Land of the Earth-born Spirit
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 general area in the mid 1800’s …. “Skull Rocks”, and it was called “The Sentinel” by some later on. Granted, from a distance it looks like a pile of innocuous rounded humps of granitic bedrock, but don’t let that fool you. There is some superb climbing to be found at Poland. There’s also great camping, groves of aspens and willows surrounding reflective beaver ponds and ‘back door’ access to Holy Saturday and the Valley Massif. To get there, you’ll drive over a cattle guard about 200 yards after turning right off the downramp from I-80 towards Vedauwoo. Take the first left turn (N) down a dirt road after the cattle guard (and passing a fence).
1.) Overload 9 Take the right leaning crack system that terminates in a wide chimney.
2.) Rocking Chair 10d Rather contrived climb up discontinuous cracks to a roof to a short headwall and belay.
3.) Under Achiever 7 25 feet right of #2 is another climb up into a wide slot to a hand crack on the right.
4.) Skull 10a Starts on the left side of the Skull Alcove. Set an anchor and go for overhanging hands (in the R-facing dihedral corner) to an overhanging chimney. Use good gear or you could crack your own skull. Set a belay at an obvious ledge. Continue up and over the roof to the top and belay.
5.) Orbital Ridge 10b A significant, ‘fisty’ left-arching jamcrack with a cruxy exit – just left of Skull. After about 30′, step left and do the last 15′ of Skull to an (usually) anchor of slings. For another view see Pol E.
6.) Cross Bones 11a A more difficult exit to Skull, cross over (traverse) right from the belay to another crack splitting the roof.
7.) Remote Control 12b Found in a right facing dihedral, Remote’s a grueling line with a thin and deceptive start to a handcrack. For another view see Pol E. ALSO SEEN ON “THE RAT BRAIN” (in this figure):
12.) Kim 6 A truly sweet handcrack at the grade. The most vociferous sentiment about this climb is “why doesn’t it go on for another 100 feet?” Other than that, its a total classic.
14.) Fantasia 9 The big crack that splits the Southeast face of the Rat Brain from bottom to top. The FFA was in October of 1970 by Jeff Heath and Jerry Sublett and had not been repeated when Halfpenny and Mathiesen finished writing “A Climber’s Guide to Southeastern Wyoming” in ’71. As stated by the authors … “It is hard to say whether Fantasia, as a 5.10 climb, will stand the test of time, but its significance lies in ushering in a new era of super hard climbing at Vedauwoo, that of the 5.9 and 5.10 jam cracks. Many more cracks are just waiting for the right man, ie 4th of July and Horn’s Mother. This is the first and only route in Southeastern Wyoming to be rated 5.10. It has been led only once and then it was seconded by the use of jumars.” Today, the climb has been downgraded to 5.9 by concensus. Its still a distinctive fat crack with opening moves leading into a cruxy pod.
Climber’s TR’ing ‘Piece of Dirt’ and ‘Fantasia’. ‘Cool Jet’ is also seen. 15.) Cool Jet 11a A considerably harder, thinner version of Fantasia – actually pretty burly and sustained. You may need your afterburners for this one if you’re not in the best of shape. Just a few feet right of #14. 16.) The Petit Crapon Recess. See Poland Rat Brain for description.
5.) Orbital Ridge 10b For another view and description see Pol SE.
7.) Remote Control 12b For another view and description see Pol SE.
8.) Flytrap 10a Starts thin (for about 35′) and ends up wide – how discrepant can one get?. Belay on top with gear.
9.) Cut Off My Legs and Call Me Shorty 10a The small roof and crack above found about 20′ right of #8. (Piana)
The Rat Brain / East Face
10.) Little Old Crack 5 Want an easy jam crack lead? Here’s the one for you. Find it around the corner left of #11. Then do Kim.
11.) Southwest Friction 4 A bolted (2), run out slab to the top – but don’t get hysterical, just trust your feet.
12.) Kim 6 See description on Pol SE. Total classic at its grade, except too short.
13.) Piece of Dirt 11a The opening moves are up a daring, bolted lie back crack, then on to steep, exposed face. This exciting route was originally bolted with 3 placements, but soon two more were put in after ‘disparaging comments’ began amassing. It is still very challenging and retains a high pucker factor.
14.) Fantasia 9 See description on Pol SE.
15.) Cool Jet 11c See description on Pol SE.
16.) Petit Crapon 8+ See Photo 2 above. A demented and foreshortened version of its namesake, yet still interesting at the grade. The contortional start on hand jams hangs up lots of people, as does the small finger crack gaining the top of the Rat Brain proper at the blue arrow. There might be a move or two of 5.9 there. Belay on gear.
17.) French Tickler 11c See Photo 2 above. New addition. Highly varied jamming and brawny. Climb “Petit” for 10 -12′, stem across left and climb the crack formed between the ‘inner’ flake and the main formation to bolted anchors at top.
18.) Sugar Crack 7 About 50′ around right from Fantasia, just N of the Petit Crapon is Sugar Crack, a 45′ jamcrack in back of a wide scoop. P1: Climb the crack (see photo; Photo by Stacy Bender ;-). P2: Climb the face to the top.
19.) Tanfasia 9 Sustained and more difficult than it looks. Ends with inch worm moves up an exposed shelf.
20.) Boulder Hopper 9 Found on the north side of the formation, there are (at least) two ways to approach the climb. Its about 30′ west from the top of Sugar Crack. You can come at it from an alcove on the North side by scrabbling up a wide crack and continuing directly south until you can’t go any further. This crack goes fists and hands to near the top. Protect before the end, because you might not want to stop. “To hop or not to hop” (into the crack) at the bottom is your choice. Most stem.
DESCENT: The usual descent is from bolted anchors atop the formation, essentially between the tops of Kim and Southwest Friction. A single 50 will get you down to the South.
* Routes not shown on Photo, but soon will be…….
– Coming up Short 9 A short and modest offwidth with one ‘hard’ move at the top. Found on the N. side of the large hump.
– Clean and Jerk 9- A handcrack found on the left side of the large flake.
– Clean and Press 9 Climb the right side of the flake which opens up wide.
– Stem Christy 7 The two left leaning parallel cracks near the SE end of the face.
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