Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Death of Kurt Albert

The climbing world was shaken by the news of a serious accident involving Kurt Albert, the German climbing legend who invented the concept of the redpoint and hence the modern concept of free climbing. Planet Mountain has the full story as do many other websites. Kurt was 56 years old.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Back in the Park

Since my project at Lincoln Lake broke, I have been focusing my efforts in RMNP, trying to get up there once a week to try European Human Being. This crimpy V12 has long been on the to-do list and I have finally begun to really apply myself to it. A session last weekend didn't feel too bad but one glaring omission remained, the undercling move to the upper small crimp. This weekend I squeezed in a short session and started to really closely analyze it.

Pictured above is the classic position for the move with a high left foot. After repeated tries (and failures)to make this work, I have finally succeeded on the move by keeping my feet lower on smaller edges to the left. While I don't know if I can get this problem this season, solving that obstacle is a big step forward. It is obvious that one thing, more than anything else, is required for success on the problem and that is having the right hand lower crimp feeling like a jug. Everything else becomes much easier if that is the case.
The last obstacle is sticking the powerful but subtle throw out left. This is a hard move to a pretty good edge but the possibility for losing the left foot and spinning off is very high. I have done this move but always find it a bit touch-and-go. Here Aaron from Fort Collins shows how to set up for the move.

The temperatures over the past week have been curiously warm for this late in the season and the fear is that suddenly winter will swoop in and shut the alpine bouldering areas down. It would be nice to try this problem in crisp conditions for once.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Three Red Wall Classics

Three Red Wall Classics from peter beal on Vimeo.

The top three problems on Flagstaff's Red Wall, done on a hot greasy September afternoon. Listen to your own favorite music while watching or enjoy the silence:)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Andrew Kornylak's The Beta Continues: Alfred Hitchcock

The Beta - Alfred Hitchcock from Andrew Kornylak on Vimeo.

Pretty much anything Andrew creates is well worth watching. No exception here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Broken Arms at Wolverineland

Just as the summer season is wrapping up and I was getting psyched on a new project at Lincoln Lake, catastrophe (or opportunity) struck. I went to Lincoln Lake last Saturday to try Small Arms and after a few tries on the hard second move found that I was very close to sticking it,meaning that the problem might go, maybe even that day. Unfortunately as I was trying the third move, I felt the sharp gaston give just a little. A few more pulls on it showed that the hold was detaching. I called over a few other locals to see what they thought and the consensus was that the loose part of the hold should be broken off. This was very quickly done leaving a much worse edge and a far harder move. While we were there, the last pair of holds was looked at again and the loose part of the left edge was removed as well. This will make the ending move a bit harder but still doable the old way.

I was reluctant to modify such a classic problem but for the fact that if the either hold had broken on a climber, a serious fall could have resulted. I am sure the second move goes but the overall grade of the problem has risen from a soft V11 to a likely hard 12 or 13. I know I am not strong enough to do it at this time and will probably stick to other areas for now. Even though I would like to discover the other hard problems there, I have so many undone attempted problems in RMNP, and of course Clear Blue Skies on the other side of Evans, that I will focus my efforts elsewhere for the rest of the season.

So if you were planning on trying Small Arms, here is what the holds look like now:
The two broken holds on Small Arms
Buena Suerte!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Labor Day at Lincoln Lake

Looking down at Lincoln Lake
I finally decided to visit the area that has been the focus of many of the most active boulderers in the Front Range for much of the summer. Lincoln Lake, AKA WolverineLand, is a pile of huge boulders below the Mount Evans Road, just above the lake. The access was pretty straightforward. After paying for a pass and driving up one of the most spectacular roads in the lower 48, you park above the lake and make your way down the tundra to the boulders, which sit somewhere around 11,700 feet. This is a steep hike and at some point a switchbacked trail is going to need to be marked. Erosion could soon be a concern given the inevitable popularity the area will enjoy.

I soon approached the boulders and had no idea where things were. There are so many literally house-sized boulders that it is difficult to see anything or find your way. With the aid of some other climbers I found Unshackled, a spectacular roof problem that sits more or less in the middle of things. There are about a thousand photos and videos of this problem so I am not posting one here. Suffice to say that for a granite boulder, this kind of a feature on such a steep wall is remarkable and an indication of the incredible potential that the area is yielding. After a few minutes of scoping it out, I decided to go over to check out Small Arms.

Trying Small Arms V11, photo taken by Caroline Treadway
I really wanted to try Small Arms, a crimpy V11 put up this summer by Carlo Traversi, and after bumping around the talus I found it. Small Arms is found on the north side of the talus, close to the bottom of the slope, climbing a beautiful steep wall on edges and small crimps. It vies with Unshackled for the most beautiful line here.

Sizing up the last move on Small Arms, photo Caroline Treadway

Small Arms felt very doable and much easier than Clear Blue Skies, its oft-compared counterpart on the other side of Mount Evans. The second and the last moves are hard,while the others went very quickly. With a spotter and another pad (and a more healed tailbone area) I think this problem should go pretty soon, assuming the road stays open.

I had to get back to Boulder so after packing up, I headed back up to the road, stopping on the way to chat with various friends and acquaintances. Angie Payne, Flannery Shay-Nemirow and Jamie Emerson were trying a new Dave Graham problem, Little House on the Prairie, an innocuous looking V13 high up on the slope.

Jamie Emerson, Little House
Angie Payne, Little House

 The view to the southeast, approaching the road

The walk out was tiring but oddly enjoyable as the views expanded across the Front Range and the sun added a warm glow to the ridges and broad slopes of Mount Evans. Given all the hype that this area has received recently, I wondered if it would actually be that good, but having explored only a little bit of the possibilities here, there is no doubt in my mind that I will be back soon.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Flagstaff Climbing Video: 30th Birthday Roof (Tommy's Arete "Bonus")

I was up at Lincoln Lake yesterday and it was amazing but I don't have time to write about it today. Here are two so-so videos instead. Sorry :)

30th Birthday Roof V6 Flagstaff Mountain from peter beal on Vimeo.

Tommy's Arete V7 RMNP from peter beal on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

8C at Lincoln Lake?

Daniel Woods and Dave Graham reported on that they both did Warrior Up, a roof problem at Wolverine Land, the newly developed area near Lincoln Lake on Mount Evans. Both note the problem as soft for the grade.

A fuller report is available at the Low Down.

(Update: Video of the ascent by Daniel)

Video Of Jamie Emerson's ascent of Evil Backwards V14

The cooler weather will see more high-grade ascents in the coming weeks, no doubt. For my part, I am hoping my lower back and pelvis feel better fast. The timing of last Sunday's slip-and-fall could not have been worse. I took a quick trip to Chaos on Friday afternoon and found that bouldering was very frustrating owing to the constant fear of hitting that area again. I am confident things will get better but time in the high country is running short.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Rough Gem

My favorite kind of video; a beautiful boulder, atmospheric location, shot long. Wonderful. Found on UKClimbing via the Low Down

Nalle Hukkataival Rough Gem (8B) FA from ZeroSkillz on Vimeo.

Also it appears that Jamie Emerson has succeeded on Evil Backwards 8B+ at Lincoln Lake, for its possible 4th ascent. Nice work!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Watch Your Step

On Sunday morning I made a very early morning run up to Boulder Canyon to try the Hug. While standing on the riverbank by the tyrolean crossing and checking the creek for a way across, my feet very suddenly came out from under me and I landed hard on my rear end, resulting in one of the worst falls I have taken in recent memory. I wasn't carrying anything and have been to that site many times before so no excuses, just a sudden slip and fall.

I am still recovering from it but am glad nothing more serious happened, such as a sprain or fracture of something, or hitting my head, any of which could have happened. I still ferried my pads across and tried the problem, which was stupid since over-the-head heelhooks are kind of difficult with a severely pounded posterior. The point of all this is to remind readers that incidents of this type can come out of nowhere. After a summer of tiptoeing across huge talus an hour from the road carrying three pads, I would not have guessed that I could take such a fall, literally next to the road. Maybe I let my guard down or was not quite awake. Whatever the reason, it was a hard reminder to never let your guard down.

Obviously I am glad I emerged with only a bruised butt and some scrapes. Sadly the climbing world recently learned of the death of Chloe Graftiaux, killed when a hold/block pulled while she was soloing easy ground while descending from a route in the French Alps, sending her for a 600-meter fall. A very experienced and talented young climber, Ms. Graftiaux was a master at multiple climbing disciplines with a plan to become a climbing guide. It is a shame that she is gone. While we can never know exactly what happened or why, the accident is food for thought. Always be aware and alert when climbing, even on the approach or descent and maybe especially then.