and live bluegrass and dancing. Hope to see you there.