Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New (to us) boulders and the DMMFP -UPDATED

On Sunday I went up to Black Mt with Alex Hoffman, Marina Campana, and Eden and Itai Axelrad for another day of beautiful Pacific Crest granite pebble wrestling.

After the twins eventually sent Velvet Revolver, Alex sent the stand, and I failed to hold on to the upper hold from the sit yet again, we found a new cluster of boulders on top of the hill above the trail between Boulder Basin and Velvet. Our eyes caught a steep boulder up the hill covered in bright green and black lichen that looked like it could yield a difficult line. We brushed the features and chalked them up, and it will probably be something in the v12 or harder range, but only time will tell.

The start hold on the project

Eden and Itai puttin some chalk on those "holds"

Rather than waste too much skin trying this difficult project while none of us feel quite in shape yet, we decided to check out the rest of the boulders behind it and further up the hill. What we found was a cluster of beautiful moderates and a few potential hard projects. I've never heard of these boulders and they did not look as if they had ever seen any traffic, but it's Black Mt, so you can't really know. In honor of all of our growing obsession with Gloworms gummy candy, we jokingly began referring to the hill-top cluster as the gloworm boulders. (UPDATE: apparently the guidebook authors, Alan and Ian, have heard of this area, and although there appears to have never been traffic and holds broke on the V4 we ended up doing, they say that probably everything under V9 was done years ago)

Marina sending a beautiful V1

Eden in the middle of sending the V4 that we dubbed the Mystery Gloworm (will probably have a different, older name in the guide)

Myself pulling the cool (and a little harder than it looks) heelhook cross to a hueco on this bulletproof and enjoyable moderate (v1?)

Itai running up the topout of the same.

After sending the three most obvious lines on the same boulder, we headed back over to the main Boulder Basin area to throw down a few attempts on the recently opened (by Ian McIntosh) and more recently named DMMFP (Dan Mills Memorial Face Problem). Excellent name if you ask me. This problem is the Midnight Lightning of Black Mt in my opinion and I hope to send it in the next few weeks.

Eden trying the DMMFP (v9/10?), Marina Campana photo

Myself on the DMMFP, Alex Hoffman photos (above and below)

DMMFP fail, Marina Campana photo

We'll be heading back up this Saturday, so check back Sunday or Monday for more photos of beautiful SoCal granite.

Monday, June 20, 2011

More Black

In case it wasn't made obvious by my posts over the last couple of years, Black Mountain has become far and away my favorite Southern California bouldering destination. I'll let the photos below tell most of the story of the weekend, and it shouldn't be hard to see why I love the place. We connected with Ryan Kim, Anthony Tarascio and a crew from OC/SD on Saturday evening and climbed with them all of Sunday. These guys are way strong and full of psyche, so it's always a pleasure to climb with them. Brett pulled off an impressive send of Megalomania on Sunday and a rad onsight of Way Too High on Saturday. For the second weekend in a row I got my ass handed to me, but I just keep reminding myself that I'm in training mode and that hopefully it will all pay off and in a few more weeks maybe I can send a boulder or two.

Brett Gottdener, way off the deck on Way too High

Brett taking yet another lap on Where Boneheads Dare

Mike trying hard on Velvet Revolver

Can't really argue against this sunset

Sunday morning and Anthony is psyched about his omelette.

Brett Gottdener sending Moon Drops (v6)

Anthony Tarascio repeating Megalomania (stout v8)

Brett topping out Megalomania

Anthony on Man is the Bastard. Going ...

Going ...

... and gone. Maybe next time.

As always, I can't wait till next weekend. Until then, the training continues.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Black Mt Weekend

This Friday, Brett, our new friend Jenn, and I drove up to Black Mt for a weekend of camping and bouldering on some of the finest granite around. We got up there just in time to pitch our tents in the dark and enjoyed a few beers around the fire while making plans for the next couple of days.
Saturday morning we discovered an amazing slab right in our camp site (group site 3) to start the early morning warm up at around 8 am. From here we headed to the boulders at sites 4/5 so that Brett could finally send the beautiful egg-shaped Soulsnatch (v8), which I managed to un-send in the one attempt I took on it.

Brett Gottdener warming up near group site 5

Myself, two moves from the ego-crushing un-send on Soulsnatch.

The view from site 5

From there we headed down to the YMCA camp area, despite the fact that its lower elevation ought to have made it a little bit warmer, a nice steady breeze kept the temps nice and cool. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to make us send. I managed to un-send both Ghost Dog (7 points) and Beowulf (11 points) and Brett will have to return another day for both of those sends too. This cluster of boulders, although remote, is very much worth the approach, even if you end up hiking out empty-handed.

Brett Gottdener on the opening moves of Beowulf

We were pretty toast by the end of this session, so while we intended to explore the hillside of boulders around the group camp sites, we ended up passing out for a nap on our crashpads back at camp before dinner.

Sunday we took a much more leisurely start and took a pretty relaxed approach to the day. We warmed up slowly at Boulder Basin and ran into the whole Ian, Bridget, Alan, Anthony T, et al crew that I so often bump into up there. A bunch of us headed over to Velvet Revolver, which Brett sent the sit start to 2nd try (v8) with an impressive near-flash. I managed to fall off the top of the sit a couple of times for good measure before deciding to return another day. Apparently getting back into shape after a long break from climbing takes more than just two weeks. Who'da thought?

After Velvet Revolver, we tried a great new problem that Ian just got the first ascent of on Saturday. A new school classic nestled amongst decades old testpieces, it's amazing and so typical of Black. We didn't send, but we're totally coming back for it. It's such an aesthetic line. Not sure what Ian is going to name it yet, but he suggested approximately 9 v points. After Brett completed a cool down lap on the mega classic Where Bonehead Dare (v5) we packed it in and called it a day.

All in all it was an amazing weekend, full of hard pulling on beautiful rocks. Props to Brett for crushing as hard as he did on day two. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks I'll be able to actually polish off a few new sends of my own. As always, I'm full of psyche and looking forward to the next trip. So let's rally and get a crew from LA down there next weekend!

Brett tackling Ian's new line at Boulder Basin

Brett styling his way up a lap on Where Boneheads Dare