Vedauwoo is one of my all-time favorite places to climb. It’s not laid-back sport climbing, and it’s not long, fun multi-pitch trad. It’s hard. It’s adventurous. It’s exciting. And it’s painful.
Last weekend, Dylan and Ann found us looking for a free campsite off the side of Wyoming CR 700 near dusk on Friday night. It was a good thing, too, because the site we were checking out was pretty aweful. They had a much better one in mind, that had a beautiful little beaver pond just down the hill, and was sheltered on all sides by a lovely, dense grove of pine trees.
We all woke up the next morning excited to be out here for the first time this year. As the sun came up, the air heated quickly, and it got surprisingly warm, very fast. We made our coffee, picked our climbs, and headed off to Poland Hill for the day.
After a nice little hike, that seemed much easier than last year, Ann headed up to lead Kim (5.6) while Mark and I set up to climb Sugar Crack (5.7). Mark was in high spirits for the day, and he wizzed up the lead for this climb. Even stopping to add a big bro to help with rope drag near the top of the climb. I tried to follow as if I was leading the climb, and it felt pretty good, but pretty creepy in the top, wider, area of the climb. I don’t know if I’m quite up for this lead just yet.
We walked off the back side after the first pitch, and found ourselves staring up at Little Old Crack (5.5). I remembered this route being rated 5.6, which could mean anything in ‘voo, and it looked darn intimidating. Even though I wanted to lead it, I suggested Mark take the first go at it. He jumped right on, and dispatched the whole thing in no time. As I followed, I found the angle to be less steep than it looked, and filled with giant holds and easy jams. Ah, so it was 5.5. I don’t think I’ll have any problems leading it next time I’m out there.
We rapped off Kim as a large guided youth group arrived, and decided to spend the rest of the day working a couple of harder climbs, now that we were all warmed up. Mark pulled together all of the big gear from the whole group, which turned out to be a really nice wide-crack rack. He then hopped on the lead for Fantasia (5.9).
This was an incredible lead! We have top roped this climb before, and it was a hard, painful, grunt fest. It’s exhilerating when you figure out the moves, and the rhythm of fat-crack climbing is unique and not to be missed. We used to tease our hard-core bad-ass climbing friend Tom about how we were going to make him lead this route, and he would shutter. Mark was nervous, but he pulled off one of the best leads of his life. Our rack was enough to protect the whole climb pretty well, and Mark made his way up with only one rest (it’s questionable as to if he even weighted the rope). This lead made Mark an official “Hard-core Bad-ass Wide-Crack Vedauwoo Climber!!” (or HCBAWCVC) Check out the blood and scars to prove it.
Next, Dylan decided to lead up Piece of Dirt (5.11a), a steep and challenging-looking climb on the face left of Fantasia. This was another Hell-Of-A-Lead for the day.
Dylan popped off maybe twice, but made the whole climb look graceful, simple and easy. So easy, in fact, that I offered to second it. Wow! Turns out it was a seriously hard climb. I ground my finger tips down to numbs crimping on tiny crystals, I cheeted twice by pulling on quick draws and I never even made it to the top! Ann did much better on this route. As I flaled on Fantasia next, Ann patiently worked out all of the crux moves, and fully climbed the route to the top! It was awesome. Mark tried last, and even he couldn’t finish the route without pulling on the draws. Thus proving once and for all that Dylan and Ann are much better climbers than us.
I missed some key beta, and never made it out of the bottom pod on Fantasia that day. But that’s ok. It was a long and sun-filled day in a beautiful, beautiful place. We had great climbs and great friends and great accomplishments all around. That night, we settled into our camp, eating the tastiest steaks of our lives, toasting marshmellows, and enjoying the cool Wyoming night.