Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fall to Winter

Between the first snow of the year and DST, I am feeling the yearly gut punch, that is the onset of winter. I do ski, but winter just lasts so damn long that it always seems to get me down a little. Fortunately the sun shines quite a bit here in 'ol Wyoming and in a few weeks I'll begin visiting the sunnier destinations and all will be fine.

The Fall has yielded some great new lines and people have been checking boxes on the old stuff too. I went up to Cornflakes and then to the OG Boulder with the local crew to try and send one of the hard undones on this boulder. I cleaned this boulder up in the spring of '09 to try and open up the central line, but no one has put much time in on it until recently. Marc and Kerrek were both fired up on the stand start, which may be the ending for at least two different sit starts. After some concerted group effort Kerrek came away with the FA. Linking the beginning of Pistol Whipper or climbing from the true direct low start will be sick. Here is some footage from our day at the OG Boulder.

The OG Boulder from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bolt Clippin - Done for the Season

I have avoided this post for some unknown reason, all summer and fall. I think it is because although I had a very productive bolting season, I fell short in the sending department. I had too many cans of worms opened at once and couldn't seem to get anything completed. I like nothing better than to plop down beneath something, figure out what I need to send it and then do it - that day. Of course, it just didn't really work out that way this year.

I did manage to clean and equip 11 routes in Tensleep and build a trail to open a new crag. Between Charlie, JB, Aaron and myself the 'Downtown' Crag now has 21 routes total, 19 from 5.9 to 13a, and two harder projects. My routes were a 5.11 crack thing called Carbon Footprint and a spur called Oh Two... 12b. Four routes on the back side of the Cigar, the amazing and undeniably phallic freestanding pillar. They are Floyd Direct .12a, Have a Sneegar .12c, The Name of The Game .13a, and The Gravy Train .12b. All of which are super high quality in my opinion. I did two more on a steep shorter formation called the Nugget, Toothless Grin .12b and Goin' Feral .12a. A steep short arete with powerful bouldery moves called Sleep Reaction .13a, went in just left of Charlies' Coolsville route. Then of course there were two projects I couldn't get done, Shaker .13b or c and Big Bend AKA The Shit Storm project, which is similar to Shaker, but has 3 hard cruxes.

I have almost no media from the summer, but early on I drug Aaron Mulkey along on my first FA day of the Summer and he produced these two photos of the send on Gravy Train .12b.

Then there are the the Summer heartbreakers:
1. Heart Balls and Swagger, 19 clips at mid 5.13b/c. A .13a bouldery pocket thingy with tough exit moves to a giant rest, followed by like 45 more feet of .12+ crimpin'. One hung it.
2. Kyberspace .13a/b. Almost sent third go, tore a hole in my finger on the crux hold but managed to hold on only to break a hold way up high and come flying off. Hole in side of finger never healed up in time and tape kept rolling off. Shit and double shit. One hung too many times.
3. Shaker .13b/c? New route I bolted, consistently hard all the way up. Distilled the only crux down into a dyno preceded by a knee bar rest, making it not really very cruxy. The upper 45 foot headwall has one great pocket affording a rest if you can get to it. Ultra-sustained before and after. One hung that shit too.
4. The unnamed Granite Scoop from last year, 5.13b? Good god, I have this thing wired now. Why can't I finish it?!?! Finally got through the whole roof, turned the lip and in my overzealousness, I bolted for the anchor. Success was fleeting as I clipped the last bolt, not only could I see the anchor I was so close I could smell it. I screwed up the kneebar I so desperately needed and melted off. Triple shit! I have one hung that one so many times, I'm embarrassed.

I did mange to finish off the Whiney Baby Wall Sending Team Whiney Baby .12c/d and Tangerine Fat Explosion .13a. Both of which I climbed with my good friend Victor Blanco in a day, on two separate occasions. Should of flashed both but got 'em on second goes. I should note both climbs are quite good but a little soft on the grade. I also managed to fill in some unclimbed easier ones from years past like Saigon Sheridan .12a/b (easy) and Hot Dog .12b (not easy).

I saved Rosey Pussytoes for many years, averting my eyes when anyone was climbing it, hoping to onsight it someday. I popped off the final cruxy crimp, only to easily climb through it on my second go. This route has changed so much over the years, starting life as a celebrated .13a with a viscious bouldery crux. A seemingly invisible flake broke off leaving a crisp edge to null and void the boulder problem down to .12+. It then received an extension pushing it back up to .13b, until people started climbing to the right on 5.10 ground, to avoid the tiny pockets. The extensions bolts were moved to the right to accommodate the dumbed down ending and the climb has settled at .12d. Like waiting to see a blockbuster until it comes out on video and then not enjoying or understanding what all the fuss was about, I'd give it one star.

I guess I was reluctant to post cause I expected to send one of those harder routes, but it just never materialized. So there it is, much bolting and trying but not so much sending. I have finally, begrudgingly let go of the bolt bug until next year. Focus has now shifted to boulders and eventually training (yawn). Many cool new problems already with lots more to come... stay tuned.

Friday, October 22, 2010


The progression we all make in climbing, may be one of the most alluring thing that draws us to this pastime in the first place. Case in point, my good friend Clint. I've known Clint for a number of years and he has always approached climbing with a massive amount of power. How many times have I heard, "Liftin' weights, will make you bigger" when complaining about my lack of raw power. Until recently Clint's power has propelled him past his climbing objectives with brute force. Thats not to say anything has changed, but he now has developed a quick sense for problem solving and experience has shown through. This has catapulted him up some viciously hard problems this year and I believe he can conquer even harder things as well, we shall see.

In the meantime, here are some highlights from the past couple of months:

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Stuff

I guess you could say that 2010 has been very productive as far as new stuff, new boulder problems that is, are concerned.

There has been a guy named Joe in town that has put up a couple of new problems one of which we climbed a month or so ago. It is on the Tads Prow Boulder and climbs the beginning of the V0, and busts left along the faint lip on cool slopers to an awkward ending. A V5 or 6 on its own, we added a lower start and a handful of hard moves on slopers to create Full Retard V7.

A week or so later we came across another steep lip traverse on the other side of the Tiger Style Boulder (or Solo Roof). Unable to determine whether this line was climbed in full, we re landscaped the beginning to allow a proper non-dab start, and came up with two endings. The left is called The Marshmallow Door V6 and the straight up is called Coke Twitch V7.

This weekend we wandered out to the Tuned Boulder to warm up and put up several new eliminates using a variety of holds that hadn't been climbed on before which was cool. I maneuvered the troops out to look at a boulder I've been calling the Caboose for years but still hadn't the vision to establish anything on. Lo and behold the lip traverse fairy had struck again leaving another V7ish gem for us to try. This one had the name and grade written in chalk "The Mongolian V5+". The grade had me chuckling. The 5+ was the calling card for sandbag back in the day. A way of saying "its harder than the established V5's in town but how much harder was yet to be determined." Of course this was before anything really hard had been completed in Cody. Here is a video of Marc riding the Caboose (pun intended) of the send train, Clint and I had started.

Speaking of hard things and new things in Cody, Kerrek Stinson has been on a tear in 2010. He has established multiple V10's and V11's, and Codys first V12 and V13. The list is too long to list them all but here are a few highlights. The Dragon Force project which is now called Living in Infamy V10 and its sister to the left Fossilized Dragon Poo V10. On the Spear Point Boulder, The Pookster V11 which is the SDS and direct start to Spear Point Crack V9, a repeat of the enormous linkup Spear Chuckin Baby Throwin Hoedown V12 established by Canadian Terry Pahallick, and BJ Tildens epic Tribal Vibrations V11. He also managed to put Down The Grim Ripper Project in the summer heat, calling it Dope As Chrome V13. Also in there, a quick repeat of Pistol Whipper V9. On the burgeoning backside, several V9's, an unnamed V10 on the Mothership that Marc repeated and downrated to V8, and a V12 which I don't know the name of on the back of the Roof Boulder. All of this sandwiched around about five weekends where he travelled to Tensleep or Lander and climbed his first 5.13, a 13b/c, flash. He also ticked 13d and 14a before retiring back to bouldering. Not bad for his 16th year... of life, not climbing.

To reinforce this posts topic, I would be remiss to leave out Drews commitment to the South side of Cedar. Despite sensitive access issues, Drew has established possibly over 100 problems to add to the 20 or so that Clint and I had put up back there. The surface just barely scratched, we are psyched!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Drew was in town last weekend, and with him five Bozeman climbers, all hungry for some sandstone. Clint, Jason and myself offered up some direction in the form of a tour. I just love spending a day on the Mountain wandering from boulder to boulder trying to sew together the best combination of problems.

The folks from Bozeman varied widely in ability and direction from only motivated to try super hard stuff or projects to up-for-anything. So the day went, from the stacked with easy problems Fort Boulder, to the strange but brilliant Ra Boulder, down to Tiger Style, Ahona and Preclean and finishing off with some well deserved sends on the Pugilist Boulder. The highlight of the day for probably all of us was watching Clint somehow fire off the rarely repeated Prizefighter V10 at the end of the session. Normally I know when he is about to do something cool and I'll turn the camera on, but not this time, it just happened.

I managed a send of the new V6, Marshmallow Door on the back side of the boulder Tiger Style is on. We have been trying to find out who found and chalked up this steep little beast but no one seems to know. We lowered the start by relandscaping the base and envisioned two different endings a few weeks ago, Marc then sent the left line and Clint did the straight up one. Unsure as to the origin of or previous success with, we decided to name and claim FAs until we discover otherwise. Both are very good steep problems with the straight up having some dangerously sharp crimps at the end. It has yet to earn a name and goes at around V7.

The Bozeman toughies Kevin and Fletcher were enamored with my stout project on the Ahona Boulder. They worked out the moves to Ahona Verdugo V8 and Kevin sent with the quickness. They set to work on the arete project and made great progress and almost sent but not quite. This problem is super cool, a king line you might even say, that will go at around V8 or 9. There is a lower link over into the start of Ahona that should go as well at V10 or harder.

Great sessions at the Fort, Pre Clean and The Pugilist was enough to torch the entire group by the end of the day. We limped off the Mountain each of us wild eyed and crazy for food, beer or whatever else might slake our depleted bodies. Fantastic!!! Love it.

Shot some stuff, made a vid, check it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Back side!!

We have been going up to the South side of Cedar now for several years to boulder. Trips prior to that were exploratory in nature and generally involved wandering around and being lost in the vastness. A few years back, Clint and I started driving to the top of the Mountain (across private property - with permission) and building a trail system down to the biggest boulders, which passed by several other piles of smaller boulders. Drew started going in from the bottom last Fall (which also includes crossing private property - again with permission, of course). He has put in many cairns and a trail through the talus, and spent many overnights camping and developing.
South Side of Cedar from the parking at the bottom

Four of us ventured up there on Sunday and I realized just how much has been done already, there are now well over a hundred problems. While the cluster of large free standing boulders has been picked over, there are still so many other sectors waiting for discovery and development.

The Red Streaky Boulder

We started at the Red Streaky Boulder as it is a good warm up with nearly perfect red sandstone. We climbed most of the main problems and Clint tried the Bird of Prey proj at the far left side of the picture above, which seems really hard. He manged to get through the crimpy powerful bottom part several times but kept failing on the short jump to the sloper. We originally placed this project at V7, but that seems a bit naive. No one else was even close.

The HP40 Boulder

The Mothership Boulder

The Mothership Boulder is probably the gem of this area. A free standing giant flattened egg, it curls under at the bottom and rounds out at the top. There are numerous18 to 25 foot straight up problems on it ranging from V0 on up. I shot some footage of Clint flashing the V5, which I think is called In Peace We Come. It has a cool lower crux, then an easier but high top out. Our group managed sends of the sandbagged V6 to the right, and also the incorrectly graded V10 and V8 right of that (they were more like V8/9 and V4).

A quick stop at a lower boulder with a crimpy V9ish thing and we were toast. The sun (nearly 90 in late September) had fried us, the rock had sapped us and the walk back down the hillside would require all the energy we had left.

All in all a great day, inspiring us to make plans to return and develop stuff closer to the car.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

She Wanted A Wall

My wife has been very nice about bugging me to build a wall, and I have been putting it off. Then she got the girls on board, and I knew I could put it off no longer. So after two days of cutting, drilling and screwing... we now have our very own wall. Now I have to round up my old holds from the wall I had back in the 90's and order some new ones as well. We have 16' up and 9' wide with many t-nut holes to fill. Here are is a quick video, real quick.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Sleep

Another weekend, another blast over to Tensleep and back. Jason went with us this weekend and it was nice to have another adult around for kid wranglin'. We all climbed strong on Saturday with Jason flashing his first ever 12a. I ran a lap on EKV to remember what long steep and pumpy feels like, and also because someone had left draws hanging on it. I one hung it and got a great deep pump for my sixth pitch of the day.

Today a crew of us went up to the new bouldering area to check out boulders we had seen in pictures Aaron had taken a few days before. I was impressed but ultimately these are just shorter versions of what we are already finding and bolting in the canyon. In a very dense cluster of steep streaked blocs, many of which looked climbable, Charlie chose a steep bulge and began cleaning. I hopped in and cleaned a line to the right on a blue streak. Both problems came out great, climbing pockets out the steep roof with fun top outs. My buddy Drew was along and cleaned up a few lines along with Dave and Lenore who also scrubbed and climbed several lines also. It will be cool to have good bouldering in the canyon and this crew seemed psyched to ferret out the good and hard stuff.

I hustled Jason out of there but couldn't wrestle Drew away, for this was a two crag day and I had work to do. We shifted gears and marched up to Downtown for some bolt clippin'. I have now bolted and cleaned 7 routes up there, and until today had only been able to climb one. After two previous tries I did Have a Sneegar 12c first try today and flashed Floyd Direct 12a. Now I have the middle and hardest one to do and the back of the Cigar is done. I think they are all 12's and super quality pockety routes. I am eager to finish up here so I can work on the 13's I bolted on the other wall.

Ah... Tensleep

PS. The new photo I used for my title background is me on The Gravy Train .12b. This was my first route on the back of The Cigar. Thanks to Aaron Huey for the photo. BTW - this route is amazing (pat, pat), I highly recommend it and all the other routes back there.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A List

Summer is here and things are chugging along at full speed. Work and family keeps me busy, though I have been juggling climbing and bolting in the mix whenever I can. Motivation has been high but focus has been blurry lately, probably due to a late spring sinus bug brought on by raininess and temp fluctuations. The recent heat seems to have dried everything up and my head is nearly clear now.

Many people over the years have talked about lists they have prepared to help them zero in on and complete climbing goals. I have always been interested but alas too lazy to actually compile a list. I always feel like there IS a list for me, its just not written down. Yeah right! Last summer it worked pretty well because each time I completed something, I knew right where I wanted to go next, and things moved along. This year I was having trouble knowing where to begin. So... I compiled a list. It is only for Tensleep right now, and only for the upper canyon stuff. It includes routes from Metropolis all the way up to the Whiny Baby wall. The routes are only ones I have not done and range from 5.11b to 5.13b. My list has 35 routes. I do not expect to do them all this season, but now I have something to shoot for. It feels different to have actually written down what I want to accomplish.

My fitness level is still lacking and my endurance is coming back, however slowly. I am a bit scattered in that I have been on HB&S a long 5.13 at the slavery wall twice now and my new granite route in Cody which is 5.13-. These routes both feel doable but I have also failed narrowly on two 5.12b's in Tensleep, but done everything else I have tried in one go. My power level is about as good as it is gonna get, I just need to wrap my head around fighting through the pump. Hopefully things will start to fall into place soon.

My new bolted routes in Tensleep are fantastic. I have bolted, cleaned and prepped four lines but am still trying the first and easiest(?) one. I thought it would be 11+, but 5.12b or c seems closer. I fell on the flash attempt at the last bolt and then again going for the hold to clip the anchor. Next go for sure. The one to the left, in the center of the pillar got cleaned and prepped last night and is even better than the arete line. It seems harder and more sustained. I installed two more anchors, one for CK and one for me, both just left of the other two routes. This should almost fill the backside of this formation, and there is still plenty of room on the side and front.

Charlie and JB are in full swing at the new area as well. CK has bolted and sent two lines, a 10+ and 11-. JB has bolted four lines on a different formation, one of which could turn into two pitches. I am psyched that there are over ten routes there already. I may be able to do ten myself this season. New routes are cool and fun to find and establish but they take a toll on me, cutting into climb time and wearing me down physically. It's definitely worth it though!

I have some more media and info on the local bouldering but I'll save it for a later post. Ciao!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Summer is finally here

I spent a day a few weeks back climbing with my friend BJ, we tried the undone lines bolted on the granite in the lower canyon. He had his sights set on an old project called The Labor of Hate. A cool 12+ line of crimps up a steep wall to a stopper move to reach the anchors. He worked out and chalked up the line and found a plausible sequence for the final burly move. He practiced it but never actually stuck it, damn close though. I worked on the line around the corner from last fall as well hanging the draws and reworking some sequences. Unfortunately there was a key jug that had a puddle of water in it, and though it may not have mattered I didn't have the strength to power through it and just wipe my hand afterwards. Oh well, draws are hanging.

My new job has me over on the other side of the Big Horn Basin in Worland a couple days a week, developing new referral sources. This puts me frighteningly close to Tensleep Canyon which holds many lines I have yet to climb and a massive amount of virgin pocketed rock to bolt. My good friend Alli gave me permission to plant my pop up trailer in her side yard to use as a home away from home. It has become my office for work and a staging area for bolting missions. I finished equipping two routes on a steep bulging formation at a new area. One is a managable but sustained rig that will go at 12+ or 13-. The other is similar with several brutal cruxes, so probably harder. I began aiding my way up a free-standing pillar, my intent to leave a sport route in my wake and reach the top to access the other gems waiting to be bolted. These routes will be superb with unbeatable position - very psyched!!

Now that Alli is back at home, the climbing and training has begun with much vigor. She has folks staying with her already and more showing up in the coming weeks. She has draws hanging on Heart Balls and Swagger, a 19 clip long 5.13 that her beau Kevin bolted and sent toward the end of last season with James. They graded it 13c due to its length and one bouldery move. I took one run on it and climbed to the crux move only to sag and fall before even trying it. I rested and did the move. I also found an unchalked pocket that provided a workable sequence after that leads to the only jug on the upper section. It is sustained 5.12 climbing to the chains from there. I have no endurance whatsoever, so I was psyched to do all the moves, but daunted by the idea of sewing it together.

Bouldering continues to excite and amaze all who venture onto Cedar Mountain. I always try to shrug it off as the heat rises in the summer and concentrate on rope climbing, since the season is short. I am inevitably drawn back though, because the momentum doesn't fade with the locals but rather accelerates due to the longer days and cool evenings. Speaking of locals, they are all stronger than ever pushing individual limits and completing long standing personal goals and projects. I wish I had some footage of Clint mowing down all the V8's on the mountain or Kerrek completing new lines like the V11 direct start to Spear Point Crack or the left sit start to the Wilfords Wretch, but alas none was shot. Instead here is a video of Dan demonstrating that you really can climb on sandy choss, Dylan in mid circuit doing More is Better V4 and Clint sewing multiple old problems together to create something a little different.

Any Given Thursday evening on Cedar Mountain from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

My camera is busted so now I have an excuse to not post pics. I'll keep shooting with the little HD though so I'll try to post up some more media.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Charged The Drill!!

Nearly two months have past since a post, Damn!! Sorry, but things have gotten hectic in several ways. First of all I started a new job and energy and focus have been siphoned away to concentrate on getting things right. A good job that pays decent is a rare thing these days, so I have been racing to get up to speed and make an impact so I can keep the position. So far things are going well. The other thing is my crappy old PC, which is creeping slowly toward oblivion. An upgrade is in the works and that should help with sound and movie concerns.

I have been climbing, quite a bit actually. Bouldering days have been fairly regular for the past two months, though the occasional splotchy weather drives me into the gym on climbing nights. I have been to the Bridge Bands on several occasions and strung up the long easy tens on the right end of the Cliff. I feel mentally solid but my power level isn't quite where I'd like as evidenced by my two days of failure on the 25' long 12c, Fossil Crack. This climb is steep with a distinctive powerful crux and reachy jug haulin before a thin crimpy sequence to pull the lip. It climbs like a V6 boulder problem. I chose this climb because I have done it several times in the past decade since it went in, and I felt it would be a good transition from bouldering to bolt clippin'. My last visit was great and I linked through the crux twice and fell higher sorting out the powerful reach moves above. I'd like to polish it off and try to finally redpoint its neighbor Bobbys Big Bulge 12d (yes that is a Bobby Model reference).

The Tensleep season is nearly upon us and I am ready to start making pilgrimages. Routes to bolt and routes to send! Syked!! I have unfinished business on the granite here in Cody as well, and promised myself to install and open at least one other route on the plug formation below the Island. Also there are FA climbs bolted and waiting that may be out of range now, but if I can get to where I was last year I may have a shot at sending.

So I dumped my bolting bag out to see what shape I had left things last fall. I use an electricians bucket which is a great durable catch-all and it does just that. The usual suspects rolled out, various bits, a blow tube, wedgies, a hanger or two, a link of chain, some spare biners, and a cloud of dirt and rock dust along with a few rock pieces. For some reason that always gets me fired up, so I began assembling the rest of the kit and making a list of stuff to buy. A few days later and all the necessary stuff had been rounded up and the drill charged. I bolted 3 last year and 5 the year before, which is good for me considering I have been juggling a family, my small business and general ennui. Wait, I'm still doing that, its just with a different job and I'm actually fired up right now. If all goes well, I should get that many or more done this year, with several routes planned in Cody and a new wall or two with Charlie in Tensleep this year.

Its not that I don't have any new or old media to share. I have shot a lot film clips just nothing I have been psyched to sew together. Last night I was at the Homestead V5, a fairly high overhung arete and at Studs V8 right next door. Between the double send train on both problems, a nearly 20 foot fall I took off the prow and the massive relandscape job done to the Studs landing Zone, I was kicking myself for leaving the camera at home.

I have been climbing with Drew a lot lately. This is probably due to the fact that he is on the mountain nearly everyday either climbing or landscaping or both, so he is almost always available. He is climbing better that ever but his perma-psych and energizer-bunny motivation isn't allowing any rest or more importantly recovery. I think I climbed 8 days a week when I was in my twenties too, so I can relate, though I understand how vital rest is. Granted I am twenty years older now and climb marginally better than in my twenties, it seems like I need 3 times the rest to really recover.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Satan's Soul V12

The Hate Satan Project has succumbed to the determination of Kerrek Stinson. While I was not there to capture it on video, I'm sure he made it look easy. This problem however did not go lightly in that many attempts over multiple days went into it. This was even after the moves had all been sussed, completed, the sequences sewn together and with enough tries to pretty much wire it. It still demanded something more, like the exquisite meal that is so much more than the ingredients that went into it. Awkward yet unique in its execution, this is a fine problem that is also very hard. I did spend a morning filming attempts and sewed together a collage of moves identical to what he used for the send.

Satan's Soul V12 from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


My favorite holiday of the year. Not really a holiday but significant nonetheless because the extra hour in the evening allows for after work outdoor sessions during the week. To me, it has always signaled the beginning of the season.

A few years back (like nine) Dylan put in an order to Frank Endo Chalk for a box of seconds. What he recieved he figured would last him for ever. A giant box lined with a plastic bag of busted up chalk blocks! A treausre indeed, and it did last for quite some time. With the bouldering activity ramped up last year, he began going through his stash and passing it out to friends with great speed and kindness. Lo and behold the well ran dry and now he is out.

Enter Clint Cook, always in search of the greatest deals on the planet. After a little research on the net he placed an order for a new case of busted up seconds. I picked him up this morning for an afternoon of bouldering on the mountain and he came bearing gifts. My very own gallon zip lock bag full of chunks of chalk. Yess!! A fine gift on this most excellent of climber holidays.

Now if you climb more than once in a while you know how quickly chalk can disappear from your chalk bag. Throw in a rookie mistake here and there like kicking over the bucket or sitting on your chalk bag and spilling the whole mess (come on we've all done it), and finding a good cheap source of the magic dust becomes a must. So next time you need a fix, get some buddies to pony up for a 24lb. box of seconds and it will cost just under $100 delivered straight to your door. You will never have to be THAT guy again, you know the one who always has a chalk bag but there is nothing in it except little pebbles and pine needles.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Winter Sun

Though it has been too cold and inclement for outdoor climbing for most of the winter, February wasn't that bad around here, for bouldering anyway. Most trips are usually to the sunny wind blocked Carcass Crag. Due to the flurry of recent activity several new climbs have been envisioned and a gem or two completed. I have been lazy in shooting anything down there but rest assured a treasure of an FA awaits. I hope to capture it.

Kerrek has been training with us due to the permanent demise of our local rock gym, CORE. He basically lived there training nearly every day after school for several years now and was wondering what he would do with out it. The kid is strong, he showed up and cruised our warm ups, cruised our cool tough problems, cruised our projects then went on to create a project of his own.

Kerrek has been making trips to an old project on the Hate Satan Boulder that we envisioned back when Finger Paint and the other roof problems were being established. Dubbed the Hate Satan Project, I convinced BJ Tilden to have a go at it. He made several trips and came very close but lacked a foot transition that apparently stopped the whole process. Kerrick has replicated the sequence and decided to simply campus the tricky foot work. He has done and linked all the moves and now has to sew it all together. I gave the lad a ride the other day hoping to catch some good light and a send to make some video. I did get some good video but no send yet. As part of my ongoing effort to document and publish as many Cody Boulder problems as I can stand to film and edit (if you could call it that), here is Kerrek Stinson warming up on Shiza Shiza V7.

Shiza Shiza V7 from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Doin' it in the Box

That's right, Box Canyon just outside of Socorro, NM. Not a destination you say? Perhaps, but I have found myself there two other times in the past two decades, always on the recommendation of a good friend who is from there. On this particular trip not only was he there with me but the catalyst for the entire trip, more like I was there with him and two other homies from Cody. We had four days to see what the Box had to offer. Our quiver included three giant crashpads and associated bouldering hooha, such as chalkpots, a variety of brushes, speakers and Ipods, green chile beef jerky, etc. In addition, I insisted we bring sport climbing stuff, cause at the box, you can do either and they're both very good.
The trip down was a breeze. We drove through the night, taking 4 four-hour shifts and were there in time to get a full day in. We hit up the warmup blocs in the riverbed right near the parking area. We then marched up the hillside to the THC wall and another wall up and around the corner. Nearly everything I climbed on was cool and needless to say I overdid it and felt trashed by the end of the day.

Dan Miller Pioneering at the THC Wall from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

Another THC Wall problem from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

Day two we clipped bolts at the Alcohol Wall. Dan and I struggled, er.. warmed up on the two climbs on the far left of the wall. We thought they were 10+ or 11- and it turns out the guide says 10a and 5.9. Meanwhile, Dylan and Clint warmed up on a cool climb he claimed was 10c. Dylan lead it and commented that he didn't remember it being that spicy. We all struggled through believing it was only 10c, only to find out later that it was actually 11c. Dylan kept talking about this old project through the bulge to the right. He bolted it and did all the moves but could never send it, he claimed it was probably 12+. Since the rope through the 11c anchors hung straight down the old project I figured I would give it a top rope. The moves up to the bulge are on the biggest jugs which is easy right into four super hard bouldery moves. I tried this sequence but could only do two of the four moves and couldn't link any of them. We talked to some one later on and found that this proj was sent by Timmy Fairfield and called Pimp Daddy and given 5.13d. No wonder I was getting nowhere.
We rounded the corner to the Pocket Change Wall to try the route of the same name. Dylan put the draws on in good style and 3 out of 4 of us flashed this quality route. After sampling one more easier 10 as a warm down we packed up and headed down to check out the Unbeatable boulder and several others down the drainage. No one had any skin or energy to muster much of anything but we all picked gems to work on the following day.

Pocket Change 5.11c from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

Day three brought more fantastic weather, sunny but cool. Bouldering was the agenda for the day and we headed to the unbeatable to warm up. This superb stone has a steep wave on one side and a perfectly vert side on another offering a variety of easier climbing and a few test pieces. We did the phenomenal arete Pressure Drop V1, and it took us all multiple goes to fire off Lion of Judea V3, a viciously sandbagged steep juggy roof. Dylans friend Jake was along with his wife and kids. Jake is somewhat of a legend in Socorro having pulled off a mile of non-stop traversing of the streambed boulder some fifteen years or more ago. He easily hiked Jah Lives given V7 but regarded as V10 nowadays. An impressively strong dude to say the least.

After the blood was flowing we ventured further down the drainage. I had my sights set on Rubber Walrus Protector and Tyler Durden Meets Tyler Durden. My friend Eric from Alberquerque was down with his son and wanted to try another random V4 on the left on the way down to RWP. We both whacked away at it and made slow progress to no avail and ultimately decided there were better fish to fry. We made our way to RWP where people were already starting to congregate. I watched a few goes which seemed like an eternity because I desperately wanted to try this climb but secretly hoped to flash it. This one of my favorite types of climbs, an upside down compression squeezy thing, including heel hooks, toe scums and lots of slapping. I sidled down under the beast to the starting holds, knowing the crux was in the first two moves and the rest would be easier. These moves revolve around a heel hook that keeps you from swinging around, and everything else is just straight on power. We had heard rumblings of V4 all the way to V8 but no one seemed to know for sure. I almost wish I had failed because watching the crew work out the details led me to believe this was surely a classic. It fully engaged everyone that tried it and there turned out to be multiple approaches to solving this striking boulder problem.

Rubber Walrus Protector V4-8? from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

We had watched a crew the day before working this steep bulge on the downhill side of the Fight Club Boulder. The difficulties revolve around a single two finger pocket and sloping edge you get after launching out under its belly. It looked fun and powerful and from the looks of the group climbing on it, not too hard. Turns out those first couple moves were so difficult that every one in our group except Dylan and I resorted to an alternate sequence going up the side on crimps avoiding the pocket altogether. This just wouldn't do for me, being that the perfect two finger pocket is what drew me in to begin with, I had to do it that way. Perhaps the duality of solutions lent to the bipolar name of this cool problem: Tyler Durden Meets Tyler Durden V7.
After trying a few of the other Fight Club Boulder problems and getting bouted, I wandered up to Sofa King V4 to find Tom and Paul two other old friends of Dylans working the line. They were more than happy to give me some beta and I was psyched to flash it. Several other folks showed up and the pads were shifted to Dark Knight V6 and a line formed. This turned out to be another brilliant and engaging problem that seemed to take everyone a number of tries to solve, except for Jake who didn't fall or fail on anything all day long.
Day Four my friend Eric came back by himself to sport climb with me at Dirt Wall, and the rest of my crew wanted to see the streambed boulder, so we split up. Eric and I marched up to Fillet a Papillon aka: Dirt Wall, and I was happy to find routes very similar to the limestone I'm used to tugging on back home. We warmed up on New Kids 10+, then Eric moved the draws over to a short 12b called Little Caterpillar for me to try after another 5.11 to get fully warm. It went very well with two cruxy moves and the rest being straight forward enough to onsight. Pleased with that, I tried a longer 12b called Red Tag Sale, with a 5.11 mid-point anchor and was too pooped to continue past the first anchor. I finished with Dreadlock Holiday another good and long, although sharp 5.12a that baffled me two moves from the anchor.
All in all this was a great trip with good weather and the opportunity to climb everyday. We all climbed well considering climbing on real stone has been had at a premium lately. The laid back attitude of the locals combined with the killer NM style cuisine and availability of bouldering and sport climbing make this place a favorite for me. My only possible complaint was not visiting the Enchanted Tower though it was potentially snowed in and I wouldn't have traded any of the days I had in the Box.

Monday, February 8, 2010

FOCM Rides Again

FOCM pronounced fok' em is an Acronym for Friends of Cedar Mountain. This benevolent and hardworking coalition was formed to clean and maintain the bouldering areas on Cedar Mountain in Cody, WY. Meetings are held Tuesday and Thursday evenings on the mountain during the Daylight Savings Time portion of the year ranging from March through November. During these meetings boulders are climbed (and sometimes moved), trash is identified and erraticated, spray, chicanery, heckling and other forms of banter are exchanged, six packs consumed and general revelry for the outdoors and the act of climbing are celebrated.

Occasionally this circus, er show, is taken on the road. Last year we headed to HP40 in a single 30 hour push to climb for a week on what could only be described as some of the finest boulders in one of the chillest areas found anywhere in the world. A great trip that predated any of this bloggety stuff for me. My friend Dylan put together a great 20 minute slide show but we didn't shoot any video.

This year we will be headed to New Mexico to partake in some bouldering around Soccoro and sport climbing at the Enchanted Tower near Datil. I have visited both before and was impressed.

My fitness is about as bad as it could possibly be right now. I have skiied a half dozen times and spent two days landscaping new boulders so my cardio and legs have seen some activity but overall I feel really weak after the two month climbing break. Since February 1st, I have had several hangboard/pull up bar sessions, one gym session, a day of bouldering and one freeze yer ass off 5.9 sport climb which combined has left me sore as hell. I will train in the gym Tuesday night and then we leave for NM Wednesday evening. I hope to feel stronger by Thursday afternoon. I'm no spring chicken any more so we shall see.

The FOCM crew has been busy bouldering in the gym and outside, weather permitting. They decided that the quality rock and caves at the base of the Carcass Crag are ripe for new development. So here is a video of one of the best and easiest new climbs churned out as of now. I managed to thrutch my way through this for a flash.

What's The Problem? V4 from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Decade

Posting has not been a priority lately because I have decided to take a two month rest/break from climbing. I tried this last year around this time and found that 2009 was more productive than any season I can remember in the last decade. I have never really ever stopped climbing for longer than a week in the last 16 years, save for a few injuries that sidelined me. My theory is that while the muscles tend to rebuild and recover quickly, the tendons need more time. I feel all sorts of strange creaks and tweaks during the rest, but I can generally get back up to speed in a few weeks after I resume training and climbing. Also the short days, crap weather and Holiday stuff make climbing outside this time of year a struggle anyway.

I did do something different that was climbing related about a month ago. I managed to snag a job climbing an 80 foot tower and installing radio antennas to enable a local church to broadcast live programs. The existing tower a top McCullough Peaks was already packed full of antennas, wires and dishes, though I did spy a path up the west side that was easily protectable and relatively free of existing equipment. I treated it like any rock climb I've ever done mixed with some rap bolting technique as well. The task involved hauling equipment up, bolting it on the tower, wiring every thing together and strapping it all firmly to the tower. The engineer I worked with told me it would take two days of work and because I generally underestimate the time needed to do anything I set out to do, I wanted to do it in one day. The job was a lot of work though pretty fun at the same time with a killer view to boot. I worked fast but safe and managed to finish in five hours and everything now works as it is supposed to.

The two arrow-shaped antennas at the top right of the tower are my handy work.

I got Meg a hang board for Christmas. The folks over at So Ill hooked me up with a Blurr board which seems to have great texture and a variety of crimps, jugs, slopers and a pocket or two. I pulled down the old slicker-than-snot Pusher board that we have been greasing around on for years. I built a wooden mount for the new board and screwed on the old Metolius Rock Rings and a couple of Hera Climb for Life crimps to give us some more options. February 1st I'll start training and using it, Meg started immediately.

I was looking at a some old footage I shot years ago on VHS-C and decided to sew together a video of the homies and I working out Finger Paint back in the day. Its not great quality to begin with but I saved it as an AVI file and it looks like hell on Vimeo. Oh well, I 've got nothing new so maybe I'll bore you with more old stuff as I pick through it.

Finger Paint V7 from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.