Logan was HOT!!! The 2nd day there it hit 98 F so no climbing that day. Pretty sure we drank more beer than climbed… It didn’t help that the China Cave is all uber polished link-ups in the china cave without any locals to help decode probably the worst guidebook I’ve ever read (sorry had to get that out my system). But we actually found some good rock in Logan at the Blacksmith Fork Canyon. Brilliant blue and gold limestone that comes out of nowhere up in the middle of the mountains with longish (40 to 90 feet) routes that change with the rock from pockety to crimpy to blocky all in a 100 foot section of cliff that throughout has quality similar to the best of the best at Natural Bridge. Why can’t we get walls like that in Montana???
We were supposed to meet up with Kevin Volkening (now living in SLC) on the 4th but since Marge was in town he dropped out, which was maybe the best thing that happened to us in Logan! With our plans destroyed we finally realized how crappy it would be to stay in Logan for the rest of the trip, so we packed up in less than 10 mins and hit the road to Lander, WY.
We meet up with Frank Dusl and his son Beck and got the tour of the town visiting a new crag each day. We went to the Iris without a guidebook and got sandbagged all day by Frank’s faulty memories of the place. He ended up taking us on a hike off-trail through The Remuda that ended with us finding Burnt Beans and Coffee 5.12c so it can’t be called a bad day if a long one.
The next day we got some vague beta from the Wild Iris climbing shop about the Sweatlodge, a new cave that offers all day shade. We got there to find a draw with hanger still attached on the ground. The crag is more of a pillar that has fallen over to create the cave, and rumor had it that the wind goes so fast through there that the draws spin the nuts off the studs, true story apparently! I can’t say mush as far as the quality goes of the rock but the climbing is kinda cool and steep for sure. Hilarity ensued with each of us trying to lure one of the others to try some crappy route we had tried in order to get the draws back. In the end I got them all… Joey managed to climb his first 5.11c though on a short bouldery route with big moves between big pockets!
On our second to last planned day of the trip and Frank’s last we got up at 5:30am for a 7am session at Fossil Hill which gets sun at 11am and is up above Sinks canyon. Even in Lander we were still chasing shade to climb.
We warmed up on a long 5.11c (that joey got 2nd go!) and then got on Hips Like Cinderella 5.12c a route that Frank had bolted and did the FA of around the time I was born! By the time the sun got to us and Frank had to leave Joey had a hole in his index finger and I really really wanted a shower so we decided to get a burger in town and hit the road a day early.
Overall Joey did really well keeping up trying a lot of 5.12s and coming close to sending Oboe 5.12a/b at the China Cave and Comanche Trail 512a in the Blacksmith Fork Canyon. Not to mention we did get him on Burnt Beans and Coffee and he did all but one (non-crux) move. My trip revolved around 5.12c apparently as I tried to onsight a bunch and got close on a few but ended up sending most of them 2nd go. I tried a couple low 5.13s but only managed one because we headed to a new crag almost everyday.
Now that I’ve been to Wild Iris I really want to get back later this summer and try more of the routes there. The rock is brilliant and the temps aren’t that bad even in the sun. And to top it off there wasn’t that many people there, the whole trip I think we saw maybe 20 other people climbing and we only shared any one piece of rock twice with another party, I guess everybody is just climbing over in the new trendy crags in Ten Sleep… that doesn’t bother me, now that I’ve lived in Bozeman for a couple years I’ve started to like my solitude at the cliff.