Land of the Earth-born Spirit
Vedauwoo: Nearly Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About The Area
. . .THERE IS AWESOME CLIMBING HERE ! . .
THIS IS OFFWIDTH COUNTRY!
WHERE: Vedauwoo is located in southeastern Wyoming along Interstate I-80, about 30 miles west of Cheyenne and/or about 20 miles east of Laramie at Exit # 329.
WHEN: The climbing season stretches from about Mid-April thru Mid-October. Some push it past these times, but ‘windows of opportunity’ become much less frequent outside these limits. You might want to check out the News page for Gate Opening Dates, Pass Prices, etc.
YOU can check out GOOGLE MAPS for a cool satellite view of Greater Vedauwoo…..
TO THE RIGHT IS A ‘GENERAL ORIENTATION SCHEMATIC’
(which is referred to a lot within the site)
Click on it to make it larger.
A = Central Vedauwoo, B = Reynold’s and Outback, C = Lower Blair
D = Upper Blair, 700, 720, etc. = USFS Road Designations
TWO THINGS TO REMEMBER…. A ‘COWBOY SPIRIT’ PERVADES THIS PLACE. THIS LAND BREEDS ADVENTUROUS PEOPLE WHO SOMETIMES IGNORE POTENTIAL RISKS …. ‘BRUSHPOPPERS’. MANY ARE SLIGHTLY UNSTABLE, BUT READY FOR ANY CHALLENGE – WITH A RECKLESS PERSEVERANCE TO “HANG ON IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY OR GET BUCKED OFF”.THIS IS BUT ONE OF MANY ELEMENTS THAT MAKE THIS PLACE SO UNIQUE. SO DIG IN YOUR SPURS AND GET READY FOR A RIDE!!
ORIENTATION MAPS of Pole Mountain and
the Greater Vedauwoo Area
The first map (the big picture) illustrates the entire Vedauwoo area as well as the Pole Mountain Area to the immediate north. The second map (….) shows Greater Vedauwoo in more detail. While Vedauwoo is the obvious focus here, both areas are intimately interlocked by a system of USFS roads (shown) and trails (Described in the hiking/biking section). Both areas are bounded on the west by I-80, on the north and east by Happy Jack Road and essentially divided by USFS Road #705-707. Greater Vedauwoo extends southward from here to USFS Road #700 for the most part.
CLIMBING AT VEDAUWOO
Luebben on Tripmaster Monkey (12b OW, Master Blaster Area)
Rock climbers come to Vedauwoo from all parts of the world to sample some of the best wide crack climbing (called “OFFWIDTHS’) known. There were over 500 challenging and sometimes bloodthirsty traditional and sport climbs documented in the book entitled Heel and Toe, The Climbs of Greater Vedauwoo, by myself (Skip Harper) and Rob Kelman. Published in 1994, this guidebook was the first of its kind to employ computerized graphics at high resolution (Photoshop didn’t exist!) and emphasized the illustration of real routes on real rock. Unfortunately, it is no longer available. Of course climbing at Vedauwoo has expanded considerably since Heel and Toe. Now there are over 1,000 climbs and new areas have evolved. Hopefully this website provides much broader coverage including most of this new development. If its not here now, it will be soon.
** NOTE: Three Guidebooks currently provide coverage of the Vedauwoo Area. These are detailed in the BOOKS section of this website.
Notes on Climbing Here in General
A painful howl echoed through the woods “this thing is eating me alive”! I had to chuckle as I recalled my first experience climbing at Vedauwoo. The precambrian granite is laced with huge feldspar crystals with scalpel like edges that can impart much more than just friction to a climbers body parts. It has been stated that this attribute tends to “filter out the weak, the soft and the spineless, which leaves better company for you”(Todd Skinner). Also be forewarned, the climbs are notoriously difficult. Solid 5.11 leaders have been sandbagged by many routes of lesser grade. Whatever the case, its a good idea to ‘tape up’ when climbing here and, for those who can get past these things, absolutely world class climbing experiences can be found.
*READ “A NOTE ON GEAR“
Perhaps offwidths (cracks wider than your fist, yet narrower than your body width), more than any other type of climb have formed the basis of Vedauwoo’s widespread reputation. Many a seasoned crack climber has looked up into the gaping jaws of one of these gut wrenching monsters and just walked away. But if wide cracks are your fare, this is the place! TAKE A LOOK AT THE VIDEO TO THE RIGHT TO FIND OUT WHAT CLIMBING AN OFFWIDTH IS ALL ABOUT, AS WELL AS AN INTERESTING TOUR AROUND VEDAUWOO!! (Big thanks to Pamela Pack and her ‘team’ for this vid! She is one incredible offwidthing phenom!) Next, check out Luebben ‘handstacking’ up Bell Crack (11b) just below. Other examples of OFFWIDTHS are Horn’s Mother (11a) on the Coke Bottle (a long, two pitch body-rending grind) and Trip Master Monkey (12b) in the Master Blaster Area. On a much more moderate note is Hideaway Chimney, a choice 5.5inside double dihedral found on the Holy Saturday Formation. So anyone can enjoy offwidthing (is this possible??) if you know where to look.
*NOTE: If you really want to see what climbing finger cracks is all about, watch the VIDEO to the left. Mason Earle shows us how it’s done in style. This vid documents the SECOND ASCENT of ‘Yasha Hai’ (5.13b) in Chinatown, a route put up in 1989 and remained unrepeated until now. He also grabs the THIRD ASCENT of ‘Home on the Range’ (5.13d). Way to go Mason!! You are now a part of Vedauwoo history.
A variety of face climbs have been created by the artistic skill of local climbers who have visualized lines into otherwise unattainable vertical terrain. “Fall Wall” (10a) on the Fall Wall formation is a moderate bolted face climb whereas Space Oddity (12a) is found on the Coke Bottle and offers a superb challenge of delicate, dance-like moves up a 120′ crystalline face. North Shore (13a/b) on Holdout will challenge the best of sports or try the more recreational 2nd Iteration (10c) in Jurassic Park. The shot is of Jim Ghiselli on Braggin’ About Jesus (10a) in Blair.
Mixed climbs sharing more than one climbing style (ie off width plus considerable hand and/or finger jamming; or hands plus bolted face, etc.) are also found throughout the area and offer a special challenge to those proficient at only one or two climbing forms. The one at left is Master of Sport (12b), starting with strenuous fingers and ending with handjamming. Stinkzig (5.7) on the Nautilus is another climb in the more moderate grades, and Boardwalk (11b) on the Coke Bottle is one of the harder ones. Also see Turnaround (10b/c) on Blair 2 in the New Climbs Section.
THE ROCK FORMATIONS OF CENTRAL VEDAUWOO
The little schematic on the right also represents Central Vedauwoo. It corresponds to the area marked ‘A’ on the orientation map shown at the bottom of the Intro Section.
On it you can also see Road # 700 to # 702 to the parking areas (shown in black / black dots). Trails to the climbing areas are shown in red.
The red line extending around the rock formations (shown in blue) is the Turtle Rock Trail (TRT) and the one in the middle is the Box Canyon Trail (BCT). Other abbreviations are: CM = Central Massif, HS = Holy Saturday, JP = Jurassic Park, GD = Glen Dome, TR = Turtle Rock, FT = Friction Tower, OE = Old Easy.
To get an idea of the scale of things, the Turtle Rock Trail is just about three miles long, end to end.
TAKE A FLIGHT OVER CENTRAL VEDAUWOO ( IF YOU WANT TO )
Would you like a ‘bird’s eye view’ of this alluring place? It’s possible – thanks to a video taken by ‘daemn42‘ while attending a reunion of the University of Wyoming Outing Club back in July of 2013. Coincidentally, members of this organization have been responsible for considerable development of Vedauwoo as a climbing area, starting with early ‘summit bids’ in the late 1940’s and 50’s. It was their foresight, abilities and continuing commitment to original route development that largely formed the basic core of climbing activity at Vedauwoo that continues to this day. We owe them a debt of gratitude for these efforts.
So watch the video to the left and see how the key formations of Central Vedauwoo (only) spatially relate to one another. Alternatively, you can simply click on the ‘timeline’ and obtain ‘still’ images with a bit of explanation shown below left. Either way the ‘organization’ of the place becomes bit more understandable. *NOTE: ‘stopping points‘ along the timeline are indicated when a specific formation and/or route is being seen. Pause here and lots more detail can be appreciated. Then move on. Thanks ‘daemn42’ for a great job. Very informative stuff!!
Three forethoughts: 1.) Buckle up your seatbelt, there’s some turbulence ahead. 2.) A huge volume of detail has been left out for the sake of clarity and brevity. You can find detail in the ‘choice boxes’ found below. 3.) You can either watch the video on a ‘full screen’ or you can leave it small and click on the timeline for pausing on ‘high value stills’ with a bit of explanation. The formations are indicated in blue and the climbs are in orange.
0:11 flying northwards towards Box Canyon
0:27 closing in on Old Easy, showing MRC and Straight Edge
0:39 topping Old Easy looking at the major formations ringing Box Canyon, L to R Central Massif, Glen Dome, Turtle Rock and Friction Tower
0:46 passing westward along the Central Massif showing Fall Wall and the Right Coke Bottle
0:56 Center Coke Bottle with Bell Crack splitting its face
1:04 Walt’s Wall
1:14 top of the Central Massif looking down into Box Canyon and L to R Glen Dome, Turtle Rock and Friction Tower
1:18 Hassler’s Hatbox is seen atop the Central Massif (in the center of field)
1:29 again passing westward along the Central Massif with Veda-Voodoo Boulder on the left
1:43 moving eastward over Walt’s Wall … note the 2 climbers on Foolishnes
1:45 Edward’s Crack splitting Walt’s Wall from top to bottom, as well as the Left Coke Bottle (in shade) with two diagonal, paralleling cracks, left is 4th of July, right is Horn’s Mother
2:14 swooping down over the Veda-Voodoo Boulder and hanging a right (approx. southwesterly) over the main parking lot toward
2:22 Holdout is centered on the horizon…..next one comes FAST
2:25 the Nautilus comes into view, what a cool structure, probably one of the most photographed in all of Vedauwoo
2:30 the northwest end of the Nautilus with climbers near the bottom of Lower Slot and climbers above are ascending Finally
2:45 another group of climbers at the bottom of Easy Jam and Cornelius……then comes a dizzying ’round-a-bout’
3:28 past the climbers on Cornelius and up to the Parabolic Slab (aka the Potato Chip) where a climber is tied into the top anchors of The Postman
4:01 after a northeasterly pass above the Nautilus, we get a view of the Prow of this ‘breaching submarine’ with prominent OFFWIDTHS (eg the Torpedo Tubes) as well as some challenging jam cracks (eg Bug Squad, Maxilash)
4:52 watch out for the lightning strike directly above the Friction Tower now in the far distance, and now coming in for a landing
THAT’S ALL FOLKS
Here are all the formations of Central Vedauwoo
Click on any of the ‘choices’ below to obtain details, topos, route descriptions
and other ‘beta’.
Boxes are arranged in clockwise order beginning with Fall Wall.
Fall Wall is the most popular crag/area at Vedauwoo – everyone just seems magnetically attracted to the place. Fall Wall is the rightmost (eastmost) component of the South Face of the Central Massif (CM in the above topo)read more
THE COKE BOTTLE A straight on view of the Coke Bottle – Coke Bottle ‘Center’ (Walt’s Wall to the left, Fall Wall to the right), The Coke Bottle is one of three prominent south facing formations of the Central Massif. It gets sun most of the day and it is easily...read more
WALT’S WALL Home of the ‘must do’ EDWARD’S CRACK. HERE’S THE MAIN FACE OF WALT’S WALL (WW) Walt’s Wall Area, and particularly its namesake climb named “Walt’s Wall”, has been climbed more than any other area in Vedauwoo. It was named for Walt...read more
CHINATOWN Go to the (West) Turtle Rock Trailhead, take the trail and go through the gate. Chinatown is approximately 200 yards down the trail on your right. A couple of these routes have been climbed in the past, but none have been documented for the public until now....read more
MASTER BLASTER MASTER BLASTER is a fairly hidden area, but most sought after for its namesake climb 'MASTER BLASTER', a severely overhanging ‘test piece’ hand and fist crack about 5.10c. It is strenuous at the grade and has ‘blasted’ more than...read more
HASSLER’S HATBOX HASSLER’S is an aesthetic, miniature climbing amphitheater with over a dozen unusually adventurous, choice routes ranging from a 5.6 crack inside of a crack …. to a nearly unclimbable 5.12 off width called 'LUCILLE'. You will be ‘above’ the crowd with...read more
HOLY SATURDAY Holy Saturday is about 600 hundred yards down the Turtle Rock Trail (using the west trailhead), past the first beaver ponds (see first shot). It is one of the most aesthetic and photographed formations at Vedauwoo as it stands in...read more
FOREIGN TERRITORY Where is it? Just past the north side of Holy Saturday along the Turtle Rock Trail, a faint trail leads northeast uphill into this cool little climbing sanctuary. FOREIGN TERRITORY TOPOS The south facing wall... 1.) Who The Devil Is Charlie Creese?...read more
JURASSIC PARK About 200 yards beyond Holy Saturday along the Turtle Rock Trail, on past the trail to Foreign Territory, you will find a three-layered boulder stacked about 15′ high on the right (E). The trail up to Jurassic Pass and down into Jurassic Park is just...read more
GLEN DOME Glen Dome is also the site of an interesting, very moderate tourist trail that goes to (near) the top of the formation. Nice vistas !! GLEN DOME Glen Dome is also the site of an interesting, very moderate tourist trail that goes to (near) the top of the...read more
SOLAR COLLECTOR Where is it? About half way around the Turtle Rock Trail, you will see Solar Collector about 100 yards to the north. The above shot is taken from the top of Glen Dome (VM = Valley Massif; SC = Solar Collector; TRT = Turtle Rock Trail). If you’re...read more
TURTLEROCK HOME OF THREE VERY UNIQUE AREAS: LAND OF THE RISING MOON HYPERTENSION HEARTBREAK HOTEL TURTLEROCK Rob Kepley proving he's a 'Master of Sport' (12c) HOME OF THREE VERY UNIQUE AREAS: LAND OF THE RISING MOON HYPERTENSION and HEARTBREAK HOTEL For More...read more
LAND OF THE RISING MOON How do I get here?? See another MAP. Not so easy to find, just head towards Glen Dome, and BEFORE you get there, veer up and right. Keep going until you reach flat ground between Glen Dome and Turtle Rock. It’s not much...read more
HEARTBREAK HOTEL ”Since my baby left me, I’ve found a place to dwell…” 1.) Atherolichenous Plaque (*11a start, then 9+) Begin in a challenging offwidth slot (crux) that used to be overgrown with lichen using a #4 Bro or # 2 Dude. Then move...read more
THE HYPERTENSION CIRQUE A hidden, beautiful little cirque is found on the NE top of Turtle Rock. Only two routes exist here at present, and one is the highly sought after area’s namesake climb “Hypertension”, a severely overhanging, very challenging and strenuous...read more
FRICTION TOWER HOME OF THE CRYSTAL FREEWAY The Crystal Freeway makes up the entire north face of the Friction Tower in Central Vedauwoo. It’s one of the true hidden wonders of the area. It’s a gigantic upturned slab that appears smooth from a...read more
OLD EASY “M R C” Amongst more than 800 challenging and sometimes bloodthirsty crack and sport climbs lie some real classic lines. The best of all may be ‘MRC’, the “Mountaineer’s Rock Climb”, on the west face of Old Easy. When viewed from the west, from the Lower...read more
POLAND HILL Poland Hill can be seen from just about everywhere in Vedauwoo. In fact its the first formation one sees when turning off Interstate I-80 and heading towards Central Vedauwoo on USFS Road #700. Its shape was most likely responsible for the name of the...read more
THE VALLEY MASSIF According to nearly everyone who has climbed here, it is well worth the journey, sometimes battling swarming mosquitos and slogging through swampy bogs, and many return time after time. The Valley Massif is an incredibly aesthetic formation, a silent...read more
THE REYNOLD'S COMPLEX This very aesthetic area is really composed of Reynold’s ‘Hill’ and three other very distinct formations including Gorilla Rock, The Granite Staircase and The Vertical Freeway. A G E N E R A L O V E R V I E W ...read more
REYNOLD’S SOUTHEAST Reynold’s Southeast is a big broad expanse of (generally) user friendly granite. The routes are of moderate difficulty, long, adventurous and less often climbed than others at Reynold’s. Note the descent for most climbs is a rather sketchy...read more
REYNOLD’S RIGHT THE TOPO 17.) Labyrinth 9 Described in Reynolds Left. 18.) Connecticut Yankee 10c Just right of Labyrinth, this is a thought-provoking series of cracks leading to a squeeze near the top. Interesting climb and worth the effort....read more
REYNOLD’S LEFT THE TOPO 3.) Pooh Corner 10b First pitch is a perfect 5.9 hand crack to rap chains/anchors about 50 feet above. Second pitch (start of second pitch is shown in photo below) is intimidating, overhanging off width (probably 10a,b)...read more
THE VERTICAL FREEWAY Here’s an informative shot of the “backside”, the NE exposure of the Reynold’s Complex; VF = Vertical Freeway, R = Reynold’s proper, GC = Granite Staircase. There is a place where “ALL ROADS GO UP”. The Vertical Freeway (VF) can be seen from the...read more
GRANITE STAIRCASE An orientation shot (above) showing the NE FACES of both GRANITE STAIRCASE (GS) and GORILLA ROCK (GR) with its two alcoves (1 and 2) in which climbs are located. Granite Staircase, part of the Reynold’s Complex, has 6 routes, one is on the southwest...read more
GORILLA ROCK Kepley clipping a wire near top of ‘GLORIA’ See the orientation MAP, top of Granite Staircase Page. Gorilla Rock, part of the Greater Reynold’s Area, is a quiet, secluded refuge capping a densely forested hillside. Those that know about it covet the shady...read more
HOLDOUT Hey dude, where is this place?? Holdout is a superb formation literally bursting with climbing delights. The first documented ascent of this formation was on April 11th, 1954 when John Lund and Walt Sticker made it to the summit. They...read more
THE NAUTILUS SECTORS OF THE NAUTILUS (explained below) North Side: the PROW, NE Nautilus, NCentral Nautilus, NW Nautilus. South Side: West End, SW Nautilus, SCentral Nautilus, SE Nautilus, Fri 13th. The BOAT ROCK Captain Nemo never figured on this!! What a superb...read more
THE NORTH SIDE North East: Bug Squad, Maxilash, Captain Nemo, Nemo’s Nemesis, Auto Supply, Horticulture, Cannonball and other exceptional climbs are located here. North Central: Mainly the Cool Hand Luke Area and the Tongue Depressor. YES, that’s someone rapping off...read more
THE SOUTH SIDE 1.) South West: The location of the Three Sisters Area, Ted’s Trot, Candlestick, Practice Slab, etc. 2.) South Central: Flying Buttress, Stinkzig, Handjacker and Progressive are found here. 3.) South East: You’ll find climbs like October Light,...read more
BOX CANYON MAP RED #1 = Take the Box Canyon Trail leading up to Glen Dome ( # 2 ) from the lower parking lot. (There is a small, but well-built bridge just past the intersection of the red and blue lines. Sorry it’s not indicated on the map.) This is an easy trail,...read more
THE OUTBACK AREAS
MANY SUPERB FORMATIONS SURROUND CENTRAL VEDAUWOO. There is probably more climbing and especially adventurous routes on these unique and challenging crags than there is in all of Central Vedauwoo. Some formations are large and significant such as those found in the GREATER REYNOLD’S AREA, BLAIR, and the CITADEL, while others are more compact (POLAND ‘HILL’ and the VALLEY MASSIF) and sometimes hidden such as SOUTH CORNER, THE SOLAR COLLECTOR and the more recently developed A-MAZE-ING.
If you take the time….. to explore these gems, you will find a surprisingly wide range of routes from light, recreational and moderate to very difficult and highly technical and very difficult in nature. While some climbs are quite simple and straight forward like ………. to challenging, hard off widths like those found at the VERTICAL FREEWAY, mixed lines like ………. DON’T MISS OUT ON THESE unique, uncommon and exceptional experiences.
BELOW YOU WILL FIND SOME CLICKABLE MAPS OF THESE AREAS. GO AHEAD AND EXPLORE AROUND. ODDS ARE YOU WILL FIND WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. This is a work ‘still in progress’, so everything won’t be covered for awhile. It should be obvious that the marked/numbered red lines are USFS Roads, while the unmarked red lines are major trails. Also, you can still use the hotlink list at the left to get to where you ‘want to go’.
** SEE CLICKABLE ‘IMAGE MAPS’ BELOW.
Approaching the steep face of ‘Uncertainty Principle’ (11b/c, A-Maze-ing Crag).
Click on the boxes below to find more information about your area.
H&I Crag in the outback area of Vedauwoo consists of H’ (aka Rusty the Pig) 10c, ‘I’ (aka Animal Cracker Land) 11b, and Jay Bird 10d Hand crack(s).read more
WESTWORLD Here’s a shot of Date with a Dike 10d 4 bolts – One of two climbs here right now. The other, Pollyanna Goes to Hell 11a Chimney to a partially detached flake is found about 25′ right. More details later. WESTWORLD Here's a shot of Date with a Dike 10d 4...read more
PARADE ROCK Check out the MAP on the Outback Areas section of Vedauwoo to orient to where this little rock is. Small it might be, but one of the routes (#1) is a very well-known, yet aesthetic finger buster (oxymoron-ic). There’s been many a fall taken on this one....read more
SPELUNK SPIRE Yes, the hardmen of old even found this place. Its an adventure to get here, let alone to climb it. There are some old iron pegs up in here if you look for them. Looks like Mickey Mouse ears up top, an easy way to identify this high formation from a long...read more
END OF THE ROAD ROCK Here’s a long shot of End Of The Road Rock taken from Road 700bb looking west. The road ends right at the rock. The trail to ‘THE OUTBACK’ starts almost where the road ends. This has turned into a very popular, yet still secluded formation. There...read more
AMAZE-ING Upon first view, this crag seems like a ‘jumbled pile’, a MAZE of upturned flakes and blocks with little or no organization, nothing climbable, and in fact it was passed by on many occasions. It is nestled in a pristine setting, a small remote...read more
CITADEL ROCK THE SOUTHWEST MAIN EXPOSURE ( * NW FACE IS FOUND BELOW) THIS IS A great place to be, sunny most of the day, with moderate to fairly hard routes. THE SOUTHWEST MAIN EXPOSURE ( * NW FACE IS FOUND BELOW) THIS IS A great place to be, sunny most of the day,...read more
THE CITADEL AREA The Citadel Area is tucked away within several small, loosely interconnected valleys choked with aspen and pines near gurgling streams and beaver dams along the south fork of Middle Crow Creek. The only intruders you’ll find are occasional cattle,...read more
THE SHORT WALL Home of ‘The Short Wall’ and ‘The Superb Arete’ One of the most unique, daring and bold lines at its grade, ‘SPIT OFF’ (5.11c, 5 bolts, #1) was put up by Ken Driese and Larry Scritchfield in 1991. The gut-wrenching step ‘across the void’ to start the...read more
PLUMBLINE The Plum Line crags are nestled in their own aesthetic setting, one of several miniature valleys that form ‘The Citadel Area’. It actually consists of four loosely connected formations. The largest is the two-tiered ‘Plumb Line’ Crag itself as shown below....read more
MECHANICAL TRANSMISSION CRAG 1.) Worm Drive 11b Thrutch your’ way up a nasty fat crack with a ceiling and keep going – if you can!! Scarpelli and McGann ’85. 2.) First Gear 9 Have a go at a slightly less strenuous ‘wide one’. WHO DID THIS ONE FIRST?? DESCENT: A fixed...read more
BLAIR OVERVIEW INTRODUCTION The well-kept secrets of Blair are slowly being discovered. Blair is the ultimate Klettergarten of Greater Vedauwoo and actually has a climbing history stretching back into the mid nineteen hundreds. It is far off the beaten track and away...read more
LOWER BLAIR 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...read more
UPPER BLAIR UPPER BLAIR is literally bursting with high quality climbs - if you know where to find them. When I first started trying to make sense out of it (mid eighties), I was blown away by the unruly disorganization of the place. One look at the 'Upper Blair Topo'...read more
* * * * THE GREATER REYNOLD’S AREA * * * *
Historical evidence indicates that all formations besides/excluding the main
Reynold’s Formation are part of the DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND. We shall see about this soon.
Luebben inverted on ‘Squat’ (12b OW at the Roof Ranch).
Several outlying crags are accessed by Happy Jack Road. These are:
- The Roof Ranch, including the Bunkhouse and Rusty Rock
- Eagle Rock
Since publication of Heel and Toe in 1994, considerable route development has taken place.
Here is a sampling of these new creations with descriptions and topos found below.
1.) Revenge of the Nothing
2.) Mr. Rockbiter
3.) Jamminy Crackup
4.) Creature Features
1.) REVENGE OF THE NOTHING
“Revenge of the Nothing” (11b/c) was put up on the right end of the COKE BOTTLE in Central Vedauwoo in 1995. It is a fairly long, steep, one pitch bolted (12 bolts) face route that traverses right from the start of “The Neverending Story” before it ascends the rightmost water streak. The traverse is extremely delicate, requiring lots of precision footwork and sidepulls using small crystals. As the traverse transitions vertically, thin exfoliation edges are found within the scoop of the waterstreak and a sequential series of small crystals provides additional purchase. A Fixe Ring anchor set was placed onSphinx Ledge at the top of the climb.
Mark Duff negotiating the very delicate, balancy traverse on Revenge of the Nothing.
“Revenge” can be reached in two ways. First, one can step right soon after the crux of Mainstreet to a sizable corbel, above which has been placed a double anchor belay station. This is the traditional start for Neverending Story. Alternatively, the route can be accessed from above by first rappelling to Sphinx Ledge and then rappelling to the bottom belay station. One can either pull the rope for a free ascent, or the climb can be top roped from this position.
DESCENTS: 1.) A double rope rap will get you to the bottom of the route from Sphinx Ledge. 2.) A single will get you to the bottom belay station at the start of ‘Neverending Story. From here you can make another rap to the bottom. 3.) You can ascend to the top of the formation on any route and use rap stations on Fall Wall or Walt’s Wall.
*NOTE: The names of these climbs (including Neverending Story, Revenge of the Nothing, Mr. Rockbiter and the Sphinx Ledge), first used by Layne Kopischka, were derived from Michael Ende’s fantasmical novel “Neverending Story.”
2.) MR. ROCKBITER
Another new route, “Mr. Rockbiter”, was put in at the same time as “Revenge” on the COKE BOTTLE. This is a 10a bolted route that ascends from Sphinx Ledge to the top of the formation (see the topo for “Revenge”) where a two Fixe Ring rap station is placed. While relatively short, 6 bolts, it offers a sporty line to finish off any of the four bolted routes below, as well as Mainstreet, that ascends to Sphinx Ledge.
3.) JAMMINY CRACKUP
Jamminy Crackup (11c) is a mixed (trad and bolted) climb on the northeast corner of John’s Tower in Blair that will test your skill at gymnastic movement from the start. TAPE UP! The entry moves involve nearly inverting on good hand jams to obtain a heel hook with the right foot, enabling one to gain access to the main crack system by shuffling the jams upward enough to reach a good climbing position after several feet. Place a good cam or two (2.5 Friends) or a cam and a passive piece to protect these rather daunting beginning moves. Get a 1.5 or 2 Friend ready to slam into the crack above as soon as possible. Continue past a horizontal crack and protect well here because the crux section above needs to be negotiated fairly rapidly as it is very strenuous off-fingers. Proceed to jam the slightly flaring off-fingers crack section which is slightly overhanging and leans to the right. You might be able to get in a 0.5 Camalot here, but the first good pro comes at the next horizontal crack about 12 feet above. Nearing the end of the crack system about 40′ up, better edges and flakes are found and medium sized pro goes in well. A fixed stopper is found at the end of the crack near the shelf. It has been left for two reasons; first, several falls have set it well, and second, it keeps the rope from being eaten by the crack as the headwall is climbed.
The HEADWALL offers three different lines to the top, two are bolted and one protects scantily with a tcu and/or 2 or 3 small wires. Pick your grade to finish, 11a (leftmost, 2 bolts), 10b (center, 2 bolts) or 9 (rightmost). All three lines lead to the same Fixe Ring anchor set at the top of the headwall. Rappel 85 feet to the ground. Use caution if using a 50-meter rope as it barely stretches to reach the bottom.
Get to Jamminy Crackup, park near the 8 Ball in Blair. Take the trail heading SW out of the campsites amongst the large boulders and continue about 300 yards into a small valley separating the 8 Ball from John’s Tower. When an old barbed wire fence is reached, turn uphill (approx.SE) before crossing it and continue uphill on a winding faint trail. After about 200 yards, the trail begins to steepen and you will find a trail cutting up and right. Take this to the saddle between John’s Tower and the Heap to a high point where you should be looking south (across a valley) at the smooth north face of West and Middle Corner. At this point, look directly to your right (west) and you will see Jamminy Crackup.
4.) CREATURE FEATURES
Found on the south side of the Blair 1 Formation, Creature Features is three, yes three, routes in one. It was put up in ’95 and named in part for a close-by Scarpelli classic “Little Creatures”. There is a 90-foot rap from the top where there is a Fixe Ring anchor set.
1.) 5.9, takes some wide pro.
2.) 10b, two alternatives, one is thin.
3.) 11a/b, a tough pull over a bulging hand crack – tape up for sure.
5.) T U R N A R O U N D
Here’s a ‘mixed’ line that promises unique adventure and challenge for anyone climbing at the grade. Turnaround, actually put up in ’93, is all trad. It begins with a marginally protectable offwidth trough at 5.8+ for about 40 feet to a ledge. Once the ledge is attained, a large chockstone is surmounted and one “turns around” (ie faces in the opposite direction, towards the south) to find two cracks leading to the top. One on the (now right) wall is 5.8 and can be linked with the lower off width as one long line at 5.8. We are calling this Turnaround 1. To the (now) left of this is one of the finest 5.10c/d finger cracks at Vedauwoo seen in the shot at left. The super lock-offs are reminiscent of those found in Mandella on Holdout. We are calling it Turnaround 2.
Descent is via a Fixe Ring Anchor set placed on the face roughly 50 feet directly north from the top of the climb. The rap takes you straight down the wide face that you saw from the bottom of the climb. To get to the rap station is rather circuitous, but well worth it and the rap takes you to the exact base of the climb. *NOTE: 90 foot rap!! One can also downclimb the Northeast end of the formation, but its quite dicey.
Turnaround is located on the southeast face of Blair 2 in Lower Blair. Perhaps the easiest way to locate the climb is to first find “Deadman’s Glove” and proceed about 20 feet to the right around the corner. You will see the steep offwidth trough at this point, but not the cracks which are hidden from view above. If you get to the very large boulder leaning against the face of Blair 2 under which there is a cave, you have gone too far.
CLIMB LOCATION TYPE RATING
|Etude for the right hand Nautilus SE face 5|
|Cornelius Nautilus NW fingers 5|
|Edward’s Crack Walt’s Wall hands 5|
|Hideaway chimney Holy Saturday offwidth 5|
|Moor Crossing Reynold’s SE face 6|
|Kim Poland Hill RB hands, fingers 6|
|Step Ladder Nautilus SE offwidth 6|
|Stinkzig Nautilus SE varied 6+|
|Cold Fingers Fall Wall face 7|
|Petit Arbre Blair I, west end hands 7|
|Zipper, 2nd pitch Valley Massif NW hands 7|
|Social security ran out Valley Massif SE face 8|
|Dirt* Pictures from the Prom Master Blaster face 8|
|Strawberry Jam Crystal Freeway hands 8|
|Vulture Nautilus E end offwidth 8|
|Waterstreak #2 Walt’s Wall face 9|
|Finger Grinder Reynold’s fingers 9|
|Pooh Corner, 1st pitch Reynold’s hands 9|
|Finally Nautilus W end offwidth 9|
|Fall Wall, lower pitch Fall Wall face 10a|
|Mr. Rockbiter Coke Bottle Right face 10a|
|Neon Madman Fall Wall fingers 10a|
|SS Maywood North Corner, Blair hands 10a|
|Mainstreet Coke Bottle offwidth 10a|
|1st Iteration Jurassic Park face 10b|
|Beef Eater Holdout NW hands 10b|
|Flying Buttress Nautilus SW offwidth 10b|
|Currey’s Diagonal Holdout NW varied 10b|
|2nd Iteration Jurassic Park face 10c|
|Seam Variation MRC fingers 10c|
|Pen*s Dimension Reynold’s hands 10c|
|Jay’s Solo Citadel Short Wall Offwidth 10c|
|Date with a Dike Westworld face 10d|
|Ultraviolets John’s Tower SE fingers 10d|
|Lichen Lung Jurassic Park hands 10d|
|Left Torpedo Tube Nautilus E end offwidth 10d|
|Gunga Din Fall Wall face 11a|
|Mandela Holdout SE fingers 11a|
|H*ng Like a Horse Reynold’s hands 11a|
|Maxilash Nautilus NW offwidth 11a|
|Neverending Story Coke Bottle Right face 11b|
|What the French Girl Said North Corner fingers, hands 11b|
|Hesitation Blues Nautilus SE hands 11b|
|Worm Drive Citadel offwidth 11b|
|Boardwalk Coke Bottle fingers / varied 11b|
|Revenge of the Nothing Coke Bottle Right face 11c|
|Max Factor Nautilus, NW fingers 11c|
|Spectreman The Heap, Blair hands 11c|
|Right Torpedo Tube Nautilus Prow offwidth 11c|
|Eleven Cent Moon Holdout NW face 11d|
|Bug Squad Nautilus NW fingers 11d|
|Easter Island North Corner face 12a|
|Space Oddity Coke Bottle Right face 12a|
|Fing*r Fant*sy Old Easy, top fingers 12a|
|I’d Rather be in Philadelphia Reynold’s hands 12a|
|Fourth of July Coke Bottle Left varied 12a|
|New Maps of Hell Valley Massif NW face 12b|
|Hypertension Turtle Rock, top fingers 12b|
|Mr. Chimp FrictionTower hands 12b|
|Squat Roof Ranch offwidth 12b|
|Pretty Girl* with Long Knives Blair III NW varied 12b|
|New Mutant Nautilus SE fingers, hands 12c/d|
|Lucille Hassler’s Hatbox offwidth 12c/d|
|North Shore Holdout NW face 13a/b|
|Silver Salute Coke Bottle, Left face 13a/b|
The History of VEDAUWOO
While it is believed that man was present in the southeastern quadrant of Wyoming for 15 to 20,000 years, fluted Clovis points (arrowheads) have been found in the general area of Laramie, indicating continuous, albeit scanty habitation about 11,000 years ago. The presence of man in the region now known as the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest (including the Snowy Range, Sherman Mountains, and Vedauwoo) stretches back about 8,000 years, based upon a few small archeological sites with unique stone knives and lanceolate points called “Cody Complexes”. These people were nomadic hunters, very dependent upon wandering large mammals for their existence. As the weather trended towards more temperate conditions about 5,000 years ago, the plains and intermountain regions became more highly populated. This seems to coincide with an upswing in short grass production on the high plains and consequently, influx of massive buffalo herds.
Despite rudimentary evidence indicating Spaniards may have been in the area earlier, French maps indicate trapping activities were occurring during the mid 1700’s. Euro-Americans began encroaching more heavily into the area in the early 1800’s, primarily exploring for western passage through the mountains, and for exploiting natural resources. In 1843, Fremont (the pathfinder), proceeded up the South Platte to the eastern base of the Front Range in Colorado, turning north to Fort Laramie. This route, known as the Overland Trail, was heavily used from about 1860 to 1880. It followed modern Colorado Highway 287 straight north from LaPorte, Colorado to Laramie, bypassing Vedauwoo to the west. While principal trade and migratory routes (like the Overland Trail) skirted Vedauwoo, the railroad did not. The Union Pacific Railroad was the chief catalyst in opening the Medicine Bow region to exploration and settlement in the mid to late 1860’s. Fort Buford, Sherman, Laramie City and other small settlements sprang up as the line advanced westward. Vedauwoo, then known by some as “Skull Rocks”, was completely denuded of forestation by tiehacks, later to be reforested by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s. The Ames Monument, which can be seen on the plains to the south from Vedauwoo, was built to commemorate the highest point on the line. Despite indian attacks, bad weather, engineering problems, and logistical setbacks, the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869.
Following widespread tribal migrations in the eighteenth century, the major Indian tribes using the general area were the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Sioux, Shoshone and Ute. Territorial claims by these various tribes were often exaggerated, overlapping and never secured by sustained use or warfare. Certainly, up through the late 1800’s, the Medicine Bow region was well known for hunting, raiding and trading and it was generally thought of as Arapaho and Cheyenne territory. There is local belief that the ‘Vedauwoo Rocks’ were held as a sacred area by these Indians who thought that the ‘sacred’ was not abstract and distant, but alive in every facet of nature. The ‘sacred’ could manifest itself through natural forces like thunder, wind, sun and moon, as well as through natural beings like the bear, antelope, and eagle. Vedauwoo may have been a site of “vision quests”, spiritualistic rituals of coming manhood, by young braves of these tribes.
Despite claims to the contrary, we DO KNOW where the name Vedauwoo comes from. It is an anglicized version of the Arapahoe word “biito’o’wu”. The word came about through the interaction of Maybelle Land DeKay, (a Professor of English and Drama at the University of Wyoming in Laramie) and the Arapahoe Indians of the time – and it was used as the title of her play performed live at “Vedauwoo Glen” three times between 1928 and 1931. Ms. DeKay felt strongly the Indians had first discovered the true spirit of the landscape and decided to give her play an Indian name. She asked the Episcopal missionary John Roberts (an acquaintance who was living on the Wind River Reservation at the time) for an Indian word meaning ‘earthborn’. Roberts and Ms. DeKay thusly derived the word Vedauwoo from biito’o’wu.
According to Richard Moss, an authority on the Arapahoe language, “earth” is the denotative meaning of ‘biito o wu’, although it has the connotation of “earthborn” because Arapahoe cosmology dictates the earth is the source of all life. Incidentally, some refer to Vedauwoo as meaning “earthborn spirit” – which is incorrect according to Moss. Grammatically, this phrase is very different in Arapahoe: ‘beniito’wuu betee’ouw ceebii’oot’.
More detail about Ms. Dekay’s production is found in the Vertical Dance Section HERE. There are many hard references to the etymology of the word vedauwoo including past newspaper articles, playbills and books, 2 of which describe it in considerable detail (see for example Chapter 3, ‘The Story of Vedauwoo -1924’, in “History of Dramatics at the University of Wyoming”, M. L. DeKay, self-published, 1936 – now part of the Hebard Collection, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming Archives). Take a look at another such book covering the subject in the MUSEUM. It is also notable that railroad maps of the area relinquished the name Skull Rocks in favor of Vedauwoo Glen thereafter and maps and records of the Civilian Conservation Corps recorded the area as Vedauwoo Glenn in the 1930’s.
VEDAUWOO MUSEUM A COLLECTION OF OBJECTS OF LASTING AND HISTORIC VALUE
Layne Kopischka was one of the figureheads in the development of Vedauwoo climbing. Not only did he write three guidebooks to the area as it ‘grew’ and matured as a climbing destination, but he mentored numerous young climbers and authored many memorable routes. Layne’s unfortunate passing was lamented by all, and there is no doubt his spirit still roams the natural wonderland of Vedauwoo today. Tangible evidence of his profound influences is being discovered even today such as that shown above, an ‘old style’ no. 2.0 Wild Country Friend with his initials clearly stamped into the stem.
Found and Donated by Steve Seckinger.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
An Old Carabiner
While climbing in the area now known as “Chinatown“, an old, well-used carabiner was found wedged deep inside a crack. It was obvious that it was taped with an identifying color band of plastic tape and some specifications (Carrico Minimo – 1800 Kg) were stamped on it. Also, the initials JFM were clearly stamped on the gate. When considering all names of people associated with Vedauwoo having those initials, only one name kept coming up – Jan Mathieson, the Co-Author of the first two guidebooks to rock climbing at Vedauwoo. Attempts were made to contact him to no avail. However, according to Jim Halfpenny, the other author of these books, this is the type carabiner used by Jan, the tape colors were used by him to identify his gear, and his initials are JFM. Until we hear differently, we are assuming this belongs to Jan. If so, it is well over 30 years old and part of the gear used by one of the original, very productive hardmen responsible for making Vedauwoo the superb climbing destination it is today.
The Little ‘Vedauwoo’ Tree
Clinton McKinzie firing “Nat’s 3 Star Roof”, a perfect
horizontal hand crack
requiring a hand’s free bat hang thru one section !!
( photo by Vince Ruland )
RECENTLY, greater attention has been paid to bouldering at Vedauwoo. Some classic boulder problems have existed for years, like “University of Mars” in Lower Blair, however there is considerable unexploited potential to be found here.
A handful of local craggers and some wandering, wired bouldering enthusiasts have joined forces to create more boulder problems and document many of them. Some of this creative activity and a downloadable PDF can be found at ….
. . . . . ALSO . . . . .
A new edition of ‘the’ bouldering guidebook for Vedauwoo hit the stands this year (’05). Please go HERE for more information!!
For sure there are biking opportunities throughout the entire POLE MOUNTAIN AREA, including trails winding through Greater Vedauwoo. There’s a wide spread of difficulty ranging from very easy roadways to moderate forest trails to flat bad and ultra challenging.
will finish soon ……
In the meantime, try this LINK. These are but a fraction of trails that are found within Greater Vedauwoo and the entire Pole Mountain Area.
HIKING at VEDAUWOO
There are many trails that thread through the Greater Vedauwoo area.
Some of these are indicated on the aerial shots of Central Vedauwoo and Upper & Lower Blair.
Another is the Turtle Rock Trail (TRT), a 3 mile long, USFS – constructed trail that circumnavigates the entire “Turtle Rock Massif.” One trailhead is found at the Holy Saturday parking lot. Originally a climbers trail providing access to more remote areas, it was upgraded in 1997 to accommodate day hikers and mountain bikes. You can see this trail on the little MAP, top right of Central Vedauwoo section.
The Box Canyon Trail (BCT) is seen on this same little MAP, and maybe better on THIS map. It follows an old Forest Service Nature Trail to near the top of Glen Dome where great views of the entire area can be found. There are some great trails around the Reynold’s Area and in the “Outback”, some of which are seldom used. Some of these link this area northward to Blair and on into the Pole Mountain Area, an outstanding day trip. Consider taking along some weather gear, food and water if you head off on the longer trails.
Here’s the first effort at a map of existing trails in the Greater Vedauwoo area. It will be improved upon in time, however, it is noteworthy that there is a fairly detailed system of trails to be taken advantage of. Many are simply not used much at all, such as the Reynolds to Blair Trails, while the main trails are used heavily. Check it out and go exploring!! NOTE: Black = roads, light blue = streams, dark blue = major known formations, red = existing trails.
Despite the infestation of pine trees by the pine bark beetle beginning in the later ’90’s and into present times, a significant event causing considerable deforestation, there is definitely sufficient forest remaining viable in the Greater Vedauwoo and Pole Mountain Areas to maintain aesthetic surroundings. Within this context, camping (as well as hiking and biking) remain a lasting feature of these treasured locations.
Dispersed camping is free except where expressly prohibited. Vedauwoo is designated as a “White Arrow Management Area”, meaning you are supposed to camp within a minimum of at least 100′ from any road and within a maximum distance of 200 feet to help preserve the forest.
There is a use fee campground within the central area, easily seen within the first 10 seconds of the beginning of the video ‘a flight over Vedauwoo’ seen in the introduction to Central Vedauwoo on this site. It is composed of two loops, winding around through boulders and surrounded by iconic rockforms. There are 28 campsites complete with fire rings, tables and access to 2 enclosed vault-type toilets. There are another 20 sites that do not have such ‘facilities’ although access to heads is present. Accommodations for both tent and trailer camping is available. NOTE: no source of potable water. In general, this area blends well with its surroundings including forestation of pine and aspen. There is access to hiking, rock climbing, a nature trail and all else that Central Vedauwoo offers. The US Forest Service manages the facility and it is usually first come, first served basis. There is a 14 consecutive day limit to these sites. Permits are available at the entry kiosk for $10 per night as well as by calling the Laramie Ranger Division at 303-745-2300 for further information.
There are three other USFS campgrounds within a radius of 6 miles of Vedauwoo. Curt Gowdy, Tie City and Yellow Pine are some of them. Go to the US Forest Service site for more information. Laramie, a university town in the ‘wild west’, with all amenities (including several very reasonable motels) and a population of about 30,000, is only 18 miles west. *NOTE: Road closures are also closing previously impacted, popular campsites, especially the area southeast of the Nautilus AND along the old Reynold’s Road #700D. Plan accordingly!
PLEASE : Leave campsites cleaner than you found them !!
Leave No Trace !!
ENGAGING FLORA AND FAUNA
FAUNA AT VEDAUWOO
A multitude of animal species are commonly found here, including lots of birds (jays, finches, crows, blackbirds, falcons, vultures, eagles, etc.), many smaller mammals (beaver, ground squirrels, jack rabbits, badgers, etc.) as well as coyotes, antelope, cattle, climbers, deer, moose and an occasional black bear and cougar. You certainly don’t have to go far to observe most of these denizens. WHAT, NO MOOSE AT VEDAUWOO? These ‘visitors’ were filmed near the gazebo in Central Vedauwoo. MORE TO COME HERE…….
For More Information see other Citadel Posts