Hail the Voo: Climbing Vedauwoo

July 4, 2015

What better way to celebrate our country than to play in its natural beauty? 

The gang and I drove to Vedauwoo (pronounced Vee-dah-voo), Wyoming on Independence Day. As ever, I'm incredibly lucky because this "land of earthborn spirit" is only a glorious hour from Fort Collins, Colorado. What started as a temperate, holiday crag day though, flipped without warning to wild conditions...

Nick, packing up and heading out on the trail, tape-gloves ready.
We often choose to climb in the Reynolds Hill area because it's typically less crowded than Central, and one of the most scenic parts of the park. There are 33 routes in this area alone, and on the hike, we walked along wildflower meadows and aspen groves, and splashed through a refreshing brook or two.  
We found a giant mushroom brain on the path, which believe it or not, is totally edible and could've fed all six of us! (below)
Vedauwoo is the kingdom of crack climbing. Last year, as an inexperienced trad climber (naive and ignorant) I jumped on Maiden (5.6) and placed 3 out of 4 pieces of gear incorrectly. Translation: If I had fallen, I would've been up a creek, down 30 feet. [Do not attempt!] This year, I successfully, correctly, and safely lead Maiden, among a few others. It's so rewarding to return to a crag and crush. 
Here's Will sending Klink (5.10) without a peep. 
Some of my first times trad climbing was in Indian Creek in 2014 where I first met Stephen, one of the most supportive, encouraging, positive dudes I've ever met. If Steven says "You can totally do that," then I know I can do it! I was so happy to finally spend a day climbing with both him and his beautiful (inside and out) girlfriend, Joanna. "No way, I wear my fancy outdoor clothes when I go out on the town," she said. "For climbing, I throw on these Aeropostale jeans I've had since I was fourteen."

And then, out of nowhere, without warning:

Marble-sized hail fell from the sky. We scrambled to gather the gear and find shelter. Thunder rocked the sky, and the hail came down with the force of a thousand pellet guns. Luckily, a rock outcropping was close by and protected eleven climbers through the storm while we watched as an inch of ice coated the ground, and water crashed off the routes we had just been climbing. 

In the hurry to find shelter, I had left my Fujifilm X-Pro 1 exposed and unprotected in the wild weather. By some miracle though, once the storm passed as quickly as it came, I unzipped my soaking wet Ruggard Hunter 15 holster bag to discover that my camera was completely dry! If anyone is looking for truly rugged protection for your photo rig, go with this brand (not a plug, I'm just a truly grateful and satisfied customer!). 

We really experienced the unexpected beauty of our country on this climbing day. Hope everyone had a 4th of July that was just as adventurous! 

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