Up The Poudre

Last Tuesday, our good friends Will and Courtney dropped by on their way from the Pacific Northwest to the Red River Gorge. It’s quite a journey, as we can attest, so they took advantage of our proximity to I-80 to snag a shower, some groceries, some friend time, and to get in one last boulder sesh before roping up for the foreseeable future.

Will Wolcott trying hard on the cruxy opening of Gandalf V7. More photos on our Facebook page.

The weather was still early-fall-warm, but due to time constraints we didn’t want to hoof it all the way in to the Park. We decided instead on the long-ish drive up Poudre Canyon and the negligible approaches that the canyon areas provide. In particular, we wanted to check out Gandalf V7, which I’ve been told is one of the best, if not the best boulder problem in the canyon.

The drive is always longer than you think. Leaving Fort Collins and turning onto the windy road doesn’t take long, but then you must settle in for 40-some miles of windy beauty, marred by fire damage (beautiful in its own way). After an hour of twists and turns, you arrive at your parking area. For us, it’s a lovely little picnic pullout.

The last time we tried to check out Gandalf, the water was too high and we bouldered at the 420s instead. This time, the water was very low, making crossing quite easy. Well, Will got his pants a little wet, but no big deal.

Right in front of the river is a boulder with Crimes V9 and Against HumanityV7, both classics. To the right is the warmup boulder, with V1, 2 V4’s, and a sweet V6 up the middle.

Will trying hard on Against Humanity V7

After warming up, we went to go look for Gandalf. A warning to those with the new Front Range Bouldering Guidebook: It says to go right and uphill from Against Humanity. Go Left. Took us a little while to figure it out, but it’s really quite close.

Gandalf is high, real high, and I don’t think it gets done much…there was barely chalk on any of the holds. We tried it, and I think I can understand why…it’s old-school V7. The feet are tiny at the start and the first moves are tenuous and tension-y. Then you launch into the second half, with huge moves, an awkward toss, and a highball topout that’s hard to scope. I was able to get to the semi-jug right before the lip, but was pumped and scared and I backed off. A dollar in the punt jar, and we moved on to Against Humanity.

Courtney dialing in the shorty beta on Against Humanity V7. The tree provides a helpful spot.

I highly recommend this one. Big blocky features lead to a big jump at the top, and there are many ways to do it so shorties can’t complain too much. Will had an epic session on it and did all the moves, but couldn’t quite link it. Courtney nearly did all the moves, and Vikki unfortunately had fallen and bruised her hand earlier in the day, so she ate food.

We had looked at some other stuff in the talus field. Some of the harder problems looked awesome, but we stayed by the river. It appears there is still potential up there, as the book only lists a half-dozen or so problems. This means you can get your fill of terrible landings without hauling all your crap up to Upper Upper Upper Upper Chaos!

We crossed back over the Cache La Poudre river (which means “hiding place for powder”…I assume gunpowder?) and, in fine California fashion, drove to our favorite taqueria for dinner. Then Vikki and I stayed up late and tried to knock out a significant portion of the new video, but, well, there’s still much to do. sigh…

Lastly, a brief update on Vikki’s back: it’s getting better (and to track her progress we’ve started taking a photo a day of her back), but because her muscles that were originally tight are now loose, they are also weaker. She managed to crush the V4 arete on the warm-up boulder second try, but serious training and pulling is a no-go for her until her back is fixed. No word yet on how long until then.

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