This fall I’ve had the chance to take several trips up to Lander, WY. My key focus was the continued development of the Devil’s Kitchen. I just wanted to relay some of the highlights from the season, as a number of classic problems have been found, cleaned and climbed as the weather turns cold.
The approach is no less rugged than before, and it is mandatory that we have a four wheel drive vehicle with high clearance. It should also be of note that the drive crosses the Wind River Indian Reservation, which requires a $110 fishing permit to legally access the area. The open country side remains just as beautiful as always.
Wind River Range
Most significantly I had the chance to take Dave Graham and Daniel Woods there. We joined up with Wyoming local Davin Bagdonas. It was a great weekend reconnecting with some old friends. I had forgotten how much fun it can be to climb with Daniel and Dave. Most of their efforts that weekend were focused on the bullet hard white limestone of Wild Iris, but I convinced them to come check out the Devil’s Kitchen on a “rest day”. I had been very excited to show them The Black 45 project, which to me was probably the best unclimbed project I could think of anywhere.
Black 45 Project
They were both very motivated to say the least. Daniel had only seen the Upper sector on his first visit, and seemed blown away with the potential in the lower area.
I really wanted to do The Black 45 first, as it was something I had found and cleaned over a year ago, and tried on a number of occasions. For someone who has spent hundreds of days hiking around the woods, and thousands of hours searching on Google Earth, this is the kind of project that comes along once in a lifetime. I don’t have unlimited resources to travel around the world, so these kinds of projects take on a new significance for me. I also didn’t really want to close the project either, so I felt conflicted. I usually just act when I feel that way and I thought it was best just to have everyone start trying it and see what happens. Within an hour or so it was very apparent that the problem was hard, in the V13 or V14 range. Davin, Dave and Daniel also all got in on the effort of cleaning the upper portion, which involved the difficult removal of a 75lb chockstone.
The crew (Daniel Woods, David Graham and Davin Bagdonas) at work, cleaning projects.
After several hours of cleaning and climbing, I told Daniel (who seemed closest) that he shouldn’t hesitate to climb it. I was psyched to give him the chance to do it, and it was a treat for me to watch him try. It took some effort, but he managed to pull it out towards the end of the day. Daniel very respectfully asked me to name it, and I did, calling it Never Cry Wolf V13, after one of my favorite books. Here is his 8a.nu comment on the boulder:
Amazing black roof discovered by Jamie Emerson. Huge thanks goes out to him for finding this beautiful piece of rock and letting me try it. 20 foot tall 45 degree overhanging wall with perfect holds going out it. One of the proudest lines I have established.
I concur. I think that says a lot from a climber who has done more than 150 problems rates V13 or harder.
It was a great session, and I was glad Davin, who has poured his heart and soul into the development of Wyoming bouldering, was on hand to witness the FA of one of the best and unquestionably the hardest problem in the state.
I returned, and while Never Cry Wolf remains the best problem in the Kitchen, it’s hard not to spend time trying new projects. A number of my friends have joined in the psyche. Jesse Brown, Collin Horvat, Rylan Marshall, Cameron Maier, Jason Pinto and Ryan Silven has all made the journey up.
Chorvat added several new problems, including Little Oblivion V10
which we all thought was going to be much more difficult. I made a quick repeat
of this classic line at the end of one day. The setting to this problem is phenomenal, as it near the shore of a gorgeous trout-filled stream, at the edge of a dense and beautiful forest. Downstream, Collin also climbed a classic boulder right down at the edge of the river on polished stone, Une Goutte d’Bleau V7
The day I climbed Little Oblivion, I added another nice project I had eyed for a while. Bumblespeak V8 climbs a rising traverse of flat edges to an intimidating topout over a poor landing. I bailed off the end a few times, after breaking holds and realizing the problem still needed to be cleaned (even after I thought we had put enough effort into its preparation). Chorvat repeated the line right after, and I’m sure it will be a somewhat scary classic when the end gets a bit more traffic.
My last day in the Kitchen I failed to climb a project I had put a number of days into, falling off the very last move. It was frustrating to know that it may be a year until I come back (snow drifts block the approach in the spring) but as happens so often in the Kitchen I stumbled upon a short but awesome, black, unclimbed face. It sits in the Upper Sector, and was found by local Tim Long, who has also joined us on a number of occasions and put up several nice problems himself. As has been so often the case, he happily shared his find with me, and I quickly put together what has been so far my hardest contribution to the area. The Black Sea V9 climbs perfect flat edges with tricky moves.
The Black Sea V10 FA
Here are some more photos from our sessions:
It’s been a great fall of developing awesome new problems on outstanding rock in a wild setting. These are the kinds of days I live for, and while there are too many subtle moments to properly convey in post like this, it would be an understatement to say I’ve been motivated. It’s hard to imagine I would have come to such a place after so long, but I am loving every minute of it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am fortunate to be able to share this area and my experiences with all of you. But there are hundreds of potential areas in the West just sitting, and waiting, and if I weren’t here I’d be out looking at one of over 300 places I have pinned on Google Earth. The imaginative and creative boulderer knows this and will find his or her own new paradise for new climbing. I would encourage all the readers of this blog to get out, look, see something new, try something different and to know, that if and when people ever start showing up here, I will have taken my own advice and I will be at the next destination once again, ever on the hunt for the places of my dreams.