Sunday, November 23, 2014

Joe's Valley -- Strike Two

I've been off the map a bit recently, but thought I'd give an update after my recent trip back to Joe's Valley. After focussing on Ninja Warrior this spring, I switched gears and was mostly consumed with work and family life. I was getting to climb outside a fair amount around Boulder this fall, but was looking forward to an extended climbing trip. My family and I headed out to Joe's Valley looking to get some redemption after the terrible weather we experienced there last year.

It definitely changes the dynamic when you have a 3-year old joining in the adventures. Most significantly, the 40ish degree days that would have been excellent conditions in the past can easily turn into miserable affairs for everyone. Looking at the extended forecast for Joe's, we saw a good stretch of low 60s and high 50s. Seemed like the weather was going to be in our favor this time.

The first day of climbing was in fact beautiful weather. It was warm enough that I could check out a newer area on the shady side of the river. After building a sturdy enough bridge across the river, we embarked up to the Damn Boulders. I had my eye on two beautiful looking problems up there: Lonesome Animals (V12) and the Last Great One (V13). I had seen video of both and wasn't at all let down when I saw them in person. Two great looking climbs.

After a good warmup on some other super classics in the area, I got on Lonesome Animals and figured out all of the moves. I didn't have the juice to put together a link, but I was optimistic for the next session I'd have on it. I was mostly just psyched to be outside climbing on great rock in good weather.

When we checked the weather next, we were in for a surprise as the forecast took a dramatic change for the worse. The daily highs were dropping and there was snow scheduled to come in a couple days. We spent the next two days climbing at other areas finding good climbs for Sandy and my son. I was surprised how psyched Bayes was to climb despite the cold weather. It's so fun to see him develop in the sport and move closer to being able to climb real problems. Here's a video of him doing a cool mini problem we found for him. Actually, it had high quality rock and would be a classic if it was 3x bigger.

Bayes Heel Hook Clinic from Matt Wilder on Vimeo.

On the day the snow was scheduled to arrive, I headed back out to the Damn Boulders to have another go on Lonesome Animals. It was cold, but climbable. This time Bayes was napping so Sandy stayed with him down in the truck -- I was on my own up there which was probably for the best given the weather. Right as I got to the boulders, the snow started. I hurried through some warmups and made it up to Lonesome Animals. The snow was increasingly getting thicker. I did a few moves on the problem to warm up more and then gave it a couple burns. I had some decent attempts but eventually gave in as the conditions were becoming too unfavorable. Knowing that we still had a few days left, I figured I'd just head back up again in hopefully better conditions.

We spent that night in Orangeville and when we woke up, there were several inches of snow on the ground. I'm sure it was much worse in the canyon. With only a couple days left and a low chance of things melting and drying, we had to make the hard decision to leave early. It was definitely disappointing to leave without getting a full dose of climbing and without having the opportunity to fully try the problems I had been excited to check out. Oh well, I guess that's strike two for Joe's Valley.

Here's a short video of me on the classic warmups on the Nerf boulder right before the snow hit hard:

Damn Boulders Warmups - Joe's Valley from Matt Wilder on Vimeo.

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