Thursday, August 13, 2009


Cody and I left Boise once we had finished sheeting the bouldering wall with beautiful baltic birch plywood. You can see the (almost) entirely complete gym here.

We headed back to Lander, to help our good friend Bryan Wolfe move in to his cute new home. It's been nearly two and a half weeks that we've been here- but the time has flown. I've painted his kitchen (a rusty red color, to accent his granite countertops,) and his living room an olive green. Cody's built an adjustable climbing wall in the garage, a design copied from Sus, the guy who will be the general manager of The Front Boise, who was kind enough to put us up while we worked on the gym.

While Lander has some of the best sport climbing crags in North America not 45 minutes from Main street, the little mountain town is also surrounded by the Wind River Range, which has some incredible alpine trad routes climbing it's many peaks. We decided to spend a week in the Cirque of the Towers with Bryan, climbing the numerous peaks that encircle a grassy, stream-filled, boulder-strewn valley. We arrived at the Big Sandy trail head around 10am, shouldered our packs, heavy with climbing gear, camping gear, and food for a week, and began the 10 mile hike into the Cirque.

Pingora Peak and wildflowers

Just as we had finished dinner that evening, the thunder began. The Winds, and especially the Cirque, are known for weather that changes in moments, and also for afternoon thunderstorms. We hunkered down in our tents for a dark and stormy night. We slept poorly, kept awake by the wind and lightening. The storm was still blowing the next morning, ruling out any possiblity of climbing. We sat in the tents for most of the day- napping, reading, looking out the plastic window at the fog. Boring!
Pingora and the fog

The next day, we awoke to a chilly, but clear morning. We cooked breakfast and waited for the sun to hit the route. Once the sun had risen enough to warm the granite, we headed out, making the short but steep approach to the South Buttress of Pingora Peak. We encountered a few other parties, but didn't have to wait long to begin the route. Three pitches of beautiful granite trad climbing later, we stood atop the summit, enjoying the broad views and the sunshine. We rapped down, hiked back to camp, and scarfed a quick meal, (chili and rice- yummy!) and were in the tents by the time it started to rain again.
Belay 2
The Summit!

The view from the top

The next morning, I woke up with the sunrise, and despite my wool socks, long johns, and my 5 degree sleeping bag, I was freezing! Looking out our little window, I could see the rain from last night, frozen on our tent. Cody and Bryan woke up soon after me, and after a short discussion, we decided to pack up and head back to Lander for some warmer weather and sport climbing. We ate as much food for breakfast as we could- in an attempt to lighten our packs for the hike out. We had planned for a week, but had only eaten three days of food. As we cooked around our little campfire, it began to snow. Yeah. Snow.

Cody warming up and looking disgusted at the weather...

We hiked out in full rain gear, the storm blowing sideways. It was warmer and much dryer at Big Sandy Lake, a popular campsite, roughly half way between the trailhead and the cirque. We drove back to Lander and were met with sunny weather. After some hot showers, real food and a rest day, we hit the crags.
We're sad to be leaving Lander, but this weekend we're heading up to the Pacific Northwest. We're stopping in Boise, to climb around there and check in on John and the Gym. Then it's on to Bainbridge to spend some time with my family, and then to BC, to climb in Squamish.
Life is good when you're livin' the dream....