Saturday, September 24, 2011

More New Granite Routes

The new SDS drill bits for drilling 'harder' material seem to work very well in the Cody granite. Inspired by easy pickens, I decided to re-equip an old route from the early 90's. A strange tale this one, it was there in 1993 when I first started climbing and then it wasn't. Without going into too much detail, the route was stripped by the first ascentionist due to questionable rock quality. I have seen (and climbed on) some pretty good routes put in on some pretty shady choss over the years, so I figured stringing a rope into the existing anchor and having a look for myself wasn't such a bad idea. I took the drill for this little recon, of course, and in about 3 hours had equipped and cleaned the longest line at the Island. The top was really good reddish granite which is always quite solid and featured. The bottom third however, was black basalt which is always blocky and hollow. I pried off the offending hollowness and scrubbed the solid core rock to produce an awesome moderate. Big Ben .10d is 10 clips and 95 feet long.

I was lured back to the Single Malt Wall for another slam dunk quick and easy moderate between the Bowmore and the Angels Share roof. I knew the line was there but just needed to look at it up close. It is essentially a second pitch to Glen Morangie or an alternate finish to The Bowmore and goes at .10/+. I called it The Ardbeg which is one of my all-time favorite Islay Single Malts. I climbed it as one long pitch from the Bowmore beginning without too much rope drag and tried to do the same beginning on Glen Morangie but the rope was quite heavy by the end. It is probably better to do it as two pitches when starting on Glen Morangie.

Getting two long but easy routes in made me long for some suffering. No not really. Though many of the lines I want to do in the Lower Canyon require a ground up approach and that is a LOT more work and a very slow process. I launched up onto a short angular fin on the left wall under the big chockstone and was excited to find great slopers and pinches. The route took two sessions to completely equip and clean and produced a unique compression style climb that finishes in a chimney. Climbing it was more difficult than I expected but boiled down to one stopper move on a terrible slopey pinch. I managed to send it on my third try and realized that although it is good engaging climbing the whole way, it really was only the one hard move. The Art of War .11d is a very cool and different route that may or may not be graded right. Its kinda steep and somewhat slopey with an awkward finish curling into the chimney to clip the anchor. Marc and Jason were with me the day I sent it, but I couldn't convince either of them to try it, I think they were a bit intimidated.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I Do Boulder, Sometimes

Yes I finally went bouldering on Tuesday evening. We had a pretty good crew too. Members of team FOCM were present and fun was had. The posse warmed up on the Cheese boulder and then moved to the Ripper Boulder to work out the cryptic sequence enabling a clean (dabless) ascent of the Ripper Extension V8. Kerrek Stinson joined us halfway through the process and showed us how it was done. His pants dabbed on the first try and he was called out by the raucous and unforgiving crowd. He rested and casually sent it again which worked for me, allowing me to shoot it twice.

Kerrek Stinson on The Ripper Extension V8 from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

We also visited the 80 foot long traverse on the West Face of the Symmetry Boulder. This awesome V1 'route' never disappoints. Lastly we ventured up to the Eternal Gardener Boulder which no one seems to know about as it was developed shortly after the guide came out. The fantastic problems Eternal Gardener V5 and Brilliant V6 were savored by all as the sun set on us briefly illuminating the red sandstone pocked by white chalk trails.

About the time my heart got racing for the brilliance that is Cody Bouldering, I went back to the Octagon in Ten Sleep. I can't believe how much fun those climbs are! I nearly flashed Kevin's new addition on the left side of the Cave called Vanilla Gorilla 12b/c, succeeding on my second try. It is the start of the Mexicutioner 5.13? which travels over 100 feet to the top anchors. I also fell going to the jug to clip the anchors on my second try of Baby Face Assassin 13a. I decided to continue out the horizontal roof to check out Soul Assassin 14b which adds 8 or 9 more clips of insanity to BFA. I belayed Kevin twice on his 5.14 project The Thrashing Machine. At 18 clips going out a nearly horizontal roof, it is one of the craziest routes I've ever seen, though one of many similar creations in this cave.

Can't wait to get back there for more. I climbed at The Octagon in February and March and now September and have always found tolerable if not ideal conditions. Summer is a little warm though the cave gets shade most of the day. Winter is cold but the sun shines in nearly all day long. What more could you ask for?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tired Now

My last post alluded to the number 20. I didn't really define it though it has been a goal of mine this year. In 2010 I equipped eleven new sport routes and managed to climb nine of them, all were located at the new crag in Ten Sleep called Downtown. I put in my first sport climb in 1994 in Cody and have managed to bolt at least one line each year since with the most in one season being nine. 2010 was very productive and I hoped to be able to eclipse that number this year. After hitting eleven I set a goal of twenty and though I just finished number twenty there is one route along the way that isn't finished yet.

The trip to Cayman Brac early in the year got things rolling with three routes. Nameology 10c, Hindenbergs Harmonica 12b, and Cayman Nights 12c all turned out great. When I got home I realized that on sunny Winter/Spring days the granite in the lower canyon caught enough sun to afford comfortable development of some warmup routes. I slowly worked my way through three more new lines one of which is two short pitches separated by a ledge. The Single Malt Wall now has LaPhroaig 11a, Glenmorangie 10b, The Angels Share 12d and The Bowmore 10c. With seven pitches under my belt before the snow melted in Ten Sleep I was fired up.

The upper canyon in Tensleep is usually too cold or snowy in the Spring and May and June can even be somewhat in-climate. I picked a long line in the lower part of the canyon to equip at Drywall. It turned out quite well but I only tried it once before it got too hot and I haven't been back to finish it off yet. A line in Cody called out and having just finished going ground up at the Drywall, I set off on another ground up push on the harder and more secure granite (a ripped RB and 15 foot aid fall made me rethink aiding the soft Dolomite). Eight and nine were finished though neither has been redpointed yet.

My attention focused back on Downtown and I decided I needed to finish equipping the shallow cave like feature at the left side of this area we had dubbed the John Henry Grotto. I added Easy Wind, Shagadelic, Shake and Bake and extended Charlies route Shaggy's Marijuana Flag. These routes are all 5.13's, I was able to climb only Shagadelic 13a and the Shaggy extension 12?, the others are beyond my ability right now. Ten through thirteen done.

After a break of a couple weeks I installed Electric Jesus on the far left side of the cave. The only line left to finish there goes up just to the right of EJ and should continue out the second tier roof. I bolted half of it but I'm not sure the lower half goes so I'm leaving it for someone with the proper vision to complete it. Number fourteen, Electric Jesus on the other hand turned out brilliantly, short steep and powerful with the hardest bit at the end. I think I can send it though I will need top fitness and a little luck. I thought it would be 12+, but I realize now after a few attempts, its probably more like 5.13b or c.

The injury sidelined climbing for a while but I continued bolting. Fifteen, Sixteen and Seventeen at Downtown went in between the Coolsville and John Henry walls. These long lines produced excellent 5.12's and as my abs healed I was able to tick off Red Neck Super hero 12c, Robot Steamroller 12b, and Super 8 12a. Line eighteen back in Cody on the granite has been started but isn't finished yet. Its another ground up affair and requires new drill bits before I can finish it. The Chill Arete 11c, was a quickie and used some existing anchors. Its a cryptic little granite beast that I hope to send again with improved style and maybe some better beta.

Number twenty went in last week at the French Cattle Ranch in Ten Sleep. I have been staring at this line since my first visit there in 2000 before there were any bolts. It climbs the left side of the Matrix pillar and though its short (only six clips) its pretty hard. It climbs great stone and is steeper than it looks. It seemed reasonable my first attempt, falling my way up the thing learning its secrets. It felt much harder on my second attempt, gunning for a redpoint. I squeaked the send on the third try and though it is short it packed quite a punch. I called it I Know Kung Fu and slash graded it at 12c/d. I tried to compare it to other climbs nearby that I have done. It felt slightly harder than the sandbagged Hot Dog 12b and Kielbasa 12c yet easier than Esplanada 12d. I made a placard for the base of the climb since a new guidebook may not be around for several years and Aaron Hueys lines are drawn in the wrong place for the other routes on the pillar. I liked this line a lot though I think it will torture future ascentionists because it is tricky, reachy and has a few small holds.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hammering Toward Twenty

A month has passed and my midsection is almost healed. I couldn't stay away for too long and of course gingerly prodded my way back in earlier than I should have. Initially I convinced myself that top roping wasn't such a bad idea and 5.11 or under was okay. As long as my core never became suddenly engaged things would be fine, so I stayed on my feet, with nothing dynamic and no campus type moves. Not too long later I convinced myself that bolting would also be fine because I generally go top down and use a wooden bosin chair for cushy comfort. And so it went.

Fortunately, none of this obvious tomfoolery has blown up in my face yet.

The two new routes at Downtown needed a final scrubbing and blowing and of course some attempts. After futzing around on the fixed line with the back pack leaf blower, crowbar and scrub brushes they were ready to be climbed. I liked what I had created but was apprehensive about the lower angle rambly beginning sections leading to the money climbing going out the bulge section at the end. I rallied Marc and we headed up to try 'em out. I was most excited for the left route and after a quick warmup I hopped right on it. The bottom section has great flow and deposits you into a tricky small pocket crux with thin feet at the base of the bulge before the holds get big and the angle steepens. All goes well for a couple clips and the holds start getting smaller as you get more pumped, with tiny crimps guarding the last clip. I knew it was coming but second guessed my ability to step up and just grabbed the draw. Once I had the quickdraws hanging, Redneck Superhero .12c went down on the 2nd go.

The one just to the right also has easy rambling terrain leading to 5 clips on steep rock going out the bulge. It too has the hardest bit right at the end. Having moved the clips over on the way down RSH, I managed to fight through this one for the flash. My nine year old came up with and insisted on the name Robot Steamroller .12b. Marc and I were so enthralled with the quality of the rock and movement on these two routes we started envisioning more routes on the formation. We decided there could be as many as six or seven lines but maybe only one more route out the bulge.

The following week I set to work on what would become Super 8 .12a, just right of the other two. This one takes a direct line up the massive flake following its left side towards the top to reach the bulge. Though it may be the steepest part of the belly it is on it for the shortest time with, you guessed it! A crux at the end. This time its a long reach, with a cryptic series of hand changes to make the finish go smooth. All three of these routes are very fun with incredible movement through out and I would recommend them as warmups for the tough stuff to the left or as can't be missed ticks for the 5.12 leader.

This past holiday weekend Marc and my family met up with JB, Sara and CK for some pocket pullin at Downtown, The Ice Plant, Wall of Denial and Valhalla. I was psyched to climb JB's last new route this year Vulcan Jezzerie .12a at Downtown. It is a long vertical affair with some small positive holds and a few monos along the way. The next day we ticked a few pitches at the Ice Plant and went over to try Charlies' new route Zombie Leprechauns. This brilliant .12a just left of Insane Hound Posse at Denial was the hit of the day and everyone in our Micro-posse tried or ticked it. Monday we trucked on up to Valhalla so Marc could try Killer Karma .11d and I could give Aaron Huey's Succubus On Top a go. Aaron gave it 5.12 in the guide though I'm not sure he climbed it and its not really that much harder than KK. I hung draws on each route while Marc absorbed beta and easily dispatched both of these roof routes first go. This type of climbing is what we have been training indoors for 15 years so its hard to tell what the grades should be. Nevertheless, Succubus is another fine addition to the Oblivion Wall.

Jason has had quite the sport climbing bug this summer. He has steadily worked his way through almost everything at The Island in Cody. Marc and I took him down to the new Single Malt Wall on the old road near the river to climb the new granite sport routes I put in this Spring. He was pretty psyched and easily onsighted or flashed each of the climbs. Marc and I were salivating to try the route 100 yards back up river that climbs through the giant black basalt inclusions at the start of the route. I bolted this thing in May in the rain right before the summer heat settled in. It was at first wet and then almost immediately after, too hot to pull on the small holds near the top. I have been patiently waiting all summer for conditions to improve, since I can't seem to drag myself out of bed at first light for the one or two hours of morning chill. Marc and I both took burns on it and we both executed all but one move, albeit we both skipped or failed on two different moves. We felt the route was probably in the 5.13- range and I would need a little tighter ab muscles and cooler conditions.

On the way out that day, Jason and Marcs' twenty-something knees blasted them up the talus, leaving the old man slowly plodding along behind. Instinctively, my head rocked back and up I stared at an over hanging arete littered with bulbous features. I have looked at this section of cliff too many times to count but now I was seeing 'the line' for the first time. In fact, I knew that there were already anchors up there from a neighboring trad line that may be in the right spot to do double duty for this potential addition. I returned a few days later and in under two hours had it bolted, cleaned and ready for action. That same night, I snared Jason after he flashed the almost 30 year old Last Freedom .11d at the Island and hustled him over the guard rail and down the talus slope to the arete. Two goes later I sent the Chill Arete .11c after offering it up to Jason upon falling twice my first try. It tricked him too but we both felt that it probably wasn't hard climbing just hard to read. It features crimps, pinches, slopers and a mantle and is steeper than it looks.

There is a section of cliff line down there I have been staring at for years now and I finally made my way across the river to look at it up close. This happened on a day when the route I was there to bolt was baking in the sun. Finding a brilliant looking wall of 15 degree overhang for 100 feet with obvious features, I shifted gears and started my way up. Six bolts up and the wall won, chewing up my last drill bit. Granite is only marginally softer than titanium and carbide tipped bits that will make hundreds of holes in dolomite succumb quickly to its will. Apparantly you can buy SDS bits for drilling in extra hard material. Hmmm... I need to place an order.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

More Sleep and Some Rest

Returning from a week back East with my family to visit my folks, I surfed the interweb and found this well done video by John Dickey and Cedar Wright. This irreverent video features a route I bolted last year at the new 'Downtown' Crag, called The Gravy Train .12b.

BD athlete Cedar Wright sport climbing in Ten Sleep, Wyoming from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

The left side of Downtown features The John Henry Grotto. I added one more short and stout line on the far left fold, it is called Electric Jesus and may check in around 12+/13-. I gave two attempts but was unsuccessful in red-pointing it. The last and maybe one of the best routes there, it features a juggy start and holds that decrease in size until you are left with crimps at the end.

Before I left on my trip, I started two more long routes on a formation between the J.H. Grotto and the Coolsville stuff. These routes ascend a lower angle section to reach a bulging feature toward the end. All of the bolts are in but more cleaning needs to be done. I hope to get back to them soon but I will have to wait for a while due to an injury sustained in a wake boarding fall. I ripped my abdomen muscle to shreds and have been advised to take some time to let them heal. Bummer!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Downtown with CK and JB

Yes indeed more routes of a variety of grades are going in Downtown. Charlie and JB installed and climbed 4 new routes on the front of the Cigar pillar, 2 - 5.10s and 2 - 5.11s. I climbed both 11s and one of the 10s the other day, all are nice additions and great warm ups for some of the harder stuff nearby. JB hooked up two longer routes left of the Coolsville stuff. He thinks one is 5.10 and the other may be 12-, though both still need to be climbed and are currently 'projects'.

My last three visits to downtown have been spent almost entirely bolting new stuff at the John Henry Cave. I have roughly 6 new lines there now depending on how you count them. The left most line is totally independent and could be the hardest at the crag with 5.12+ climbing and a hard (V8?) boulder problem at the end. Charlie has been asking me to extend Shaggy's Marijuana Flag .10d, up to the John Henry anchors. I added three bolts and basically chalked the holds and it is done, it will probably check in at 12-. There is a direct start I added as well coming up through the bulges to join the low anchor, this is called Shagadelic and seems like 13a. Of course the extension from the former route can be added to spice the ending up a bit. I also added a new 7 bolt ending to the left of Shaker which produced a 12+/13-. This ending can be linked into the Shagadelic start as well, which may or may not up the grade of that route.

All of this is finished just in time for a three day visit to the Canyon for the long weekend of the 4th. I have only tried Shagadelic as of now but I hope to finish that and several others this weekend.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer in Full Swing

A lot has happened in the way of climbing since my last post but yet I don't feel like I have accomplished much.

I went down to Lander for a weekend of sport climbing and their annual Beer Fest. I took the Wild Iris Climbing shop my last Cody Bouldering guidebooks and in exchange picked up the recently released Lander Area Sport Climbing Guide written by Steve Bechtel. This book is an improvement on two decades worth of guide books on Landers wealth of climbing. This one is properly descriptive and informative with color photos and not a lot of fluff. It is compact and thin belying its over 1000 climbs covering the Sinks, Wild Iris, Baldwin, Fairfield, Fossil Hill and several other smaller areas. We got in two pretty good days of climbing despite the beer drinking and debauchery sandwiched in between. My goal was to take down a Lander .13a. While I did manage to do a handful of 12's that I had never been on before, I never even got on a 13a.

I did finally try and red point the new long slab route at Drywall. I surprised myself by getting through all of the subtle crimpy trickery only to fall at the last and probably hardest and most runout portion of the climb. Theres not much quite like a 25 foot lead fall on a slab. Yee-ha!! Fortunately it was a clean fall with no injuries or even abrasions and I climbed back up and through to the anchors. Rain began and forced us running back to the car. This climb is all of the technical nightmare I knew it would be but maybe not quite as hard as I thought. I'm guessing at 12a or b, which is pretty high considering its a slab. It is quite long and though I got very pumped I hope to do it next go.

I went out with Jason for an evening of bouldering and he wanted to do the classic The Wretch V7. This is a great boulder problem located a stones throw from the parking area. Its just hard enough that warming up on it can be dangerous and trying it at the end of a day can be futile. We tried to warm up as best we could and then hopped right on it. Having worked out the bottom already Jason needed a little direction on the end. I explained my method and after two tries each we both sent it. We walked over to Caya another V6 or 7 problem and set to work on that as Jason had not sent or even tried it yet. I showed him how the sit start worked and explained the 3 different finishes. We flailed about trying the harder right finishes and eventually settled on the direct crimpy finish which is about V5 or 6. Drew joined us and showed me yet another start which seemed to be quite a bit easier yet still fun. Jason and I stuck with the original start and both finished it that way.

I returned to the Downtown Crag in Tensleep to try and finish last years unfinished business on Shaker. Young Stefan Lavender from Colorado had recently nabbed the FA and told me it was one of the best routes he has done in Tensleep. He commented that it felt hard at 13b, having recently sent The Hellion .13c, Burden of My Member .13b/c and The Incredible Horse Cock .13d. I hung the draws with some serious effort and managed to two hang it on my next go. Though not quite as strong as my efforts last year, it still seems early in the season. I left the draws on the upper headwall since it is so continuous up there.

The left side of Downtown has so much more potential for hard routes, I just had to check it out. I asked Huey if I could finish his route that he and Nick had re-conned last year and he said they had abandoned their effort. Huey thought it was too hard for him and Nick not hard enough. This is a really nice 20 degree overhung wall with smallish pockets and edges, just what I was looking for. I got most of the bolts in and much of the cleaning work done, so it could be ready after another hour or two of work. I also started bolting the upper roof and plan to link down the left bulge to create a mammoth route with two sets of anchors. This king line, if it goes like it looks, will be 110 to 120' of overhanging pockets and edges, finishing 50 feet out from where it begins. The first half will likely be 13- or harder and the second part is much steeper with better holds. The whole thing may be in the 5.14 range.

The heat has finally set in and the local granite crags are just too hot. I'll have to time a visit early or late in the day or wait for a cool day to try the two unfinished lines down there.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bolted Cracks!?!?

We just returned from the first weekend family camping trip of the season. A familiar place to kick things off, Ten Sleep Canyon for some bolt-clippin' therapy was the ticket. The weather turned out to be perfect with 70's and 80's both days. I was psyched to get up to Dry Wall with my recently acquired 2011 Ten Sleep guide to check out an area that has always been somewhat of a mystery to me. Aaron Huey's color photos and route descriptions were spot on, despite the fact that little is known about the names of half the routes, grades and bolt counts are what I'm looking for.

I guess I have always enjoy the bolted cracks located at most areas throughout the canyon, and after a weekend of sampling these gems I'd have to say, Dry Wall has the lions share of quality bolted crack routes. Most climbers groan or even worse at the mention of such atrocities, but soft limestone and crack gear is typically a bad combination so I applaud the climbers brash enough to spit in the face of convention and equip these lines. Thank you, I had a blast climbing eleven pitches most of which were some or all crack style climbs.

I had been eyeing this 5.12 called Cheesy Livin which is a Matt Wendling route. He has quite the eye for a good line but tends to sandbag the grades, so I'm always a little wary. I finally realized toward the end of the day that what I was staring at was a crack climb of sorts, a hanging dihedral, the same kind of lines I had been stemming all day long. I went from being intimidated to feeling invited and got instantly psyched. I tried to study it and underestimated the sporty beginning missing a key pocket only to slump onto the first bolt. I pulled back on, executed the move and ended up climbing to the anchors like I was still onsighting. The climb was so good and engaging that I just gave it what I had and enjoyed the heck out of it. I got the intro sequence right the next go and sent it. I loved this route and would highly recommend it and most of the other crack lines at Dry Wall.

Speaking of the Dry Wall, I finished bolting and cleaning a route there this past week. It took three evenings over the past month. The route is located at the far left end of Drywall and it went in ground up. I wasn't sure how to get to the top to rap down, plus carrying an extra rope and all that bolting stuff when you're not sure where you're going is a little taxing for me. This will be another techy nightmare ascending 14 clips of generally vertical terrain with very few jugs and an ample amount of crimps. I wasn't really amped about it until I began cleaning and ticking it on the way down. That was when I realized just what I had created. As we like to say, "Its sooo very Tensleep". I don't think I am quite ready to tackle this beast yet, but soon enough I will be attempting to drag anyone who is willing to sample the cracks and viscous crimps this crag has to offer, out for a belay.

Media-wise no camera means not much in the way of Ten Sleep eye candy. However my little HD cam goes bouldering with me so here is something from Cody to chew on in the mean time. I had some old footage from a day last November at the Sphinx with Marc, Clint, Jason and myself. Marc had a good day this past week, snagging a couple FA's, one of which I managed to capture. I mixed the recent FA in with the footage from last Fall.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Good lord, another one.

The granite walls of the lower canyon in Cody have had a strange pull on me this year. Like a junkie having found a new drug, I am pulled back again and again. Though this is a much healthier habit and has produced some pretty good additions to the canyon. I finished installing another route, this one went ground up. The recent rains had left it quite wet as I picked my way up the wall leapfrogging RB's and bolts. This was a pretty clean stretch with several different varieties of stone. Of course there was a section of the pink exfoliated potato-chippy shit and also the dark brown lichen covered stuff. The usual suspects notwithstanding, I was pleased to find a section of coarse grained grey rock with macro features and also a clean greyish-pink intro with good crimp edges punctuated by several giant inclusions of black basalt. Though I was able to clean it pretty well on the way down, I'll have to wait for it to completely dry out to go after a cruxy section that was soaking wet. I am very pleased with this new addition and I think it will be a great challenge for me to redpoint.

This is a route I have been looking at for nearly 20 years that until recently had a ancient power line strapped to the wall blocking any thought of development or ascent as a rock climb. The Bureau of Reclamation removed the old rusting cable and cut all the steel struts off with a torch a few years ago returning the wall to a more natural state. Fortunately the Bureau has always been friendly to climbers and the myriad of other user groups that visit the canyon on a daily basis. As it is, I am the only local resident interested in developing sport routes down there, so you might say I have there entire canyon to myself. I hate to say what I have planned next, not because I'm afraid someone will steal it, but more because I'm afraid I won't get around to it or it won't actually go. Suffice to say, if this next line works out I will need several sets of anchors.

I went bouldering with Dan and Clint a couple weeks ago and shot them working out Ancient Sea of Fire, a cool V5 that ascends a beautiful orange face with subtle ripples.

Ancient Sea of Fire V5 from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Maya and Eden's climbing video

The girls had an end of the year talent show at their elementary school. They asked me if I would make a video of them climbing on a favorite route at The Island. We spent an afternoon shooting some different angles and practicing the route. I thought we would get to go back again to shoot some more footage but the weather has just been too cold and wet. As it turns out I had enough film footage to assemble an entry for them. So here it is; Maya and Eden climbing Witch on A Broomstick 5.8 at The Island in Cody with a favorite song of theirs, Jalan Crossland (sorry I butchered your last name on the video Jalan) doing Cumberland Gap.

Maya and Eden climbing at the Island from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Little of This...

Things finally came together on the wall in the lower canyon. The Single Malt Wall now has four lines with five pitches. The left most line is Laphroaig .11a. The central line first pitch is Glenmorangie .10b, it finishes on the ledge with the second roof pitch being The Ardbeg Roof .12d. Since they are only 50 feet or so each, they can be strung together with a 60 or better yet a 70 meter rope and a little rope drag. The right line up the slab is The Bowmore .10c and is 13 clips and 100' total length. The only one I haven't finished yet is the original line just to the right and up the streaked scoop. This one is called McClelland Strong and I think it is about .13b. I slid off right at the anchors last fall and hope to finish it up as soon as it dries out this year and before the heat sets in.

I met some friends today up at the Carcass Crag and got some bouldering in. We have had so much rain recently, this was the only place we could think of that might be dry enough for climbing on sandstone. Jason and I had a session at the Antelope Boulder a week ago and decided it would be cool to check out some of the sport routes in this area, specifically the two on the Visionary Boulder. So today I packed a sport rack in with my bouldering stuff and brought a short piece of rope. The route on the left is 12- and the one straight up the steep part is .13?. We set up a TR on the left one to check out the route and the integrity of the sandstone, since it had rained a lot over the past four days. Surprisingly everything seemed sturdy and solid, so after a TR burn I went for it on the sharp end. It went much easier than when I practiced it earlier on TR and seemed about 12a due to the bouldery crux right off the ground. We didn't have time or strength left to check out the harder one, but we'll be back.

Also I managed to race up to the Mondo Beyondo in Tensleep Wednesday after work and install a proper sport anchor on Momma's Mental Medication at the Slavery Wall. This little bouldery beast has gotten some serious play over the last two seasons since it went in. Since the new Guide will be arriving in stores any day now I think it will see even more traffic. My original anchor was too far left and the hook portion moved, so I abandoned it and installed a better located one a few feet to the right. The rope runs better over the lip now as well. I left the chain from the old anchor so if the route ever gets extended up and left I can use it as a perma-draw. Hope that helps improve things.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Local Projects and Octano-no

A quick update on the Octagon: the BLM has identified a potential archaeological issue presenting an access problem. Hopefully this is a temporary moratorium and will be sorted out soon. Until the situation can be resolved climbers have been asked to refrain from visiting this area.

Due to this obvious redirect, my attentions have shifted back into bolt mode on the home front. The Granite in the lower canyon has been nagging at me to establish more lines, so drill I must. I am not seeking out the fractured protectable weaknesses but the steeper face lines requiring bolt protection. I have one two pitch line which is now fully bolted and a single pitch line as well. Both climbs seem to be of good quality but are still a little dirty as this billion year old basement rock tends to be. Hopefully a final cleaning mission on each line to remove some dust and dirt and clean the exfoliated 'potato' chip sections and they'll be ready to go. Properly cleaned Cody granite routes tend to be popular as evidenced by the traffic at the Island, so I'm hoping this new crag and its lines will be well received too.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Visit to the Octagon

With my good friends Kevin and Alli leaving for the Red River Gorge soon, I wanted to get one more visit to the Octagon in while I still had tour guides. Its amazing the amount of work Kevin puts into each one of the routes he has established there, and there are quite a few now. The cave has 7 routes now, all with fixed chain link draws. Many of these lines have multiple anchors due to length and varying difficulty. One of the newer unfinished routes is nearly 45 meters long. It has an anchor after 10 clips of 45 degree tugging, and a higher finish 10 more clips and several roofs later. These king lines will check in deep in the 5.14 range.

Fortunately for me the grades start at 12c in the cave proper and slowly work their way up granting me some possible future sends. I ticked off another Prelim Wall route, one which I had tried before on a cold day. American Psycho 12a/b, starts with a dyno and climbs gently overhung shelves to gain another dyno right at the end. It seems to be easier for taller climbers as the grips are generally widespread. I had tried two climbs in the cave on a previous visit, the Dean of Mean 12d and Mini Shark 12c, and had my sights set on the Dean for this day. Alli had sent her project Rush 13b and was checking out Mini Shark. As I sat and watched, I got so jacked to give it a whirl, I changed my plans and hopped on it. It reminded me so much of the lip traverse boulder problems we have in Cody and things went relatively smoothly. The 35 foot long Mini Shark is just a precursor to Muscle Shark 13+ and The Thrashing Machine 5.14, which look amazing!

The Dean of Mean being the real goal for the day was a struggle even though every single hold is enormous. I was spent by the time I reached the only testy move which is near the top of the climb. A half-assed jump for a slopey jug left me swinging from the end of the rope. I figured I was done and was going to call it a day when Kevin urged one more go. This time I was much more confident and felt relaxed at the top. This time I hit the big sloper all the way up to my wrist and began an agonizingly slow slide which unfortunately never stuck and after what felt like ten seconds of slipping, I was in the air again. I'll definitely try to exact some revenge next time and then move on to Fight of the Night 13a. Here is a video of Kevin running a lap on this crazy jug haul.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Churning Forward

A recap of sorts is in order, for myself as a way to recall things and for any of you who take the time to read my bloggity.

First of all, a farewell to one of my long time friends Dylan Etscorn who accepted a great job in New Mexico and promptly split town. Our local climbing crew helped him disassemble one of what must have been the oldest private climbing gyms in the country. Dylan moved to Cody in 1992 and immediately started constructing his home gym in his two-car garage. It was cannibalized in order to open the Cody Rock Gym in 1995 and revitalized several years later when CRG closed. I helped with various phases of construction and felt it was only right that I participate in the tearing down as well. I had so many great years climbing outdoors with Dylan and training in his gym, I will surely miss both.

I finished a long traverse boulder problem that Clint and I cleaned on a sunny day in January on the South side of Cedar Mountain. The sport climber in me has always had an eye for the traverses and this funky dirty line called out to me. Being that it is right next to the trail that leads up the mountain, I could only walk by it so many times before I had to check it out. The line cleaned up well and yielded a long pumpy V6 that Dan dubbed Drastically Fantastically. I'll shoot some video one of these days.

I also visited Kevin Wilkinson's new area over in Tensleep, The Octagon. This cirque of Madison limestone is both bullet hard like quartzite and chossy because of fracturing. Kevin, having pioneered areas like Maple Canyons Pipe Dream and the cave in Riggins, Idaho, had the perfect mixture of experience and drive to tackle the development of an area most bolters would turn their noses up to. After climbing on the four warm up routes on the Prelim Wall and sampling some of the upside down routes in the cave proper, I have to say he has created some real gems and some of Wyoming's steepest thuggy hard man routes.

On the subject of bolting, I finally installed another route on the Granite plug in the lower canyon in Cody. This one is a warm up for some of the harder bolted projects nearby. Though I still need to finish cleaning it, the process helped illuminate the possibilities to the right and left of the route. My goal is to add several more sport routes here and create a proper crag with routes at a variety of grades.

Meg and I just returned from our Cayman Brac climbing adventure. We stayed with part time island resident John Byrnes at his place, the Bluff View House. John has spent a great amount of time over the years replacing old rotted stainless steel bolts and hangers with titanium glue-in 'Tortugas', to many of the islands' 130 or so established sport routes. Many of these lines went in in the mid to late 90's and the equippers used hardware they thought would hold up against the briny seaside environment. Amazingly, ten-plus years later, you can break some of these placements by hand, and rust streaked stains are clearly visible at each bolt. Conversly, the oldest Tortugas show zero signs of wear or breakdown.
I was immediately enamored with the rock as it is pocketed limestone, one of my favorite mediums. I was also psyched that John wanted me to establish some new stuff more than re-equip old routes. I set to work but soon realized that it would take twice as long because we were using glue-ins. We had to put in expansion bolts for our working anchors and on the steeper sections to clip into and drill the holes for the Tortugas. I had to go back and remove the hangers and pound in the expansion bolts the next day when the glue-ins had cured. In the end I really loved the process but wish I could have spent more time on the island as I left many possible good lines behind. I did get three new FA's, a 5.10 right on the ocean, and two super 5.12's. Almost every route on the island ventures up steep terrain and mine were no different. The 10 goes up through a small cave with giant holds, one of the 12's finishes with 25 feet of steep tufas and the other grapples with every imaginable size of pocket and an enormous bone white sharks tooth.

I did not get any pictures or videos myself but Meg did put together a photo album of the trip in Facebook which you can view here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Homey on the Road

Once again a lengthy bit of time since the last post has elapsed. Training on plastic and only a handful of outside days since November has kept me loose and just barely in shape. Snow skiing has been excellent this year with our little non-profit ski area, Sleeping Giant, getting pounded with well over six feet already this year. The terrain on the upper mountain has been super fun. Tree-skiing in deep powder is something I haven't done a lot of in 35 years or so of skiing but I am learning quickly to point 'em downhill and go for it. The kids have all made great strides as well which has allowed them access to yet another great life sport.

As far as climbing goes, Meg uses our gym several times weekly with whoever she can get to train with her and she is getting strong quick. I am psyched to see her apply it to the rock in the upcoming season. We have booked tickets to the Cayman Brac to help with the rebolting effort there, and maybe nab a new route or two also. Climbing in the Carribean just sounded to good to pass up. Clint and I got out in early January and cleaned up a new boulder on the South side of Cedar. I, of course was drawn to the 40 foot traverse circling over half of this steep-on-all-sides boulder. I managed it in two sections but was too pooped to link it all, I assume it will be somewhere in the 5 to 7 range. Several up-problems will emerge as well, as the lichen is removed.

Marc and I went to the recent climbing comp in Lander to test his pre-road trip strength against local WY. legendary powerhouses BJ Tilden and Colby Frontero. I secretly believed that he could beat them but he would need to be spot on to take it all. In the end BJ and Colby tied for first each taking two goes on each of the five hardest problems, Marc needed three goes. He was only a few points behind them completing all of the hardest problems and taking second or third (depending on how you view the first place tie). I took seventh overall, which I was psyched about, considering the strong field I was hoping just to be in the top ten.

Marc is hitting the road for five months and will be traveling west and south to hit Joes and Moes, Bishop and Hueco, before moving east to sample the southern sandstone. Good luck on the road!!! Here is a video I borrowed from Drew Hamans site of Marc flashing a new Cody problem called Gone With the Wind.