Friday, March 30, 2012

Anatomy Of A Landing

I've written previously about the process of putting up new boulders at the lake. Often times it takes much more than just walking up to a problem, chalking up some holds and going to town. The Smooth Operator roof has been the object of interest so far this spring. In all I've been up to the project three times now. Once with Nic last year, once a few weeks ago to recheck it and see if it was worthwhile, and then this past Wednesday to attempt to fix the landing.

Over the course of almost 4 hours Katie and I were able to turn an unclimbable, spike filled landing:

Into something that was surprisingly flat and kind of perfect:

There was definitely a moment when both of us thought that we were hosed. One unruly boulder was holding up the whole show and until that one moved there wasn't much else we could do. Then, thanks to an unexpectedly perfect use of the pry bar, the boulder moved into an ideal place and the rest of the landing slowly clicked into position.

I've never had a landing switch personalities so quickly, going from completely stubborn and terrible to moving almost at will in a matter of minutes.

As it stands, the landing is better than I could have imagined and it's ready to get some effort. Light was dwindling fast and we had to leave but hopefully we'll get to try it this weekend. It looks incredibly hard and I'm always torn working on things like this because it seems so far above my head at this point that I don't see climbing it myself anytime soon. I could be very wrong though.

Either way, we have a cool, hard project at the lake over a good landing on cool holds. I hope people go up and try this one.

It was also my birthday this past tuesday.

Katie got me a naked lady mug:

And a box o files:

And a birthday fritter:

And new badminton shoes:

Oh, and Katie found a really old beer can up by the project. Fun:

That's all I got. Nic is coming down and doing a Five Ten Demo at the gym tonight from 6-10 or so. You guys should come try on rock climbing shoes. You can win something from Organic if you try on a pair. They're doing a raffle. Do it!

Who all is getting out this weekend??? Think we're gonna head up on Sunday.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Loompa Land

Just a quickie update from a nice session yesterday. We met up with Anne and Vera and took them around Loompa Land/Empty Space. On the way in Dobbe and Aaron yelled down to us from up on top of some mini bluff on the West Bluff. They'd apparently found some stuff and were going to meet us a bit later.

It sounded like what they found was fairly cool and semi terrifying. I think Aaron described it as "spicy".

Eventually all of us warmed up on Empty Space and I was reminded of how nice of a little area that place is. Such a good find from last year and I'm stunned it hasn't gotten more traffic. Great little moderate area that's "fairly" easy to pad up. The problems are all fun and it's really easy to connect these boulders to Anchorpoint and Half Dome/Dumpster. You can actually see the half dome boulder from the top of the Duke/Dutchess boulder.

After warming up and playing around on something far too short to warrant any attention at all, we went to the other lines in the area. The ladies to Loompaland and Aaron, Dobbe and I up to The Duke and The Dutchess. Aaron and Dobbe quickly did the Dutchess with Dobbe also doing the Duke on his second or third try. Aaron and I gave it a few more goes than that before finally grabbing the jug at the lip but we were both able to clean that one up as well.

After that we all kinda parted ways, Katie and I heading over to The Hipster and Tunder Tighs.

Katie gave the Hipster a number of solid efforts and after working out a good sequence came incredibly close to finishing it, falling off the last strenuous move 3-4 times in a row. Eventually though the boulder problem won and Katie left empty handed and extremely pumped.

We took a quick look at Tunder to see if we could come up with a sequence for her (she can't span the big move over the lip). I think we were able to come up with a couple of options and I'm excited to see her attempt to work it out. We also noticed an undercling a few inches below the right hand start pinch. Looks like someone has been using it as a right hand start hold. Seems like it might be a less powerful option for the first move or two. Not sure I could use it as it'd make the bump move even bigger, but for those of you with some longer arms it may be something to look at!

On the injury front I'm now into my third injury of the year, having hurt my knee last week while I was hiking around. I went to the Doc last Monday and it seems that I strained my MCL but it doesn't look like I did any damage thankfully.

My 13th year of climbing has started out incredibly odd as I've picked up a new injury each of the first three months. In all I've ended up taking off just as much time this year as I've actually spent climbing. It's frustrating but if nothing else it's done a nice job of getting me into a bit more of a training mode than usual. I've been forced to maximize the time I've been able to be active and I can say it's been a learning experience.

After I hurt my hamstring I took a bit of time off but when I came back I couldn't use my left leg at all, afraid I'd hurt it worse. I learned more about momentum in those 2-3 weeks than I have the past few years. It's really incredible what moves you can do when you truly force yourself into doing things a certain way.

I might write more on that later this week if I get motivated.

Hope some other people were able to get out this weekend. It was oddly humid and the trees are already budding. Cannot describe how depressing that is. I hope we get a couple days of below freezing temps to kill all that off for a bit.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Public Enemy

With Katie still out of town in Bishop and Red Rocks I made a couple of solo trips to the lake this weekend. Both days were hot and smarmy and reminded me what it's like at the lake in Summer. In short, nothing of note happened. I know that Brian went up on Saturday, when I was too worked to make any reasonable effort other than chalking up the Smooth Roof Project. His day at Monolith sounded wet, hot, sweaty and unsuccessful.

Much like my Sunday was.

I started out on Public Enemy which I hadn't actually tried. Remo has reminded me a handful of times now that I should get on it at some point and so I hopped up the easy approach to check it out.

Two things.

1 - The roof is much steeper than it looks in pictures.

2 - It is also much closer to the ground than it looks in pictures. Runnells, this may not be your favorite line in the park.

Sadly it also bakes in the morning sun, just like Storm Troopers. I tried my best to get up there early but it didn't matter. I couldn't really figure out what my right hand was supposed to start on so instead I just tried the second half of the line. I was pleasantly surprised the the shoulder move out to the far left crimp wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be but the toe hook move is tricky!

After awhile I got lazy/bored and just started jumping from the right arete and the good left hand crimp just below it all the way out to the juggy left hand arete. Every time I'd get my left hand on the arete and then for some reason I'd put my feet on the pad. It was close enough that I could feel that it'd go in better temps and anyone that can jump at all could definitely do it.

Not sure if it effects difficulty as I haven't spent much time on the problem but it'll skip two moves if it goes like that. Should be interesting. The move is super fun and feels huge until you get used to the momentum.

After a sufficient amount of failing I moved on and brushed up the Crimp Toehook project. At first I was really excited. The line seemed cool, the lip hold was really cool and the undercling was kind of great. Then I pulled on and felt how sharp the left hand was and promptly packed up all my things and left, sweating profusely on my way down the talus.

Here are a couple pics of the smooth operator roof project and the crimp toe hook project.

Friday, March 16, 2012


It is with great pleasure that I get to announce that merely one month after our Birthday Challenge party I am finally at a point where I feel like I have our beer inventory under control. Earlier this afternoon I was able to take the last, lonely four pack of beer and put it into the chilling depths of our fridge.

Now that I'm no longer burdened with the stress of how much beer we have both inside, and outside of the fridge (at one point we had 40 bottles inside and 44 outside), I really feel like I can focus on dispatching the last 40 (yes....40) bottles of beer that now sit inside of our fridge.

Mind you, this is ignoring the half case of PBR tall boys that Aaron abandoned at our house. Those will end up at someone else's house.

You guys suck.

Remo, what'd you rock climb yesterday?? What's everyone rock climbing this weekend??? Katie getting to Vegas today so I'm flying solo. Who's climbing?????

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Good Night

Perfect Medium
Alpine Club
Venus Rising
Beautiful Soup

Last night was yet another good night at the lake. Feels great to say that again.

Met up with Sweaty and his buddy Keith late in the day at the CCC lot. Just before we went up the trail Paul and John K came by and let us know they had an ill fated hike to the reserve and that everything is currently soaked up there.

We got to Fat Pants first and I went up top to film a bit and as I moved around the corner Sweaty came motoring up and topped out. I figured he was trying the finish moves a little but nope, he fired it off first go from the start. Atta boy

After a bit of trying Keith was able to piece it together rather quickly and made a very strong effort. A few minutes later Chri$ showed up and after a short amount of time and some solid progress on refiguring out the moves, he sent without a whole lot of effort.

As we went down to pack up our stuff Chri$ stopped us and hilariously admitted that he had been the one that broke off the side pull crimp thing last fall. He said he couldn't admit it until he had finished the problem but that when it broke he was on a solo mission with a couple of pads but ended up flying off of the landing and rolled down the gully 30 feet below the problem. He said that after he stopped rolling around he actually started checking himself to make sure he wasn't paralyzed.

It sounded absolutely terrifying at the moment, but looking back it's downright hilarious.

After all that we went over to Bulbous to finish off the night. Aaron, Dobbe and Andrea were on their way up to join us so we were getting excited to have another nice crew.

There are a handful of problems that I first tried or saw in the fall of 2005. That list that you see up top is a list of problems that mean more to me than I'd like to admit. At the time they represented a level of climbing that I previously thought was unattainable so it's always an enjoyable experience to notch another one off the list. It's an experience that's tough to explain because with almost all of them I don't think I can do them until the moment I top out. It was that way with Perfect Medium and it was that way with Beautiful Soup. Even with Bulbous I didn't think it was possible until I linked into the crux for the first time last Saturday.

Up until Saturday I actually never thought that I would ever experience the full line.

And that's what made the moment in this picture so nice.

It's rare that I get to finish a 7 year project. It's even rarer that I get to finish one of the "2005" projects. To have it feel so casual made it that much sweeter. It was one of those rare, light moments where everything feels incredibly easy. The crux felt solid, the lip felt good and I even hung out on the lip for a little bit to chalk up. Maybe the best part was how perfect the topout and mantle felt. Last night was a damn good night.

Soon after I finished it up both Keith and Sweaty pulled through with very impressive, and quick sends of their own. Both of them used Runnells beta by using the high left hand pinch instead of the low that I used.

After them, Chri$, Aaron and Dobbe all came very close to sticking the crux but couldn't quite get it right. Bulbous truly is the boulder problem of the week. After only receiving one ascent since 2004, it's been done 5 times in as many days, with more on the horizon.

On the way down we made a pit stop at Rail Gun so Andrea could try it a few times. Even without a proper warmup she fell with her hand on the jug 3 times in heartbreakingly close fashion. She should go up very soon to finish that one. I'm sure with more time she'd do it easily.

So there you go. A random Wednesday night in the middle of March. 2 problems were sent. 4 different people did a boulder problem. 9 total people were up at the lake bouldering.

All of this happened 2 calendar days before Katie and I had our first day at the lake last year at Magnum PI, and 7 calendar days before Nic busted his shit and had to go to the hospital.

Good stuff.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekend Recap

So that was a nice little weekend. It's pretty rare that I get out three times in a weekend but the past few days just kinda worked out perfectly that way.

On Friday I went up to the big slanting talus field that I'd explored a few weeks back and messed around on a couple of things. Definitely would like a few more pads for some of the dicier landings but it seems like it has a bit of potential. The rock quality on the Twin boulders is astoundingly good and there should be a handful of potential new problems in the area. I did a cool slab that climbs up the left twin.

It was great being able to get out of town around 3:30 or so and still have enough light to have some fun and climb some rocks. I timed it perfectly and got to the railroad tracks just in time to hike out in the dark.

On Saturday I met up with Brian and we had a great, tiring day. We'll just ignore our ill fated warm up attempt at Rail Gun and start with Brian trying Fat Pants. Despite what you see in the video below, he did come extremely close to doing the problem and has said he wants to come back.

While we were over there I played around on Ivory Face for a bit and while it's very cool I don't think it's anything that I'd ever put an enormous amount of time into. That's not saying anything at all about it's quality, by the way. The holds are cool, the landing is good, it has an obvious start. It's just tough to excited about a 2-3 move dead vert crimping problem. I will say that the two left hand crimps were much better than I thought they'd be.

Brian did take some apparently cool pictures of me on it. Excited to see those at some point.

After Fat Pants we hiked over to Bulbous to give that one a whirl. Our first tries were ill fated and resulted in very little progress. Then Brian stepped up and figured out the toe hook beta that I think Ian also used when he did the line last summer. All of a sudden each of us had stuck the moves and the energy was totally different. I tried the topout once to make sure the mantle felt alright, which it did, and Brian made fun of me for trying to not be a punt.

Brian gave it one try from the start, made it to the end and fell off the mantle. After trying the mantle once he very quickly sent the problem next try. Unfortunately I could not follow suit and even though I had the bottom on lockdown I fell on the last move twice (anyone want to go up on Thursday afternoon?!? Around 3:30 or 4???). The last time left me completely gutted so we moved on to Sex and Chocolate where we finished up the day, failing once again.

On Sunday despite being as Brian put it "Wrecked" I made the quick trip back up and threw a rope on Greatest Show. In short, I was able to do the upper crux about 10 tries in. I used a smaller dimple for my right foot and it feels about the same difficulty.

And let's be honest, if the chubby kid with no core, wretched skin, a bum finger, a bum hamstring and a seeping right hueco can do it, so can you.

It was nice on Sunday to know that there were people at Anchorpoint and North Shore and it seems that there were more people spread around the park as well. I saw Nick's car as I drove in and Aaron, Andrea and Dobbe went up to Fat Pants. It's nice to see people getting out once again.

Brian and I spent a good portion of the day talking about just how drastically things have changed for Devil's Lake in just three years time. In 2009 at this time it would have been absolutely deserted as far as bouldering goes and the fact that it's changed so much, in part because of Mountain Project and this site is what I'm most proud of.

With temps getting up into the 70's this week it seems the spring season is now over and I'll do a spring recap later this week. It could very well look much like this post. HAH!

Here's a video I put together.

And here's one Runnells put together.