Saturday, September 24, 2011

More New Granite Routes

The new SDS drill bits for drilling 'harder' material seem to work very well in the Cody granite. Inspired by easy pickens, I decided to re-equip an old route from the early 90's. A strange tale this one, it was there in 1993 when I first started climbing and then it wasn't. Without going into too much detail, the route was stripped by the first ascentionist due to questionable rock quality. I have seen (and climbed on) some pretty good routes put in on some pretty shady choss over the years, so I figured stringing a rope into the existing anchor and having a look for myself wasn't such a bad idea. I took the drill for this little recon, of course, and in about 3 hours had equipped and cleaned the longest line at the Island. The top was really good reddish granite which is always quite solid and featured. The bottom third however, was black basalt which is always blocky and hollow. I pried off the offending hollowness and scrubbed the solid core rock to produce an awesome moderate. Big Ben .10d is 10 clips and 95 feet long.

I was lured back to the Single Malt Wall for another slam dunk quick and easy moderate between the Bowmore and the Angels Share roof. I knew the line was there but just needed to look at it up close. It is essentially a second pitch to Glen Morangie or an alternate finish to The Bowmore and goes at .10/+. I called it The Ardbeg which is one of my all-time favorite Islay Single Malts. I climbed it as one long pitch from the Bowmore beginning without too much rope drag and tried to do the same beginning on Glen Morangie but the rope was quite heavy by the end. It is probably better to do it as two pitches when starting on Glen Morangie.

Getting two long but easy routes in made me long for some suffering. No not really. Though many of the lines I want to do in the Lower Canyon require a ground up approach and that is a LOT more work and a very slow process. I launched up onto a short angular fin on the left wall under the big chockstone and was excited to find great slopers and pinches. The route took two sessions to completely equip and clean and produced a unique compression style climb that finishes in a chimney. Climbing it was more difficult than I expected but boiled down to one stopper move on a terrible slopey pinch. I managed to send it on my third try and realized that although it is good engaging climbing the whole way, it really was only the one hard move. The Art of War .11d is a very cool and different route that may or may not be graded right. Its kinda steep and somewhat slopey with an awkward finish curling into the chimney to clip the anchor. Marc and Jason were with me the day I sent it, but I couldn't convince either of them to try it, I think they were a bit intimidated.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I Do Boulder, Sometimes

Yes I finally went bouldering on Tuesday evening. We had a pretty good crew too. Members of team FOCM were present and fun was had. The posse warmed up on the Cheese boulder and then moved to the Ripper Boulder to work out the cryptic sequence enabling a clean (dabless) ascent of the Ripper Extension V8. Kerrek Stinson joined us halfway through the process and showed us how it was done. His pants dabbed on the first try and he was called out by the raucous and unforgiving crowd. He rested and casually sent it again which worked for me, allowing me to shoot it twice.

Kerrek Stinson on The Ripper Extension V8 from Mike Snyder on Vimeo.

We also visited the 80 foot long traverse on the West Face of the Symmetry Boulder. This awesome V1 'route' never disappoints. Lastly we ventured up to the Eternal Gardener Boulder which no one seems to know about as it was developed shortly after the guide came out. The fantastic problems Eternal Gardener V5 and Brilliant V6 were savored by all as the sun set on us briefly illuminating the red sandstone pocked by white chalk trails.

About the time my heart got racing for the brilliance that is Cody Bouldering, I went back to the Octagon in Ten Sleep. I can't believe how much fun those climbs are! I nearly flashed Kevin's new addition on the left side of the Cave called Vanilla Gorilla 12b/c, succeeding on my second try. It is the start of the Mexicutioner 5.13? which travels over 100 feet to the top anchors. I also fell going to the jug to clip the anchors on my second try of Baby Face Assassin 13a. I decided to continue out the horizontal roof to check out Soul Assassin 14b which adds 8 or 9 more clips of insanity to BFA. I belayed Kevin twice on his 5.14 project The Thrashing Machine. At 18 clips going out a nearly horizontal roof, it is one of the craziest routes I've ever seen, though one of many similar creations in this cave.

Can't wait to get back there for more. I climbed at The Octagon in February and March and now September and have always found tolerable if not ideal conditions. Summer is a little warm though the cave gets shade most of the day. Winter is cold but the sun shines in nearly all day long. What more could you ask for?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tired Now

My last post alluded to the number 20. I didn't really define it though it has been a goal of mine this year. In 2010 I equipped eleven new sport routes and managed to climb nine of them, all were located at the new crag in Ten Sleep called Downtown. I put in my first sport climb in 1994 in Cody and have managed to bolt at least one line each year since with the most in one season being nine. 2010 was very productive and I hoped to be able to eclipse that number this year. After hitting eleven I set a goal of twenty and though I just finished number twenty there is one route along the way that isn't finished yet.

The trip to Cayman Brac early in the year got things rolling with three routes. Nameology 10c, Hindenbergs Harmonica 12b, and Cayman Nights 12c all turned out great. When I got home I realized that on sunny Winter/Spring days the granite in the lower canyon caught enough sun to afford comfortable development of some warmup routes. I slowly worked my way through three more new lines one of which is two short pitches separated by a ledge. The Single Malt Wall now has LaPhroaig 11a, Glenmorangie 10b, The Angels Share 12d and The Bowmore 10c. With seven pitches under my belt before the snow melted in Ten Sleep I was fired up.

The upper canyon in Tensleep is usually too cold or snowy in the Spring and May and June can even be somewhat in-climate. I picked a long line in the lower part of the canyon to equip at Drywall. It turned out quite well but I only tried it once before it got too hot and I haven't been back to finish it off yet. A line in Cody called out and having just finished going ground up at the Drywall, I set off on another ground up push on the harder and more secure granite (a ripped RB and 15 foot aid fall made me rethink aiding the soft Dolomite). Eight and nine were finished though neither has been redpointed yet.

My attention focused back on Downtown and I decided I needed to finish equipping the shallow cave like feature at the left side of this area we had dubbed the John Henry Grotto. I added Easy Wind, Shagadelic, Shake and Bake and extended Charlies route Shaggy's Marijuana Flag. These routes are all 5.13's, I was able to climb only Shagadelic 13a and the Shaggy extension 12?, the others are beyond my ability right now. Ten through thirteen done.

After a break of a couple weeks I installed Electric Jesus on the far left side of the cave. The only line left to finish there goes up just to the right of EJ and should continue out the second tier roof. I bolted half of it but I'm not sure the lower half goes so I'm leaving it for someone with the proper vision to complete it. Number fourteen, Electric Jesus on the other hand turned out brilliantly, short steep and powerful with the hardest bit at the end. I think I can send it though I will need top fitness and a little luck. I thought it would be 12+, but I realize now after a few attempts, its probably more like 5.13b or c.

The injury sidelined climbing for a while but I continued bolting. Fifteen, Sixteen and Seventeen at Downtown went in between the Coolsville and John Henry walls. These long lines produced excellent 5.12's and as my abs healed I was able to tick off Red Neck Super hero 12c, Robot Steamroller 12b, and Super 8 12a. Line eighteen back in Cody on the granite has been started but isn't finished yet. Its another ground up affair and requires new drill bits before I can finish it. The Chill Arete 11c, was a quickie and used some existing anchors. Its a cryptic little granite beast that I hope to send again with improved style and maybe some better beta.

Number twenty went in last week at the French Cattle Ranch in Ten Sleep. I have been staring at this line since my first visit there in 2000 before there were any bolts. It climbs the left side of the Matrix pillar and though its short (only six clips) its pretty hard. It climbs great stone and is steeper than it looks. It seemed reasonable my first attempt, falling my way up the thing learning its secrets. It felt much harder on my second attempt, gunning for a redpoint. I squeaked the send on the third try and though it is short it packed quite a punch. I called it I Know Kung Fu and slash graded it at 12c/d. I tried to compare it to other climbs nearby that I have done. It felt slightly harder than the sandbagged Hot Dog 12b and Kielbasa 12c yet easier than Esplanada 12d. I made a placard for the base of the climb since a new guidebook may not be around for several years and Aaron Hueys lines are drawn in the wrong place for the other routes on the pillar. I liked this line a lot though I think it will torture future ascentionists because it is tricky, reachy and has a few small holds.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hammering Toward Twenty

A month has passed and my midsection is almost healed. I couldn't stay away for too long and of course gingerly prodded my way back in earlier than I should have. Initially I convinced myself that top roping wasn't such a bad idea and 5.11 or under was okay. As long as my core never became suddenly engaged things would be fine, so I stayed on my feet, with nothing dynamic and no campus type moves. Not too long later I convinced myself that bolting would also be fine because I generally go top down and use a wooden bosin chair for cushy comfort. And so it went.

Fortunately, none of this obvious tomfoolery has blown up in my face yet.

The two new routes at Downtown needed a final scrubbing and blowing and of course some attempts. After futzing around on the fixed line with the back pack leaf blower, crowbar and scrub brushes they were ready to be climbed. I liked what I had created but was apprehensive about the lower angle rambly beginning sections leading to the money climbing going out the bulge section at the end. I rallied Marc and we headed up to try 'em out. I was most excited for the left route and after a quick warmup I hopped right on it. The bottom section has great flow and deposits you into a tricky small pocket crux with thin feet at the base of the bulge before the holds get big and the angle steepens. All goes well for a couple clips and the holds start getting smaller as you get more pumped, with tiny crimps guarding the last clip. I knew it was coming but second guessed my ability to step up and just grabbed the draw. Once I had the quickdraws hanging, Redneck Superhero .12c went down on the 2nd go.

The one just to the right also has easy rambling terrain leading to 5 clips on steep rock going out the bulge. It too has the hardest bit right at the end. Having moved the clips over on the way down RSH, I managed to fight through this one for the flash. My nine year old came up with and insisted on the name Robot Steamroller .12b. Marc and I were so enthralled with the quality of the rock and movement on these two routes we started envisioning more routes on the formation. We decided there could be as many as six or seven lines but maybe only one more route out the bulge.

The following week I set to work on what would become Super 8 .12a, just right of the other two. This one takes a direct line up the massive flake following its left side towards the top to reach the bulge. Though it may be the steepest part of the belly it is on it for the shortest time with, you guessed it! A crux at the end. This time its a long reach, with a cryptic series of hand changes to make the finish go smooth. All three of these routes are very fun with incredible movement through out and I would recommend them as warmups for the tough stuff to the left or as can't be missed ticks for the 5.12 leader.

This past holiday weekend Marc and my family met up with JB, Sara and CK for some pocket pullin at Downtown, The Ice Plant, Wall of Denial and Valhalla. I was psyched to climb JB's last new route this year Vulcan Jezzerie .12a at Downtown. It is a long vertical affair with some small positive holds and a few monos along the way. The next day we ticked a few pitches at the Ice Plant and went over to try Charlies' new route Zombie Leprechauns. This brilliant .12a just left of Insane Hound Posse at Denial was the hit of the day and everyone in our Micro-posse tried or ticked it. Monday we trucked on up to Valhalla so Marc could try Killer Karma .11d and I could give Aaron Huey's Succubus On Top a go. Aaron gave it 5.12 in the guide though I'm not sure he climbed it and its not really that much harder than KK. I hung draws on each route while Marc absorbed beta and easily dispatched both of these roof routes first go. This type of climbing is what we have been training indoors for 15 years so its hard to tell what the grades should be. Nevertheless, Succubus is another fine addition to the Oblivion Wall.

Jason has had quite the sport climbing bug this summer. He has steadily worked his way through almost everything at The Island in Cody. Marc and I took him down to the new Single Malt Wall on the old road near the river to climb the new granite sport routes I put in this Spring. He was pretty psyched and easily onsighted or flashed each of the climbs. Marc and I were salivating to try the route 100 yards back up river that climbs through the giant black basalt inclusions at the start of the route. I bolted this thing in May in the rain right before the summer heat settled in. It was at first wet and then almost immediately after, too hot to pull on the small holds near the top. I have been patiently waiting all summer for conditions to improve, since I can't seem to drag myself out of bed at first light for the one or two hours of morning chill. Marc and I both took burns on it and we both executed all but one move, albeit we both skipped or failed on two different moves. We felt the route was probably in the 5.13- range and I would need a little tighter ab muscles and cooler conditions.

On the way out that day, Jason and Marcs' twenty-something knees blasted them up the talus, leaving the old man slowly plodding along behind. Instinctively, my head rocked back and up I stared at an over hanging arete littered with bulbous features. I have looked at this section of cliff too many times to count but now I was seeing 'the line' for the first time. In fact, I knew that there were already anchors up there from a neighboring trad line that may be in the right spot to do double duty for this potential addition. I returned a few days later and in under two hours had it bolted, cleaned and ready for action. That same night, I snared Jason after he flashed the almost 30 year old Last Freedom .11d at the Island and hustled him over the guard rail and down the talus slope to the arete. Two goes later I sent the Chill Arete .11c after offering it up to Jason upon falling twice my first try. It tricked him too but we both felt that it probably wasn't hard climbing just hard to read. It features crimps, pinches, slopers and a mantle and is steeper than it looks.

There is a section of cliff line down there I have been staring at for years now and I finally made my way across the river to look at it up close. This happened on a day when the route I was there to bolt was baking in the sun. Finding a brilliant looking wall of 15 degree overhang for 100 feet with obvious features, I shifted gears and started my way up. Six bolts up and the wall won, chewing up my last drill bit. Granite is only marginally softer than titanium and carbide tipped bits that will make hundreds of holes in dolomite succumb quickly to its will. Apparantly you can buy SDS bits for drilling in extra hard material. Hmmm... I need to place an order.