Sunday, November 29, 2009


Friday, November 20, 2009

Echo choss

I figure I better post about last week's climbing before this week's happens or I will never get around to it. Despite my rallying cry that we take advantage of our few weeks left of Black Mt before they close the gate, I went with some of the LA crew to Echo Cliffs on Sunday instead. Echo is SoCal's volcanic breccia (often referred to as choss) mecca. Aside from the cliffs' chossy nature, the climbing at Echo is generally quite fun and most routes have been climbed and/or glued into a more solid state. As an added bonus, Echo holds the largest concentration of sport climbs in the greater LA area, including a few very hard ones.

Jeff got his first sport climb and first lead simultaneously in the morning. Needless to say he was psyched.

Jeff Blum crushing 5.9

Later we headed to the Kamikaze Cave, which holds all the particularly steep (and most of the hard) climbing at Echo Cliffs. I fell off the top of a 4-bolt 13a called "The Gimp" three times in a row, and Steve sent on his last attempt of the day. I actually would not mind going back and sending some of the lines in the cave, which have fun, gymnastic climbing on good holds.

Sean from Ventura aaaalmost sending "Crash and Burn" (12d).

Although it was a short day and I didn't send anything, it got me kind of psyched for route climbing again, which is a good thing, since that's what I'll be doing in Israel in Decembuary. The plan for tomorrow is Malibu Creek State Park, which has great short sport climbs on rock that is similar to Echo, but much cleaner. I used to climb there almost weekly with Michael Reardon, and haven't been back since his memorial in August of '07, so I kind of look forward to reacquainting myself with the area.

I'll leave you with this beautiful view from the Kamikaze Cave at Echo Cliffs.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

OK Corral

Yesterday seemed to be a high gravity day at Black Mountain, at least for Cory French, Jon the Brit, and myself. Maybe the McIntosh/Savage/Moore et al crew fared better, but the three of us who remained at the general OK Corral area for the day got legitimately spanked.

First after warming up we headed down to Morphic Resonance, a very tall and hard pure line a little down the hill from the main OK area. Cory, who had been very close on a previous visit failed to send the beast on this day as well, and I failed to even reach the third move.

I did have the privilege of sending this beautiful V3 to the right of Morphic, however. Bad sunspot photo courtesy of Jon.

After hiking back up to the OK Corral, we sessioned both Cosmos and OK Arete, which are actually just left and right variations of the same feature. All three of us failed to send either one, which is very strange, but I guess everyone has off days, even Cory French.

Jon on Cosmos

Cory on OK Arete

When we decided we'd had enough punishment, we hiked back up the hill a little ways to send train Gimme Some, another striking arete. Or at least that was our intention. Once again, none of us sent. After a few bad attempts, I surprised myself by getting through the majority of the problem and staring right at the thank god jug that indicates the end of the hard climbing, but right as I was firing for it my right foot popped and I found myself falling once again.

Jon, me, and Cory on Gimme Some.

In the end, although none of us sent anything harder than V4 yesterday, it was still a beautiful and fulfilling day in the outdoors with good friends. I've been sending a lot of cool and (for me) hard problems lately, so it's about time for some all out failure. I mean, we need the bad performance days to truly appreciate the good ones, right?


Only a few more weeks of Black before the Forest Service arbitrarily closes the gate. We'd better take full advantage.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

For those interested in seeing how it climbs, Alex Savage has posted a video of Beowulf at his site: Check out the sickness.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Today I finally sent Beowulf at the YMCA camp area of Black Mountain after three consecutive Sundays of work. After Anthony Tarascio's ascent a couple of days ago this makes mine the fifth, unless someone else snuck a send in there in the last two days, but I'm gonna venture to say that's not likely. Consensus grade seems to be V11, which I guess means it's the hardest thing I've bouldered, although when I actually sent it (third try today) it didn't feel super hard. I guess that's how redpointing works though. It is a power-endurance, or "resistance" as the Euros say, problem, with a pretty hard throw to a jug at move thirteen, followed by a topout on a very very tall, yet highly featured slab. If you are interested in hard problems in SoCal, Beowulf should most definitely be at the top of your list. I asked Maya's brother Alon if he wanted to lend me his fancy new video camera, but he did not, so you'll have to settle for a still photo of one of the cooler moves (which is also pictured several times in the last two posts.)

Afterward, I tried a heinous little sit start to a beautiful V2, then drove back to Boulder Basin, where I repeated Where Boneheads Dare (highball V5, but the crux is the second move) and attempted Buzz Saw, a V10 with some bad edges on the same boulder, which did not go down.

If anyone wants to go climbing anywhere next weekend, Black Mt, Malibu Creek, Boney Bluff or Echo, Horse Flats, Tram, literally anywhere in SoCal, I am SO down now that I am free of this project. PSYCHED.