Nalani and I have been joined by our Swedish friend Robert who escaped the Nordic winter for some bouldering in the sun. His first day in 'merica we took our jet-lagged friend to the Kraft Boulders where he proceed to attack the stone with reckless abandon. He managed to avoid bleeding but his tips took a beating on the classic Angel Dyno, which almost went down (several times over).
Robert on the opening moves of the Angel Dyno. It's hard to see but he is rocking an impressive beard.
Robert so close to holding the big swing. He did that over and over.
Here's a little video from my time in Grand Junction. Hopefully it will inspire some folks to get out and develop the "new" area (which is much better than most of the local stuff). We only got that one half day and I'm psyched to go back if I'm still in the States when the snow clears.
The freezing temperatures in Colorado and Utah chased us to Las Vegas where we've been hanging for a week. It seems like this happens every year or two and even though I'm not psyched on the climbing in Vegas you can't beat the weather as we've been working on our tans while the highs in St George (just 1.5 hours away) only recently starting creeping above freezing.
Fortunately it looks like things are starting to warm up at other areas and in a day or two we'll be motoring ourselves toward the giant granite boulders near Bishop, CA.
Here are a few pictures from Las Vegas.
This is what we were escaping from. This is roughly an hour north of Vegas and illustrates one of the great things about the Western United States, if you don't like the weather just drive an hour.
I've spent a bit too much time in Vegas and I'm so unmotivated that I even went sport climbing one day just to remind myself why I boulder. At least Hammie thought it was fun.
The biggest selling point of hanging in Vegas has been the presence of family as my sister Prairie and our dad have circled the vans. Been awesome camping with them. Here Hammie takes Fart-Fart (aka grandpa) bouldering at the Kraft Boulders.
There are certainly some good problems in Vegas. Here Prairie climbs Pork-chop, one of the gems that shouldn't be missed.
Jake of All Trades has some of the coolest hold in Vegas.
Prairie got very close on Jake of All Trades but in the end had to pack it up after nearly throwing a wobbler.
The Pearl is one of Vegas' best know problems. This one tends to get bagged on by lots of climbers after their ego gets blasted falling off this polished gem. Masumi eventually sends after a bit of a struggle.
Joe gets painfully close on the problem left of the Angel Dyno.
A couple years ago when I first explored Unaweep Canyon just outside Grand Junction I was impressed with the amount of rock and disappointed with the overall quality. If only there was a canyon like this that wasn't 90% choss.....
Well last year I headed south of Gateway on Hwy 141 a mere hour from Grand Junction and noticed the rock type changed from the disappointing Dakota to the much better Wingate sandstone. Due to time restraints and a sleepy 3 year old I was limited to only a quick inspection of roadside blocks but I saw enough to know I needed to come back.
So this year I was back in the hood and excited about seeing what this area had to offer. It only took a few hours of running around boulders before I saw enough to last multiple days and I had only scratched the surface. The rock was good and formed awesome features that make for great lines and climbing.
Super psyched I recruited Matty and I went back for a half day of brushing and further exploring. We put up two great problems and left 3 sick projects and I became even more excited about the area. I was even thinking I could spend a couple weeks in Junction developing when the weather gods decide to shit on my plans and make the entire USA a snowy icebox.
It's been a week now since I last climbed (weird to go that long between climbing while on a climbing trip) and while I've left for warmer temps I can't help but wonder why people haven't climbed in that canyon. The boulders are super obvious with approaches that are laughably close. Only one hour from Grand Junction I don't see why boulders haven't been flocking there. I saw almost no signs of climbing and I later learned that what little chalk I did see was attributed to a friend (and kindred spirit) that lives 5 hours away (he was also dumbfounded by the lack of established bouldering). Seriously, Grand Junction boulders should drive past the choss in Unaweep and get to work. The rock is way better and there are gems of every grade sitting a stone's throw from the road.
Anyways, if I'm still around when the snow clears I'd love to head back. And I'd love to hear if anyone else has actually checked this place out. Amazes me that it is practically untouched.
On a side note, Saint George is covered in snow and it looks like we'll be heading to Vegas as it seems the only place with pleasant temps. Here are a few pictures from the "new" area.
Matty on the best problem we put up, a striking arete with a technical sequence. It took some time to work out the subtleties and we called this one Pimps Don't Cry
Matty on Pimps Don't Cry. It required almost no brushing.
We thought this one would be a moderate but we couldn't do the first two moves and decided to move on. Deceptively difficult.
A sweet problem on perfect rock. Matty got super close to this one. I called it Plain Sight.
I was hoping to go back to this one. Directly behind Plain Sight I wanted to clean the top with a rope before going for it but it's probably under a bunch of snow now. You can see how far the approach is.
Another roadside block. I managed to unlock a sequence using improbable holds but daylight ended the session. Would love to go back.
So I've talked a little trash about the local climbing in Grand Junction but I've also tried to make clear that there is some good stuff to be found. It might require a little guidance (or a lot of time sifting through choss) but one can actually climb on some pretty sweet problems. One of these quality problems is found at the Dynamite Shacks and is called Medusa's Knees. The rock is good (by Junction standards) and the movement is awesome.
Prairie uses the first of two drop knees after climbing the opening steep section.
The crux revolves around two slopey crimps. Here Matty grabs the first crimp
Both Matty and I could grab the first crimp without a drop knee but all 3 of climbers had to use one to grab the second crimp
The second drop knee
Prairie does the crux dead-point to a slopey jug. A pretty sweet problem.
Here's another little video from my time in the Southeast. For the most part I prefer making videos that are more than simply setting a camera on a tripod but that's all had the energy/time to do. So if you want some beta and to get an overview of some of the classics in Rochtown you might enjoy this.
After leaving the Dirty South my little family hopped over to Colorado to spend Thanksgiving in Grand Junction with my family. I'd been through Grand Junction a couple times over the years and explored a bit of the climbing. There is tons of local bouldering which is unfortunately mostly choss but if you are willing to explore there is gold in them hills. Between stuffing my face, hanging with family and tending to a vomiting princess I managed to get out for some quick local sessions and also found a serious gold mine (I'll post more on that later). Unfortunately any further attempts to climb were shut down as an arctic front moved in, dumped snow and lowered temperatures to below freezing for the foreseeable future. Dawn the weather gods.
We're planning on escaping the snow and embarking toward St George/Las Vegas in the next day or two as the gold mining in Colorado will have to wait. Here are a few pictures of some local Grand Junction bouldering.
Grand Junction at first glance looks like a bouldering mecca, until you realize most of the rock is choss. But it sure is fun hiking around looking for the rare gems.
Amongst all the local choss a handful of decent climbs can be found. We spent a few hours at one of the local spots called the Dynamite Shacks and not only enjoyed ourselves but found a couple climbs worth doing. Here Matty on a slopey arete.
Another fun little arete that took more effort than anticipated.
This slab was actually super cool. Notice Matty using a mono.
A fun problem with a crux dyno at the end. Matty tried to use his height to reach but still came up short.
This problem wasn't anything special but still fun to climb on despite the soft rock The nice thing is that next year it'll be a different problem as the holds are ever so slightly crumbling with every attempt. Got to find the upside to choss
While in the South I had the pleasure of having one of my best friend along for most of the trip. Chris Schaefer (aka Little Chris or Dreamboat) is not only a fantastic friend and climbing partner but is also godfather to Nalani. Chris is also coming back from injury and it was nice to see his shoulder holding out. If I have one criticism of Chris it's that he has a poor choice of clothes when it comes to taking climbing pictures.
Chris, like it says on the jacket
The Godfather giving Hammie a ride
Chris on one of Rocktown's best, Golden Shower
Chris blending in with the rock on Blue in Rocktown