Sunday, August 28, 2011

Black Mt: Return of the Axelrads, Lightning and Hail

Saturday, Eden and Itai Axelrad, Marina Campana, and I headed up to Black Mt for what was forecast to be a day of record heat. Because it was the twins' last opportunity to climb at Black before heading back to their respective universities, we decided to brave the heat and see if we could at least squeeze an evening session in.

As it turned out, the 20% chance of showers turned into a serious thunderstorm that sent us running from the Future Wall, home of Hop Scotch, to a big roof up the hill that protected us from the hail and battering rain. At one point a lightning strike was so close that enormously loud thunder shook the mountain at the same moment that we saw the bolt, and we all felt the electricity in the air. Luckily the worst of it passed somewhat quickly and after an hour there was a cool breeze drying off the boulders and pushing the storm across the valley to Big Bear.

The view from the Future Wall as the storm passes overhead. Itai Axelrad photo
The storm heading to Big Bear. Itai Axelrad photo


After the breeze dried Hop Scotch off enough, we continued to session it. Eden sent after a few tries to learn the crux deadpoint, and I repeatedly failed to keep my right foot on for the big deadpoint. Videos below of Eden's send, and one of my attempts.

We then went up to the Tour de France wall for Marina to try her proj, the stand to Tour de France. Eden gave the sit start to Tour a few tries, then he, Itai and I worked the amazing arete to the left. Not sure if that one has been topped out direct or not, but it is possible and inspiring. 

Marina making good progress on Tour de France stand

Moments before falling. She'll get it next time for sure.
Attempts on the arete left of Tour de France

Itai snagging the edge way up the arete

Eden exploring options to get over the bulge

Still a project ...
From TdF, we headed over to Itai's recent addition, Captain America (v9), which I naively thought I had in the bag, when I found myself eyeing up the jug on my first try. Unfortunately, I couldn't replicate the same sensation of weightlessness off of the heelhook on my subsequent attempts, but at least Eden was able to send after a few goes. Those twins are just so damn strong! 

All in all it was a perfect day. The thunderstorm provided a sense of adventure, and the beauty of the setting and the movement speak for themselves. I'm sure Eden and Itai would agree that it was a great way to spend their last weekend before heading back to college, and with Marina and I both gunning for projects on this corner of the mountain,  we'll be back soon I'm sure.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Challenging Charleston Choss

Friday afternoon I left work and hit the road for Vegas. I had a few errands to attend to, such as smogging and renewing the registration on my brother's car that he so graciously lets me borrow while he is living in Japan (thanks Dave), so I made plans also to hook up with my friend Max Moore (Blochead) and check out the bouldering cave that Craig Berman and he were developing up on Mt. Charleston last year. 

Max and Craig at the Charleston cave.

The cave has been described by some as choss, and as conglomerate limestone that is true by definition, but Craig and Max's efforts last year paid off and the roof has really cleaned up. With three obvious starts and 3 or 4 potential finishes, the cave provides a high concentration of hard bouldering at close to 9000 feet elevation. How can anyone complain about that?
Max, Liberty, and I went up Saturday afternoon and ended up meeting up with Craig for a few hour session.

Max Moore warming up by climbing the finishing sequence of Goin' Postal (v10)

While I sussed beta for the three v9s that all start in the same place, Side Burn, Landing Strip, and Happy Trail, which finish going left, straight up, and right respectively, Craig and and Max worked out beta for a new hard line starting left in the cave and finishing on the right pocket exit, Happy Trail, which will probably land in the 10 to 11 point range. The complex sequence involves a heel-toe cam against your own shin, followed by a wild foot cut.

Craig trying his new project

Max on the same

Because I came so close to sending the trifecta of Side Burn, Landing Strip, and Happy Trail on Saturday, I felt compelled to return Sunday to send all three. Luckily for me, my awesome mom (who turned 60 this year and is still on Ski Patrol! Go mom!) wanted to go for a hike up on the mountain on Sunday anyway, so it took no convincing to get her to follow me to the Craigslist Cave and watch me try to put a couple of problems to rest. (note, the cave doesn't have a proper name yet. many  have been suggested, but I think that Craig's List or the Craigslist Cave are only fair, since Craig Berman did do the majority of the developing himself.)

Luckily, the 9000 ft altitude proved to effect me less the second day, and I was able to pull out sends of Landing Strip and Side Burn first try each, and I fell literally matching the lip to top out Happy Trail. I suspect (hope) I'll send it next time I'm there, between attempts on any of the other difficult lines in the cave. At the end of the day I also managed to pull a flash of Flat Spin (v8) out of my ass. Needless to say, with such a high concentration of hard boulders and a 30 to 40 minute hike up to roughly 9000 feet, the cave is a GRRREAT place to get in shape and enjoy the mountains.

Crossing under to then unwind on the 4th move of the v9 triple threat start (the middle start in the cave)

A quick shake out before the redpoint crux(es)

Sending Landing Strip, the middle exit and most direct line in the cave

The crossover left to send Side Burn

Aaand the setup for the crux lunge on Happy Trail, the one that got away.

Hiking further still up the trail from the bouldering cave, you get a great view of the Mt. Charleston peak. and the limestone walls of Mummy Mountain. Having practically grown up skiing and climbing on this mountain, it was a great place to spend the weekend climbing new (to me) boulder problems. If you're in the Vegas area and you're not afraid of the choss factor (foot holds that haven't been used can still break), I wholeheartedly recommend checking out the Craigslist Cave and its abundance of hard problems. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hard Starts

For lack of anything to share recently, here is a picture of Ofer Blutrich on "Hard Starts," 5.13c, in Gita, Israel.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Blochead's 5k Miles Part 2

Well I was doing pretty well there with the weekly bouldering updates, but I didn't get outside two weekends ago due to rain up at the Tramway and Black on Sunday, then this past weekend was the boulder set at Rockreation, which I had/wanted to participate in, and this coming weekend I probably won't be getting out either .. sooo in lieu of any cool content from me, check out my buddy Max and his girlfriend Liberty's videos of bouldering on just more beautiful California Granite by clicking here.
They feature some rad looking lines in the Tahoe area and Tuolomne. Looks to me like they'll be ready for the "get your ass handed to you" nature of Black Mt's technical granite bouldering by the time they make it out to meet us there for a session.

In other news, wtf is going on in London? Hackney, the neighborhood where our flat is, that Maya is scheduled to return to next week, has seen its fair share of the recent madness: