Vedauwoo – Upper Blair

Ann descending South CornerWe’re infatuated with the Blair area these days. The wind is coming back to Vedauwoo, but it’s still cool and seductive, and the crags are often sheltered. Sun shines most of the time, interrupted by brief bouts of rain. Life feels full when all this change is going on around you, but also comfortable and welcoming. And there are many great routes to discover, even if the names are not exciting:

“Approach 4.0” 5.8 – two short pitches to the top of The Heap, each with an interesting offwidth crux. The first is harder and has more variety, with some interesting features by a dike near the top. The second begins in a chimney that exits into a tricky gap at the top. Both are satisfying when done.

“Real Men Don’t Spread Their Legs” 5.11b – I think I’ve rigged a toprope on “My Clone Sleeps Alone” 5.10a. Ann lowers me, and it looks discouragingly hard. I manage to reach a bush in the crack, right where the only good jams are. I shove my face in the bush, scratching it, and try desperately to sink a jam above it, but fall off every time. It turns out to require some delicate stemming, followed by even more delicate stemming without the benefit of hand jams. I feel my resolve to ever lead 5.10 at Vedauwoo draining away, along with the blood in my groin. I don’t figure out the route I’ve actually climbed until we’re back at camp and I’m losing the ability to walk.

“Becker” 5.7 – A very fun set of parallel cracks slowly morph into flared seams. It took some will power to trust my feet on this! As always, Vedauwoo has some lessons to offer.

“Slab Route 2?” 5.6 – We almost pass this route up because there is a party on it, but they appear to be packing up so we decide to go for it. They tell us there is no bolted rappel station at the top, an error in the book, but they’ve left a gear anchor there. Ann proceeds to lead the route, feeling challenged and thrilled by her success. It even offers a raspberry growing from a horizontal crack on the way as a reward! We’re thankful for the nice anchor to descend from.

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