• Hayden Seder

Trip Report: Lander, Wyoming

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

My friends Kami and Emily and my dog Otis decide to take a four-day trip to Lander, Wyoming and explore all the good climbing that it has to offer. I drive seven hours from my hometown of Sun Valley, Idaho and plan to meet them as they drive from Provo, Utah and Boise, Idaho.

Upon getting to town, I immediately drive to Wild Iris Mountain Sports to grab a guidebook; luckily for me, the version I bought just came out a few weeks prior and had four whole crags never featured before as the girl at the front desk informs me. I’m waiting on my friends and need to bang out some freelance work so I head next door to the Gannett Grill & Lander Bar, a restaurant and bar recommended in the guide book and owned by climbers. I order up a drink and soon the girls come meet me and we exchange tales and climbing plans over beers and burgers until it starts to rain. Rather than drive to Wild Iris to camp as we had intended, we head a few blocks over to the City Park which allows free camping for up to three days. It’s literally just a regular park with a few different parking areas but both our cars have beds built in the back so we camp and curl up for the night. My cell service keeps switching from one bar to three as I attempt to check emails, Insta, and—let’s be honest—Tinder, cause what better way to find a local to show us the crags?

Day 1

I’m awoken early by my alarm clock (my dog Otis) and head to Crux Coffee, a coffee shop recommended in the guide book as a coffee shop serving both coffee and climbing. My companions are still sleeping at City Park so I’ve ducked out early to go get some work done. I get there but it seems they have taken the climbing wall out (despite the pictures on their website showing differently) but order a cold brew none the less. The coffee is alright, the bathroom exists, and soon my friends join me. The weather is unseasonably cold so we procrastinate around town a bit before heading to climb. My friends would like to do some laundry so we head to the one Laundromat in town, but it apparently doesn’t take money, only special cards that you have to call someone to bring you at the Laundromat…what? Next we head to the local grocery store, Mr. D’s, which seems to very obviously be hurting from the Safeway across town. Shelves are empty and the vibe is decidedly depressing.

At this point the weather still seems shitty but we’ve run out of things to do in town so we drive the 20 minutes to Wild Iris to set up camp. We drive the road up to the campsites which is much better than Mountain Project describes it, and drive along the dirt road with campsites which is also known as the OK Corral climbing area of Wild Iris. We pick a campsite which is also along the path to the Blooming Rose crag. After setting up camp, we head up to Blooming Rose and explore some easy 5.8s and 5.9s—Iron Horse With a Twisted Heart (5.9), Phat Phinger Phrenzy (5.8)—to get our fingers warmed up to the intense pocket-y limestone climbing of Wild Iris. We meet lots of friendly people both at the crag and walking the road by our site. We cook dinner and try not to think about Waffles, the grizzly bear that patrols the area.

Day 2

We wake up in our Wild Iris campground and have an unexpected visit from a neighbor who gifts us a bag of cinnamon donuts and eggplant from his garden since he is heading into the Winds to climb. Score! We put our stuff together and head for a morning at the Main Wall, making a stop at the bathroom and meeting a guy who warns us of afternoon storms.

The Main Wall is about a 20 minute approach from the campgrounds along a dirt road with periodic signs pointing to different crags. We spend a while holding the guidebook in front of our noses and looking confusedly up at the wall as many climbers do when visiting a new crag, looking for the Hot Tamale wall. After stumbling around, some other climbers kindly pointed it out to us and we spent the next several hours tackling climbs on that

wall, even managing to score two pieces of bail booty on The Shootist (5.10a)! Then the clouds and thunder start rolling in and we hightail it out of there, but unfortunately not before being hit by intense rain and hail about halfway back to the campsite. My dog, Otis, completely hates being wet so he frantically runs ahead to every campsite trying to figure out if it’s ours. The dirt road with the campsites has turned to pure mud that my flip flops are sinking into, leaving me no choice but to take them off and run barefoot in the mud and rain like a goddam hobbit. We get back to our cars and, unable to find a towel or better option, Otis and I get in mine and completely cover it in water and mud while we wait out the storm.

After the rain has passed, Emily needs to head to town to send an email, so all four of us pile in the car to head somewhere with Wifi and food. We look at a few menus in town but ultimately settle on the Gannett Grill & Lander Bar again—after all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it—and dig into our meals with a fervor after such a long day. Well actually, it was only 5pm at this point, but it felt long. We stop at Safeway for chocolate and ice cream and head back up the mountains to our camp site.

Day 3

We wake up, pack our site, and mosey to town after a chilly night and morning up at Wild Iris. Town is a good 10+ degrees warmer and is certainly welcome. We go to Crux coffee to collect ourselves and figure out where in Sinks Canyon we want to go for a much-needed day in the sun. Our first pick, The School wall in Shady Side, has its entrance blocked so we head to Scud Wall in the Main Wall section. The hike to the crag from the car is only 15 minutes and many climbs await us at the top! We spend the next six hours climbing fun 9s and 10s while watching four 18-year-olds attempt much harder climbs next to us and swear while doing it. They make friends with Otis and take our picture for us before we head down to the car to enjoy post-send beers, chips, and salsa. We decide that cooking dinner in City Park, where we plan to camp, sounds lame and difficult so we go to Thai Chef where the waitress sees Otis in the car and tells us all about her boxers Pebbles and Bam Bam, even showing us pictures. Exhausted by the day, Otis and I head to the park to chill while Kami and Emily enjoy a night of free music downtown.

Day 4

Unfortunately I have to head back to Idaho on our last day to make it in time for my friends’ wedding so we have one last morning coffee, this time at the Lander Bake Shop which has a significantly better menu and vibe than Crux Coffee. We enjoy coffee and homemade bagels while hordes of bikers trail in for the beginning of the Jurassic Classic Mountain Bike Festival. I even run into a friend who used to live in Idaho who’s in town for the Mountain Bike Festivalsmall world. After deciding to head back to Wild Iris Mountain Sports to buy ONE more t-shirt, it was time to end the week in Lander.

#Lander #Wyoming #rockclimbing #WildIris #SinksCanyon #climbing

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