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.