Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Weekend of Awesomeness at Black

This weekend before Halloween was pretty good to the Tarascio brothers and myself. On Friday, Anthony and Michael Tarascio went up to Black Mt and both ended up sending something, with Michael flashing Moondrops (v6/7?) and Anthony getting the first ascent of a project he and Ian have been working on for a while, dubbing it Brotherhood, v10. The new line climbs some powerful moves out a steep bulge, tops out on perfect jigsaw-puzzle-esque patina and sits on the hillside below the lookout tower and above Ex-Patriot.

Anthony Tarascio on the FA of "Brotherhood" (v10), photo by Michael Tarascio

Saturday the brothers T rested, and after coaching at the ABS competition at Mesa Rim in San Diego, I hauled ass up to Black to try to finally put Ex-Patriot to rest. I arrived at The Visor at sunset, ran two warmup laps on Center Visor without so much as putting on my climbing shoes or chalking up, then ran down the hill to Ex-Pat, which faces away from the sunset and was already shrouded in darkness. I set up my three crashpads, positioned one headlamp to shine right on the series of crux crimps in the roof and the other on my head, slipped on the climbing shoes and went for it.

I'd like to report that I sent first try and that it felt easy, but truthfully it was a battle for me. I snagged the crux crimp as usual on my first go and fell, then had a few bad goes where I didn't quite get the first hard right hand crimp correctly, then tried Anthony's beta once, going left hand out to the opposite arete that I don't touch with my beta, and then I came to a realization: it was already dark and I was alone, so it didn't really matter how much time I spent out there, and I needed to rest longer. After a few more tries and plenty of adequate rest, I let out a "Sharma call" that only the man himself could rival, then proceeded to scream on the next two moves on my way to the finishing jug. Thankfully the topout sloper actually felt quite good in the 55 degree temps, and exhausted and adrenalized, I screamed in celebration by myself on top of the boulder, overlooking the desert and the thinnest strip of pink at the farthest distance of the horizon. I believe Ex-Patriot was my longest boulder problem project ever and one of my proudest ascents to date.

After a lonely night camping at the group sites, I went down into the little mountain town of Idyllwild to enjoy a victory breakfast by myself at a quaint cafe, and later met Anthony and Mike T, who both showed up in their Halloween costumes, back at the Boulder Basin campground. 

Fuller Ridge (left) and San Jacinto peak in the distance, as seen from "Born Under Punches" on the road up to the lookout tower

We went over to the very nice relatively new problem Born Under Punches (v7), which Anthony was able to repeat and I was able to send after a few tries of slipping off the greasy right hand crux pinch.

SWAT officer (costume, lol) Mike Tarascio brushing 
Chef Anthony (pretty lame costume, since he's actually in culinary school) goin for the send.
"Officer" Mike on the slopers
The crux

"I got ya bro," Michael Tarascio with a classic "Rockreation spot."

After our time on BUP, we headed down to the OK Corral to do the old Dan Osman compression problem way up the hill. I guess Mike had come close before, but neither he or I could muster up the courage to commit to the high crux move and send. Luckily, Anthony was able to pull out a send (about his hundredth of this line), so our trek up the hill was not entirely in vain.

View from the Dan Osman problem
The Tarascio brothers in their Halloween costumes throwing down attempts on the highball Dan Osman compression problem.

Anthony celebrating on the topout jug

And no trip to the OK Corral with Anthony would be complete without a couple of super close calls on Man is a Bastard, the classic Dave Struthers dyno testpiece.

 Climbed up into the tree for a second angle.

So close, get some!!!
Anthony and his mouse friend, Feta, on "Man is a Bastard"
And so another great weekend at Black Mountain came to an end with another perfect sunset. Somehow, I never get tired of this. See you all soon out on the rocks!

Another spectacular Black Mountain sunset. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Interesting" Weekend at Black

Saturday, Brett and I went up to Black Mt, where we were to meet a very strong young climber, Natalie Josefsberg, and her father, Ken, for a day of showing Natalie around some classics of Black Mt. While I'm glad to say that Brett was able to fill in for me as tour guide/coach, I'm unhappy to report that I was stricken with heinous food poisoning for the majority of the day. Ken was kind enough to contribute these photos for this blog, heh.

How I spent much of Saturday

Luckily, after a drive down into Idyllwild and a slowly consumed soda, I recovered by the evening, and was able to accompany Brett, Ian, and Bridgett down to the Captain's Junk boulder for a night session. Ian was coming very close on his project on the steep wall, and Brett and Bridgett threw down some attempts as well. I wasn't able to climb, but at least I got some photos.

We ate dinner and camped under a beautiful night sky and by the morning I was feeling well enough to climb.

Brett and Ian started the morning off with a send of a difficult finger to hand crack right in our campsite. 

The crux fingerlock.

Brett approaching the old school top rope bolt placed on top of the large boulder.

We started the day by heading back down to the Captain's Junk boulder so that Ian could try to send his project, which he'd been coming extremely close to on Saturday night. The Captain's Junk boulder is one of the best boulders I've seen at Black Mt. With classics starting at v2 and established up to v10 with an even harder project, and quite a number of the lines warranting 4 stars, it's a boulder that would considered classic anywhere in the world.

Brett with the Captain's Junk boulder behind him and to the right. The discerning Black Mt boulderer may be able to pick out Velvet Revolver on the hillside in the distance to the left. 
We all climbed the classic v6 Captain's Junk to warm up. Ian had climbed the line many times, but it was a first for Bridgett, Brett, and myself.
Bridgett sending the boulder's 4-star namesake, Captain's Junk, v6.

Bridgett reaching the amazing dinner plate patina jugs to topout  Captain's Junk.
 After warming up some, Ian and Brett threw down several attempts on the steep project.

Ian on the opening move of the Captain's Junk project

Brett attempting the upper section 

Although Ian didn't send, he looks extremely close, and I'm sure he'll get it soon.

We parted ways at this point and Brett and I headed over to the corridor of problems that Ian and Anthony showed me last week. We both did the v4-6-ish sloper problem, and Brett sent the steep crimp rail (7 or 8?) in a handful of tries.

Myself on the sloper problem

From the corridor we went down the hill to Ex-Patriot, which unfortunately still remains my nemesis. I made almost a dozen attempts and the best couple of them left me coming agonizingly close to sticking the left gaston crimp up high. You can see the videos from a couple of weeks ago of me pulling past that crux and then falling like a total punter.

Considering the way I started the weekend, I'm happy with the way things turned out. At least I was able to climb with everyone else on Sunday, plus now Brett and I know how to get to the amazing Captain's Junk

Stay psyched everyone and tune in next week for more sports action.