Climbing and training in Lander, WY

There’s something almost shockingly comfortable about a climbing stint in Lander, WY. Unlike on most climbing road trips, my days here had a clear routine: wake up, make breakfast in the park, hit the gym for an hour or two, work on my computer at the coffee shop or public library, make a video blog about my day and head back to the park. On crazy nights I’d make dinner with my new friend Nick, or we’d head out to Sinks Canyon to get in some evening pitches. The one weekend when Tyler and Moss (his dog) came to visit we got a little crazy and had a (single) beer over live music at the Lander Bar.

Part of it was the training – I wasn’t really here to climb, per se. I was here to train for two weeks with climbing coach Steve Bechtel. But it’s also just Lander. It’s almost too comfortable! You can camp in the City Park for free and the coffee shop (Crux Coffee – it has a bouldering wall inside) sells their $4 breakfast burritos for half-off after noon. The locals on an evening stroll in the park always smile at you, even when you’re washing dishes at their water fountain and taking over an entire picnic table to cook tempeh . That’s right – there are two-dollar burritos, welcoming locals and free camping four blocks from Main Street. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

(Tyler trying hard on Wild Iris limestone pockets at The North Country ——>)

My training sessions with Steve were just what I was looking for. Instead of just telling me what exercises to do and writing out a plan, we wen’t through different types of workouts (mini-lectures on training strength, power or core) each session. We’d talk about why we train the way we do, and then we’d go through the main elements of that specific type of workout. I really felt like I was learning how to train myself for climbing, not just how to do exercises. I think this will serve me well in the long term.

I also made nine video blogs about my training experience, so you can check those out on YouTube for more details. You probably won’t enjoy them if you’re not obsessed with climbing/training and at least a little bit nerdy, but if you’re reading this chances are you might be all of those things. Alternatively you could just watch the first 5 seconds of each, in which I tried to insert just a tiny bit of humor.

Aside from the convenience of being here and positive training experience, I got to do some great climbing. I mostly went outside with a new/old friend Nick Knoke, who I met once at Rumney a few years ago. Nick is a great photographer, semi-freegan and super thoughtful, nice dude. We had a blast hanging out, cooking some great meals and taking a lot of climbing photos. Tyler also came down to visit for the weekend with his dog Moss, who we convinced to jump in freezing snowmelt at the Popo Agie for the sake of amusing GoPro footage (by the way, Popo Agie is a Crow Indian word for “gurgling river” that you pronounce “Puh – Po Shuh”). We jumped in the freezing water too and Moss seemed to be having fun, so I promise we weren’t just being cruel to animals for the sake of our own entertainment.

I got a pretty good sampling of Lander crags with just a few days outside. We went to The North Country (Wild Iris) twice and climbed on amazing short routes up white, pocketed limestone. I also got to climb with Steve and Alex one Wednesday when I wasn’t training. We went to The Sweat Lodge, a small, steep crag on the back side of a detached flake leaning up against the main cliff that always stays shady. Nick and I also spent one evening at the Sinks Canyon Addiction Wall. Finally, we spent one weekend climbing granite at Fremont Canyon, about 2-hours West of Lander in Central Wyoming.Fremont was a blast and I got to on-sight a few awesome routes that Steve bolted back in the ’90s at the end of high school. The highlight at Fremont was Hondo (11b, 3 pitches), an amazing, continuous, fully-bolted climb up the Power Tower Wall. We climbed as two parties (me & Suresh, Nick & John) and had a blast.

(Nick and John heading up pitch 2 of Hondo, a Steve Bechtel FA at Fremont Canyon ——->)

Overall, I didn’t focus much on hard climbing this trip because I’m trying to fully heal a lingering A3 pulley injury that’s been bothering me since May. When I climbed outside I tried to emphasize volume – climbing 7-12 pitches that I could usually on-sight. I did send a few 12cs first go, which I felt good about, and it was really fun just to experience all the different rock types and cool movement. Of course it was hard not to get on that beautiful 5.13 at whatever crag we were visiting, but worth it in the long term to hold off until I fully recover!

What’s next? I’m making my way to Tucson this week via Boulder and Taos. I’ll spend a week there visiting Katie before heading to Yosemite in October. Let the adventures continue!