This summer I have a been focused on trying to climb several hard sport routes, but my time has been very limited as I am in a summer Calculus II, and it covers the same material in half the time, and it has been very demanding. I did have the chance to make it up to Lander, WY before class began over Memorial Day Weekend. The goal of the trip was to put effort into Rodeo Free Europe 5.14a at Wild Iris, and try and get a day in at the Devil’s Kitchen, but the weather there was poor so we spent most of our time bouldering.
In the last two years there has been a resurgence in the bouldering around Lander, and the two key figures are Jesse Brown and Chris Marley. Chris’ passion and motivation for new bouldering are to be admired and his drive to scour the area for new rock is unmatched. Chris has uncovered a number of new projects that are of a very high quality. The focus in Lander for so long has been on the sport climbing, but now it seems there is no end to the amazing new bouldering on outstanding rock.
The first day was cold and rainy and we drove east an hour to Sweetwater Rocks.
The area was small but the rock was good, polished granite, not unlike the Buttermilks. I made the second ascent of a Marley V9 Melting Point, on incredible glassy white rock.
Collin Horvat on Melting Point V9
Chris showed us an amazing project in the V11 or V12 range at the same area. We put some effort into that before the rain forced us elsewhere. This would be classic just about anywhere in the world and I look forward to trying it again when the weather cools off in the fall.
Justin Jaeger on a potential 4 star project outside of Lander, WY
We moved on and tried a few more projects, and spent some time running around looking for more. I found a very impressive line that would need to have a landing built but it would be incredible if it were climbed. A gigantic boulder with a singular seam running diagonally across the backside. With some effort this could be an incredible new one for Wyoming.
The second day we checked out an area scoped by Marley as well, called the Rock Shop. The rock here is outstanding and it is just beginning to see development. Chris again showed us several amazing projects. I made the second ascent of Marley’s The Gem Thief V11, a short but good problem on excellent rock. I also briefly tried a very hard project to the left, probably in the V14 range.
The Gem Thief Roof Project
These problems are awesome and they are only 25 minutes drive from Lander, followed by a 10 minute hike. It’s hard not to wonder what else is out there, and it’s hard not to think that Lander is about to experience a real resurgence as a popular climbing destination, especially if climbers like Brown and Marley are so committed to development. Hats off to their efforts. The gorgeous scenery, good concentration (which is so often the deciding factor as to which areas become popular and which do not), laid-back atmosphere and friendly people make a great place to visit, so much so it’s tempting to want to move there. I did get one day at Wild Iris, and had a very good session on the project. I am hoping to get back there soon, and I would think with a couple weekends I could see that goal becoming a reality. I’m very excited about the possibility and will just keep training when I can to make it happen.
One final, unrelated note: Word on the street is that Adam Ondra has just launched off on his flash attempt of Realization. It’s awesome that he actually has saved such an iconic climb for so long and I wish him the best of luck!
Update: sounds like Ondra flashed through Biographie, but fell on the upper crux “four or five moves from the jug”. I greatly admire someone who is so willing to try something so dramatic, and again his ability to think more forwardly is on display. Well done.