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. 


  1. Great photos! Thanks for having us over for dinner! Your mom is awesome.

  2. Agreed, your mom is so welcoming! Psyched to climb this weekend!