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In certain parts of the world the winds are so unique, predictable, or a part of life that they have been named: the Sirocco of Italy, the Nor’easters of New England, and the Mistral of France. In Lander, Wyoming there is a wind that blows in from the west; it is hot and dry during the days in summer, but cool in the evening bringing the alpine air from the Wind Rivers. Does it have a name? Currently, the temps in Lander have been in the 100-degree range and this nameless wind is the only savior.
So yes, Lander in July is like walking on the sun, but today I was reminded why Wild Iris is one of the top summer crags in the country. The limestone cliff bands are at 9000 feet and buried in aspen forests. The temps were pleasant and the rock beyond superb. Climbing in the sun wasn’t a problem and even Lynn Hill was able to comfortably give a sport-climbing clinic. It was packed at the OK Corral Wall for the entire morning, as Hill explained tips and techniques, even non-participating nearby climbers learned something.
Our crew hung to the OK Corral and found nothing but bomber climbs. Think deep limestone pockets, grippy rock, well-protected routes, and walls and walls of pristine yellow limestone. The Wild Iris was packed due to the annual Mountain Hardwear Breakfast, but also because the Iris is definitely the place to climb in the summer. Even though just about every climber from the festival was at the Iris, we never had to wait for a climb. The vibe was so friendly and helpful; numerous climbers gave us Beta and chatted. They even explained the guidebook relative to our location, which we could never figure out. Turned out it didn’t matter what routes we climbed, each wall had some hidden beauty.
By afternoon that unnamed wind had picked up, signally a storm front approaching. The evening was considerable cooler and perfect for the ICF Film Festival and the Street Dance at the Gannett Grill. The music was on a grassy field next to the Grill – big improvement from past years of standing in the gravel behind the Lander Bar. Climbers enjoyed the music of Rising Lion; the match of Reggae music and climbers was pretty much right on.
I came to the realization that Wyoming is rad when it comes to rock. The climbers here really have something special. There are not too many beautiful and rugged states with such an incredible list of areas to choose from: Sinks, Wild Iris, Ten Sleep, Devils Tower, well I could go on, but I’m sure you get it. The ICF has been nothing but fun and one of the best events I have attended in a while. Making a stop at the ICF on a road trip through Wyoming would be a memorable adventure. You just have to climb in the shade and hope the nameless west wind keeps blowing.