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.

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