Thursday, September 12, 2013

Still Alive!

Howdy folks! Yes, I am alive. I'm even still climbing, route setting, and coaching as much as ever. It's been a busy summer, so I apologize for not keeping this thing up to date, but here is a quick catch-up post with lots of photos.

For starters, the Black Mt. Road opened in early May, ushering in yet another Black Mountain season. It's been a high-anxiety season up there this year, with several large wildfires threatening Black Mountain, the Tramway, Tahquitz, Suicide Rock, not to mention the communities of Idyllwild and the other small mountain towns. Before the blazes and in between, we snuck in some sending, cleaning, and developing of new world-class lines.

After a few days of effort over this season and last, I was fortunate enough to snag an ascent of Where the Wild Things Are sit start. My friend Jenifer happened to bust out her iphone to snag this chalk-bag-dabbing uncut footage. Enjoy.

Around the same time and shortly after, a few of us started running around a granite-strewn hillside at Black Mt. and enjoying many top-notch First (known) Ascents. One such ascent was a very nice V3/4 (depending on who you ask) crimp ladder that I grabbed the FKA of and dubbed Updog due to Anthony's little dog Stanley peering down at me from atop the boulder. 

Devlin Gandy jumping on the send train on "Updog" at Black Mt.
Boulder-strewn dome.
Another thing we found, Anthony, Alexandra, and I dubbed Howl's Moving Castle, I think before we had even climbed on it. Proving to be very difficult, we invited Paul Robinson to try it while he was in town for a few days in June, and he snagged the FA of what I believe to be one of the best boulder problems at Black Mountain, SoCal, or really just anywhere. Checking in at V12, the burly roof to tall headwall is a full-value boulder problem and should be on the list for any capable boulderer. I know I'm psyched to continue to project it now that the temps are getting a little more under control!

Rommel, chilling under "Howl's Moving Castle."
A slightly wider view of "Howl's Moving Castle." Here, Anthony Tarascio works the topout on a gri-gri. To give some perspective, the big jug plate at the lip of the overhang in the above and below photos can be seen catching sunglight at the bottom of this frame, next to the rop
Paul Robinson grabbing the First Ascent of "Howl's Moving Castle." photo Alexandra Fox
On the same day, I took Paul to one of my projects that I'd been working for a few seasons, which we'd been calling the Gloworm arete (yes, after the candy.) Although it took him some serious effort, he snagged the FA of the Gloworm, also calling it V12. 

Nearby Howl's... and Updog, I was also able to put up a fairly difficult little boulder that I named The Fellowship of the Traveling Pads sometime in June. It's probably in the V8-9 range, and I encourage people to come repeat it and tell me what they think. The sharp, powerful little overhang leads to a commiting press-out mantle on slopers, but I am sure better temps would make it feel more secure.

"The Fellowship of the Traveling Pads"
 Also in June, I made a very brief trip to Utah to coach at USA Climbing Divisionals. Our team did well and afterward I traveled with a handful of talented young climbers to Maple Canyon for two days.

Max Matles working "Sprout" in Maple Canyon's Pipe Dream Cave

This is just a typical Black Mountain sunset.
 Over the July 4th weekend, USA Climbing sport climbing Nationals was held at Stone Summit in Atlanta (again), and I traveled there with Natalie Josefsberg and her family. Nat climbed really well, taking 12th overall in the Female A category.
I stuck around for two additional days for the annual Coaching Symposium hosted by the USA Climbing Coaches Committee. With a nice round-table kind of format and presentations by the likes of Chris Wall and Obe Carrion, I was glad I stuck around for the symposium.

Natalie Josefsberg in semi-finals at SCS Nationals
 Lately, in spite of the heat, we have been trying to sport climb (or climb long boulders with a rope) at Boney Bluff more as well. We've discovered that even if it's 90 degrees in the sun on the hike in, the climbing is bearable because the wall is in the shade all day from noon on. With stacks of short power routes in the 5.12 and 5.13 ranges, it's a power crag like nothing else around these parts. Hopefully I can start sending some stuff there soon!

I'm still one-hanging "Sureshot," a very hard (v8) Louie Anderson "5.13a" and the first line bolted at the cliff in the mid-90's

We've also done a little bit of exploring lately, looking for new hard lines in the Santa Monica Mountains. Guess what, they exist.

There's gold in them thar hills.
So I'll probably be changing the format of this blog and my website in the very near future, but stay tuned, because I'll be trying to keep it updated a little more frequently now that I've got working internet in the new apartment.

Climb safe, and see you out at the crags.