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Hello Hello Hello

Davin Bagdonas
early-mid February, 2009

      
Davin Bagdonas
Davin Bagdonas Davin Bagdonas Davin Bagdonas Davin Bagdonas

FRB: Name?

Davin: Davin Bagdonas

FRB: Age?

Davin: 28 Years and 11 Months. 29 in March

FRB: Height/Weight?

Davin: 6 feet & maybe an inch. Weight is180lbs average.

FRB: Location?

Davin: Laramie, Wyoming is home base.

FRB: How did you get into climbing, Davin?

Davin: I grew up in the mountains of Wyoming and my parents were very active outside. I was attracted to rocks from day one, "a little mountain goat" as my parents called me. When I was 13 or 14 I decided to going rock climbing with a friend of mine Bevan Frost. His dad showed us the ropes (an old gold line!) We climbed for a good 10 years together. I was born a climber.

FRB: Who were some of your early influences?

Davin: Originally old guys like Alex Lowe, Mugs Stump, Seth Shaw, Hidataka Suzuki and the like, but then I read about John Gill and saw a picture of Fred Nicole. Fred has been by biggest influence, no doubt about it. My influences have followed my climbing life: first the mountains then the cracks, finally the boulders.

FRB: Who do you climb with, now?

Davin: Nathan Manley, Dave Nash, and Matt Williams were the guys I climbed with a ton after the guys I grew up with, Bevan Frost and Joe Johnson went onto to other interests. I spent a number of years climbing and developing areas with Josh Helke. We never stopped climbing day after day until he had to start a very successful and quality company, Organic. Now only on plastic with Josh. Today I climb 90% of the time with Bryan Van Sickle, Ethan McMahan, and Guilherme Zavaski. We all balance out very well. The balance we have is very important. We end up bouldering from sun up to sun down, sometimes 10 hours in a day.

FRB: Where do you guys pull down?
         (that means, where do you climb at?)

Davin: We get the job done all over the place. Obviously Vedauwoo is a place we always go. Right next to Laramie and endless rock provide an outlet any day we need one. The long days are spent in the Saratoga Valley of Wyoming, in the Snowy Range and a lot of other places in the state. Wyoming is endless, like any where else in the rocky mountains, Wyoming is made of rock. Not many people climb here compared to Colorado or Utah, so we have a huge amount of work.

In the winter, which is a good portion of the year we climb inside. I opened the Source Bouldering Gym last winter and spend a lot of time there. We have a 50 degree overhang, a 35 degree overhang, and a 15 degree overhang. We also have a campus board and I make custom holds for the gym. It is all training, no fun at all, getting strong and motivated for the season ahead. Actually it is fun and we love it.

FRB: What's a typical day like for you and
          your climbing pals?

Davin: Don't know if we have a typical day, but usually we meet at 8am at the coffee shop. Climbing and coffee are the same thing, so we start it right. Drive to wherever we are going. Usually some extensive, undeveloped, perfect boulder field. Or a choss pile. It doesn't really matter and the end result is the same. When I start sweating coffee I pull over (I'm always driving for some reason) we grab our bouldering junk and start climbing ASAP. After warming up, which can take a bit of time when you get older, Bryan and I usually clean new stuff. Guili and Ethan seemingly don't know how to clean so they sit around waiting for one of us to skin a knuckle. Then they send the thing and wait for another clean problem. We eat as we go, so we never waste time. There is so much rock to clean for those guys that we really can't stop to waste time.

As a group we do several FA's a day up to 15 in a day anywhere from the warm ups to V8 or V9 in a day. Every once and a while we finish and project that takes more than a day and Guili rates it a sand bag V6 or V9 (those are his two grades). Forgot to mention that as a group we feel bouldering is getting soft (kids these days) so we rate old school. Bryan is the strongest, but never climbs anything. He shows us how to do a move we can't do, then walks away. Ethan climbs until he is almost dead, then sends and Guili makes us all look bad. Guili is from Brazil, so of course, he looks good. I just clean stuff and write it all down. Sometimes I finish a hard thing.

FRB:  Do you rope up?

Davin: I stay true to my roots and rope up still. Usually climb cracks for a couple of weeks then go back to the boulders. I established a number of routes in Vedauwoo and Wyoming that haven't been repeated yet. I go back and do one of those or try to finish another one before going back to the boulders.

FRB:  Where's the good sport climbing?

Davin: Good sport climbing is not here in south east Wyoming. We have a short section of Rogers Canyon (9 miles north of Laramie) that is amazing Limestone. Josh Helke bolted most of it. We used to just Top Rope it, but it is better on lead. We lost another good area to a Land Sale, so for now, good luck. Drive to Ten Sleep or Lander if you want Wyoming Sport. Give us a few more years and we'll have some very good stuff here. Just found it, but haven't bolted anything yet.

FRB: How's the bouldering? What the rock like?

Davin: Vedauwoo has some where over 1200 problems. A few hundred of those are actually really good. New stuff is going up there weekly, year round. Vedauwoo is super varied granite. 90% of Vedauwoo is sharp crystally stuff which has probably 700 of the problems. The rest is really good rock. There are several crews in Laramie putting stuff up. It is best to check in and get a tour from one of the locals.

The rest of the state is varied. We have endless granite of all qualities. Mostly good quality. Rock Springs and Cody, two completely different sides of the state have really good Sand Stone. Cody has around 1000 problems and tons more to do. Rock Springs has a ton of rock at Flaming Gorge, but Jessie Brown is the guy to ask about that stuff (307 Bouldering.com). Lander has amazing granite all over. There is good rock all over the place. we find more all the time.

FRB: Where are the test pieces? What are they?

Davin: There are test pieces across Wyoming.

At Vedauwoo there are several, the best are either hard & pure or tall.
Cumulus V11/12
Har Mar Superstar V11
Weak Become Heroes V10
Analog V9
Monsters Inc. V5.13 off width
It V5.12+ off width
Skinner's Reprise V8/9 & super high ball (35+ feet)


In the Saratoga Valley;
Claudius V10
Northern Comfort V9 (Guili super sand bag!)
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly V9/10


In North West Wyoming;
Poho Kanhi V10 or V11
Tribal Vibrations V11


and a couple others in Cody
Common Ground V11

There are many others, but I'm not familiar with them.

FRB: What are some of your hardest sends, Davin?

Davin: My hardest sends are varied, but in order of numbers and areas they are:

Vedauwoo:
Cumulus V11/12 FA (I think this is the hardest at Vedauwoo, but not sure now)
Red Snapper V11 or V12 depending on who you are.
Har Mar Superstar V11
The Borg V11
Weak Become Heroes V10 FA (Might be my best problem at Vedauwoo)

Torrey Valley:
Poho Kanhi V10/11 FA (without a doubt my proudest and most beautiful line!)
Buckets of Tears V10? FA
Ninja for Life V10 FA

Pilot Knob:
Common Ground V11 FA

Sinks Canyon:
The Camera V10

Saratoga Valley:
Claudius V10 FA
Anthropsaur V9 FA.

FRB: Snowy Mountain, Bennett Peak.
          Tell us about the climbing, Davin?       

Davin: Bennett Peak and the Snowy Range are two summer areas next to Laramie. The Snowies have been bouldered in for a while now. John Gill did the first things at Lake Marie a long time ago, but we are still finding good rock there. We added a dozen good things there last summer. Maybe the best are the Left Gill Problem V6 on the Gill Block and Magdalena V8 on the Gill Block. It is worth the drive! There are some other small areas spread across the Snowies, like Bear Lake. That is the last place Josh Helke and I developed together. Really nice bouldering in the Forest.

Bennett Peak is actually in the Snowy Range, just down hill from the high altitude stuff. It is a highly varied area with both granite and volcanic stuff next to each other. There are around a hundred problems there now, maybe more. it is a beautiful place where the North Platte river has cut the mountain in two exposing boulders. It is very spread out, but there is a lot of rock. we are still exploring all over the place. I have spent the most time at Bennett and would love for some folks to show up and repeat some of my problems.

FRB: I heard talk about some new areas being
          developed up there, care to talk about it?
       

Davin: Wyoming is being developed. There is so much rock here it is amazing! A lot like Idaho right now. There is just rock and more rock. There are several new areas and we find more each year. There are crews across Wyoming doing the work. Last year I went over 2000 FA's in my life. Most of those are boulders in Wyoming. I count rock by life times now. I am working on a Source Bouldering Gym site that will serve as a resource for Wyoming bouldering info. In time it should give some answers.

FRB: Indoor climbing. What's the rock gym scene
          like in Wyoming?

Davin: We have a good community here in Wyoming. The indoor scene covers the entire state. I have my little bouldering gym here in Laramie. There are gyms across the state. We have a long winter, so our gyms are nice. Our winter training is longer than our regular season, so plastic is prime here.

FRB: What's the competition scene like
          in Wyoming
?

Davin: The Wyoming Bouldering Series put on by 307 Bouldering is fantastic. They do an amazing job keeping the comps going here in the state. Check out their web page for info: 307bouldering.com. We also have the Friday Night Bouldering Series here in Laramie through the University. It is a good comp scene filled with talent. Colorado should some up and try it.

FRB: You mentioned in an email that during
           your early days in your climbing that you
           had a sense of needing to climb cracks
           and forgo bouldering because of the
           Old Guard dominance of the Wyoming
           climbing scene.
           Can you elucidate on the subject?

Davin: Wyoming is full of old guys that tell every body what to do. Or what they think they should do. Since the late 1980's the scene in Wyoming stagnated. It stunk here. For a very long time the idea in trad areas in Wyoming was old. Grades and possibility stagnated because we were told that things didn't really get harder. Bouldering was not really included because it lacked the commitment of roping up. It was an old way of thinking.

I was ridiculed when I started bouldering in Wyoming. Even close friends of mine asked what my problem was. Bouldering felt natural to me, so thankfully I kept going. The old guard here did not boulder and they left thousands of boulders for the next generation to have. Wyoming's potential is bouldering so we are now taking advantage of it. Driving up to Vedauwoo back in my college days, with the entire area virgin was amazing. We crushed the place! In ten years we went from maybe 50 problems in the Laramie area, maybe 400 or 500 in the entire state to thousands of them. I couldn't even guess how many problems we have. I have 2000 my self and many other people develop here, so it is fantastic.

Sadly the old guard is still resisting in places. Some have embraced the new, but many have not. It is their loss and it is a huge loss.

FRB: What is life like in Wyoming?
          What are some of the best party towns
          in Wyoming?

Davin: Life in Wyoming is the same as the rest of rural America. We have cell phones, we watch You Tube, and face book even works on our computers. I think there is an idea of the old west that is still alive here. It is over exaggerated by outside folk, but it is still here. Laramie is a college town so culture and drinking go hand in hand. The night life is typical of a college town. Go out and get some! Small town Wyoming is amazing and still the west. I lived in one, Dubois, and it was great. People rode horses down the street, they carry guns, and drank a whole hell of a lot. If you climb here support those little towns. Stop at a Cafe, buy a drink at the bar, or just ask directions. Wyoming is a state of very friendly people and they will be happy to help.

FRB: What are some of the best, cool
          small towns with climbing near by?

Davin: There are many, but my favorite two are Saratoga and Dubois. Saratoga is a small town with local flavor. All who live there fish and hunt, as it is one of America's prime sporting towns. They have free hot springs, so the end of a long climbing day is amazing. get in and prune the tips, talk with the locals about life. It is prime!
Dubois is smaller and far more back woods than the others. It is the west! 'Go west young man.' Go west and have a stop in Dubois. You'll need to hold your liquor, but you'll have all kinds of new friends by the end of the night.

FRB: Ask yourself some questions here.

Davin: Don't really have any of my own questions, but wanted to say that I am thankful every day for having the opportunity I have. The people I climb with are invaluable and the entire Wyoming crew is fantastic. The motivation is always on high.

I am Thankful of my sponsors Metolius, Five Ten, Organic Pads and Patagonia. They give me confidence every time I climb. I feel like I have to earn it every day. My wife Marla Mae is super fantastic, amazing. Can't believe I found her!

FRB: Thanks for the interview, Davin.

Davin: Thank you Mike for this chance to share a bit of Wyoming.

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