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.


Climbing Narcissist said...

I was sort of wondering about this when I was putting together the list of hard boulder problems. What do Paul and Ty have to say about when they never harness up? Is it just that the route climbing locales in the US are not as conveniently located/accessible? From the sounds of it, just getting to Tommy's routes at the fortress can be epic enough.

sock hands said...

peter: this is because YOU stole all the cool routes in colorado already. when compared to the aesthetics of some of the eurocrags, american route climbing is extremely lame [with definite exceptions, but we're dealing with broad brush stuff here].

red river gorge is awesome and i've heard wonderful things about the new and mill creek, but so far, from photos, i've not seen anything that compares to europe. we got the short end of the sport cragging stick for sure.

subsequent dissenting opinions should be supported by links to photos of worthy route climbing. rifle is an automatic dab. st. george utah stuff is a good start.

Peter Beal said...

And of course the new video at MVM is of Joe on some endurofest at Rifle, sporting two kneepads.

Thanks for the compliment SH. There is definitely more rock out there though. CN is right, you pretty much have to quit your job to climb at the Fortress

sock hands said...

speaking of long approaches, pb: please exercise your influence over the youth this summer so we do not have to waste time on the pad stashing debate.


and ps: i will admit that some rifle routes look pretty good... yet not good enough to worry about tryin' em, though!

well, someday....

Peter Beal said...

Re: Pad stashing, I need your beta on pad lashing, i.e. strapping together 2 pads plus lunch etc. I would really like to do Clear Blue Skies at Evans and will need to train for the approach as much as for the problem.

sock hands said...

i will likely spend most of my alpine time this year at evans since rocky is twice as far of a drive and since i can at least take one of my dogs with me to evans [cattle dog is getting too old and the little guy may be too loud for my old ears this year].

point: coordinate with me and you've already got a good amount of foam without needing to carry it.

though i do not think i have the ability to ever climb clear blue, it has been on my wishlist since it was first sent and i'd be psyched to devote some time to it and the craptastic mental pollution next to it and at least the obvoius standing start of greener grasses.

further interests: mirror mask, gorillas in the mist [rage!], child stars, a few random things that proved to me much more difficult than the days-end two tries i had for em, and tj's new 'tactical error' on the glass and silver [road] boulder.

this is not to mention all of the tallboys... .none of which i've done yet, but desperately want to.

.... game on ....

Peter Beal said...

Thanks for the offer SH. I would like to coordinate a visit once the snow gets reasonable.