Vedauwoo weather is highly variable this time of year. I figured the best strategy would be to go fairly early so that when the weather window opens, we’re ready to jump through.
Ann, Sean, Rogan, and I reach the Reynolds parking area on FS 700 around 9:30 in a cold wind. Some hardy frisbee golfers make fun of our big packs as we set out for the Pooh’s Corner area of Reynolds Hill. There are some interesting looking routes there, but the wind and lack of sun are numbing our hands without even touching the rock, so we decide to move on to Valley Massif.
The temperature is much nicer when we reach the massif’s south face. I head up Ladder, 5.7, a long, low-angle crack on the west end of the face. By the time we’ve all climbed it and rappelled with two ropes from a slung chockstone at the top, we agree the route is more trouble than it’s worth.
The day is warming nicely, and I’m curious to see the north face of the massif, so I suggest we pack up and hike some more to the grudging consent of my companions. This is our first exploration of this side, and I’m drawn to a long 5.7 crack called Screw. It looks great, but as I start I worry it might be too easy. This worry is rejected decisively when I reach the wide section. This is a deep, parallel chimney about 15″ wide. Too wide for a heel-toe, too narrow for a forearm bar. I take a deep breath and begin my Vedauwoo crack training, where progress is measured in grunts per move. One or two inches at a time I grovel upwards, finding protection small enough for my rack at the very back of the chimney. Many grunts later I emerge onto the next section, a gorgeous wide hand crack. The moves here bring back memories from Igor Unchained in the Needles of southern California, with the exception that a rest stance is eventually provided. A final section of 4″, calf-eating maw lead me, breathing hard, to a belay ledge.
Ann follows, roughly matching me in grunts per move. When she joins me at the belay ledge, she kindly agrees to grovel a bit more on her belly through a two-foot horizontal gap, beyond which I’m hoping she’ll find a bolted anchor. Pushing along with the tips of her toes, she eventually confirms the existance of said anchor, and I join her for the 150-foot rappel as a light sleet begins to fall. I can’t tell if Sean is relieved or disappointed that the storm has preempted his turn to climb the Screw. Grunting done, Ann and I can do nothing but rave about the route.
True to the Voo, it’s soon warm and sunny again as we hike back.