Monday, July 15

the 'Shine

I've spent quite a bit of time in Lander, Wyoming over the years. During college I did frequent weekend trips from Boulder for a good pump in the Killer Cave and I've found myself enjoying the burly, bouldery style at the Wild Iris for many-a-July's. 'Rodeo Free Europe' and 'Busload of Faith' were two of my earliest 5.14s. Always celebrating at the Lander Bar, I remember eying the posters of Skinner and admiring the evidence of a long standing climbing community in this sleepy town.
In 2011 I presented as the keynote speaker for the Lander International Climbers Fest, and this year was my 4th straight year attending this incredible event. Every big climbing event has it's own flavor, but over the years I've especially enjoyed the ICF. The national (and international) climbing community converges on Lander for a long weekend. For a few days, climbing sticker clad Subaru's and Toyota's nearly rival the numbers of full sized trucks and dually's. The City Park is crankin', Wild Iris Mountain Sports is overflowing with eager climbers and the Lander Bar is packed.

Ethan Pringle on the first try take down of 'Young Girl' ...
I HEART JSTAR shirts at the Sportiva tent opening party... awesome. ©Sniezek

It's especially cool to see the town transform, now knowing what the scene is typically like here. It's quite a change from the pace of Lander on a random weekend in May for instance.... for about 72 hours  the climbing portion of this little Wyoming town is bustling... it's pretty rad. 

I taught a clinic on Friday, which turned out really well - with a good group of stoked individuals and very skilled climbers. We shared a few good laughs and hopefully they learned a few things! Thursday night was the opening party - hosted by LaSportiva and the Lander Bar, which is always a rad hang out. A slew of good people, contests, give aways and beer. Earlier in the night was the film fest, featuring Kyle Duba's awesome story telling in Wind & Rattlesnakes, about the history of climbing in Lander and the key characters involved. Friday was a day long trade fair, 307 Bouldering Dyno Comp and live music to end the night. Lastly, Saturday included the Wild Iris race, more clinics and the evening was the keynote speakers and afterparty at the LB. Needless to say, we all stayed very busy.

It was cool to see a number of good friends come up for the weekend. Tommy and his lovely wife Becca (and baby boy Fitz) were here, homeboy Ethan Pringle made it out, Audrey Sniezek, Nick Duttle, Emily Harrington, Cedar Wright and Nelissa, Jen Flemming and Nick, Asa, Kevin and Alli... the list goes on... it was a great crew.

Emily Troisi sending just before the festival ©jstar
Amongst the madness some climbing took place. My good friend Leif Gasch heroically took down Todd Skinner's incredible 'Strawberry Roan' 13d for it's long awaited first ascent on Saturday. We greeted him with cheers and beers at the Coalter Loft upon his arrival. This was a legendary route and a rad hail marry effort by Leif at the end of his trip. Stay tuned for some footage of his FA. Also the Horst Family made it, and both of the boys crushed as usual.

Aside from a few rad days at random crags like the Sweatlodge, North Country (don't miss 'One Eyed Fiona' 13b and if you're into roof climbs, 'The Last Frontiero' and 'Nothing but Sky' 13a are both worth doing) and even one last day at Wolf Point (BJ added an incredible 13c, 'Gangbusters' that is one of my favorites on the wall!), I've been steadily hiking around the backside of the Iris to the Erratic.

It's been something of a long process for me on BJ Tilden's testpiece, 'Moonshine' 14d. Over the course of 4 days (or 5?) I struggled to find the proper beta for my strengths and height. Although I could stick the crux throw a number of different ways, nothing was proving any level of consistency. It seems I was just barely too short (or too weak) to make anything really work. After doing a long, strenuous and consistent intro, this crux left hand move needs to feel very solid to even imagine success. Last week, on a mission with BJ, in perfect (miraculous) temps, I still couldn't find my method. I was definitely considering defeat. I had already spent a heartbreaking month+ failing this spring in Vegas and with such sketchy beta I could easily envision repeated falls without a send on this thing. Thankfully, with BJ's encouragement I left my draws up and tried again. A tiny foot emerged, and with a good body position I could seemingly stick the move. Then, in the next few days I started handily doing the move from the hang and one hanging the route on every burn. I knew it was just a matter of time, but I've learned over the years to never count your eggs before they hatch. I've been within inches of sending, and then gone home empty handed enough times now to know this. I figured I'd just keep trying until it happened.

photos courtesy Mike Anderson
In the end it was this rad community that got me through it. My homie Colby came through with the necessary moonshine, replenishing the resident jar that lives beneath the route, BJ was there to bless me with his belay, and a crowd of good friends - old and new - were at the crag to cheer me on. I'm glad that this tiny little sport route toyed with my emotions a little - I got a condensed version of what BJ experienced over the years - and it made topping out the Erratic that much sweeter. Thanks guys, yesterday was a kick ass day.