Monday, September 26, 2011

Some Highballs and Progress

Sunday was another day trip to Black Mountain with Brett and Marina, and what an inspiring day it was. The temps are starting to get really good, and the gate that allows access to the upper parts of the mountain is still open until the first big snow, so I recommend everyone getting up there as much as possible now that the season is in full effect!
We warmed up slowly and after laps on the usual suspects, Brett and Marina convinced me to head over to Big Greenie to put my granite slab nemesis to rest.

Brett out for a lap on the old school V2 classic, Pink Crack

No Big Greenie isn't super hard as far as numbers go. I've heard V1, 2, and 3, but most would probably stick with the old school V1. It's probably comparable to Joshua Tree 5.11 slab, if that means anything to you. While the crux is actually a weird smeary mantle at the very bottom, the mental crux is high, just below the lip, at approximately 20 feet off the ground.  You get to a point where you have to really commit to one right foot smear and stand up on it, and I've always gotten to there, said forget this, and climbed back down the slab. I've downclimbed from that high crux 5 times now!
Luckily, Brett ran a lap up the Greenie and inspired me to go for it! After downclimbing to the ground once, I decided to commit, knowing that the pads were good and that Brett would be able to keep me from getting hurt, in the unlikely event of a fall from high up on the slab.

Initiating the first crux mantle. All pics by Marina Campana

Chilling in the middle of Big Greenie

As I said, this high crux is purely the mental crux, and as soon as I actually committed to the foot and realized that I can 100% trust my amazing Evolv rubber and my new Kaos IIs, I rocked my hip over to the right, stood up on the foot and grabbed the top of the boulder! Maybe it's not a high number, but finally sending Big Greenie was a real mental milestone for me.

The "Oh, I can just stand up on this!" moment

Who looks more excited, Brett or me?
High from the send of the infamous Greenie, we moved not too far over to Ian's addition from earlier this summer, the DMMFP. This line climbs pretty much the exact opposite angle of Greenie. It's overhung and the holds are thin. After a few refresher attempts, I found myself flying out to the arete and actually hitting the hold (not pictured below). After hitting the arete, it's a matter of holding the swing, heel-hooking for a second, and bumping your hand to the juggy lip. It felt great to actually get my full palm around the arete, which on previous attempts I had merely felt "close" to hitting. Here are a few pics of various attempts.

In the middle of the move to the mini edge. Again all pics by Marina

Yes, that hold his small and sharp.

Toe-hooking to grab the miserable pinch.

The setup for the jump to the arete.

Mid-lunge, check out that war face.

A little below the good part on this attempt

From here we ducked just to the right around the corner. There is a super hard looking face that Alan Moore once told me Chris Lindner put up years back that is probably V11ish, on the boulder to the right of the DMMFP. We looked at its thin holds and bad landing (there's a rock right under what looks like the crux) and debated whether or not we should even try it.
Then we looked to our immediate left and saw a line we thought we could actually do, that was even slightly taller.  The line starts on a big horn sticking out of the right arete, pulls some bad flat edges before going left into slightly better incuts, and then straight up the face, to the right of the tree in the photo below. I didn't have the camera out for Brett's send or mine, but you can see the size in this picture. It climbs perfect patina and tops out on jugs over the top of the cap rock resting on top. It felt V6-ish, with the crux being the first few moves. Once you're in the danger zone the climbing backs off to 5.11 and then probably even 5.10 up at the very top. Luckily for me, Brett got really psyched, shoed up, and after a few tries to get through the lower crux, topped out way overhead. I put my shoes on next and after a couple of tries to figure out the second move, climbed all the way to the top as well. This was a super exhilarating send, and one that we highly recommend for the highball connoisseur. If you climb at Black Mountain long enough, you are bound to become one yourself. Anybody that knows the name of this climb and its given grade, please feel free to post in the comments! Anthony Tarascio has informed me that the line is called Caviar Face and was graded roughly V5 or 6. Thanks Anthony, what a line!

The crowd looking up at the unknown line Caviar Face, a minute or so after my send. Brett, who is well over 6 foot, is standing on a small pad on top of a rock at the base. Caleb is about to try the problem and is standing on two pads worth of foam. 
From this point it was time to head over to Tour de France so Marina and Brett could give good burns in the excellent afternoon temps.
Brett came SUPER DUPER close to sending this time, linking from the sit into the stand and falling hitting the jug! He then did the stand to jog his memory, so he's made overlapping linkage. Brett doesn't seem too concerned about the fact that it will be his hardest send to date, but the rest of us are super pumped for him! SEND IT DUDE!!

The crux of TdF again ... in case you haven't seen this exact shot on this blog a ton of times already.

On one of his best attempts, just before falling out of the jug!
Unfortunately, Marina was feeling a little under the weather and didn't surpass her previous highpoint, but she's making the first few moves of the stand look like cake now.

Brett and Marina convinced me that sunset at the Future Wall and the sticky temps would get me to finally send Hop Scotch, so we headed down as it was about to get dark.
While they were unfortunately off about me sending, I came super close. Like closer than ever close. I finally stuck the crux deadpoint for a moment and swung out on the hold before falling! Ahh!! Next time hopefully!
At least the lighting was perfect for the sickphotos.

Another  failed attempt on "Hop Scotch" on the Future Wall. .

The light was actually getting too low at this point, but here is the shot of me finally sticking the hold for a second.

As all days at Black seem to be, it was another exceedingly inspiring one, and with the fall temps starting to kick in, it seems like it is only going to continue to get better up there. Unfortunately, we didn't meet up with Anthony Tarascio this time, because he was off on another hill working the low start to an FA he got last week, so hopefully I can report back later that he sent that, which unfortunately he didn't send this time, but I have faith he will soon.
Stay psyched everyone and maybe we'll see you out at Black Mountain one of these days!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Progress, Sends, and New Projects at Black Mt.

It was another great weekend at Black Mt. Friends were meeting up there from all over, and we were all ready for a mega couple of days of perfect granite bouldering. Max and Liberty  drove up from Vegas on Friday and reserved us the best campsite for the weekend, and on Saturday Brett, Marina, and I drove up to meet them. We were joined also by "Ninja" Kris and Sarah, Anthony Tarascio, Ian McIntosh and Bridget, and there were a couple of other rather large groups around the main areas near Boulder Basin as well.

When we arrived Saturday we decided to head over to Tour de France so that Marina and Brett could try to send their projects on the wall. For Marina this is the v7 Tour de France stand, which Ian informed me was first sent in 1973 and was probably one of the hardest problems around at the time, and Brett had been making excellent progress on the v10 sit.

Unfortunately, neither of them sent, but Marina matched her previous high point and Brett finally got the crux move of the sit start dialed. I thought he was going to send, but I'm sure he'll get it next time we're out there.

Brett styling the crux crossover on Tour de France sit start

I had pointed out Captain America (Itai's new v9) to another group that was heading to TdF, so that we could have our large posses at separate boulders, and apparently two members of their group were able to send it, making its 4th and 5th ascents. Our groups switched after working on our respective boulders, so that Max, Brett, Kris, and I could all try to do Captain. After finally figuring out how to shift my hip to levitate through the crux move last week, I was psyched to send it first try of the day. Max and Lib actually had video running for the next installment of their 5k miles series, and so I repeated the problem for them to get a second angle. Somehow I went from not being able to do the problem for a couple of weeks, to being able to run laps on it. It was a very satisfying feeling, to say the least.

Apparently the sending energy was high on this boulder, because Max, Kris, and Brett all managed ascents as well after a few tries.

Max sending Captain America in horrible lighting conditions

At this point it was too late to head all the way down to Where the Wild Things Are, so we decided instead to head down to the Visor and Ex-Patriot.
Liberty was able to send Center Visor second try and Max was able to flash every problem on the boulder, aside from Garret Gregor's nasty hard eliminate.

We then headed down to my nemesis from last season, Ex-Patriot. I had no expectations, but wanted to see how strong I would feel on it.

The stunning roof of Ex-Patriot

To my surprise, I felt pretty decent on it. On my third go, I was able to match on the block in the roof and almost get my right foot up for the crux move to the left gaston. I feel like Max and I could both send this sucker if we returned fresh!  Maybe some time within the next few weeks it will go down.

The second move of Ex-Patriot. Excuse the soft focus of these pictures, as the sun was going down and we were running low on light.

Using the left heal/right toehook combo to pull into the gaston in the roof.

Setting up for the bump around the block.

Flexing the abs so hard just to stay in this position.

Getting the right foot up in order to move to the next left gaston crimp, about a half second before I fell.

Sunset as seen from Ex-Patriot

So if you follow climbing blogs at all, perhaps you've heard of this awesome guy by the name of Anthony Tarascio. Well Anthony is a culinary student, and is pretty much the best when it comes to cooking on a camping trip. We've taken to calling him the Jetboil Gourmet. We were lucky enough to have him prepare some amazing gourmet burgers Saturday night back at camp. We're talking about deliciously seasoned lean beef infused with gruyere cheese, with sauteed apples and an amazing "apple ginger gastric sauce" on ciabatta bread. Basically, Anthony is the man.

Brett's hands enjoying his burger. Another satisfied customer.

We got a nice leisurely start again on Sunday morning, and were joined by our good friend Barry McWilliams from LA. Barry hasn't been out on rock much lately, so it was awesome to get him out to Black. We hope he can make more trips here in the future.

We decided that we would spend all of Sunday down towards the Where the Wild Things Are area, and made the long hike from the OK Corral, stopping a few times along the way.
Anthony came pretty close to grabbing the second ascent of the aesthetic and unrepeated Das Atrium (v9).

Anthony climbing into the hard bit of Das Atrium

The crew eyeing up the Buttermilks-esque bloc featuring Boobytrap (v6) and Tripwire (v9). L to R: Barry McWilliams, Max Moore, Anthony Tarascio.

We all took turns throwing down attempts on Where the Wild Things Are, which unfortunately only Anthony managed to (re)send from the stand. On my best attempt, I finally stuck the crux edge with my right hand, and got my left heel up into position to match and go to the finishing jug, but I felt my fingers slipping off the edge and again took the big fall that I'm becoming all too familiar with.

With Anthony's beta, I was able to work out the moves to the difficult sit start as well, so hopefully next time we get down to this beautiful boulder I'll be able to pull out sends of both the stand and the sit.

Max Moore getting into Where the Wild Things Are.

Max sticking the big  move.

Max, attempting to match the jug 

View of the Wild Things boulder from the Tripwire boulder

After everyone else lost interest in WTWTA, they turned their attention to Tripwire (v9). Anthony sent before I was able to get the camera out, but these images of Max and Kris's attempts give a nice perspective of the line.

Kris compressing on Tripwire
After the grueling hike out we were more than ready for some burritos, so we hit the road and headed home.  Looking forward to next weekend, when we'll pull on more granite boulders and hopefully send a few more problems in the company of good friends. Till then, keep up the psych everyone!