Red Canyon on the road to the Iris. Photo by D. Al...
Wild Iris is one of the most beautiful sport climbing areas in the U.S. It's hard to beat a warm summer day spent climbing the white limestone pockets of Wild Iris. And to top it off, you'll belay comfortably beneath a peaceful canopy of aspen trees. Sublime.
The climbs are mostly short, and occasionally sharp, but the climbing and experience is more than enough to compensate for these minor drawbacks. There are plenty of routes from 5.9 on up to 5.14, so most climbers will find more than enough to stay busy.
Wild Iris is located at Limestone Mountain at an elevation of 9,000 feet. The climbing season begins when the snow melts (early June) and can last into Fall. The high altitude makes summer climbing pleasant, but be aware that the weather can change at any moment - wind and cold storms are common all summer. Many of the climbs face south, so also be prepared for warm temps! Remember this is Wyoming - land of the extremes!
A number of primitive spots are available for camping, and an outhouse is located just up from the main parking lot. Closest supplies are located in Lander.
The Lander Bar comes highly recommended for food and drink - it's a climbing tradition!
Wild Iris is located 24 miles southwest of Lander on Highway 28. Turn off the highway on Limestone Road and head up the dirt road. Head right at the first intersection and that will take you to the main parking lot. If you cross over South Pass (when coming from Lander) you've gone too far!
Wild Iris Climbing - Good information about Lander climbing, including condition reports for Wild Iris
Begin with good pockets on fantastic vertical to slabby 5.11c 'ish face climbing to a stance below the obvious roof. Big moves on mostly good holds leads out the roof to a hard to see jug at the anchors. Falling while going for the anchors (crux) leads to a great, bowel churning free air fall. ...[more]Browse More Classics in WY
Some bolts have been cut at Cowboy Poetry wall, but whoever cut them left the first bolt in place. I don't completely understand the intent of the bolt cutter, but I'm not a local. Sometimes the bolts really blend into the rock and are hard to see. This may be common sense, but make sure you can see the bolts and the anchors before starting any routes.
This year marks the 20th International Climbers' Festival, and the celebration is going to be big. We have recruited a huge line up of presenters (Tommy Caldwell, Henry Barber, Emily Harrington, Timmy O'Neil, Expedition Denali's Erica Wynn, and Cedar Wright). Our clinic schedule features top athletes like Jonathan Siegrist, Audrey Sniezek, Eric Horst, Nick Duttle and many more! Though, the biggest anticipation of all is debut of the HIstory of Lander Climbing Documentary at the festival.
We took our first trip here in July 2013 on the recommendation of the Wild Iris climbing shop in Lander.
Hands down, this crag features the most gorgeous free car camping I have enjoyed anywhere. Check out the sites on the right side once you drive down the gnarly camping access road below the main pit toilet.
As for the climbing, relative to the tufa-filled Thailand limestone I have enjoyed before, the white limestone of Wild Iris was much more technical and generally kicked my butt.
If you like short, steep sport climbs with hand holds that are 80%+ pockets of some kind with mostly Smith Rock-style thin edges for feet, you will adore this place. If that's not your style, you'll probably hate it (at least at first). In short, it seemed like a polarizing place.
The "Main Wall" is definitely the place to be if the weather allows you to be in the South-facing aspect all day. A long, continuous section of walls there may challenge your route ID skills (as it did ours even given the "Lander Rock Climbs" guidebook), but will offer endless route days for for 5.10+ sport climber.
If you are a regular climber at Wild Iris, Sinks Canyon, or any of the other areas around Lander, and you are also on facebook, please go to the Fremont County Climbers Coalition on fb. Either be a friend or "like" us. That is where you will get posting on the ups and downs of climbing in the Lander area... anything from access issues to grizzly bear sightings. The more people we have come to the site, the better we can get the word out to the climbing community. https://www.facebook.com/fremontcountyclimberscoalition