Sunday, March 30, 2008

14b at 46--Tribout shows the way

Lots of snow and cold today so indoor climbing again.

With his ascent of the aptly named Guere d'Usure at Claret in France JB Tribout reminds us again that it isn't impossible to climb at a very high standard well into middle age. Read his account at for more.

In an interview for escalademag, I noted his comments about how many old-school French routes lack many repeats or quick ones. Is there need to revisit the grades here? Probably so.

By the way thanks to Brian at for tracking down the Dave Graham video. I spent a fair amount of time there doing the Present, a wee bouldery 14a. I am amazed that Psychedelic has not been repeated yet. Paul Robinson, stop wasting your time at Bishop!

I am developing a story for on the real issues that hinder climbing hard as you age. I am more and more convinced that the main problems are psychological and social in nature, especially in a contemporary culture that pressures its older members into a sedentary existence. Physical challenges are significant but nowhere near as much as the mental ones.

Ed Webster is coming to Neptune Mountaineering this week and I am thinking of going. When I started climbing back east, Ed was responsible for a number of very significant climbs in New Hampshire. He never really seemed to be part of the scene there but was amazingly prolific, often to the chagrin of lazy local climbers who bickered about bolts and so on. I found him much less macho and ego-driven than the likes of Henry Barber and overall, I consider his legacy a more important one, given his lengthy list of new routes and ascents around the world. So check it out if you can.

Lastly, Jamie update your blog! We need more pictures of amazing Swiss boulders!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Another Amazing European Cliff

Another reason why we have so few hard routes and the Euros do. Courtesy of Planet Mountain.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Concerning that Joe K video

I just watched the MVM video with sound on and I have to say that maybe the reason the hard routes aren't going in is the free and easy attitude certain "pro" climbers have about nabbing other people's climbs. After talking with Andy at the Spot, my word to Joe and others who would like to coast along on other people's hard work--Is there any other phrase for bolting at Rifle?--is get on the stick and put in the effort and get the vision thing together. (Old school Rifle reference--props to Kurt Smith)

I've done a bunch of old projects around Boulder and nearly always got the bolter's permission except when it was obvious the route wasn't being worked on anymore or the equipper wasn't around. I've placed a fair number myself and all I can say is that climbing is way easier than bolting.

Andy, who by the way is going to college full-time, is probably investing 500 to 1000 bucks on these climbs, given time, parts and labor. Seems to me that climbers who have apparently nothing to do but climb for the camera should saddle up and get to work on setting the standard and definitely not hassle those who actually have put in the effort. Andy take as long as you need on your project, which will probably be the hardest in the canyon. And Joe, chuck a lap on Grand Ole Opry (likely 14c)while you're waiting for Andy to get done.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

So where are the 9a and up routes?

Here's my quick inventory of likely 9a(14d) and harder routes in the US:

Kryptonite, The Fortress CO, Caldwell, 1999 Repeat by Adam Stack according to "original" sequence, 14c/d, Hirayama by "new" sequence

Flex Luthor, The Fortress CO, Caldwell, 2003 Unrepeated, possibly harder, likely hardest in US

Jaws II, Rumney NH, Vorotnikov, 2007, Unrepeated, claimed 15a, bouldery

Psychedelic, Gorilla Cliff, UT, Graham, 2001, 14c/d, very short V13 crux followed by 13a also unrepeated

Graham's hybrid route/boulder problem The Fly at Rumney I am removing from consideration since it has seen a number of repeats, including a near-flash by Chris Sharma.

Is this an indication of just how far the bouldering trend has gone? In Europe it appears that there are dozens of routes at the grade in all sorts of places from Spain to Germany. Are American climbers unable or unwilling to put in the hard work for the big lines of the future?

After all when you can get your video on MVM for tacking on 3 traverse moves to a roadside V10 in Boulder Canyon, why bother searching for the bigger fish? This is not to diss Ty who is a superb climber but a media scene that underplays the significance of routes. Is Joe Kinder the only climber left who puts on a harness? Obviously not but recently one is left wondering...

Speaking of putting in routes, Justin Sjong was kind enough to let me put up a problem at the Spot, a nice little 4- on the Font boulder. And since an unnamed employee mentioned the possibility of blogging about problems at the Spot, as I have done before, I will again. I look forward to doing much more at CATS as well.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Fresh Snow for Spring Break

Well my spring break has started with 5 inches of fresh snow. I have confidence it will melt soon which is good since I have 3 projects (V10, V11, V12) running simultaneously up at Flag. Details as/if they are sent. I had a good Sunday session at the Spot, doing 4 of the Open comp problems yesterday, the first time I have ever succeeded doing that many in a single session. Most of the ones I tried, regardless of grade, were good problems with a mixture of hold types and techniques. In other words not mindless sloper jumps or simple crimp ladders. Justin Sjong appears to be coordinating setting which is good news. His wide experience, professional attitude and open outlook is just what the Spot needs.

I received an acceptance letter from the Ph.D. program at CU in Comparative Literature which could be a fairly major change in direction, allowing me, I hope, to focus more on scholarship and writing and not just teaching, as I have for the past decade.

I was sorry to hear of the death of Steve Dieckhoff, a local climber who was, sadly, mostly known for his anti-bolting activities. He was a much more complex and multifaceted individual than that. His death stands as a reminder that life is briefer and richer than we ever can realize, usually until it's too late.

And if you think you're climbing well, reports that Adam Ondra (age 15) climbed an 8c, 8c+, and 9a in a day. Which got me thinking, how many 9a climbs are there in the USA? Not that many, I think.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sophia at dinner

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A useful book, at least if you work for a living

If you check in at the office periodically and actually work for a living, you might find this book interesting and useful. At the very least a testimonial to the human condition. The author's blog is here. As they say in academia, the fights are intense because the stakes are so small.

Open 8 at CATS is starting to come together. Some crazy movement and thanks to some creative editing by Chris Danielson and Paul Robinson, a really cool problem. I set the first version which was apparently V15. Now it's more like V12.