Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Alpine Bouldering Season Wrap-up

I think it is safe to say that the regular bouldering season is finished as of about 12 noon this last Tuesday. Currently most of the Front Range is under about 8 inches or more of snow. I made one last-ditch effort to try European Human Being on Monday afternoon but was unsuccessful, make that completely out of it altogether. Angie Payne, who was trying Freaks of the Industry, was also unsuccessful that evening. To top it off, just as I was at Bear Lake, having navigated every stretch of ice successfully on the way down so far, I slipped and fell on the tiniest little invisible patch. Chaos Canyon was obviously not done with me yet.

My highpoint on European was reached in mid-October

Anyway, it's been an uneven sort of year overall, it seems to me. Dave Graham and Carlo Traversi started things up with a splash at Endo Valley, especially the opening up of Flux for Life a V13 roof problem. The weather rapidly warmed up but high snow levels in the Park limited activity for much of June and into July. Even after the snow retreated, the summer at Chaos was marked by no particularly difficult first ascents or repeats. This may have been the first time in a long while that Jade saw no repeats and Daniel Woods' Hypnotized Minds from 2010 remains unrepeated as well.

There was a lot of activity at Lincoln Lake, especially from the Southern team of Jimmy Webb and Brion Voges. Nate Draughn and Brad Weaver also checked in with notable ascents on Mount Evans, Nate on the Big Worm V14 and Brad with a flash of No More Greener Grasses V12, both at Area A. The primary weakness of Lincoln Lake, its crumbly granite, was revealed once again with the altered holds of Evil Backwards which went from V14 to V12. Once again the Daniel Woods testpiece of the area, Warrior Up V15 remains unrepeated since last season as does the amazing Let the Right One In V14.

Dave Graham on The Ice Knife Cameron Maier Photo

Most impressive perhaps was Dave Graham's ascent of the Ice Knife V15 in Guanella Pass, near Georgetown, south of I-70. Done less than a week before Dave left for China and of course the massive recent snow, this was the latest in a long line of contributions Dave has made to Colorado bouldering. No doubt there are a few more projects still being considered in his fertile mind. But if it's alpine it will have to wait until next spring.

Here's a great little video of the indefatigable Ryan Silven in action in RMNP, again from Cameron Maier.

The publication of Jamie Emerson's alpine bouldering book, if the lack of crowds I encountered is any indication, did not prove to be the ruin of these special areas and I hope the publication of my own book on bouldering will encourage others to responsible and safely enjoy them as well.

For me it was a season of discovery as I finally began to understand more clearly what the task of bouldering hard at altitude is all about, especially with limited time and usually no companions. I have a clearer picture of what I want to do moving forward, especially in Lower Chaos. For now the lower elevations will have to do but I am definitely looking forward to next June (or earlier!)


Kaelen said...

didn't dave do warrior up and let the right one in last year?

Peter Beal said...

meant to say since last year. good catch!

Jon Glassberg said...

End of the year alpine highlights coming soon from LT11!

Peter Beal said...

looking forward to it Jon!