Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Creek is Risin'

Went up to Castle pretty early this morning to find that the crossing log is getting wet and the initial crossing section is under water. So HB is out for a while. Went to Flag instead and fell off the very last move on Mongolian Cosmonaut. Next visit I hope. Unfortunately after 3 days of rain, the weather is now moving to sunny and hot so I will have to get up very early to beat the heat. The high peaks may be beckoning by now. If anyone can give me beta for the Lonestar boulder, I would appreciate it.

Visit MVM for some interesting footage of the amazing climbing in the Utah Hills--Ethan Pringle on Colder Than (Lame Ghetto Phrase)... and Psychedelic. I've been there when it's been cold but not that cold!

P.S. Thanks Jamie for adding to me your list of links.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Master Climber at the Denver Zoo

I took this clip this afternoon when we went with Sophia to the Denver Zoo. Sorry it's on its side.

If I could ever climb this well, I would be a happy man indeed. I suppose the prehensile tail helps. The ending section is the monkey going out the mesh ceiling a good 30+ feet up, stopping and scratching his/her tummy.

Keep the comments and info coming for the Boulder Canyon Guide...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hardboiled Redux/Boulder Canyon Bouldering Guide

Back up the canyon this morning in semi-arctic conditions. A real thrash across the river ferrying three full size pads and two accessory pads. Owing to cool temps and brisk wind I took forever to warm up. On the lower section, I discovered that the heelhook beta for the crux move seems pretty essential now that the right hand edge/pinch has eroded. The first move and the slap for the lip were not really an issue. The new Asana pad was really helpful since it has really hard foam that negates the very uneven landing.

I am starting to compile a bouldering guide to Boulder Canyon at Please visit as it will be updated on a semi-regular basis and leave your comments or contact me with info.

Amazing El Cap action with Tommy and Justin on Magic Mushroom. See more at the Alpinist website.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Smackdown on Hardboiled--Ouch!!!

I have unfinished business with this V11 boulder problem near Castle Rock in Boulder Canyon. A few years back I fell from the next to last move only to watch the creek rise in the next few days to the point where you would need a helicopter to get there. It soon grew too hot and I let it alone. Yesterday morning I went up very early for the cooler temps and worked out the upper moves which are awkward and technical. I was close to linking the upper half which is probably V8 by itself and wanted to remember the very end. I stepped on and set up for the very scrunchy and tenuous move to a good sidepull. My hand popped off and I impacted and slid down the adjacent boulder, probably the worst bouldering fall I have ever taken outside. Fortunately no serious injuries except some scrapes and a minor case of whiplash. I went out that afternoon and got an Asana Dynomite, which seems like a pretty good deal, as another backup pad. The landing for Hardboiled though not particularly bad demands maximum coverage and there are few climbers willing to head up to spot/work this problem at 6am. If you are one of those climbers let me know. If you see a demented soul wrestling 4 pads across the creek at 6 in the morning in the next week or so that will be me.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dawn Patrol/Dave Graham Translation/KGNU climbing show

Up to Flag at 6am this morning to beat the heat and wrap up a project that has been plaguing me awhile. On the ignominiously yet appropriately named Rear-End Rock, is a low start to the old non-descriptly named Left Bulge. You start on two fairly bad underclings, slap right to an OK but weird edge (optional match)and lock off to an intermediate and then a good edge over the lip. The hard first move I got fairly early on but the reach to the lip became really frustrating as I fell there at least 6 or 7 times. I topped out this morning after two very close attempts, four sessions overall--soooo tempted to grade it V10... I'm christening it "Tongue in Cheek", proposed V9, though it's not an FA that version should have a different name.

I may have to move on to Boulder Canyon since Flag is vulnerable to early morning sun. I have been chasing down feasible V8-V10 problems trying to break into the top 10 NA 35+ (essentially masters)ranking at I know it sounds pathetic but the motivation provides is very helpful. For those of us without unlimited free time to hang out at boulders everyday, every opportunity has to be maximized and part of that is staying psyched. It also motivates me more to climb outside since you really can't enter gym problems. There are some peculiar entries in the top 20 such as a climber who has multiple flashes of the same problem and the sixth wife of Henry VIII who was born in 1512 but by and large you get a clearer picture of what people in your general age bracket are up to. Props to EZ for leading the pack locally at #6 world master category.

Looking again at the Dave Graham Pro Blog, we are seeing a calmer and more reflective individual who, perhaps due to nagging injuries and a nigh-on 10 year run of high-end rock climbing, is finally looking out of the alley/rut. The Island seems to be a sort of spiritual retreat and connection that we all in some sense have to find. Dave's sense of dislocation is best expressed in the description of Horseshoe Canyon Ranch:

"Chad wandered off far into the forest and beckoned some one fetch him; things were not OK. With Chad's failure to act as conduit to higher powers, we noted a sensation. We marked this time in space and thus agreed on an ensemble to step it up a notch, releasing lots of frustrated and energy and in turn feeling safe and refurbished. Without some local connection, we were f**ked, and we could see this fact in each other’s eyes.

Dave's pun (intentional or not) in a following sentence has an almost Joycean ring:
"Through our many shared sessions of ramblings and rantings, we became more confused about life in general, and less confused about the Island its incredible properties. We reached no real conclusion about what was happening in a real or littoral sense, but we were most certainly stuck on the Island, and we rejoiced."

I also admired,"Why change my zones of timing?" and "Vowing to step it up a notch, again, and to stay calm around the crazy unfriendly viscous local folk..." and "This was the hand I was dealt, and I would play it." referring to his finger injury.

And so on. The gist of the matter is that Dave a. hardly wrote about climbing and b. did it quite well making it some of the most interesting and innovative writing I have read in quite a while.

"Hopefully you can all hear me, or hear yourselves reading my words, inside your heads. I expect this, and further, have a request that you don’t say these words out loud, or even try to explain them to others as this piece is solely to be read aloud in your own minds."

I may have disregarded Dave's request at the end of the piece but only with the best of intentions.

Tomorrow I am supposed to be a guest on KGNU's climbing radio show, presumably talking a bit about being a superannuated climber and related issues. Look for a guest post at the ClimbingNarc soon on climbing with kids and I also will be writing a piece for FRB on difficulty in climbing called "What's the Problem?"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

MVM footage of Daniel on V15/Disaster in Asia

Go to MVM video mag for some very striking footage of Daniel Woods on In search of time lost (Recherche de Temps Perdu for you Proust enthusiasts).I doubt Daniel's been spending much time curled up with that particular author's introspective and convoluted prose judging from the angle and length of the problem.

Take a minute today to ponder the horrific mess in Asia, between the tragic loss of life in China and the government's obstructive bungling and posturing in the wake of Myanmar's cyclone devastation. The stories in the New York Times are heartbreaking.

There are many relief efforts under way worth contributing to--Google is a good place to start.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Image of Women in Climbing

Mick Ryan has a very thoughtful and thorough look at the way in which women are portrayed in climbing media. Click here for the link. As a father of a girl and as a husband, I am deeply concerned about how women are depicted in the sport of climbing. It's gotten a bit better recently as more gender-neutral ads featuring Beth Rodden appear or the achievements of Josune Bereziartu are recognized as not just "pretty good for a woman".

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Alan Nelson Dead at 49

Go to this link for Richard Wright's remembrance of Alan Nelson, a crucial figure in the development of Clear Creek Canyon and an amazingly proficient and prolific climber. Thanks to Richard for writing and Climbing for publishing this.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Draft List--V8 and above on Flag

Hollow's Way V8
Smith Overhang V8
Last Overhang SS V8
Southern Sun V8
Mateus’ Highstep Extension V8
Moffat Direct V8
Low Monkey Traverse V8?
Redwall Standard Low Left Start V8
Mongolian Cosmonaut V8/9
Double Clutch V9
Firewall V9
Sweet Nothings V9
Beer Barrel Traverse V9
Undercling Traverse V9
Left Bulge Low Start V9
The Zombie Traverse V9
Red Wall Traverse L to R V9
Red Wall Traverse R to L (Just Another Traverse)V10
Just Right Low Start V9/10
Varney Super Direct V10
Shadow Line V10
Hagan's Wall Direct V10
Reverse Undercling Traverse V10
Pebble Traverse V10/11
Window Shopper V11
Mongolian Cosmonaut SS V11/12?
Over Yourself V11/12
Trice V12
Epoch V12
Epochalypse V13

That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Please add your suggestions and comments and I will incorporate them in the list. I am omitting the Hobo Cave problems at this point

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Flagstaff List V8 and up

Since I spend a lot of time, that is whatever little time I have, at Flag, I am compiling a top 20 list for the mountain, essentially the problems rated V8 or higher. I will be posting the list soon but if you have any suggestion for contenders, please add them in the comments field. I know the obvious ones such as Smith Overhang, Undercling Traverse, etc., but if you are aware of more obscure ones, let me know.