Saturday, January 28, 2017

Wilderness of Rocks: Tucson's Bouldering Wonderland

Wilderness of Rocks was my favorite overall area around Tucson and the place has potential to put Tucson bouldering on the map.  While other Tucson areas are small Wilderness of Rocks is massive as the rock is seemingly endless with the granite offering a variety of features and styles reminiscent of Black Mountain.  The good stuff that has been done is unquestionably world class and only a small fraction of the stone has been explored.  The best is likely yet to come and if you like exploring you could spend a lifetime establishing 3 star problems.

Logistically Wilderness of Rocks takes a bit more effort than most areas as you first drive to the end of the Catalina Hwy (45ish minute drive from Tucson) and then hike at least an hour.  This is also considered a "summer area" as it provides manageable mountain temperatures when Tucson is roasting below but most winters should provide some ideal climbing days.  Of course the high elevation means you can expect Wilderness of Rocks to get shut down much of the winter but fortunately a couple sunny winter day can melt enough snow to make a lot of stuff climbable, but expect to hike through a bit of snow.

Unfortunately I only managed two days in Wilderness of Rocks and I actually spent both days in the same sector but I did of course do some exploring and could very easily have spent a my entire trip here without coming close to seeing everything.  Here are some photos from my days climbing in the Dog Park sector

The Sky Boulder is an amazing piece of rock ringed with great problems.  Nothing quite like starting your climbing day with a warm-up on granite "alligator skin"

Jetpack is one of the establish problems on the steep side of the Sky Boulder.  It's a bit of a one move wonder (dyno of the lip) but still a quality problems.  

Young Bigness is aptly named as the crux requires a massive move that took some effort on my part.  I believe this is the hardest established problem on the boulder but there are a couple good looking projects (like the one to the left) that will take it up a few notches.

 Before going to the Dog Park I'd seen some photos of one particular problem that I desperately wanted to check out and I didn't disappoint.  The locals had established a left exit called Surfing but I was struck by the obvious line up the rail and sent a good portion of my day (and all my skin) flailing on it.  It was the reason I went back to this area and after a bit more work and with the help of Alex we cracked the beta and sent one after the other.  It's been dubbed Minnie's Haberdashery and is alone worth the hike.

On the left is Alex doing the crux during the FA of Minnies Haberdashery and on the right is Prairie trying Surfing.

I saw so many amazing unclimbed boulders but time restraints limited me to only establish a few.  We dubbed this beautiful swooping slab Pressure Drop and it was harder (and therefore spicier) than I had expected.  I ended up bailing a little right at this point but the line I'd like to do would take the non-crimp I have my left-hand on with the right-hand and do a terrifying slab dyno.   I also did the striking arete on the left side this boulder. 

Jefe on just another amazing boulder he cleaned up.  This one is called Creep Show.

Stev on Creep Show.  

 On the way out from the Dog Park we walked through another sector (Magic Forest) and had just enough time to bang out a cool sloper problem called Hell Bitch.  I would not recommend this problem to those of shorter stature as a couple moves are a no-go if you can't reach from the big feet.  On the right is Prairie trying to dyno where taller folks just stand up. 

 Psyched to get back to this place.

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