You just can’t miss Lower Blair. Driving down (basically east) Road #707 from the ‘Blair Underpass’, three closely situated monoliths begin appearing ahead of you. At first they seem rather unsubstantial against the background of the Sherman Mountains, but they continue to grow larger as you get closer. These are the Three Blairs (#’s 1, 2 and 3) upon which most of the climbs are located and can be seen on the topo as well as in other photos. As you leave the parking lot and hike towards them, they simply continue to get even larger. By the time you are at their base, they are massive, an alluring feature that catches almost everyone by surprise. These formidable structures were named for Chuck Van Blair, one of many members of the University of Wyoming Outing Club who climbed to their summits in the mid 1900’s. In fact, Blair himself is the namesake for the entire area known today as ….. ” Blair”.
Because of the rather ordered nature of Lower Blair, it’s not nearly as difficult to navigate as Upper Blair. Moreover, it is a fascinating place, generally so quiet the distant hum of traffic on I-80 seems intrusive. In counterpoint to the overbearing rock formations, it is highly forested, wildflowers bloom throughout the climbing season and the light fragrance of sage is pervasive, creating the illusion of a magical refuge. Within this context, it is surprisingly full of climbs for everyone. You will find daring runouts (Arete Already), exciting trads (A Thing of Beauty), huge flaring offwidths (The Putter), perfect hands (Le Petit Arbre) as well as challenging mixed (trad+sport) climbs (Deadman’s Glove). There are fanatical contortions almost beyond imagination (The Wing) as well as some of the best climbs at the lower and intermediate grades found throughout Greater Vedauwoo.
There are several lesser formations closely associated with the 3 Blairs, Little Blair, Goldirocks and Adam’s Ribs. All formations are relatively linear and have a northeast to southwest bearing. Thus most have a ‘southeast face’ and a ‘northwest face’, although most simply refer to the north or south faces rather than adhering to the mind bending insistence of being exact.
Follow the directions found on the ‘BLAIR PAGE‘.
Two main trails lead into Lower Blair from the parking area, one (#1) heading northeast towards Blair 3 and the other is more a road than a trail, heading southeast giving greater access to Blair 1 and the lesser formations. Just as you pass Blair 1 on this ‘road’, you will take a well-used trail heading east/northward. This is #2 on the Lower Blair topo. Each of these trails spur off smaller ones which access specific parts of the area. In addition, some of the more popular climbs are located. With this information and maybe use of one of the guidebooks available will enable you to zero in on your destination.
Formations: Most are self-explanatory, GR=Goldirocks, MD=Moby Dick, V=TheVulture.
Climbs: aa=Arete Already, bb=Blair Blaster, dm=Deadman’s Glove, EG=Electric Gypsy Moth, i=Intimidation, n=Your Nuts, P=The Putter, pa=Le Petit Arbre, pg=Girls with Long Knives, rr= Raised on Robbery, sf=Stress Fracture, sw=Son of a Wanted Man, tb=Thing of Beauty, w=The Wing, ws= When You’re Strange.
Not so difficult to navigate with the majority of climbs associated with three large, easy to locate formations, Blairs 1, 2 and 3. These can be seen on one of the Beta shots…….. as well as on the topo showing trails and routes in the area.
Here’s the SOUTH FACE (actually the Southeast exposure) of BLAIR ONE.
It’s sunny and pleasant most of the day and usually out of the wind. It’s the site of some old, easy climbs to the summit blocks, as well as some newer, more challenging lines. There is a sizeable bulge on the west end that comprises a nearly separate formation called the Blair 1 South ‘Annex’. It is seen in more detail BELOW.
SURPRISINGLY, these areas have been completely IGNORED by newer guidebooks!
1.) Creature Features (Seen in detail in topo 2 above). Actually three climbs in one. TAPE UP! A 9+ Begin behind a large boulder/flake and soon go vertical in a hand and fist crack for 30′, followed by a series of discontinuous, less than vertical cracks of varying sizes to the anchors. B 10a At the first major horizontal encountered in A, jog left and up a diagonal crack to the next crack system (about 25′), protect up this hand crack to its end, jog left again about 15′ to find a neat crack line that goes over 3 successive bulges. Anchors at top. C 11a Continue left past the bulges to find a slightly overhanging, left-leaning – thin crack leading to an overhanging, bulging roof split by a hand crack with teeth (crux). Belay on gear. (s harper + g diamond, ’92)
2.) The old “East Face Direct” 5.6 A gutter and chimney system leading to the top, usually done in two pitches. FA; Rich Baldwin, mid-60’s.
3.) Its In The Bag 5.7 Another direct line to the top.
4.) The old “Scrotum” 5.7 A wide chimney system to the top. FA; Ken Johnson and Jim Larson, 1966.
5.) You Left Your Nut 10a Cool route with lots of variation. Starts below a big roof, ascends the left side through a series of interesting jams and other surprising circumstances. Belay 120′ above at the shelf on gear. (s harper + g diamond, ’94)
6.) The Cryptorchid 10c Ascends to the right of the same roof as in #5. A thinner, straight forward version of #5. Careful or you might end up becoming one (look it up!). (s harper + d Lossner, ’94)
DESCENTS: There is a set of anchors/rap station at the top of Route # 1A and #1B. One 50 or 60M rope will get you down to a walkoff back to the base of the climbs. Also, there is a downclimb on the North Side of the formation as indicated by the arrow on Topo 1 above.
B 1 south A N N E X
1.) When You’re Strange 11b Lurch and thrash your way up this hand crack that widens and gets harder. top anchors. (B. Scarpelli and Paul Piana, ’84)
2.) Bat Drop Crack 10a Awkward right side jamming, especially when you have to use the petrified guano – or use face moves to avoid it if you can.
Descent: top anchors (#1) or Walk off to the backside of the formation, downclimb the gully. (Kelman and Harper, ’93)
LC Little Creatures 11b A short, stout crack in a dihedral corner high on BLAIR ONE. Approach up the gulley (orange arrow, right side) between the ANNEX and BLAIR ONE. (Scarpelli)
1c The leftmost route of CREATURE FEATURES (11a) on BLAIR ONE, also seen in above topos.
Here’s the north (northwest) face of Blair One as seen from the SW flank of Blair 3 looking in a southerly direction (#1 above).
Some of Blair Two and Three are also seen.
Its multiple crack systems can be appreciated and it also becomes apparent why this formation was attractive to the hardmen of the late 50’s and 60’s.
1.) Public Enemy 11c Seen close up in shot #3 above, the leftmost of two parallel, right leaning cracks…. It’s thin dude, and there’s a bolt about 20′ up to help you out. Rap chains on top ledge. (griffith and Jenkins, ’01)
2.) Raised on Robbery 10b An older Scarpelli line shown in Shot #3 above that will challenge the 5.10 leader. Rap on chains. (Scarpelli, ’84)
3.) Ice Box 5.3 or so What’s in a name? Climb it afternoon. An easy, natural line to the top first done in 1955 by Walt Sticker, et al. Descent via downclimb on East end, or Creature Feature rap anchors (SE Face).
4.) In Between 5.6 After starting in the same crack as #5, take the obvious crack line to the top. An older line established by Jaquot and Berg in ’78. Descent: Check out image # 1 for downclimb locations….. also rap from # 12 anchors if you can get there.
5.) Three Roofs 5.7 An older route established by Jim Halfpenny (’68).
6.) Community Norms 10d About 40′ right of #5, climb discontinuous cracks to the top. (Brown, ’94)
7.) Social Mores 10b Somebody wasn’t social? Find a diminutive left-facing dihedral just right of #6 that leads to a roof, go right and find a thin crack to the top. (Brown, ’94)
8.) Spike It 5.8 A double-double crack system with a spike of rock between the lower one – really? Start in a double crack system and belay or not on the big ledge. Move right to another double crack system and take the leftmost crack, discovering one or two hard moves along the way. (Brown, ’94)
9.) The Gampher Chimney 5.7 An older line first climbed by Jaquot, Hallady, Davis and Glenda Gampher clear back in 1963.
* NOTE – NEW ROUTE: Found about 10 yards left (facing the rock) of Route #11, an incipient crack line runs from ground level to the big ledge above on dirty rock. Two bright shiny bolts (should be camo’d but aren’t) are found below the second horizontal crack, and pro is used from there. This route underlies Route #10. Author and grade unknown at present. (2010?)
10.) Nick’s Loose flake 5.7 An alternate second pitch to Petite Arbre (#11) found about 40′ left of the second pitch of #11. Rap anchors at top. (m weirdness, ’93)
11.) Petit Arbre 5.8 P1: Superb jam crack named for the little tree above the big ledge…. One pitch or two. A great hand crack widens out and leads to a big ledge (*NOTE: new rap anchors found here). P2: Continue up the cracks past the little tree…. Don’t use it for a hold or sling it for pro (it was there long before you were) or a vigilante committee will remove your petite… Image #1 – opening moves. Image #2 -Diane Noton on lead, entering off with trough near end of 1st pitch. Image #3 – top (2nd) pitch, getting a little pro near the ‘little tree’. Known widely to be climbed before the FFA claimed by m brown in ’94…. probably first by an itinerant carpenter in tennis shoes from Laramie. Everyone and his brother wants credit for the FFA of this one….. TOTAL CLASSIC!!
12.) Electric Gypsy Moth 10c A challenging little sport route with a hard, bouldery start (topo image #1). Hallucinogens not recommended – stay alert or you will become hamburger. (orenczac, ’02) Rap off the top. (Image #2: Skip Harper on lead, photo by Diane Noton.)
13.) Feelin’ Flaky 5.9 Climb the N face of the same block, inside the hallway from #12. FFA has been lost in time.
1.) Falcon’s Flair 10a Straight in and straight up past three horizontal grooves. Watch out for the bird nest. Belay on gear. Yes it’s worth it! See Fig. 2 (Harper and Schmidt, ’93).
2.) Deadman’s Glove 11c Ascend a thin, right facing dihedral into thinner territory where 2 bolts are found. Follow the somewhat easier, protectable crack in the dihedral corner to the top. Ostensibly named for a well-used, moldy old glove found at the base of the climb. Belay on gear. This is a MIXED climb, bring gear for top half of route, small stuff to hands. See Fig. 3 (Blunk + Millard, early 90’s).
3.) Turnaround: Called variously ‘Enterprising Curiosity’ (’04) and ‘Bloody Scab’ (03), this climb which begins with a 40′ gaping, leaning off width was climbed much earlier as evidenced by old rap slings and 2 pins found when it was climbed in ’93 (Harper and Diamond). At that time we found a continuous line of 5.8 off width leading to a large chockstone with old rap slings. Moving either under or over the chockstone and further ‘inside’ the cleft between the formations, we found 25′ of great vertical hand jams and OW (5.8) along the east facing dihedral (facing N) wall leading to the top. Also, a beautiful splitter finger crack paralleling the hand crack (on its left) was done separately and we rated it 10d. We called it Turnaround part one (all 5.8) and two (10d). Here’s a shot of Greg Diamond on the finger crack (Turnaround Part Two) back then. Most assuredly the hand crack was climbed previously, but no evidence remained. Whether we established the FFA of the finger crack seems likely. Belay on gear or from #4 anchors. See Fig. 3 *NOTE: Some thoughtless idiot CHOPPED the top rap bolts shown in Photo 3 above. Your descent options are therefore limited but still possible using ring anchors above Turnaround Part Two, to the Chockstone with rap sling to the ground (2 raps). Also reported are rap anchors above #4 with an intermediate rap shown in Fig 3. (ffa 5.8 unknown; ffa of finger crack Harper and Diamond, ’93)
4.) Hobbit Logic 11b Start in #3 to reach a significant horizontal crack/ledge, traverse left to the vertical crack (use optional belay) and follow it to the top. A thin area midway is protected with a bolt. Rap anchors at top. See Fig. 3 (Z. Orenzac + M. Roberts, ’03).
5.) There are rumors that the steep, nearly featureless, wide face right (east) of #4 has been freed – it has definitely been attempted. There are also reports of top rope problems (‘the Pissing Post’, etc.) here as well.
DESCENTS: There are at least three sets of rap anchors in the area of Deadman’s Glove. One is above Hobbit Logic and one is near the top of the steep face to the right of #3. These raps require 2 ropes from the top. If the intermediate anchors on HL (#4) are used, one rope will do. One can downclimb the West face of the formation (rather inconvenient) as well as the cleft between Blair 2 and The Vulture (N. side) which goes at about 5.5. WHOOPS, it seems like the set of rap anchors above the east side featureless face have been chopped, approx. ’06.
Looking for a challenge on a hot afternoon? This might be the place, very near the Vulture’s lair.
Four sweet lines are grouped together on the northeast corner of Blair 2. They are challenging, sustained and spicy at their respective grades, full of superb hand and finger locks and cracks, some off width and one contains multiple grades from 5.6 to nearly blank, steep 5.11 face and interspersed with nearly preposterous gymnastic moves. Bring lots of gear and get ready for a very entertaining outing.
1.) Goodbye White Opel 11b Scramble up a gully on the NE side of the Vulture to a ledge, moving right (west) along the ledge to a right leaning crack. Move up a thinning crack that widens at the top. (Suzuki and Scarpelli, ’84)
2.) Medium Cool 10b About 12 feet west of White Opel is another tricky, thin vertical crack which ends near the the top of Opel. (Scarpelli and Spence, ’84)
3.) Solo for Swallows 11b Approximately 25 feet right (west) from Medium Cool is the third route, starting up a groove which diminishes to a finger crack and then off width. The climb finishes up the final thin finger crack to the top of the formation. (Scarpelli and Cowan, ’84)
4.) A Thing of Beauty 10b Phenomenal position, it is truly a ‘thing of beauty’. This line splits the entire formation from near the bottom to the top. Consider one of two starts, first up a nearly blank steep wall directly behind a large pine tree (5.11b R), or traversing into the bottom of the crack line from the west, roughly 30 feet west of the large pine tree. Both starts are poorly protected, so think ahead. Then begin up a perfect crack line in the right facing dihedral to an increasingly widening line to the top. Bring large pro for the top off width section. (FA: Hurley, Rearick and Hollis, mid ’70’s. FFA: Harper and Brink, ’93)
1.) Ball’s Out 11a Starts in a steep, thin declivity about 20 yards SE (left facing the rock) of #2 next to a huge, rounded boulder under which there is a bivy cave. There is scant pro for the first, dicey 25 feet except a placement for a thin wire or especially a No. 1 Lowe Ball. Set it well because if the ‘ball comes out’, you might loose ‘them’. Continue up a groove to a blank headwall above which there is a gem of a 5.9 hand crack to the top. Either traverse left and back up a sloping ledge to avoid the headwall (5.8) or take on the unprotected headwall (10cr) if you have the balls. Set a good piece in the hand crack and float to the top on plutonic jamming. Belay on gear. (Skip Harper and Jim Brink,’93)
2.) Every Move You Make 12b Begins about 25 yards left of #3 on a seemingly blank face. A very thin, bouldery start to attain the first jams 15 feet above – so thin in fact that you will pass it up the first time. Some choose a thin traverse in from the right (11c). This line ascends what is essentially a left facing dihedral formed by several bulging layers with horizontal breaks between each. Take a full rack and supplement the larger cams. It is long and sustained. (Scott Blunk, ’88) Belay on gear. Descent: Same as 3,4,5.
3.) Sketch Palsy 10d A fine bolted line continuous at the grade with a cruxy move just above the obvious horizontal break. Put in some pro here if you don’t trust your feet. Don’t sketch out, it’s all there. (Shawn Bradley et al., c’94)
4.) Arete Already 10ar Opening moves are up a closing crack to near the obvious horizontal break. Then its crystal pinching towards the arete on your right with a medium cam placement in a crack half way there. Follow the arete to the top. *NOTE: Done prior to completion of #5 with no bolts on run out!! Now use upper bolts of #5 if you have to. (Jim Brink and Skip Harper,’93)
5.) Bragging About Jesus 10a Great bolted line up the arete, however mischievous approach. Go behind the miniature ‘vulture’ formation and climb up to the arete carrying your rope. Uncoil and toss one end down to your belayer. Take a couple medium cams. (Steve Bechtel and Jesse Stover, ’93)
BELAYS AND DESCENTS: there’s a good set of Fixe Rings atop this formation. Routes 3,4,5 converge here. *NOTE: TWO ROPE RAP to the ground!!
6.) Unicorn Exterminator 10b A circuitous circus of jamming and contortions. Novel. Rap as in 3,4,5. (Orenzac and Roberts, ’01)
7.) Rollicker’s Lullaby 9 Climbed for years (decades), apparently just not documented.
8.) Damit 5.8 On Moby Dick SE Face. The remnants of an older aid climb that originally cut the entire SE Face of Moby Dick (Ref: Halfpenny, ’71 text page 30, Photo #30), now consisting of the ending cracks only leading from the ‘SW Platform’ to the top (see Fig. 4).
9.) A Horse Will Have To Do 10b On Moby Dick SE Face. Apparently replaced/renamed the bottom half of Damit when freed. You’ll need a full rack on this one as it goes from wide to thin to wide again. Rap chains at top on the ‘SW Platform’. (Cowan and Matson, ’84)
10.) The Putter 10b On Moby Dick SE Face. An old one…. Grovel your way to the top using this wide gash in Moby Dick’s side. Take extra big pro and tape up. 2 rope rap to ground. (FA Southerland and Cross,’68. FFA D. Rearick, ’74)
11.) Penetration 9 On Moby Dick East Face (‘prow’). Finally, someone has knocked these off ….. On the ‘east’ face of B3 ‘below’ and left of Moby Dick, find 2 parallel off widths like book pages… Climb the left of these using the right one for stemming assistance. (Jenkins and Orenzac,’03)
The north side of Blair Three can be subdivided into three parts, left end, middle section, and right end (facing the rock).
The LEFT END includes the NW Face of Moby Dick…
. . . topo soon . . .
1.) Hard to Believe 10d
2.) Sneak Around 5.6
3.) Inner Notch 5.4
4.) Middle Notch 5.4
5.) Outer Notch 5.6
The MIDDLE SECTION includes the infamous ‘Girls With Long Knives’…
. . . topo soon . . .
1.) Son of a Wanted Man 13 b/c A ‘mixed’ line (bolted and trad) following the vertical dike about 30 feet right of the junction of B3 and Moby Dick – with few holds only a wanted man would dare to use – like a desperate pinch about 2/3rds of the way up. Photo below. Descent is from top anchors or downclimb the break between B3 and Moby Dick. (s milton, ’02)
2.) Pretty Girls With Long Knives 12b (concensus) 2 pitches. P1: A long, grippy finger crack located at the midpoint of the formation. An interesting controversy between Piana and Scarpelli accompanies the history of this beautiful, classic line involving placement of a bolt at the crux. Belay first pitch at ledge below pitch 2. P2: Finish above on the hand to fist crack (10b) and belay on gear. Descent as for #1. (P1 = p piana, ’84, P2 = h suzuki + p piana, ’84)
3.) Five Finger Discount 12a Begins about 60′ left of Intimidation (#1 below). Another mixed route that starts in a hand crack that gradually disappears to nearly blank, bolted face. Steep, thin and dicey. Top anchors. (j varco, ’99)
The RIGHT END has several routes near the rather classic and easily recognizable line ‘Intimidation’…
These routes are relatively short, belay is on gear, and descent is by scrambling down to the west.
1.) Intimidation 9+ A popular, right diagonal line that continues over several bulges – mini cruxes to the top. Belay on gear, scramble down to west.
2.) Ledge of the World 9+ Basically an alternate start to #1. Head up the big crack to the Ledge, creep along the Ledge of the World to join #1. (r kelman + m duncan, ’02)
3.) Jogging to Vedauwoo 10a Follow a wide slot to hands, jog left on the ledge and continue up the off width ending. (r kelman + g murray, ’95)
4.) Dream of Fat Antelope 8+ Opens with a left facing dihedral to the ‘ledge’, jog slightly right to an off width finish. (r kelman + g murray, ’95)
5.) Random Crystals 8 Starts 20′ right of #4 in a recessed wide crack to the ledge and finish with a left leaning hand crack. (m brown, ,90)
6.) Go Left Old Man 7 Begins in a left-leaning gouge about 30′ right of #5 to the ‘ledge’, and continue up a left facing dihedral. A variation (5.6) begins at the ‘ledge’ and heads up the right leaning hand crack.
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