Monday, February 20, 2012

A Weekend in Malibu Creek

I spent both days of this beautiful weekend in Malibu Creek State Park, an area for which I hold a lot of nostalgia, having climbed there very frequently with my late friend, Michael Reardon, throughout high school. The park is most well known for its steep, pocketed sport climbing; the water-smoothed Ghetto Wall, home to Shawn Diamond's 5.14 Lateralus and the classic 5.13 Ghetto Blaster, has the highest concentration of quality routes, and this is where I took the strong, young comp climbers Natalie and Pablo on Saturday. Natalie was able to Manage a redpoint of the wall's testpiece 5.12 Urban Struggle on her first try of the day and then she and Pablo each had an impressive beta burn on Ghetto Blaster.

On our way in, we had stopped to look at the steep black roof of Chubbs (v11), hiding in the cave under the Stumbling Blocks crag, and I was getting psyched to try my hand on the powerful, tension-dependent problem.

Luckily for me, Matt Moreno was psyched to go out to the Creek on Sunday to pull on some steep pockets, so we gathered enough foam to make the problem's sketchy landing safe enough, and headed back out for my second day in the park in a row.

We started by warming up at the base of the Planet of the Apes wall and did the boulder problems on the little bloc below it.

Matt Moreno pulling pockets on the "Kuan Chin Roof" (v6)

After a leisurely warm up, we headed back to the rock pool traverse, which we had to make twice to shuttle our multiple pads across, and down into the cave under the Stumbling Blocks. Although they appear powerful and intimidating, I was able to piece together the moves of Chubbs fairly quickly, linking through the roof to the lip on my best attempt. It seems like it could go on my next day out there, so I'm pretty darn psyched about that!

Myself on the 2nd move of "Chubbs"  photos by Matt Moreno
Once you match in that hueco, you get a brief shake out and then it gets real.
The small pocket ...
and the less-than-ideal pinch.
From that left hand pinch there is one more big move to a good right hand pocket, which I stuck from the sit once, but somehow managed to fall out of. Then there are just a couple more tensiony stabs on decent pockets before the inviting topout jugs. Next time!!

Matt working "Chubbs" 

Though it appears small, that pocket feels even worse than it looks!
On our hike out, a little comedy relief was supplied by a large group of tourists that had gotten in over their heads on the rock pool traverse. At least two of them fell into the water, but luckily nobody drowned, so the traffic jam that delayed our exit by close to an hour was well worth it from a spectator's point of view

Looking up canyon from the rock pool traverse. The steep roof of "Chubbs" sits under and adjacent to that huecoed slab on the left.

Traffic jam!

All told, it was a great weekend of climbing on rock other than granite for once, and I'm super pumped to get back and send the roof!  Stay psyched and I hope to see you all out on the rocks!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rain at Black? Head for the Tram!

Sunday, we had organized crews hailing from Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego to meetup at The Republic area of Black Mountain to try to finish off one of the few remaining (discovered) projects in the area. Unfortunately, the gods had other ideas, and the western side of the San Jacinto Mountains was covered in fog and rain when our crews converged at the road up to The Republic. 

Scrambling for alternatives, we figured we would cut our losses and head to the Jupiter Boulders, but as we drove down the highway toward Palm Springs we could see that the side of the mountain range occupied by the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway had blue skies and sun overhead! A last minute cell phone consensus was reached by all three vehicles to head to the Tramway, and so we got to climb in perfect conditions on high elevation granite boulders in spite of the horrible weather at Black Mt. 

Kris Linstrom warming up
Christina Pilo getting her slab warm up on.
Anthony  Tarascio, so excited, not even that big Organic pad can slow down his run!
After we all warmed up a bit, which included a flash ascent of Swingdance for me (supposedly v7, but felt a few grades easier, imho), we headed over to Bridget's project, Mosquito Cove aka the left start to Byron's Roof (both of which are v9+), which she sent on her first try of the day. Way to go Bridg!

Bridget Enderle killin it on "Mosquito Cove" aka "Byron's Roof Left Start"

The heel hook core tensiony pull to the lip
Bridget topping out. Got spotters?
Brett and Christina watching Bridget topout
 I managed to fall off the last tricky move pulling onto the slab of Byron's Roof on my second and third tries, only to punt off going to a massive jug. As the crew was beginning to disperse to other problems, and I felt like I would need a long rest before giving another send burn, I decided to leave it for another day. Somehow I was lured by Ian to go with him, Al, and Chris Sinatra over to Somewhere in Time, an infamous line that went up a few years ago at a proposed grade of V14, which through consensus has been down graded a couple notches, but still feels ridiculously hard. I managed to get tips into the 4th hold/second move once, but did not do nearly as well as Ian or Chris, who almost sent!

Chris Sinatra pulls the first move of "Somewhere in Time" (v12)
Ian McIntosh starting the same.
First crux
Chris Sinatra on one of his best burns.

Chris's "Where the hell do I go?" moment. Apparently the topout is still hard! 
It was starting to get dark as we hiked out from "Somewhere in Time."
After sliding down hills of snow and ice on our crashpads, in order to more quickly reach the trail, we hiked in the dark back to the tramway station, rode the hanging gondola 6000 feet back to the valley floor, and headed for our respective parts of Southern California. With the I-10 West jammed and signs indicating a 3 hour delay, Brett, Kris, Christina, and I decided to attempt to wait out the traffic over a Thai dinner in Palm Springs.  It still took us twice as long as it should have to get from Palm Springs back to LA, but with good company and good tunes after an amazing day that didn't start out very well (remember, we started at 10:30 am in the rain at Black Mountain!), no amount of traffic could have dampened our spirits!

Stay psyched and see you out there!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Blank Generation Vid

Here is a little video of Saturday's send. Big thanks to Alex Chujo for capturing the footage and putting this together!

What you can't really tell from the video is just how small and sharp that right hand crimp is!

Stay psyched everyone, and see you out on the rocks!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

A Nice Day at Horse Flats

Horse Flats is an area in the San Gabriel Mountains that I visited frequently for bouldering when I was in High School. I had not been up there in years, so I figured it would be a nice change of pace this Saturday to get Natalie (a young competitor that I coach) on some new granite boulders. I had forgotten just how good the rock is up there, as well as how long the hike is with two gates on the way to the campground closed.

I swear I didn't mean to sandbag everyone by saying it was only a 15 minute hike; it actually is when the gates are open! Oh well, so 45 minutes after we began hiking, we reached the first boulder, the brilliant and tall V2, Bow Sprits.  Our entire crew of Jeff Blum, Piper Michelle Yi, Natalie Josefsberg, and myself all ran a lap or two on the line, which is composed of two cruxy moves followed by perfect patina jugs.

Piper starting into the problem.
Natalie cruising the crux pull (Piper photo)
Natalie getting some air between her and the ground on the classic "Bow Sprits" (v2) (Piper photo)
Next, we headed over to the classic B1 traverse and the tall warm ups behind it. I was a little preoccupied with spotting, coaching, and spraying beta to get out the camera, but suffice it to say that everyone sent more than one problem and Natalie flashed the fun and challenging B1 Traverse (V5).

Natalie Josefsberg flashing the "B1 Traverse" (v5) (photo by Lisa Josefsberg)
We popped over a couple boulders to the lowball yet fun The Falcon and also did the unnamed v4 on the Blank Generation boulder before trying the business of Blank Generation itself.
Jeff pulling the crux of "The Falcon" (v5)

Jeff getting out of the pool on "The Falcon"

After a while of debating which hard line to try, the intimidating and tall Sword of Damocles (v8) or the shorter and more powerful Blank Generation (v10), we opted for the latter.

Jeff Blum on "Blank Generation" (Piper photo)
When I was frequenting Horse Flats back in the day I tried this line more times than I can remember, and it always felt near impossible. This day, however, I grabbed the left hand hold at the end of the long, powerful crux move on my first try, and I knew it was the day to send. After a few test burns to feel out the move, I finally started from the sit, made the throw off of the sharp right hand crimp, stuck the pinch on the lip with my left hand, controlled the swing, and managed the tricky topout. Needless to say, I was VERY psyched! Our new friend Alex got video of the send, which I'll post when it's available.

Myself sending "Blank Generation" (pics by Piper)

Mid throw on "Blank Generation"

Flipping the right palm to mantle out "Blank Generation"
The sun was getting low in the sky at this point, so we opted to head out and return another day to send the classics The Sword of Damocles and Orange Flambé (both v8). We had a nice dinner at the famous Newcomb's Ranch restaurant and bar, near Horse Flats on the winding mountain highway, and reflected on another beautiful day in the mountains during our drive back into the bustle and smog of Los Angeles.

Black Mountain isn't the only local bouldering spot with beautiful sunsets. The view along the hike out from Horse Flats.
With the weather as good as it's been lately, I hope to keep getting out on the weekends and trying to put down more boulder problems. Stay psyched, and see you out there!