CLIMBING AT VEDAUWOO
To climb smoothly between earth and sky in a succession of precise and efficient movements
induces an inner peace and even a mood of gaiety. It is a well-regulated ballet.
( Gaston Rebuffat )
* NOTE: GO TO VEDAUWOO.ORG FOR ALL ROUTE DETAILS !!
Rock climbers come to Vedauwoo from all parts of the world to sample some of the best wide crack climbing (called "offwidths") known. In fact, there are more than 500 challenging and sometimes bloodthirsty traditional and sport climbs documented in a book entitled Heel and Toe; The Climbs of Greater Vedauwoo by myself (Skip Harper) and Rob Kelman which, despite two printings, has been sold out. Published in 1994, "HAT" was the first guidebook of its kind to employ computerized graphics at high resolution and emphasized the illustration of real routes on real rock. While it was presented entirely in a black and white format, the companion website Vedauwoo.org is crafting newer, updated topos and action shots in color.
. . . . NOTES on climbing at Vedauwoo in general . . . .
A painful howl echoed through the woods "this thing is eating me alive"! I had to chuckle as I recalled my first experience climbing at Vedauwoo. The precambrian granite is laced with huge feldspar crystals with scalpel like edges that can impart much more than just friction to a climbers body parts. It has been stated that this attribute tends to "filter out the weak, the soft and the spineless, which leaves better company for you" (Todd Skinner). Also be forewarned, the ratings are notoriously stiff. Solid 5.11 leaders have been sandbagged by many routes of lesser grade. Whatever the case, its a good idea to 'tape up' when climbing here and, for those who can get past these things, absolutely world class climbing experiences can be found.
Perhaps offwidths (cracks wider than your fist, yet narrower than your body width), more than any other type of climb have formed the basis of Vedauwoo's widespread reputation. Many an experienced crack climber has looked up into the gaping maw of one of these contortions (or 'perfections', depending upon your perspective) of nature and walked away. But if wide cracks are your fare, this is the place! One example is Horn's Mother (11a) on the Coke Bottle, a long, two pitch body-rending grind. Another is Trip Master Monkey (12b) in the Master Blaster Area (photo shows Craig Luebben inverted and climbing his own leg), a climb requiring strength, pretzel-like flexibility, a high degree of offwidth skill - as well as a moderately crazed mental state. On a more moderate note is Hideaway Chimney, a choice 5.5 inside double dihedral found on the Holy Saturday Formation.
Hand and finger cracks abound in the area, many of which are considered superior lines. Friday the 13th on the Nautilus is one such climb, an exquisite, 3 pitch long line of the purest hand jamming found anywhere. The first pitch is about 60 feet of superb 9+ hands, the second pitch (roof) goes about 10b and the third pitch (roof), at 11d or so, requires a true cowboy attitude or you'll get bucked right off!! That's where Steve Bechtel is in the photo, going ballistic on the third pitch! On a lighter note, try Strawberry Jam on the Crystal Freeway for the best handcrack at 5.8 in all of Vedauwoo.
A variety of face climbs have been created by the artistic skill of local climbers who have visualized lines into otherwise unattainable vertical terrain. "Fall Wall" (10a) on the Fall Wall formation is a moderate bolted face climb whereas Space Oddity (12a) is found on the Coke Bottle and offers a superb challenge of delicate, dance-like moves up a 120' crystalline face. North Shore (13a/b) on Holdout will challenge the best of sports or try the more recreational 2nd Iteration (10c) in Jurassic Park.
Mixed climbs sharing more than one climbing style (ie offwidth plus considerable hand and/or finger jamming; or hands plus bolted face, etc.) are also found throughout the area and offer a special challenge to those proficient at only one or two climbing forms. Stinkzig (5.7) on the Nautilus is on such climb in the more moderate grades, and Boardwalk (11b) on the Coke Bottle is one of the harder ones. Also see Turnaround (10b/c) on Blair 2 in the New Climbs Section.
NOTE: You will find a list of the best existing climbs at each grade HERE.
Also, a sampling of NEW ROUTES can be found here.
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