Wild Iris

Thursday afternoon, after my trip up through the switchbacks in Shoshone National Forest, I headed southwest of Lander, on Route 28 past the turnoff for the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus but before the turnoff for Atlantic City and turned right on Limestone Road (24 miles from town). This relatively well maintained dirt road would take me up to Wild Iris, an extremely popular rock climbing venue.

After driving a short ways, and when offered the choice, I turned right to climb the mountain to the parking area at the top. There was no cell service here (in lots of places I’ve been to in the last two weeks, actually), but my GPS still worked as did the altitude app on my phone. At last I saw a few vehicles parked along the road so I got out and went to join the mountaineers.

This was the view looking down towards Highway 28 (trust me, it’s down there somewhere):

As you can see, the road ahead was blocked by a pile of snow so I had to walk a short ways up to the actual parking area.

And sure enough, I found the parking area and a sign which confirmed I was in the right place:

There was a walking path off to the left which continued up a moderate grade to the horizon. At this point I was up at about 8,700 feet elevation.

I started walking up the path, keeping my head “on a swivel,” as Sam had instructed me, to keep an eye out for snakes. I also turned around periodically to make sure nothing was sneaking up on me from behind. Despite the vehicles, there wasn’t a soul in sight and I was feeling quite vulnerable.

I finally reached the apparent horizon and learned that there was another path, continuing uphill to another horizon.

Not knowing the area, or if it was much further to reach the “wall,” I opted to bail out and walked back to my car.

I drove down the mountain and turned right to continue taking the dirt road to what I guessed was the area below the “wall,” and followed two vehicles with trailers which I assumed were climbers who wanted to climb up rather than down. Sure enough, they pulled off into a wooded area where there were lots of other vehicles parked but there was no view looking up (blocked by trees) so I continued driving back the dirt road.

I drove a considerable ways before I had any vertical view and by that point I was sure I had passed the “wall”. I drove through two switchbacks and came to a sign indicating that I would then be crossing onto private property and would not be welcome.

Now that I was further away from the slope of the mountain I could finally see a row of rocks way up on the mountain”

I zoomed in with my digital camera and took some photos but never saw any climbers, though I am pretty sure this was the “wall” I was looking for. There is a climbing outfitter in Lander (ironically named Wild Iris – go figure…) and I will stop in there to ask if there is an area I can safely get to which will afford me a view of climbers up on the mountain. There are apparently many different climbing options which is what makes this place attractive to climbers.

I drove back out the dirt road and stopped in town on the way home to give my car a well deserved wash.