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This blog is about two climbers who are searching out the widest, dirtiest and hardest offwidths that this planet has to offer. The journeys, the training, the routes and the failures - no holds barred. It's not about the grade, it's about the experience and when it comes to The Wide the experience is the same for everyone!

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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

First week in Fat Crack City - Vedauwoo!

The last blog post that we stuck up a few days after arriving in the States was mostly filled with doom and gloom... Rain, rain and more rain. Despite being British, I think we're terrible at coping with bad weather when we travel away from the UK - we expect perfect blue skies in every other country!

Fortunately that all changed after a few days and we finally got stuck into some nasty, flared wide cracks. All the time sitting in a rain-swept tent we had pondered how sandbagged we'd get, how much skin we'd lose and whether every 5.9 would shut us down.

Vedauwoo as the storms clear
We're a week into the trip now and we've finally got some routes and boulders done - we've experienced the Vedauwoo Sandbag, the invert shuffle and armbar-induced hyperventillation. We've met up with some really cool and helpful US offwidthers who've showed us the way to some of the best stuff. Many thanks Justin, Brad, Adam and Eric!

Rather than dissect every route and boulder problem for the moment (grades, cruxes etc etc!) we've opted to give a bit of summary of the stuff we've done and some links to photos that Alex Ekins has put up on his blog. Hope you enjoy them...

Alex Ekins photos

Pete shows off his terrible taste in hats
Thursday

Man, what a shit day. It rained and rained, but by the afternoon there was a break in the cloud and we dashed out to some boulder problems with towels and chalk socks. First up in "The Dungeon" were Life Without Parole (V4) and The Warden (V7-8, 5.12c) which Pete flashed in very fine style. It's worth pointing out that he did possibly the world's biggest sit-up on The Warden, so I'm tempted to award him extra points! It was great to finally get some climbing done and actually realise that we weren't complete punters.

Tom on Life Without Parole, V4
Friday


On our second day of climbing we decided to follow up on the bouldering front (as suggested by local Justin Edl) and get on Desiderata (V5) and Monsters Inc (V8, 5.13a). Desiderata was a superb roof splitter much like the famous "Cedar Eater" in Yosemite. This served as a quick warm up for Monster Inc later that afternoon, (see photo below).
Desiderata, V5
Monsters Inc is a pretty strange boulder propblem because its probably just as long as quite a few of the hard offwidth routes in Vedauwoo. It's a 5 inch crack that splits a 45 degree roof for perhaps 40ft. Unfortunately Pete and I didn't quite realise where the problem started so we ended up ticking a shorter version of the problem weighing in at about 5.12d. We were totally gutted when we realised we missed the start and so we'll have to go back up there next week to finish off the full 5.13 version. Oh well!!

Saturday


We promised at the beginning of the trip that we would never do more then "2 days on", however we found ourselves taping up under Bob Scarpelli's testpiece Squat (5.12b) on Saturday. Pete duly dispatched the route on his warm up to make possibly the first ever onsight of the route. Good effort! After a few more tries I found myself groveling over the top after seating the crux knee lock properly.
Looking up at the roof of Squat, 5.12b
Sunday

REST, flipping heck we needed that.

Monday

In the morning we succeeded in climbing what is touted as possibly Vedauwoo's hardest offwidth route - Spatial Relations (5.13a, put up by Pamela Pack). We were pretty pleased to get the route done in just a couple of hours. Overall we thought it was a really good route with some unique moves including an invert pivot-to-chicken-wing.

In the afternoon we went out to an old school classic, Worm Drive (5.11b). Plenty of people have this as a sandbag for the grade so we were again pleased to onsight and flash the route.


Tuesday

Our next day's objective was Trip Master Monkey (5.12b) another Scarpelli testpiece from back in the day. Modern day offwidthers ave called this anything from 5.12c - 5.13a, which prepared us for a possible massive sandbagging. Neither of us onsighted the route but I managed to fudge it on my second go and Pete got it 30 minutes later. We thought this route was definitely a sandbag and would rate considerably harder then Ray's Roof.

In the afternoon we persuaded Justin to show us an offwidth that had been put up recently by Pamela Pack and Patrick Kingsbury, The Wing (5.12c). Yet another invert test piece presented itself on the side of a dome shaped like a vulture. I stubbornly attacked the route  in my usual upside manner but 3D Pete put his thinking cap on and came up with a brilliant sequence of tenuous chicken wings and palm smearing. As a result he quickly ticked the route that afternoon and I'll be coming back on a different day to use this beta.

Finally at the end of our tether Justin put us on one of his classic boulders, Crack Named Sue (V5). We were so tired our arms felt a little numb but we managed to both top out first try.
Feeling papped on Crack Named Sue

Wednesday - REST!!!!!! - So we're thankful for a rest day now, My shoulder looks like I've just had a motorbike crash and Pete's triceps feel like he ran a lawnmower over them. Bring on the Climb On cream, Savlon and Tremadol.

Trip Master leaves its first mark
Alex Ekins has been with us on each of the routes and you can see some really great pictures over on his blog at http://alexekins.co.uk/category/blog/

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