Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fav of the Grade

OK. So delayed update yet again. I've been doing more of the same here in London, working from home, drawing a lot, painting a little, working on Broadway Market on Saturdays, climbing infrequently on plastic, and desperately trying to learn how to play the guitar. Maya is finishing a term in grad school, where she's writing computer programs that interact with each other and create conditions for architecture. Cool stuff!. Not much else to speak of though really. We're keeping busy.

This post is inspired by Max, by request really.
His post about the most memorable boulder problems he has done of any given grade made me start to think about my own favorite boulder problems and what the experiences of sending each one has meant. It may be a bit self-indulgent, but isn't blogging inherently? For lack of a better method coming to mind, I'll follow the same format as Max. If an abundance of the problems are in Hueco, it's probably a side affect of spending several winter breaks there throughout college.

Think I'm missing a problem? Write a comment! I want to do it!

V0: Melon Patch, Hueco Tanks, TX
It's true that you want to climb this problem over and over once you have done it. Tall, striking, and independent. Extra points for doing it in tennies.

Honorable Mention:
- Black Dyke, Squamish, BC
- Bawl and Chain, Hueco Tanks, TX

Another warm up lap on Bawl and Chain atop Hueco's North Mt
Susanica Tam photo

V1: Hershey's Symphony, Hueco Tanks, TX
Although it is hidden just around the corner from Diaphanous Sea, for some reason I missed this gem my first few years visiting Hueco, but somebody corrected that for me in February of 2010, and I'm damn glad they did. A beautiful, tall line on bullet hard iron rock, hidden in a corridor on North Mountain. This line is also tall enough that falling isn't an option. Full value!

Honorable Mentions:
- Cast Iron, Hueco Tanks, TX
- Heavenly Path, Bishop, CA

V2: Ghetto Simulator, Hueco Tanks, TX
This is the ultimate jug haul, up a long 45 degree wall. I remember first doing it at the end of a long day of really pushing myself on North Mountain and feeling totally relieved to actually finish. A must do.

Honorable Mentions:
- Nobody Here Gets Out Alive, Hueco Tanks, TX
- Monkey Bar, Red Rocks, NV

V3: Hepatitis C, Central Park, NYC
Probably more for the experience than the rock quality or the setting, this is the most memorable V3 I have climbed. Friends Matt Morrow, Garrett Koeppicus and I ran the send train on this boulder in Central Park's "Ramble" area near the New York Museum of Natural History in the fall of my Freshman year at Pratt. The overhanging face of surprisingly clean (read, not chossy) Manhattan schist juts out over a pit of mud, algae, and used hypodermic needles, but luckily the problem "only" climbs over a stone stairway. Don't fall!

Honorable Mentions:
- Rings of Uranus, Fountain Red, AR
- Sign of the Cross, Hueco Tanks, TX

V4: Fight or Flight, Hueco Tanks, TX
Now to be fair, most problems (regardless of grade) in the world could be argued by somebody to be "the best V4 on the planet." The same goes for the V4s in Hueco alone. For me, this one takes the cake because of its commitment factor and the independence of the line.

Artie catching some air and sticking the lip on Fight or Flight

Honorable Mentions:
- Standing on the Head of the Dragon, Tramway, CA
- Moonshine Roof, Hueco Tanks, TX

V5: Dragonfly, Hueco Tanks, TX
While the sit-start holds little appeal, the classic Dragonfly is not to be missed on a trip to Hueco. A jugrail traverse leading to a heelhook/dueling gaston move ... how do you beat that at the grade? This is a climb that one must do at least once during any trip to the Dragon's Den area.

Honorable Mentions:
- Where Boneheads Dare, Black Mountain, CA
- Viper, Squamish, BC

V6: Anorexic, The Priest Draw, AZ
Incut pockets, a horizontal roof, and a foot-leading exit. What's not to love about this problem? This was one of my first sends in the Flagstaff area, completed on a high school trip to Flag to compete in a JCCA comp. I've climbed it every trip to the Draw since then, and never tire of it.

An old shot of me finishing Anorexic
Susanica Tam photo

Honorable Mentions:
- See Spot Run, Hueco Tanks, TX
- Guns of Navarone, Hueco Tanks, TX
- The Buddha, The Gunks, NY

Josh Jurenik cruising Guns of Navarone

V7: Babyface, Hueco Tanks, TX
This is debatable for sure, but I'd still say Babyface is one of the most aesthetic problems in Hueco ... or anywhere for that matter. Incredibly photogenic and it really gives it to you for the grade. When Babyface feels easy, you know you're capable of easily sending double-digit problems.

James Morris slappin the Babyface

Honorable Mentions:
- Crash Dummy, Hueco Tanks, TX
- Ghost Dog, Black Mountain, CA

Anthony Tarascio hitting the jug on Ghost Dog

V8: Mantra, Squamish, BC
A pretty darn beautiful line, although it could stand to be slightly taller, with a big move and classic Squamish sloper compression. This send is particularly memorable because I was completely exhausted when I did it, worn down from three weeks of granite bouldering with essentially no rest. It was one of those "in the zone" moments. Maybe not the BEST climb I've done, but certainly one of the most memorable.

Honorable Mentions:
- El Pasitos, Hueco Tanks, TX
- The Peanut, Hueco Tanks, TX
- Soulsnatch, Black Mountain, CA

Drew snagging The Peanut, another hidden new-school classic on Hueco's North Mt.

Brett Goettdener giving it to himself on Soulsnatch

V9: Try Harder, Hueco Tanks, TX
For being right on the trail, this is an often overlooked and underrated problem. Perhaps this is because it is so damn hard! Honey-combed roof climbing and a powerful throw (or toe-first trickery) lead into the giant hueco of the aesthetic and uniquely featured V4 stand start. EVEN better than Choir Boys, in my humble opinion.

Myself exiting the roof of Try Harder

Honorable Mentions:
- Choir Boys, Hueco Tanks, TX
- Brass Knuckles, Ozarks, AR

V10: Full Service, Hueco Tanks, TX
Supposedly also the first boulder problem ever officially graded V10, Full Service is by far and away the best of the grade that I have ever had the pleasure to climb on, let alone send. The "J," "H," "loaf," and "football" holds are nice and soft on the hands thanks to years of traffic and "pof" abuse back in the day, and the movement is not just powerful, but unique. I worked this problem during two consecutive yearly visits to Hueco, unable to do most of the moves at first, and finally sending on New Years Day of 2009. This is the American standard for the grade and a lifetime must-do for any boulderer.

Sam Tingey on the sculpted holds of Full Service

Honorable Mentions
- Xavier's Roof, Bishop, CA
- The Receptionist, The Priest Draw, AZ

Xavier's Roof, Bishop, CA

V11: Beowulf, Black Mt, CA
Similarly to Max's statement about the V10 grade in his post, I don't feel like I have climbed enough V11s to properly weigh in here, but I feel more than confident in saying that Beowulf is one of the best problems that I have done of any grade, anywhere, so it wins the prize this time.
Beowulf starts sitting with a perfect in-cut hueco in a steep granite cave, climbing about 13 moves while steepening into a fully horizontal roof; then you have to do the hard move, a full-span throw to a jug at the lip, after which you are rewarded by a seemingly endless slab, probably no harder than 5.9.
Ian McIntosh and Alex Savage shared this line with me when it was still a project, witnessing Ian's first ascent that day. I was fortunate enough to witness the first, second, and third ascents, and through obsessively returning to this remote part of Black Mountain three weekends in a row, I was able to nab the 5th. Like Max's experience with Americana Exotica, this one was particularly memorable because when I finally sent, I was alone, with only just enough crashpads to keep the crux safe. After a couple of warm up burns on a sunny/windy day in the San Jacintos, I turned the commitment level up to 11 and managed to find my way on top of the boulder. One of those experiences that is truly personal and can't really be described in words, as much as I am trying to do just that.

Myself nabbing the lip of Beowulf

Ian McIntosh on the first ascent of Beowulf

Honorable Mentions:
- Diaphanous Sea, Hueco Tanks, TX
- Loaded Direct, Hueco Tanks, TX

I guess that's the end of this short post (LOL). Leave a comment if you have something to add or a problem to recommend!!