Sunday, 29 June 2008

Vedauwoo again, cracks this time

Garrett and Sarah and I returned to Vedauwoo again today with Penelope and Erdos as well. Garrett led Cornelius (5.5) on the Nautilus and we all followed. This is a short crack climb that I'd compare in difficulty to Baby (5.6) at the Gunks. This was the first time Garrett placed his own pro on lead. After lunch we hiked to the Valley Massif and Garret lead Bill Steal (5.6) on the south side. The photo shows him at a rest a few moves below the crux. This is a very impressive lead and I would compare it to double crack (5.8) at the gunks.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Vedauwoo -- Crystal Freeway

Went rockclimbing at Vedauwoo with Garrett and Sarah. We climbed two bolted routes on the left (Northeast) end of the Crystal Freeway. Oddly, neither of these routes are listed in either guidebook for the area, nor are they in the online guide. They start just to the left of the start for the climb called the Northeast Cutoff.

Both climbs are friction routes, the first one is about 5.7 and is two pitches. The first pitch ends at a pair of bolts and another pitch continues up to a second set. With a pair of 60 meter ropes it might just be possible to descend from these bolts in a single rappel. Garrett led the first pitch, his first lead. I lead the second, short pitch. The second route, another 30 feet left of the first is harder (5.8 or 5.9) and the start is a bit more difficult since the first bolt is maybe fifteen or twenty feet off the deck with a very bad landing in a wide crack. Garrett led this pitch with aplomb. It ends at the same pair of bolts after a steeper and smoother ascent. We lowered Garrett off the shunts and then Sarah climbed on top-rope, cleaning the route and I followed after her. It was a mostly sunny day with a few clouds providing nice relief from the sun which can be brutal at 9000 feet.

Nice first leads for Garrett.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Gray Rock

After a day running errands in Fort Collins, Penelope, Erdos and I hiked to Gray Rock and climbed to the summit. I've been looking at this nice piece of rock for many years driving to Fort Collins CO down Rt 287. We left the truck at about 3:30 and made the six mile hike to the top and back in a bit more than four hours. Thunderheads blew through all afternoon. The trail to the summit winds around but is marked by cairns and some posts the forest service has put up. On reaching the summit plateau we were greeted by a cacophony of peepers. There are two small ponds near the top.
When we did approach the summit, there was another thunderhead bearing down on us, so we made a quick dash, scrambling up to the top and back. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so we have no photos.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

North Platte River -- Gray Reef

Drove to Gray Reef on the North Platte river with Jefferson Snider and Garrett to fish for the big ones. Gray Reef is a small Bureau of Reclamation (BLM) dam on the river about a mile below the larger dam which creates the Alcova Reservoir. The fish bunch up below the dam, and there are some real big ones in there. The largest trout I've ever caught was caught under that dam about 15 years ago and went 27". Not sure why, but I haven't fished there much since. Part of it is the landscape, it really is a reclamation site in the high desert though after spending five months in Scotland, the contrast of the desolate high western landscape with the wet Scottish highlands somehow made this look better to me than it has before.

Jeff, Garrett and I were hooking up a lot throughout the day. I only landed four, but hooked up with another eight or ten that straightened my hooks, broke me off, or just managed to rub the hook out in the weeds and rocks on the bottom. The fish we caught were all rainbows or cutbows in the 18" - 24" class and, unlike fish in some other western tailwaters, were strong fighters. The place is crowded. Many guys were not hooking up at all, a few were doing as well as we were, and in the early evening, there were a couple of men, standing in the best spots just below the dam, who hooked up consistently. The guys who don't hook up are invariably fishing bigger flies that the fly shops seem to push.

Garrett (in photo with a fish on) had the place wired and we started catching fish right away. This is tailwater flyfishing with small, tiny tiny tiny flies. The rig is either two size 22 or 24 midge patterns (there were midges swarming the banks) or possibly a rig with the upper midge swapped out with a size 12 or 14 red rock worm pattern. Black glass beadhead or silver beadhead midges were really hot. So the entire rig is a 9 foot leader, down to one or two size 6 splitshots, a foot or two below that a size 22 midge, and another 18" below that another midge on the point. (If you click on the photo of the fish above, you can see one of the flies hooked in trout's mouth.) We all used a new style of strike indicator which seemed to work really well. A kind of little round rubber bobber with a tab and a small grommet on the tab. Not sure what this thing is called, I've never seem 'em before, but they have them at the flyshop at the turn-off to Gray Reef. Garrett had used them before steelhead fishing in Northern CA.

It makes for a long day from Laramie (and I'm 25 miles further on) with a bit more than five hours of driving together with seven hours of fishing in the hot sun, but it is a great day if you don't mind crowds and want to hookup (and sometimes catch) lots of big fish.