Welcome to my new home in Laramie, the it’s-still-comfortable-outside edition! I thought it might be nice to share a little about the town of Laramie with you all, so you can get a better sense of what I’m up to these days. (Don’t fret – the latter half of this post is exclusively about CLIMBING!)
Laramie is a cute little college town that began as a stop on the Union-Pacific railroad back in the 1800’s. It used to be one of those lawless, Western, cowboy, saloon towns as depicted in old Clint Eastwood films. There was seriously a bar colloquially referred to as the “bucket of blood” due to the amount of violence that took place inside. Our house is only a few blocks from the railroad, and you can hear or see trains throughout the day (and into the night) heading east from the Pacific coast with cargo. No more passenger trains these days!
The town is sort of a mash-up of a cowboy town, where local ranchers come to stock up on feed and such, and a college town. Thus the University of Wyoming’s mascot is, appropriately, the cowboy (or cowgirl, when fitting). Walking around the “downtown” area, you might, for example, pass by an ayurvedic nutrition shop and an old-fashioned riflemaker/taxidermist on the same block.
Our house is just across from a public park. For such a small town, there are an impressive amount of these multi-block parks with grassy fields, old trees, playgrounds, tennis courts, and picnic tables. Abe especially appreciates the park.
Before I started my new job here, I’d spent some time getting us settled in our new place. We have a large kitchen, conducive to hosting fun dinner parties, a living room lined with windows, a room for the piano, a built-in bookshelf, and a scary basement.
Please excuse the crumpled sofa slipcover; Abe loves to sleep on it when we’re gone. And yes, our coffee table is an elephant. His name is Mortimer.
I had a chance to start a little garden in our backyard in a raised bed left behind by the previous tenants. Since it was a little late in the Wyoming season to start planting, I figured I’d go with wintry root vegetables. I also have a window box with cilantro, basil, and newly sprouting Swiss chard, which I keep inside.
I think it’s important for me to note here that I don’t by any means have a green thumb. In fact, most of the time I kill things. Most recently I killed a potted succulent. A succulent. Those things don’t die! You barely have to water them at all! So the fact that all these plants are still alive is a testament to both my having lots of free time, and my penchant for having pretty things around. I probably don’t have to mention to most of you the challenges of gardening in Wyoming, a place where, if you want to have a normal, American-looking green lawn, you have to water it pretty much daily. For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, you saw that the first below-freezing night of the season already happened here.
That said, we’ve had an unusual amount of rain recently. It rained for one week straight, which was giving Matt cabin/when-can-we-go-climbing fever. We didn’t see any flooding here, but Colorado, the Boulder-area in particular, was and still is a disaster area for many. Please keep Colorado-ans in your hearts and thoughts as they continue to recover.
Now, enough about home. More about CLIMBING!
Vedauwoo (pronounced Vee-dah-voo) is practically in our backyard, and is a renowned destination for crack climbing, and off-widths in particular. Off-widths, for those of you who aren’t familiar, are a type of crack that is just too large for hand/fist-jams and just too small for chimneying, a technique wherein climbers shove their entire bodies into cracks (that resemble chimneys) and “stem,” or press opposing hands and feet, to inchworm up. I suggest you watch this quick video of Pamela Pack, the queen of off-widths, crushing/suffering at Vedauwoo. The large metal devices which she hangs from her harness, and later sets above her in the crack, are called cams. These (and other types of protection) are used in a form of outdoor climbing called traditional climbing, or “trad.” This means you bring up all the gear you need with you, and that there is little to no hardware on the rock (e.g. bolts) for you to use while climbing.* Cams, bolts, and other protection simply serve the purpose of catching you, should you fall, therefore preventing you from falling to the ground.
The rock at Vedauwoo is a sharp, crystallized granite. It’s very distinctive in photographs due to its deceptively smooth look and colorful lichen.
Yesterday Matt, our friend Toby, and I headed out to Vedauwoo for some off-width action. The weather was beautiful! We first did Moor’s Crossing, a three-pitch, 250-ft. 5.6/7 (i.e., supposedly easy). You can see pictures and other info about the route here.
Due to a lazy start and a slow (because of me – sorry, guys!) scramble back down the mountain after finishing the climb, we only had time to struggle on one more route, a classic 5.9+ hand crack that completely shut me down.
I flailed around on the first 10 feet of the climb on top rope and came back down after it became clear I was going nowhere fast. Obviously I need to work on my crack climbing technique! Matt didn’t have a lot of luck on it either, which made me feel better. 🙂
While I was sunning/not climbing, I took a few pictures of our view. In a couple weeks, hopefully before it snows, all the aspen trees will turn yellow for fall.
The moral of the story is GET OUTSIDE! It’s fun! As always, thanks for stopping by. Feel free to leave comments! One request I recently received was that Abe begin his own blog. To tell you the truth, he’s way too lazy to start a blog, but I think I could convince him to write a post, so long as I reward him with many treats both throughout and afterwards.
*To note, in the video I reference above, Pamela (the climber) uses a couple quick draws that are clipped onto bolts. Though unusual, here the bolts were installed to protect the climber from a nasty possible head injury, which you’ll hear her discuss.