Luke and I camped out at Wild Iris, about half an hour South of Lander, and enjoyed some high-altitude summer sport climbing. The approach to OK Corral, where we spent our first day, was a bone-wearying two minute hike. It was a great weekend, leaving me feeling sore whenever I lift my arms over my head, yet mentally rejuvenated for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend extravaganza.
Saturday MorningLuke and I started the day early with a hearty, cast-iron skillet breakfast of six eggs, half an onion, a big yellow squash, jalapeno, cheese, and probably other tasty things that I'm not remembering right away. Then we endured that killer hike through the flowers to the wall.
Our goal was to start at the right end of OK Corral and move left, picking off all the good climbs. There was a high concentration of 9s and 8s over at the right end, making it a tasty place for warming up.
Before the clock struck twelve we'd put up six routes, split between Pronghorn Pinnacle and Rodeo Drive walls. Sadly, none of the 8s or 9s we did the first half of the day left much of an impression on me.
Rodeo Drive Wall
- Ticks for Chicks ・ 8 **
- The Hanging Tree ・ 9 *
- The Man From Laramie - 10c*
- A trickier start that still wasn't quite 10c feeling to me. An intimidating bulge was easily circumvented by going through a messy chimney next door. The vertical headwall after that turned into one last bit of overhang before the anchors, but never actually got hard. 10b?
- Licorice Stick - 8 *
- Saddle Up - 9 *
- Nouveau Western - 10a (*)
- A silly, short 25ft climb up the crag's namesake, a pinnacle fallen just off the cliff. The route goes up an arete; its short length has left it sharp for those who want to waste time climbing it. I had fun on that silly excursion, and even took a fall when I realized I had gone way off route and decided a dyno would be the most fun way for me to get back on.
The weather decided things would go differently. After an hour or so of intermittent rain and lightning, Luke and I decided to head in to town and visit with Sam and Leah.
Saturday EveningWe watched the fireworks (the figurative ones in the sky) out on Leah's lawn for awhile before heading downtown to enjoy a street fair that was, of course, rained out when we arrived.
So, the crew went over to The Gannet Grill and had dinner washed down with a pitcher of beer. The rain finally let off, so the four of us decided to go back up together and get in a climb or two before the sun went down.
Before we left town, Luke and I stopped by Mr. D's and picked up ingredients (if you can call them that) for s'mores.
Back at the crag, we turned our climbing groove back on at Claim Jumper and Winchester walls.
- Annie Get Your Drill - 9 *
- One of the best 9s on OK Corral. Some nice soul came along and added a bolt to the one semi-runout section that was around when I first climbed it, making it a classic for beginning climbers looking to improve their lead head.
- Claim Jumper - 10c ***
- This is the route that named the wall. Luke and I didn't actually climb it, but I did it two weeks before he and I were out there and had a great time. Amazing flake/crack start turns easier further up as pockets start appearing for your feet and hands. A *classic*, must do. I couldn't not mention it here. Shame that Luke and I didn't.
- Red Ryder - 10a ***
- Another Corral *classic*. Starts with great flake climbing to a solidly pocketed headwall above, giving a climber the chance to experience two great climbing styles in one go.
So, our day finished, we went back to camp and enjoyed the fire.
The fire and s'mores, that is.
SundayWe had a later start Sunday morning; I wasn't out of the tent 'til about 8. Another stellar breakfast prepped us for... not a lot, at the OK Corral.
It had been our goal to hit the hard climbs, but Sunday is apparently the day to come up to Wild Iris. It was packed up there, and pretty much everything we wanted to get on was already taken. We ended up only getting in one climb in the morning before we headed to the Main Wall to meet up with Sam.
Saddle Tramp Wall
- Jabba the Hut - 10a
- I think that, more than anything else, it was the name of this route that got Luke and I to try it. It's the first route right of Ryder, but hasn't seen nearly as much action. Luke started the lead off, got two clips, and switched places with me. You can read the wall of text below for more info on it, or skip ahead to the next pretty picture.
- Summary: 10a? Really? My fingers are still tingling as I write this up, and I know just which climb did it.
Luke's struggles primed my nerves, so that I was a mess by the time I was at the crux. After calming myself down, I found some feet (a nubbin for my right toe, and a small nearly-vertical flare for my left foot - no weight there, just balance) and decided on some hands (match on an open 150 degree V shaped fingertip-crimp) and threw for the pocket. I got it, put up a very high right foot, and felt cramped with the inadequate pocket my right hand went into. I decided to just aid the section, so put my draw through the bolt while pulling on that high left pocket, and then grabbed the dog-bone to clip.
I had Luke lower me so I could figure out how that section was suppose to go clean. This was a 10a after all, wasn't it?
This time around, with the exact same holds, I made the move statically and fluidly moved on from there. Funny, the things you can do on top rope. Just goes to show what a mental game climbing is.
I had hoped that'd be the end of any rough climbing, but I then pushed through some hard, sharp, featureless, scary slab. Every "hold" felt like it would only keep me on the rock for a few seconds. I kept my pelvis in against the rock, trusted my feet, and pushed through this heady part of the climb to the fourth clip, which was a good fifteen feet above the third (on a ledge, albeit). From there it was easy ledging on more sharp rock to the anchor another 15ft up.
You can probably tell from all this writing that this climb got its claws into me. I'd like to argue against the 10a rating, but my one climb was probably a bit subjective. Still, the climb was at perfectly the right level to push my mind into the "climbing zone," and I came down from the challenge filled with more than a little bit of stoke.
Sam came out to join us for the afternoon at Main Wall. The heat and previous day's activities capped our day at just three climbs, but they were fun ones.
We hiked right up to Five Ten Wall and started with an easy warm-up followed by two great Iris 10s.
Five Ten Wall
- Dynamitic - 7
- Sam put this up, since it would be his first climb of the day. Luke took second and I cleaned. After I climbed the two harder climbs below, I realized that I feel much more comfortable climbing 10s than 7s. The reason? The 10s force me to climb better, whereas 7s tempt me to take shortcuts. Also, verticality / lack of ledges is a good thing.
- Ahem, right, anyways, about the route: wonky start, fun pockets up high
- Ryobi Ranger - 10a **
- I think Sam actually put this one up also. He climbed it strong and Luke took it second. I cleaned again, but I actually climbed Indian Country first. This was a great climb to end my day.
- Summary: Big pockets, reachy. It's hard not to T-rex on the clips.
- Indian Country - 10b **
- My favorite climb of the weekend. I went up it really smoothly, completely utilizing my feet, sometimes doing three moves with my feet before a single hand move. Extremely efficient, smooth climbing; it was Matt at his best. I honestly felt like some of that footwork had been choreographed ahead of time for me. I came down brimming with stoke.
- Sam took the next lead after me, and took the biggest fall I've caught in a while, from bolt #3 to #1, a good fifteen feet. Nice goin' Sam!
- Summary: Amazing chance to really work feet, lots of tiny pockets, side pulls, some crimps, would climb again
After that, Sam was gentlemanly enough to cook up a dinner for all of us while Luke and I packed up camp. We enjoyed (?) a spicy, spicy meal and went our separate ways, looking forward to meeting up again only a week later. A bunch of us (Alyssa, Leah, Sam, hopefully Luke, Claire, Reilly, Emilene ??) will be up there again to enjoy the Fourth, Lander style.
I'm excited for another trip back to Wild Iris. This was only my second weekend there, the first being a year ago when I wasn't climbing nearly as cleanly. There's a lot waiting for me over at the Main Wall still.