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.