Climb Like a Local: Wild Iris

06/28/2017

Categories: Climb Like a Local

Wild Iris is Wild West climbing at its best. This premier sport climbing mecca has tons of quality limestone routes, set against the stunning backdrop of the Wind River Range. The tiny cowboy town of Lander, Wyoming will keep you entertained when your skin needs a rest day.


Photo courtesy of © Michael Lim

Local Vibe: Climbers here made their way to Lander because of the incredible access to crags like Wild Iris (not to mention the lack of crowds). These folks are strong and handy with a stick clip. Get ready to hear lots of "Dude, that mono is heinous." You’ll see climbers at the crag even if it’s only 15 degrees—as long as it’s sunny. The scene is hardcore, but friendly locals will still give you a wave when you run into them later at the Lander Bar.

Why We Love It: When temps get too hot, Wild Iris is the perfect high-altitude sport climbing road trip. You’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful climbing setting, and the camping is conveniently located within walking distance of the crags. With grades ranging from 5.6 to 5.14—and a huge concentration of stellar 5.10s—there is something for everyone. The rock boasts plenty of excellent pockets and, by limestone standards, it isn’t too punishingly sharp.

Avoid the Crowds: Avoiding crowds is actually part of the ethic here. Wild Iris is rarely crowded by most climbers’ standards, so it’s silly to wait in line. In fact, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb if you do. Before you head to the crag, have a couple options in mind. If someone’s already climbing on your first choice, embrace the spirit of adventure and head somewhere else, like the Lower Remuda. You’ll likely be the only party there.

Local Pet Peeve: As the locals put it, there’s a fine line between a project and a flail, so don’t make other climbers wait in line if you can’t get past the second or third bolt. The other big no-no here: Dogs off leash. It’s actually a law, not just a preference, and the ticket you’ll be stuck with will damage the climbing community’s reputation with local land managers.

Watch Out! Wildlife here doesn’t mess around. Expect to see rattlesnakes, especially if the rock is warm and the air is chilly. Grizzly bears have been spotted at Wild Iris, so it’s smart to carry bear spray. Most locals know at least one climber who’s had a close call. Pay attention and give snakes and bears lots of space (the Instagram pic isn’t worth it).

Town Life: Nothing beats a beer and burger on the back patio of The Lander Bar after a long day of climbing. And the waffle fries are pretty damn delicious. Wild Iris Mountain Sports is the place to go for all your gear, beta, and guidebook needs. Lander is also home to the International Climbers Festival, which is a must for anyone in the area in July.

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