Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Roadside Boulders

The Roadside Boulders offer the shortest approach to a large amount of quality bouldering in the Refuge. Currently, most of the established problems in this area are in the beginner to intermediate range. However, there is potential for a few problems from V7 to V10 in this area. The rock is bullet proof, and a majority of the problems are not sharp, which can be rare in the Refuge. The landings on all of these problems are flat and can be protected easily with just a pad or two.  

The Roadside Boulders are located on the road which leads to the "Buford Lake/Boulder Picnic Area". Whether you are traveling from the NE or SW, follow the main road which leads through the Refuge. If you're traveling through the Refuge from the NE, then you will take a left shortly after the Doris Campground. From the SW, you'll take a right, however the SW entrance to the Refuge is closed right now. Follow the "Buford Lake/Boulder Picnic Area" road until the first white entrance gate. You'll then park at the concrete pull off just before the gate, which is marked on the map below. Afterwards, follow the Northeastern side of the road until you reach the main area of the bouldering (2-3 minute walk).


This map gives you a closer look of the main bouldering area. The picture below shows what the Roadside Boulders will look like as you approach them along the road. The rounded boulder in the middle is the "Dark Star Boulder", this will be the first established boulder you will see as you approach from the parking area. By clicking on any of the following area links, you will be taken to a description of how to find the area. Further clicking on any of the problems will take you to a description of that problem. 

This is the first area I visited when I came to the Roadside Boulders. It was added online by Kyle Hilton, which I give full credit to for documenting these boulder problems. All of these problems are quite fun.

This is the second area I visited at the Roadside Boulders. It was also documented by Kyle Hilton. These problems are just as fun as the "Triple Stack Boulder" problems. However, they are just as sharp as the "Sharps" boulder problems. "Dark Star V2" is also slightly highball for a beginner climber.

This is a very small area with only two established problems. Located directly behind the "Dark Star Boulder". You'll find a great boulder for slab-like warm up on your way. I do not have a wide shot of these two boulders at the time. However, you can find a description and picture of each problem at the links below.

I have documented this area on my own, and with friends. These problems are a ridiculous amount of fun. Emphasis on the "documented" throughout this blogpost. Climbing/bouldering has been going on in the Refuge for decades. So it is safe to assume that anything below V6/7 has definitely been climbed before. This area has 2 great highball's and a really fun overhanging problem. More could be established in this area.

This is one of my favorite places to boulder in the Refuge. Especially if I have extra energy left over after trying a project farther into Charon's Gardens. It's also a great spot for a short bouldering day trip. I would recommend this as a great transition area for any indoor climber who wants to begin bouldering outside, as well.

Like always, comment or email if you have a question about anything. Or, come and ask me questions at Climb Up in Norman. Feel free to follow me on Instagram @ryansheldo for updates on new Refuge boulders, or subscribe so you never miss a post!

Happy Climbing,

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hidden Treasures's in Plain Sight: A Day at the Base of Elk Mountain

In June of 2014 I took a trip to the Refuge with my friend Brian. He was excited about showing me a boulder he had found the week prior at the base of Elk Mountain. I met Brian while bouldering at the Silo's in OKC and I had taken him to one of my projects prior to this trip. He was a double digit boulderer, and had climbed outdoors a lot, which assured me that the boulder he found would definitively be worthwhile. During the previous week he had spent several hours hiking around Elk Mountain looking for boulder problems. I had spent no time exploring Elk Mountain up to that time, so I was even more excited to see what he had found.
We arrived at the Sunset Parking Area around 10 and began a very short hike along the Charon's Garden Trail. After about a half a mile we bushwacked off the trail towards Elk Mountain (left) until we reached the "Gold Digger Boulder". Pictures of the boulder can be seen below.
The main face of the Gold Digger boulder. "Gold Digger V4" begins on the nose of the boulder and the harder, probably double digit, problem begins on the chalked crimp rail in the middle. There was also potential for a fun problem on the back of this boulder, but by 1 o'clock it was close to 95 and we called it a day. 

Brian on the beginning of "Gold Digger V4", of which he nabbed the FA.. I'm not the biggest fan of slopers or compression moves, but this problem was a tremendous amount of fun. Even in the middle of the summer. The problem begins by hugging around the nose of the boulder and then following it up and slightly right.

Brian on the last few crimpy moves of "Gold Digger V4" after moving through the compression moves at the start. 

A picture of Brian pulling onto the starting rail of the possible double-digit project on the Gold Digger Boulder. 


After pulling the starting move, Brian was unable to stick the move to the right side pull above him. Overall, the problem has tricky holds and difficult beta.

This is a Google Earth image of the trail from the Sunset Parking area to the Gold Digger Boulder. Elk Mountain is to the left of the Gold Digger Boulder

I didn't end up sending anything on the Gold Digger Boulder that day, but I was ecstatic that Brian had. I haven't been back to it since that day, so a second trip is long overdue. Overall, it was exciting to have a new quality boulder in the Wichita's established.

Happy Climbing,

Friday, December 25, 2015

One Classic Line From the Middle Earth Area.

First of all, I apologize for my long hiatus! This last Summer and Fall were a crazy one! I earned my Private Pilot's Certificate and finished my second to last semester as an undergraduate at the University of Oklahoma. Now that it is winter break and I have a little bit of free time, I'm excited to get back on here and throw some knowledge out there!
This post will be about one of my favorite problems I have found in the Refuge. The problem is called "Cosmic Expansion" and it goes at a V6. It is a four star, classic boulder problem in my book. The problem is located in the heart of the Middle Earth Area, which is located between Echo Dome and Crab Eyes. It can be found at the base of a massive, free standing boulder cluster. It's approximately a 1.5 mile hike into Middle Earth, and a 2 mile hike to Cosmic Expansion. Below is a Google Earth View of it's location relative to Echo Dome and and the central area of Middle Earth.

I first found this problem in the summer of 2014 and tried it a few times with my friend Brian on a hot July day. While the problem is in the shade the majority of the day, the starting holds were just to bad for either of us to send it that day. I went back later that year in December with my friend Mark. He nabbed the FA and I followed him up quickly with the 2nd ascent. 
The problem begins down underneath the boulder cluster and works its way out of a 130 degree roof. The starting move includes a throw to a sloping block off of one minuscule foot and two half pad crimps. Below are some photos of the boulder problem. 

This is the view of the problem from the top, looking down towards the starting cave.

This is looking at the end of the problem from 10 feet away. The problem ends by topping out to the far left of the face, right above the pad on the ground in the picture.

This is the view from the top of "Cosmic Expansion" looking back towards Echo Dome and Elk Mountain.

A photo of me throwing for the sloping block off of the starting holds.

Here's a short video of Mark climbing the problem. It highlights the starting holds, and then the first throw to the sloping block.

This is by far my favorite problem in the Refuge. There is also a V-double digit problem just to the left of this one that I have yet to try. A few other undone problems litter the are around the boulder cluster, as well as a very fun top ropeable 5.12 just behind this cluster. That's all I have for this post, but be on the look out for more in the coming weeks!

Happy Climbing,


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New Content Coming Soon!

Hey guys!

It's been quite a while since I have made a new post on here, and I do apologize! As we all know, life can definitely get in the way of our climbing careers and this last year was just one thing after another.  Not that it was a bad year overall... Just a very busy one!

I finally decided on a major and minor, moved out, learned to fend for myself in the world (kind of), and have had a blast as an Uber driver.  I'm pretty sure somewhere in all of that is the definition of a modern Renaissance Man.
Besides all of those things though... The biggest chunk of my time has been working at the newly built climbing gym in Norman, Climb Up! I had the privilege of working there from the beginning of the construction phase, through opening day, through the first comp, and still into today.  It's a phenomenal place to climb, and if you're anywhere in the greater OKC area, you should definitely check it out.  You can visit the webpage for pricing and other info by following this link: Climbupgym.com

Out front Climb Up after a snowy day in December:

The Competition Bouldering wall after a reset in May:
If you stop by the gym and I'm working, feel free to ask as me any questions you may have about the Refuge's bouldering!  Well that's enough about the new gym and myself, so let's talk about what you can look forward to it the next few posts.

First off, this blog is nowhere near being a comprehensive list of the Refuge's overall bouldering.  I have a lot of post's I will be adding in the preceding weeks with new areas and content.  As well as, better maps and directions for some of the older areas listed here.  These posts should help to answer some questions I've had about certain existing areas and make it easier to find the areas.  I'm also working on the first ever bouldering exclusive guidebook to the Refuge, which will include all of the problems you have seen in the blog.  Maps and plenty of other information about Refuge camping, etiquette, etc... will also be provided.

I will most likely not take another trip to the refuge until September due to the recent scorching heat, which is sure to last through August.  If you do decide to go to the Refuge this summer though, make sure to bring plenty of water, and sunscreen.  I have learned my lesson the hard way in both of those categories.  The Refuge is a wonderful place to climb, but its size and remoteness can be a danger to anyone not prepared for the weather on a given day.  That's all I have for now guys, stay safe!

Happy Climbing,

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lost Dome Bouldering Development - New Finds!

On May 9th and 10th, 2014 I headed out to the Wichitas for a 2 day trip.  I had gotten up around 5am to take my girlfriend Ashley to the airport, and so I was able to leave around 6:30am for the Refuge. I arrived at the Refuge around 8am when the temps were still really good.  I quickly gathered my pad and pack and started my hike towards Lost Dome.
With how beautiful of a morning it was, I couldn't believe that I was the only one at the Sunset Parking Area at 8am.

I decided to time my hike into Lost Dome this time.  It came in at 45 minutes of total hiking time.  I was moving at a pretty chill pace, so if you really hit it, you could probably make it in 30 minutes. My plan for the day was to hit up a collection of boulders that I had found the week before with Rhyan and Natalie. For now I'm going to call them "The Corridor". The Corridor is located between Crab Eyes and Lost Dome.  It is located below Hidden Wall, in the gully/valley.  There is the possibility for at least 10 other problems over here, with some being V8 and up.  Below is a collection of what went up this weekend.

This is the first portion of The Hallway that you will see when you approach it.  This boulder is about 18 feet tall and has the possibility for some really hard lines.

The boulder on the left is the mentioned boulder above.  The boulder on the right is another that has possibility, but was too in the sun on Friday.  This shows the hallway between the two boulders were two new problems are located. "Rail Gun V4" and "Moon Raker V4"
This boulder houses "Moon Raker V2+".  It starts on the lowest sloping rail, with feet on the boulder to the left.  Pull up to a left side pull, and figure out how to gain the ledge over the lip.  Awesome movement on perfect granite.  Located just ahead inside the hallway.

Starting inside the "cave" is "Rail Gun V3/3+".  This problem starts in a bullet proof flake between the two boulders and traverses right along awesome rails.  The mantle finish on this thing is awesome. 

All of the problems that went up this weekend were really fun. Overall, it was an extremely successful weekend of developing and finding new things.  I'm extremely excited for what I'll find in the coming weeks and months.  Like always, follow me on Instagram for more climbing pictures @ryansheldo.

Happy Climbing,

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Lost Dome Bouldering Development - Continued Progress

On Friday May 2, 2014 I headed out to the Refuge after a month long exodus.  I had been dreaming of the refuge for weeks, but school was just keeping me tied down to Norman.  So I packed up in the morning and headed to the refuge with Rhyan like normal.  This time, however, we had a newcomer to the refuge with us.. Miss Natalie Heng.  We were all super psyched to hop on some granite and arrived at the Sunset Parking area around 10am.
The plan for the day was to head out to Lost Dome.  Rhyan wanted to hop on the Angry Inch for a while before it became to warm, and I wanted to make it out to the Black Face Project that eluded me the trip before.  Natalie was just along for the ride,wanting to try some of the V1's and 2's we had, and was one hell of a trooper the entire day. Haha.  The weather was looking not awful, upper 60's with a light breeze.  
We hiked the 2 miles into Lost Dome, following the Charon's Gardens trail and arrived at the warm up around 10:45.  I warmed up on The Russian Cosmonaut, and Rhyan did a bit of traversing before he headed over to the Angry Inch.  I stayed 15 feet downhill at the warm up boulder with Natalie and showed her a V1 on the warm up boulder which she destroyed.  Rhyan tried the Angry Inch for a while, but it was already 60 degrees or so, and the sloping crimps on it were already in the sun and getting slimy.  We decided to pack up and head for some shaded climbing.  I suggested we check out the previously looked at adjacent side of the boulder that houses Drive By Crimpin', so we headed over there.  
This side of the boulder is littered with half-pad to quarter-pad crimps, some chossy and some solid.  While Rhyan looked a some of the super thin crimping on the far side of the boulder, I cleaned up a line right beside Drive By Crimpin'.  It starts on 2 solid half pad crimps and moves up and little right.  The topout, just like Drive By Crimpin', is a balancy-slabtastic mindgame.  Nonetheless, it was a super fun moderate and "Bloody Murder V4/5" was born!

Rhyan on the topout of Bloody Murder V4/5

Rhyan discovered that there is a very possible, but powerful traverse that could be done between the beginning of Drive by Crimpin' into the middle of Bloody Murder, going at about V8/9??  We'll see what happens with that!  We hung out at the boulder for a while, ate lunch, and then decided to hike into the valley area to the back of Lost Dome.
This turned out to be a huge bummer.  We did about 2 hours of hiking, to find that the area over there was mainly choss and holdless boulders.  I'm not going to lie, spirits were definitely low at the end of this portion of the day.  Even though we had established a new moderate earlier that day, it's all about how you end the day right?? 
I took this picture looking back into the valley, back towards Lost Dome (which is behind the hill dead center).  All I could think was, "All of this rock and nothing worth while".

So from the top of the hill I took the previous picture, we decided to head back towards our pads and call it a day.  We began our way back through the thick brush and hopped a ton of boulders.  I should mention that through all of this Natalie wore shorts and head her legs scratched a TON by vines, sticks, and granite.  Not once did she complain though!  Once in the bottom of the valley, I turned left back towards Lost Dome, but a funny thing happened.  We had walked back to far and came out near Crab Eyes! At first I was upset because that meant even more hiking to get back to our gear, and backwards hiking at that.  After about 100 feet though, we saw this boulder.

This guy houses a super awesome climb! Moving straight up this overhanging face on weird sloping holds! Can't wait to hop on this one. 

Suddenly, the day was ending a little better.  About 300 feet downhill, back towards Lost Dome, we found another nest of AWESOME boulders.  

Slightly overhanging face with amazing, bullet proof crimps!

This boulder goes on further 15 feet on both sides and is littered with holds.  This perfect one pad crack caught my eye immediately though.

These were the only two pictures I snapped of the area, but that is because I was like a kid in a candy store!  There were so many possibilities everywhere!  Rhyan had always been saying, "Hey, we should check out the area between Crab Eyes and Lost Dome." but we just never did.  Fate fixed that though. Hahaha.  
We moved on from the amazing find of all of these boulders, got our stuff, and hiked back out.  

All in all, it was an awesome day.  We established a sweet problem and found some potential moderate and double digit boulders, which is amazing.  Overall, we learned 3 things that day.
  1. Amazing things can come when you least expect them too.
  2. The Refuge is by no means "tapped out" and anyone who thinks otherwise is crazy.
  3. Natalie can scratch the crap out of her legs and still have an awesome day.
Hopefully the weather will be good enough to get in some good climbing/establishing here after Finals this week.  Like always guys, follow me on Instagram: @Ryansheldo for more climbing pictures and updates on the area.  If you're ever in the area and want to check it out, just e-mail me and I'd be more than happy to show you around.

Happy Climbing,

All smiles after a great day in the Refuge!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Middle Earth Bouldering Development - The First Steps

On April 4th, 2014 Rhyan Brown and I headed out to the Wichita Mountains.  The weather was perfect that day, low 60's and partly cloudy with a light wind, so I was extremely psyched to get out.  I had to go to Drill the following day, so that made being outside even better.  It was about 10am on Friday morning when I picked Rhyan up from his house and we headed down to the Refuge.  If you've read all of my blog posts then I'm sure you are seeing some similarities between them all.

  1. It's usually just me and Rhyan.
  2. We always stop at Love's on our way in to the Refuge, and I always get a Mt. Dew.  Then Rhyan tells me I shouldn't drink Mt. Dew.
  3. I sometimes take more time taking pictures/video than I do climbing.
  4. We always find something new each time we go out.
On this particular day Rhyan wasn't going to climb because he wanted to save himself for a climbing trip to Tulsa the next day.  He has been working a V11ish project up there with Will Hargus at Four Rooms and wanted to be fresh.  Because of this, I planned on brushing up a highball face project that I had been dreaming about.  The face is at the Lost Dome Bouldering Area.  I had assumed when we found it that it had never been attempted before, but found out that it's been attempted by a slew of people over the years and just never completed.  This gave me even more incentive to get out there and finally establish this thing!
A close up picture of project I took the day me and Rhyan saw it for the first time.  Beautiful seems all the way to a very slopey and slabby topout.

This is a wide-eyed view of the boulder from a picture I found on the OKC Climb Facebook page of some other guys trying this.

So anyways, the plan was to hike out to the boulder, rap down it, clean it, and then work it all day.  HOWEVER, as faith would have it, the day was immediately changed when we arrived at the Sunset Parking Area.  I had forgotten my solutions and my chalk bucket somehow.  I still had my very old and almost blown out Katana's in the trunk, so I decided those would have to do.  At this point my psych levels had fallen a few notches.  I suggested to Rhyan that we should go ahead and check out some of the stuff along the Charon's Gardens trail on the way to the project because I didn't think I would be able to try as hard for as long without my shoes.  Little did I know, this turned out to be a good turn of events for us.

We took the trail towards Lost Dome like normal, but turned left at the sign for Treasure Lake, just to check things out for a bit. We ended up walking right into a new bouldering area I dubbed "Middle Earth".  I named it this because of its location between Pear and Apple and Crab Eyes. Below are some of the pictures of the boulders we found at Middle Earth.

This boulder is about 30 feet long and 12 feet tall and has beautiful incut crimps all the way across. Several easy lines are available here, as well as some moderates, and a traverse would be awesome.

This boulder face is on the other side of the face above.  It also has perfect crimp rails on it.  It's about 15 feet tall and would be another great warm up spot.

This knob filled bad boy is right up the hill from the previous 2 boulders.  It is littered with knobs.  A traverse starting on the left and going right, using the knobs would be great.

This line is the reason this area is being written about.  This beatiful horizontal crack leads to an unsettling topout at around 25 feet.  This ones a beauty.  I tried it for about an hour, and Rhyan built a solid landing for it. I'm suggesting a grade of at least V8 for this guy, and I think it's harder.

This highball arete is on the same boudler as the climb above.  I made the first ascent and named it "One to Rule Them All. V3
So many other lines are available on this boulder though.

 The first ascent of No Sweat V1.  This highball slab is 20 feet away from the boulder above it.  There is the possibility for at least 2 more lines on this boulder.

It turned out to be an amazing day in the Refuge.  We found an entirely new area with TONS of potential, all close together, and on great rock quality.  It is all solid.  I will be creating a mountain project page for this area in the next 2 weeks, once I have a chance to get back out there and take some more pictures/get better descriptions.  As always though, follow me on Instagram for more climbing pictures @ryansheldo.  Comment down below on how you think the blog is going, or if there is anything more you'd like to know!

Happy Climbing,