Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Year Updates: 2014

Andy Reger on his journey up Wise Guys Off Size 5.10c, Red Rock, NV.

Happy New Year! …  A little late, but now that I've said that I can move on with slightly more interesting ramblings.  The motivation and time to climb or shoot has fluctuated around the holidays as usual.  This phenomenon (as it seems) is actually relatively normal for those of us who choose to see our families, eat lots of great food, and have a few glasses of egg nog to unwind.  But now with the new year, the motivation is back in full swing and the great American West is looking like a lovely playground once again.  This year I plan to expand a little from the regiment of offwidth and aid climbing I have somehow found myself adhering to.  Not to say I will leave these fun disciplines behind, but rather I plan to take some time to explore a handful of challenging boulders, climb some finger cracks, and maybe take some massive sport lobbers off something I should probably be able to send by now.  Plenty of climbs to work on!

Slogging upwards after the crux on Malicious Mischief 5.10c.
Red Rock, NV.
For the first adventure of the year me and good friend Andy Reger decided to head up the non-classic Malicious Mischief 5.10c.  This route receives very little attention; I haven't talked to anyone who's been up it. Its position directly next to the classic Epinephrine 5.9 means that pretty much nobody really considers going up this climb anymore.  At first I thought it must be because the crux pitch is described as "scary" and begins in a "10-inch down flaring offwidth", but to me these things seemed relatively intriguing and moderately inviting.  Even before entering the crux, some complications were encountered and I soon had a few additional descriptive words to include. We pressed on through the sea of loose rock and on one pitch Andy selectively avoided the remains of an old webbing anchor wrapped around a now completely dead bush and opted for building a belay stance 15' below the crux pitch.  I then headed up the crux, which involved an unprotected traverse to gain the offwidth. After a few fist jams I was able to plug a piece and kept climbing.  I offwidthed my way through the flaring fun and soon was wedged into the base of long squeeze chimney.  35' feet of unprotected squeezing led to a neat flared tight hand crack corner, where I placed my second and third piece of gear on the pitch.  This brought me to a nice ledge which was an easy rest, but the spice was not over. 

This is when it got more interesting, again.  The climbing kind of halted, and it appeared that I would need to traverse 10' left to get into another wide crack system, which would continue to the top.  I envisioned a traverse route across, and as I started to climbing I ripped off a nice chunk of stone and stepped back down to the ledge. Yikes. Opting out of another unprotected free traverse on questionable rock, I chose to tension-traverse over (with the rope) and swung to the next crack system off to the left.  From here you enter another squeeze and offwidth up a ways until the crack becomes a tighter corner.  The rock quality is still pretty crunchy and many features are questionable.  I will leave it at that, an adventure for sure!

Inches from the send on Chinese Handcuffs 5.11d/5.12a.
Red Rock, NV. 
A little burnt-out on some of remaining obscure wide climbs in Red Rock, I decided to venture out into some smaller splitter cracks.  The Monument in Black Velvet Canyon features some nice splitters of the finger sized variety and a lot less loose rock to rip off.  It felt great to crank on just my fingers and toes after so many days spent jamming my whole leg or arm.  I still need to hone in on this smaller size, but overall I felt pretty good when I think about how these climbs felt over a year ago.  We'll be heading up soon for more work on these great crack features.  I sense sending soon. 

Snapshot from some preliminary moonrise time-lapse shooting. 

In my spare time I've also be pursuing a variety of video based projects.  I have been eager to explore some new shooting and editing techniques, so I found the challenge in time-lapse shooting.  I decided to start with shooting various moon-rises over Las Vegas and the desert at large.  As many of you know the colors at this time of day/night in the desert are incredible and very conducive for time-lapse work.  I have found time-lapse photography to be conceptually easy but more difficult to execute.  Lots of editing steps and lots of images to string together.  The procress has been exciting and things are coming together well.  Check back soon for some examples of this work.  

Experimenting with some angles for a video project on cycling. 

Being a regular bike commuter I have also been pretty interested in creating a cycling short video.  The concept remains mostly in my head, but the basic idea is to shoot a short ride using one camera placed in as many possible angles as I can think of.  Using a GoPro, this idea might seem trite before I even begin the project.  But using some artistic judgement I think this project could take on a life of it's own, and avoid being the helmet-cam catastrophe I see all too often. Although it might be a little time consuming.  I am currently in the preliminary stages of the project and have been working on bringing the ideas from my head into actuality.  A new and exciting process that I'm looking forward to figuring out. Well, that's all for now.  Hope everyone is having a fun a productive 2014. 

Flying above the snowy mid-west.


Robert Finlay said...

Fun read. I was looking for notes on Malicious Mischief and found your blog. Nor have I met anyone who has climbed the route, so good job on that. Supposedly, Richard Harrison and I got the 2nd ascent I think that was around 1987. And oddly enough I met Joe Herbst in the canyon a few weeks later. He was no longer climbing, but was in there hiking with friends. He looked up longingly at the route and asked if I had climbed it. I told him I had, with Richard a couple of weeks earlier, and that perhaps we may have gotten the 2nd ascent, he laughed! Those were all good times for sure.

Matt Kuehl said...

Robert thanks for getting in touch, its great the hear some of the history of these less traveled routes. Nice work on the 2nd ascent! It seems the route has remained relatively unchanged since 1987, it is still pretty adventurous. If you're ever looking for a partner be touch, it's always great and humbling to climb with those who have been exploring Red Rocks for so long.