Exploring the Blair Woods

August 14, 2007 at 8:03 am

Last weekend, the high temperatures in Fort Collins were heading quickly towards the triple digits, so we decided to take refuge on some shady north-facing climbs in Vedauwoo.

Photos from the weekend are up in the gallery.

After some (not so) intense discussion, we decided it was time to go explore the Blair Woods area in Vedauwoo. These formations sit north and west of general Vedauwoo area, and we actually had to drive out of the ‘park’ and back in on a different road to access them. Exploring a new rock in Vedauwoo is usually an adventure, but driving to a whole different part of the range makes the place feel really exciting and remote.

The trails were indistinct, and we hiked quite a bit off trail. Eventually, we stumbled on the northwest face of Blair 3, and everybody was in awe. The spot was quiet (we were the only ones there) and shady and cool. The clean graceful lines of the rock towered over us, promising a day of spectacular climbing.

Mark and I continued down the game trail to the “Notch” area on this formation, and I racked up and led my first multi-pitch trad climb! This was actually the first climb that I’ve ever led all of the pitches on, and it was a really good one. It was a combination of two moderates, and as I don’t have the book here, I can’t tell you what the first pitch was, but the second was the top (and most interesting) half of Outer Notch (5.6).

I still feel very proud of this climb. It was definitely not as super-easy and incredibly-obvious as my usual leads. I actually spaced the protection out quite a bit in some places (and scrunched it together in others). But it was a really fun climb, and a great way to spend the morning.

After we rappelled off, we found the group working a couple of fun climbs further down the face. Again, I can’t give names right now as I don’t have the book, but there was a fun 5.7, a strenuous 5.9, and a 5.8 that gained two degrees of difficulty after Sean pulled a key hold off and threw it at Ann. By the time I got to that 5.8, I was so exhausted my arms just wouldn’t bend.

After a nap and some scrambling around the formation, Mark and I set up a yoga shoot on top of the shoulder of the formation. Some of the photos turned out really nice.

Vedauwoo Warrior

At the end of the day, several people worked a loooong (110ft) hard 5.9, and then we packed up and hiked out. Camping that evening was nice and not too chilly. Mark dug holes under the right-side tires of Dylan and Ann’s truck to help level the camper, and then spent the rest of the evening playing with fire.

On Sunday we headed back to the area, and this time explored the shady side of Blair 1. While the rest of the group enjoyed another long fun 5.7-, Mark and I attacked the first pitch of Le Petite Arbre (5.6). This 50ft crack was awesome. It was solid, perfect hand and fist jams the whole way up. We ran laps on this one, with Mark speed climbing it on top-rope, and me practicing placing gear hanging from hand-jams and not over-camming it. Even the rest of the gang seemed to enjoy it, especially Ann’s new shoes! Around lunch time we all started heading home in pairs. Mark and Liv and I stuck around the longest, playing on the crack and relaxing in the shade. Then it was time to head back to the Fort, which felt like a baking furnace after such a nice, cool weekend on the rocks.