Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Southerly Way - Horse Pens Days 1 and 2

After a slight detour at Rocktown and an eventful drive across the border we made it to HP40. I honestly think my favorite part about HP trips is the first time you drive in and park in the upper lot. Something about it is just too cool. Its got an almost serene feel.

Later that night RV and I took a quick walk through the soaked field of boulders. Rain had been coming down hard for the past couple of days and it showed. Everything was soaked.

While we were walking around by Cadillac Thrills I took a wrong turn and stepped into a puddle. Obviously I thought that the easiest way to get past said puddle was by only going deeper into it and not stopping and turning around. I was wrong. RV was smart and stayed behind when I squealed.

Turns out there was some minor flooding that we couldn't quite see in the dark. We made our way back to the car where I put on dry socks and shoved my shoes under the car where they might dry out.

The offending puddle

A nice little pond under Inspect Her Gadget

The next morning I woke up like an excited kid and ran around the park taking pictures. It was incredibly fun to be the only one in the park at the time and it was nice to walk around in relative solitude.

Pretty soon Katie and RV were up and walking around. Temps were not ideal. Everything started out in the low 30's but there was a nice wind to dry everything off.

We layed out RV's brand new Organic Big Pad and tried to warm up through a light, blowing snow. The temp was hovering right around freezing which made warming up somewhat of a chore. All the while our pads were getting wet from the consistent snow. Fun, right?

I like the colors...Good choice

We drove how long to get out of the snow??

After a few minutes we hiked our stuff over to the classic, Bum Boy. This was one of RV's main goals for the trip and he just wanted to get up it.

4 years prior on my first trip to HP I hadn't put much thought into the idea of doing Bum Boy. It definitely wasn't a goal of mine but figured it'd be fun to do. Steve Day had worked it for a couple hours when I finally met up with him late in the day. I quickly stole some beta and did it second or third go. Steve did it right after me, just a little pissed. I've made a point of doing the problem on each subsequent trip.

Back to reality and RV and Katie had both put a solid 20 minutes into the problem before they told me they wanted beta. It took me a couple tries to remember my weird cross through undercling beta, but once I did all was well in the world and I slapped that wonderful top sloper once more.

RV on Bum Boy

Yup, that's my wife and my best man

Trying to take things a bit more serious

Invalid Beta

Katie trying to find the elusive "Butt-Bar"

Pretty soon both of them were happy to move on without a send and we walked around the corner to Genesis. This was the first problem established at HP and I can't believe I hadn't done it until this trip. It might be my favorite at HP. Very fun problem, in my mind. While RV and I were messing around on that Katie did the problem to the left of it very quickly and RV and myself followed suit right after.

On RV's first go he messed up the beta a bit and I deftly mentioned that I'd flashed it, so he'd better not screw it up. He promptly started laughing at the absurdity of the position he'd gotten himself in and fell off. He did it next go.

After running a couple laps on those we moved over to Ghetto Superstar and Mulletino. I tried out the first couple of moves on Ghetto and was pleased that they were easier than I'd remembered. My soft skin didn't last too long on the somewhat sharp crimps so I stopped before any real damage had been done. RV made some good, quick progress on the line but had to stop after a heinous dry fire.

I'd done Mulletino on my first trip and enjoyed the long, dynamic moves. I wasn't totally sure how Katie would fare on them. Yet again, she proved me very wrong and figured out some pretty fantastic beta to get out to the rail. After a few tries though she was having some troubles matching the rail as she was at 100% extension. Pretty soon though cold and hunger reigned supreme and we went back to the car to warm up a little.

After the break Katie decided to stay in the car and attempt to warm up her toes a bit while RV and I went back into the middle of the field to do an easy circuit on many of the cool sloper moderates.

We started off by warming up back on Bum Boy. I did a quick lap and once more I had to force RV into trying my beta. A couple goes later he sent and came down with a big smile on his face. I was very glad he could finish up one of his trip goals. While it isn't a brutally hard problem, it epitomizes the slopey style of climbing at Horse Pens and is a coveted send regardless of whatever grade it is.

I figure that in the next couple of years they're just going to downgrade Bum Boy to V0 and end the stupid debate once and for all.

RV and I kept moving around the field from one short sloper problem to another. I personally enjoyed how many problems we fell off of multiple times. Note that we didn't get on anything harder than V3 the entire afternoon. We both had a blast and before we knew it the light had dripped away and we were climbing in the dark.

We made light of the fact that the only person in the boulders that didn't have a headlamp with him was the Petzl rep. Brilliant.

We started out day two with similarly freezing temps and light snow. We made our first stop to the Ten Pins boulders and made a vain attempt at warming up. Well, Katie and I did. RV ran around in his climbing shoes and socks hoping a miracle would happen.

It didn't. It was still cold.

After a failed attempt at climbing the problem Thugs N Bitches, RV and Katie started trying a V7 traverse that I don't know the name of. It culminated in one very long move off of mediocre edges. Both of them were stymied, although each one came agonizingly close to reaching the juggy slot.

I took the time to play with my camera a bit and in the process got completely cold again. Fantastic.

All the while, in the background of us climbing, there was possibly the smallest HP 40 comp ever. At most they had 30 people in it. The two lone climbers in Advanced were climbing near us and it was entertaining to watch their cat and mouse game. One of them did Thugs N Bitches with a bit of a momentum hop and the other promptly did Hug N Kisses. Then one of them ran down to Ghetto Superstar and the other followed closely, gathering his things and chasing after. Later in the day I saw much of the same. Fun to watch.

So close!!!

Katie getting the first of many gobies on the traverse

Pretty soon Katie started to set her sights on Hammerhead. We pulled the pads over while RV tried Thugs N Bitches some more. When we got there someone stopped us and asked if we were Katie and Steve. Turns out he climbed up at Vertical Endeavors and remembered us from when we helped them forerun their comp! After Anthony said that we recognized him and talked for a bit. It was great to see him and his buddy and a very cool coincidence.

Katie tried Hammerhead a couple times but was having a hard time committing to the painful move in the middle with the cold really setting in. A couple other people came up and one kid came really close to flashing it but got his hands messed up before the topout.

Katie on the first moves of Hammerhead

I gleaned as much beta as I could from both of them and then promptly flashed it. By the time I hit the topout holds my hands had been numb for a minute or so already and the extra time up there was spent wondering if I could just drop off and try it again. I decided that I wanted nothing to do with the pebbly holds anymore and rolled over the top.

The overly friendly local standing on the topout telling me mid mantle, in a HEAVY southern drawl, that "Even experienced climbers have trouble with this mounting." didn't seem to help things.

As soon as I hit the steps on the way down blood starting rushing back into my hands and I wanted to puke. Katie was nice enough to take my shoes off for me as I lay on the ground whining. It hurt so bad.

I was very happy to have flashed it as I'd sort of saved it for a number of years. It's always nice when that works out.

Once again, we warmed up inside and Katie went back to the car to try and really warm up. RV had his sights set on a tough one move V7 and wanted to try it out. I told him I'd come along and take pictures.

Re-warming up in the cold afternoon

He warmed up on a cool mantle nearby and then got to work. The problem came down to locking off really hard on a mediocre sloping crimp and hitting a good sloper at the lip. After a number of efforts he decided to stop for fear of bleeding. He'd gotten close but was having a hard time getting the right distance.

Still feeling optimistic...

Feeling good...


What the top could have looked like

After vowing to come back tomorrow we moved just down the corridor to Slush Puppy, one of my all time favorite problems anywhere. It follows a couple of crimps to a big reach into a good gaston. One of the best.

RV's skin was getting thin but I kept on egging him on. The whole time you could tell he was tired but I wanted pictures dammit! I got a couple of good ones and told him to hold off until the next day. He happily obliged and we went back to camp.

On Slush Puppy

Looking oh so rad

Day 3 radness shows up tomorrow...what will it bring???


  1. Sweet!!! Nice pics! ce

  2. it better bring..... MORE PHOTOS!

  3. Steve did you tell him, "I have no trouble with my mounting, just ask Katie."? ce