Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spire climbing center remodel

"Safety is no accident" photo and saying by Henry Scholtzhauer

Last summer I had the opportunity to help remodel Spire Climbing Center in Bozeman, MT.  It was a dream job for me (what serious climber doesn't want to build an awesome climbing wall and get paid for it?). 

We had a camera taking pictures every few minutes while we did the remodel of the gym and a video of the remodel was made.  Click the link below to watch the video:

Henry hard at work during the wall remodel
Indiglo, our summer mascot, photo by Henry Scholzhauer
Cheers, Loren

Thursday, March 14, 2013

It ain't the windgate- but don't knock the eagle.

The Windgate Sandstone (Utah) is know for being bullet hard, splitter, and strikingly beautiful.  The Eagle Sandstone (Montana) is known for being bullet-hole ridden, loose, and strikingly sandy.  But this isn't Utah, it's Montana, and we take what we can get.
The Eagle Sandstone is about 70 million years old and formed as a gigantic barrier island along the shore of a shallow Cretaceous sea that covered most of Montana.  The Eagle Sandstone has high angle cross-bedding (sand dunes) and fossil remains from terrestrial and aquatic organisms; geologically it's a pretty cool formation. 
The formation is best observed at Billings, Montana.  It is seen as the large, white cliffs surrounding the town.  These cliffs have been climbed on for years and now have a great guide book filled with boulder problems and classic crack climbs of all grades.  The book is called SUPER SAND LAND and should be purchased if you are interested in placing flesh against 30 grit sandpaper in a vertical orientation (recommended).
Bridget and I explored a little visited area with an outcropping of Eagle Sandstone near Lavina, Montana (i.e. Cow town, USA). 

cow town

This particular cliff sits on BLM land and has been climbed on prior by a few hardy Billings folks.  I am a sucker for obscure places (they are typically more memorable that the popular places) so we headed out to Lavina to see what we could find, and hopefully climb.  Here's what we found...

Great view of the Crazy Mountains from the crag

 The camping situation was a bit sketchy and lame (we have no idea if we are trespassing on a rancher's pasture and we were worried that we would be woken up at 4:00am at gun point by a rancher feeding his/her cattle... and there are no trees).

Bridget heading up one of the best cracks we climbed. 
The view from the top (i.e. what 99% of Montana actually looks like).

Bridget on "Cozy Cafe"

We did find this great crack that we are sure no one had climbed before (it took alot of cleaning of big blocks).  It has a tough crux at the ground (V5) into a 5.11 finger crack- sweet route!  Notice the bullet holes...  The redneck marksman had great accuracy and precision.
We named this route "Cozy Cafe" 5.12,  in reference to the Cozy Corner Bar in Lavina where we had dinner.  The Cozy Corner bar had some "special" locals who were quite colorful, and creepy...
The bullet holes are on and are required foot beta.

Bridget on the steep "Cozy Cafe" 5.12
We also found this stellar corner that may be a new route (we cleaned a key hold at the crux that was very obvious no one had ever touched (super loose) - and would have been forced to if they would have been on the route.  We named this route "Trailer Park Fire" 5.11+

Bridget on "Trailer Park Fire"

Myself on the lie-back special of "Trailer Park Fire".  Top rope hero.

good times
Cheers, Loren