Tom Randall takes up the story:
"The last two weeks for me and Pete have been a total baptism of fire. We've travelled all the way from the UK (where we have about 4 offwidths in whole country) to the USA (where you find about 4 in every square metre). We decided to start our trip in Vedauwoo, where the cracks come fat and the crystals come sharper."
From wikipedia: Vedauwoo is an area of rocky outcrops (Sherman Granite) located in south-eastern Wyoming, United States, north of Interstate 80, between Laramie and Cheyenne. Its name (according to climbing guidebook authors Skip Harper and Rob Kelman) is an Anglicised version of the Arapaho word "bito'o'wu" meaning "earth-born".
Tom gave us some more details:
Spatial Relations 5.13a
Wing and a Prayer 5.12c
Trip Master Monkey 5.12b
Tom and Pete's Big 5 Hitlist
"Vedauwoo is this incredible "city of fat cracks" where many of the US wide crack climbers have cut their teeth over the years. The names read like the who's who of US Wide – Scarpelli, Long, Anderson, Leubben, to name just a few. Putting on our boots for the first time, we trod in their footsteps with much trepidation!
Before climbing the routes at Vedauwoo, Pete and I came up with a concept of "The Big 5" – 5 of the biggest and meanest grades of wide climbing at Vedauwoo. Aside from any grading controversy we would attempt to do these routes as a way of measuring whether we were ready for other projects later in the trip."
With their sights set firmly on some of the steepest and most difficult crack climbs, the boys were literally setting themselves up for a fall... right? Wrong!
"After only 9 days of route climbing we'd achieved what we only dreamed of really! We never quite thought that we'd actually tick the routes."
Pete Whittaker made an impressive onsight of the famous Lucille (pictured right) and both of the Wideboys put in a great show for the UK.
But just how hard are these routes? The grades are basically impossible to compare, right?
Tom told us:
"If you put Ray's Roof on this list, it would be at the bottom of the grades – so all in all, we were pretty chuffed to do these routes in a short time.
In amongst these routes, we also climbed a number of the old-school Scarpelli Sandbags (onsight or flashed) and most of the area's hardest offwidth boulder problems. Our list of other wide cracks climbed can be seen in a photo of my "Private Pirate" below...."
And what's next for the team?
"We're now finished with Vedauwoo and looking forward to visiting Trench Warfare, Belly Full of Bad Berries, The Crack House, Gabriel and many others!"
GOOD LUCK BOYS!
Travelling with the duo is photographer Alex Ekins. Thanks go to Alex for two of the above images. You can see loads more on his website: Alex Ekins