Jul 25, 2011

Review: THE VOO - Rock Climbing in Vedauwoo

I'm an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) of climbing. I find value and enjoyment in pebbling wrestling, clipping bolts, and playing with widgets. I can partake in all those styles in one afternoon on the coarse granite of Vedauwoo, WY. Throw in easy access, free camping, and relative cool temps, it is an ideal summer destination. Last weekend my girlfriend and I decided to escape the oppressive heat, thunderstorms, and flood warnings of Boulder, CO for the wonderland of rocks called Vedauwoo. I picked up THE VOO: Rock Climbing in Vedauwoo, the new guidebook, on the way out of town. The following is my take on it.

The guidebook is gorgeous, stacked with pictures, both historical and contemporary, that jump off the page. The guidebook is rich with first ascent information, including drama and gossip.

One aspect of guidebooks that I highly value is helping me get to the best climbs quickly. This book does a mediocre job of that. There are plenty of clear and detailed overview maps. However, there are no written descriptions of the approaches. You have to guesstimate approach times from the map scale alone. Several of the cliffs had multiple approach trails, again you have to choose by map scale alone. In addition, there are no descriptions of sun exposure. Being the middle of summer, my girlfriend and I were desperately chasing shade. Again, we had to guesstimate it from the overview maps. Once you get to a cliff, it is easy find the routes via the color photos.

There is a lack of written descriptions for individual climbs. Cracks are described by colloquial terms (e.g., "hand", "fist", or "squeeze"). Given the range of physiology in the human species, this is a vague and arbitrary method for describing size. Imagine a company selling pants by listing size as "adult male" or "child." It would have been better if the guide listed crack size in inches. There was little (or more frequently no) information about gear. I had to bring more gear than necessary on every climb. There is an occasional crypt remark regarding wide gear. Most sport routes do not include bolt counts, and bolt density ranges widely in The Voo. I climbed one pitch that had 3 bolts within 15ft. I climbed another pitch with more than 15ft between the bolts. You get very different experiences in attempting "sport" routes listed in the book.

Overall the guidebook is like Vedauwoo, great but not world class.