Saturday, July 14, 2012

Vedauwoo Madness Part 2

Molly runnin' laps on the classic "Pooh Corner" 5.10a

Here are a few more highlights from the Vedauwoo summer extravaganza! These photos are all from my first two weeks there spent with Pam, Pat and Molly.  Since then I managed to get back for a two day jaunt attempting my project Empty Suit with Pamela.  After two days of inverted whippers and unrelenting heel-toe cams I think I was finally crushed by The Voo.  At the end of the days I found myself crawling around looking for any vertical crack to climb instead.  I reached a point of total exhaustion simply too mentally and physically tired to negotiate a climb while hanging from my feet... I think another day of inverts would have destroyed me entirely!  So here I am looking back one some of the non-invert climbs, beautiful scenery and madness that I encoutered during my trip. Currently my internet access is super limited though, probably due to my "off the map" location in Ward Colarado, so I apologies for the slimmed down post.  I hope everyone can still enjoy this mostly photo post... and if you haven't already formed plans for a trip to the Voo, make sure to put it on yer list of climbing destinations for this year!

Overlooking the beautiful Vedauwoo campground. Can you spot Lucille?
Photo: Molly Chambers

Molly and I prepare for a hard day's climbing.

Me happily sand bagged on "Penetration" 5.9+.
Photo: Patrick Kingsbury

The route Penetration 5.9+ was my warm up for my "offwidth graduation day" when I attempted to prove myself in a three route hat-trick consisting of Penetration 5.9+, Unicorn Externinator 5.10b, and Empty Suit 5.12.  This trio seemed to be the ultimate crush for me, but I approached it with open arm bars.  Everyone present during my graduation agreed that Penetration looked more like 5.10+ or even 5.11, and I can't say I disagreed.  The start was quite flared and sparse on holds and started with delicate and mostly unprotected climbing.  After the first ten feet and after placing a manky #2 camalot the climbing looked right up my alley, although a fall was still out of the question until you get good gear a few pieces up.  The majority of the climb is a one-sided squeeze that wants to spit you off anytime you let your guard down.  It was a pretty tight squeeze that featured a combination of techniques, a low and outside driving heel toe cam, a high inside knee/heel jam, and plenty of arm bars and chest breakers to boot.  The climb also has a random turn-around near the top where you need to switch to the other-side-in.  The pressure was on for me with this one, but I knew once I got into the squeeze I wouldn't allow myself to fall... did I mention the first ascensionist was belaying me?  Nice climb Zach! After a successful send I must agree, that this climb is a perfect 5.9+... aka the most sandbagged grade in Vedauwoo since 5.11b!

Possible FA of an unknown problem "Knives Out" V2ish

Beginning the steepness difficulties on "Burning Man" 5.11
Overhanging knee jams and hand stacks with a secret circus trick in the crux...

River crossings to be expected... Patrick is a true gentleman and offwidther. 

I can't say enough about climbing with Pamela and Patrick, they invited me in to join them in some serious crushing, route development, and bourbon drinking.  They both are super motivating and great folks to go rock climbing with any day of the year.  My Vedauwoo experience certainly wouldn't have been the same without them cheering me on and showing me some ridiculous routes, most of which put me in my place of offwidth doom/heaven.  The opportunity to climb with two people who embrace the wide madness entirely whole-heartledly really reinforeced my feelings of the positivity of the climbing community and made me feel more sane for living out a of van and traveling from state to state looking for all the climbing I can find.  They are most definitely two climbing friends who will continue to progress the sport more than I can ever imagine, and I look forward to their next accomplishments! 

Pamela Shanti Pack on "Forever War" 5.13c/d
Photo: Zach Orenczak

Inversion climbing has it downsides... Pamela shows off her early battle wounds.
I think Pat took this photo while belaying me...

As for me, my time is spent tucked away in the pocket of Ward Colorado where I am teaching youngin's to climb all summer.  Luckily we have an offwidth crack near by that I like to take the kids to and watch them figure out the madness. To my surprise I think some of the kids have a knack for offwidth, even if they hated everything about it. I can only hope that in time they will find the joy in the challenge, and perhaps even find climbing an important and valuable aspect of the great outdoor experience.  Now go climb a crack!

View from my temporary home near Ward, Colorado. 

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