|Andy Hansen on Steep Thrills 5.12a|
The weather the last few days has definitely been in the favor of us south-western climbers. Temps during the day are about 50° and now that the wind is gone you can spend all day plenty warm climbing in the sun. Although no climber leaves the house or campground without at least one warmer layer, it is still a safe bet that if you follow the sun, you'll be warm enough to climb. My climbing friends and I are finding that these temps are best suitable for bouldering and sport climbing, which also matches our current desires to get stronger this winter. Seeing as these types of climbing also require less time and equipment, it is easier to make the most of the sun and avoid having to commit to a long climb,which will more quickly go into the shade and leave you with the "screaming barfies." Lately I've personally been interested in getting on more 5.12s, and I have been trying a lot of 5.12b and up. I am hoping that the more I apply myself on these climbs the more the moves will become easier to figure out and execute more regularly. Recently some friends and I went to the popular sport climbing crag The Gallery, and I had an opportunity to get on The Gift 5.12d and Where the Down Boys Go 5.12d. Both climbs are overhanging, pumpy and have very bouldery sections protected by perma-draws. This makes it a no brainer to attempt and is something I was glad to do. I have visited The Gallery several times before attempting these harder lines, but when I did I was encouraged by the fact that they both felt achievable and not impossible.
|Senja Palonen low on The Gift 5.12d|
|Senja getting one last shake before entering the crux.|
|... Senja just after falling off the crux hold.|
On all of my visits to The Gallery I have seen many people attempting to send The Gift, but I can't ever say I've seen anyone do it successfully. The climb features about 35 feet of pumpy and fun climbing before it's crux, which is two or three small crimpers just far enough apart to shut most mortal climbers down attempt after attempt. The crux holds are sharp and a little bit awkward. On my attempt I chose to bypass the two worst holds and rather did a large and static cross through to the best of the three holds... beta which I'm not sure is ideal either. The climb was a great challenge and besides a few greasy holds was a lot of fun. Later on I was lucky enough to get to watch and photograph Senja Palonen on one of her attempts this winter, and from the sounds of it she's been trying to do this climb clean for over a year now. Although giving it one hell of a try she was still unsuccessful and fell off the crux hold... After her second attempt of the day it looked liked it still might have to wait for another day. The sharp point on the right hand crux hold managed to tear up her finger and even drew a little blood, something not terribly uncommon in this sport. But the reality is an unfortunate sign that the send might have to wait till next time...
|Andy Reger gets the send on Donkey Punch|
After a rest day from two days of sport climbing we decided to gather the troops and go out bouldering at Kraft boulders in Calico Basin. Old friends and new friends came together for a day attempting what many climbers lovingly refer to as "pebble wrestling". Although this shorter rope-less variation of rock climbing doesn't usually climb higher than 15 feet off the ground, it is nothing to shake a stick clip. Bouldering really packs a punch in those short segments of climbing. Often the moves required on bouldering problems are more technically difficult than on most routes, it just usually isn't as sustained or pumpy overall. Although I was probably no higher above the ground than a two story house, I left Kraft that day feeling like I had climbed a long multi-pitch climb somewhere back in the canyons.
|John Starr on Alexisizer V5/V6|
My favorite problem of the day was Alexisizer
V5/V6, which is a difficult slopey traverse which lead to a powerful mantle and top out. The moves were tricky throughout and a total riot to figure out. For me deciding how to grab the slopper holds across the traverse came naturally, but the foot work and multiple heel/toe hooks to figure out proved to be the more cryptic aspect of the climb. Every attempt ended with my falling or slipping off with a huge grin on my face, not even bummed, just happy to try it again. I came close to sending it that day, but kept falling on one of the last traverse moves to match hands on a decent horn out right. This problem didn't leave me feeling frustrated, but instead I left even more psyched than I had arrived.
|Lindsey Gram on an unknown problem (V2?) on the Warm Up Boulder.|
Lindsey and the lady crew bouldered circles around the men. As the men were "throwing wobblers" attempting problems harder than we're probably capable of, they were topping out boulder after boulder, some of which they jokingly referred to as first ascents. One of the problems they were working on that caught my eye was a short desperate face climb on the backside of the Warm Up Boulder. A few crimps and a long move to a slopey crimp would bring you to the top, if only it was that easy. The move looked awesome and I got a few good shots of them giving it a go.
|Andy Hansen working the moves on "Monkey Bar Right" V6|
Lastly we gathered what was left of our strength and walked over to the Monkey Bar Boulder. This popular boulder is home to a handful of great problems, all of which top out surprisingly high off the ground. Andy, John, and I started focusing out attention of a V6 called Monkey Bar Right, which was seeing good light at that time of day. I gave a few attempts, one of which I found myself not even sure how I was still holding on and with an increasing side ache. Andy seemed to dig this problem the most and he spent some time working it as I shot photos. Being a little tired I decided to try something slightly easier, and gave Hyperglide V4/V5 a go. This problem starts on a few good holds and then you find yourself on a okay pinch, and a terrible crimp. Gaining the next bad crimp requires a very high foot and intense core strength, a move I was surprised to pull off on my second attempt. The top out was extra spicy at 20ish feet above the earth, and as I pulled on questionable less traveled stone I tapped into my multi-pitch-trad-runout state of mind... three points of contact, don't pull too hard, and don't fall! It was an exciting finish to a great problem, one that I am sure I'll be back on again.
|John Starr moving off the two bad crimps on Hyperglide|