Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another Day in JTree and Four in Bishop

Last Sunday, I went out to JTree with Patrick Luther for a short bouldering day trip. It was a beautiful day with perfect temps, aside from the intermittent freezing wind. I managed to punt off of the very end of Cave Man Sit Start twice, but at least Patrick managed to send. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to going back to that one.

Hidden Valley Campground
Patrick starting "Cave Man Sit" (v10)

Patrick climbing through the tunnel on "Cave Man Sit."

Vid of myself punting off the end of Cave Man Sit.

A coyote came out to hang for a while at the end of the day.
After a few days of route setting back in town, I picked up Culin on Friday and headed straight for the Buttermilks to give him his first introduction to outdoor bouldering. On Friday, we stayed close to the road and played around on Grandma Peabody and the Drifter Boulder. On Grandma, Culin was able to flash Go Granny Go Right Exit, and I managed to fall off the last move of Center Direct twice.  Over on the Drifter, Culin very narrowly missed sending High Plains Drifter, one of the most classic lines in the 'Milks. We had the good fortune of running into my pal Anthony Tarascio, with whom we climbed each of the next three days.

Culin Li coming very close on "High Plains Drifter."

Saturday, we headed back out to the 'Milks to give Culin a better tour. We warmed up at the Birthday Boulders, where Culin sent Birthday Direct (v3) and onsighted The Rising (v4).
Then we hiked up the hill to the Fly Boy Boulder, where Anthony, Chris Chen, Christine Ubaldi and I joined the growing session on Haroun and the Sea of Stories (v11 low start) and Fall Guy (v9) neither of which I could send. Culin tried Fly Boy (v6 stand / 8 sit) a few times and made quick work of the Fly Boy Arete before we ended the session and grabbed some burritos at Las Palmas back in town.
Culin sending "Fly Boy Arete."

Sunday,  we were all looking to get away from the crowds of the central Buttermilks, but wanting to continue climbing on granite, we opted to make the seemingly never-ending uphill hike to the Druid Stones. 

After a few super moderates, we ran laps on the mega classic, Arch Drude. I hadn't been up there before, but according to Anthony, something might have broken down low on the climb, increasing its difficulty slightly.
Anthony sending "Arch Drude" (v5) with the White Mountains across the valley.
Culin sending "Arch  Drude."

Culin pulling into the topout of "Arch Drude."
Myself sending "Arch Drude."
Chris led the charge to the immaculate Thunder Wall, where after quick sends of Kredulf (one of the best, sandbagged, v4s I've ever touched) and Denton's Diversion, I followed Chris and Anthony's lead and began working the sit start, Denton's Remorse. I'm very psyched to say that, after working out the beta and a couple of false starts, I pulled on at the super low starting undercling and went to the top of the boulder. Unfortunately, neither Chris nor Anthony sent this one, but at least they have something to send next time we make the long hike up to the Druids!

Chris Chen starting "Denton's Remorse" (v10).

The Sierras from the Druids.
The edge of Bishop and the White Mountains from the Druids.
Bishop and the Whites.
Myself, sending "Denton's Remorse" (v10).
Pulling perfect patina edges on Denton's Remorse.

The difficult lockoff on "Denton's Remorse."

Bishop, and the Volcanic Tableland north of town, from the hike out from the Druid Stones.
Chris and Christine had to head home on Sunday evening, but on Monday, Anthony and I gave Culin a tour of the Happy Boulders. Culin was able to send the classic The Hulk, Anthony sent some link up that didn't quite appear to be Disco Hulk, but might as well have been, and I pulled off Disco Diva. Of course, in typical Anthony Tarascio style, he brought a Nightmare Before Christmas Santa Hat for us both to send in, photo evidence below.

Anthony, sending in his sending hat.
Me doing the same on "Disco Diva" (v8)

We made the quick four-hour drive back to LA, and I've spent the last couple of days setting up at Boulderdash. This weekend, I hope to get back out to Malibu Creek a couple of times, so let's see if next week we can have an update about what chains I've clipped out there.

Stay psyched, climb safe, and see you out there!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Post Turkey Day / Early December Update

Well it may have only been three weekends since my last update, but boy has a lot happened since then!

The weekend before Thanksgiving was Erin's birthday (the head setter at Rockreation) and she rented a house in Vegas to share with all of her climbing peeps that wanted to join her in Red Rocks for the weekend. I drove out to join the crew and visit home with my non-climbing friends Daniel and Anna to give them their first intro to the sport and its vibrant community in the same setting where I did my first outdoor climbs 15 years ago.

On Saturday, we started at The Gallery wall, where the gym-like setting made the Rockreation crew feel right at home. It was a great day of relaxed cragging with friends, until an accident at the cliff happened right next to me, involving a couple that I had JUST been speaking to, and brought a premature halt to the day's fun. Though nobody likes to see anyone hurt when engaging in our inherently dangerous sport, the quick response from a group of climber EMTs at the cliff and other climbers lending a hand was a nice example of how our community pulls together when faced with adversity.

Christina Pilo working "The Gift" (5.12c/d)
Red Rocks looking like Mordor at sunset.

Thanks to teamwork and a speedy helicopter rescue, we were able to shift gears back to celebrating Erin's birthday fairly quickly, including homemade tacos and birthday cake at the casa.

Sunday started at The Pier wall, but a general lack of motivation to sport climb led a large group of us to drive out of the loop and backtrack to the Kraft Boulders for a low key afternoon of bouldering.

Tia Stark onsighting "Under the Boardwalk" (5.11a).
Though I started the day without any goals, I got really psyched to try hard when I happened to witness an ascent of Scare Tactics (v10), a beautiful overhanging wall of patina crimps, and luckily pulled out my own send of the line right at sunset.

A four hour drive led us back to LA, and the next day I was off to Joshua Tree to coach a couple of strong young competitors on the finer points of quartz monzonite slab scrambling. Natalie was able to finish the day on a high note with an ascent of Peabrain (v5), and I chose the infamous Pigpen (v4) as my one climb of the day.

A couple days of setting later, and I found myself on the road to Bishop on Thanksgiving morning. I met my old friend Patrick Luther at the Buttermilks, and a day of moderate sending ensued. For sure the highlight of day one was flashing the classics Saigon and High Plains Drifter back-to-back.

The Peabodies
Another climber on the classic "Saigon" (sandbag v6).
Mt. Tom and Basin Mt. viewed from the Pit on Friday Morning.
 Friday we hit up the Get Carter Boulder, and I was able to pull off sends of Twin Cracks (v9), Seven Spanish Angels (v6), and a flash of Get Carter (v7) and Patrick repeated Twin Cracks and almost sent Michael Caine Sit (v12) while I worked A Scanner Darkly (also 12).

Charlie Andrews rolled in on Friday night and we all decided to hit the Happy Boulders on Saturday. The day was a resounding success, with Patrick sending Standing Kill Order (v11), Charlie sending Kill on Sight (the v12 sit to the previous), and myself taking a consolation send of Acid Wash (v10a).

Charlie sending "Kill on Sight."

Myself working "Standing Kill Order."
The Happy Boulders
To top off the day, Charlie sent Atari (v6) and I narrowly missed the same.

Charlie sending "Atari."
Flaming campfire sculpture on Saturday night.

Sunday was a more relaxed day at the Buttermilks, but I still aaaalmost sent Center Direct (v10) at dusk. I'll have to go back for it soon!
Unfortunately, rain kept me off the rocks last week, but now that everything seems to have dried out down here in SoCal, I should be visiting Malibu Creek and Joshua Tree regularly, with maybe the occasional Bishop and Black Mt trip thrown in if we can get a motivated enough crew together.

Have a safe and happy December everyone and check back soon for more sending-filled updates.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Birthday Challenge 2012!

For those who missed last week's update or didn't see the many Facebook updates, this past Saturday, Novebmer 10th, was my 27th birthday. I had planned celebrate with a birthday challenge to repeat 27 boulder problems at Black Mountain, but with a few days of snow in the mountains starting on Thursday, we made the decision to relocate the festivities to Joshua Tree. Now that a day has passed since we left the park, it's easy for me to reflect back and say without the slightest hesitation that Saturday was my most fun (and of course challenging!) day of climbing ever!

Of course, to the initiated, it's known that climbing in Joshua Tree is hard. The crystals that compose the quartz monzonite granite are really sharp, even more so than most of Black Mountain. Many of the ratings are fairly stiff, and terms like "old school" or "Joshua Tree" are frequently used as prefixes to qualify the V grades. Good thing that I'm fairly used to this from Black Mountain and that my goal was just to climb 27 boulder problems, with no minimum of difficulty. Remember, while my list of problems that I had planned to send at Black were all repeats, I have spent verrrrry little time bouldering in JTree, so every problem was a new to me!
The other things about the style of bouldering at Joshua Tree are that the boulders are usually fairly tall and the style is highly technical, with bad feet and plenty of hard mantles high off the deck. It was an adrenaline pumping, high-volume, highballing day for sure!

Now for some photos. All shots by awesome homegirl Christina Pilo, unless otherwise noted that they were taken by other awesome homegirl Tia Stark.
Driving into JTree during the early morning hours. Tia Stark photo.
Warming up on problem number 2, "Riffraff" (v0), at Ryan Campground. 
# 3, "Fidelman Arete" (v2). 
#4, "Figure Five" (v2), Ryan Campground. 
Topping out "Figure Five." Christina Pilo photo.
Coming painfully close on "Chili Sauce" (v7) at Ryan Campground, one of the few that got away. Sick shot by Tia Stark.
Christina Pilo sending the amazing "All Washed Up" (v6), one of the best problems I completed during the day!
All up ons # 6, "All Washed Up."
Homeboy Jesse Weiner giving it on "Picture Perfect" (v5).
#9, "Picture Perfect" (v5).
#10, "Joker" (V1).
#11, "Prince Hoi" (v2).
Brett Gottdener running up "Foot Fetish" (v2).
#12, "Foot Fetish" (v2).
I love the desert.
Tia Stark photo.
#13, "Hoi Palloi" (v0).
#14, "Maverick" (v0).
#15, "The Boxer Problem" (v2), at the Manx Boulder.

Rob Miramontes with the pole cam all up ons during my send of #19, "Undertow" (v3).
View from the Manx Boulder.
#20, "Out of Touch" (v2) with Miramontes' pole cam catching the action.
"Out of Touch."
#24, "Mighty Dog" (v7) Tia Stark photo.
Coming painfully close to completing "Vicaryous" (v10) as problem 27. I totally could have sent if I'd gotten here more fresh! Next time! Tia Stark photo.
We didn't quite get photos of every problem, as my camera was dying by problem 22 or so, but we came awfully close.
Here is the full list for anyone interested.

#1. "Wannabe" 5.9
#2. "Riffraff" V0
#3. "Fidelman Arete" V1
#4. "Figure Five" V2
#5 unkown v0 (#28 in Ryan campground)
#6 "All Washed Up" V6 (highball, committing, hard for the grade, and amazing)
#7 "Warm Up" V1 (in corridor with "All Washed Up"
#8 "Lunge For It" V3
#9 "Picture Perfect" V5
#10 "Joker" V1
#11 "Prince Hoi" V2
#12 "Foot Fetish" V2
#13. "Hoi Polloi" V2
#14. "Maverick" V0
#15. "The Boxer Problem" V2
#16. "Xylophone" V2
#17. "Scuttlebutt" V0 (amazingly awkward stemming scoop that I don't even understand how I started)
#18. "Fishbait" V0
#19. "Undertow" V3
#20. "Out of Touch" V2
#21. "Off Camber" V4 (really cool big move to a sloping topout with a triiicky mantle)
#22. "Gambit" V1
#23. "Wrangler" V2
#24. "Mighty Dog" V7 (onsighted at the end of the day and then almost did the sit start crimping traverse "Vicaryous" (v10) right after! Unfortunately I was getting tired at this point!)
#25. "Pea Brain" V4
#26. "Retro" V0
#27. "Footsie"V3 (This was actually the hardest climb of the day, took the most number of efforts, and felt the most satisfying!)

After the long day of bouldering, Brett suggested we hit the Joshua Tree Salloon for some burgers and beers, which I could not have agreed with more. It was a perfect birthday dinner with great friends, which included a really big chocolate lava cake dessert and plenty of jukebox kareoke.

Cheers to Christina, Tia, Brett, and Jesse for being an amazing support team throughout the day, and to everyone that was there in spirit. You were missed.
Of course, the next morning we had to hit up the Meadows boulder so that I could send (somehow!) both "Sloper Safari" (v4) and "Rasberry" (v6), both of which felt near impossible after Saturday's sendfest. We packed up shortly after and zipped back to LA, and by 6 pm I was up at Boulderdash resetting the roof on the boulder.

For some reason I feel justified in taking a couple of rest days!
Have fun out there, climb safe, and thanks again to all of you for your amazingly positive birthday wishes. It was my best  birthday yet and I look forward to sharing similar experiences with you all in the future!
I've got 27 years of life behind me, and I feel like I'm just getting started!