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!


  1. Nice work! I need to get back out there for that thing here soon. Which gate was it that was closed? The one at the campground entrance or one before? Next time you'll definitely have to get on The Sword. It's soooo good!

  2. Thanks man! It was the first gate that was closed, way out by the road up to the Christian Camp! It was a pretty far hike, and then we got to the campground gate! I'd love to hit that place up again to send Orange Flambe and the Sword.

    1. Oh man! I guess the hiking all the way to the trail that leads up to the boulders is relatively flat, but thats a trek!

  3. Kay/ mom10:05 PM

    Ize, I enjoyed the video of your mid-Feb. bouldering, and what great music. Thanks for that! Keep climbing, rock on....mdr (mort de rire), haha, lol.