Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Two Videos

I had a nice, non-climbing Saturday this weekend, and finished editing some footage from earlier this summer. I uploaded two videos to youtube, but I'm looking into how to upload them directly here and bypass the mainstream exposure... For the time being though, it works.

Here's Joel on two climbs, Gates of Fire in GB and Cheese and Crack Whores in Leavenworth:

And here's Johnny climbing The Frog in Index:

I only give the names for these problems tentatively, as the first ascent history for all three is unclear. I'm tired of hearing the assumptions, contradictions, and general b.s. surrounding questionable first ascents, and I'm already guilty of too many misnomers or mis-credits in Central Washington Bouldering. I do kind of enjoy gathering up all the different names people come up with for the same problem. But honestly, if one more person tells me they put up The Doja...


On Wedensday I headed up to Bellingham with Joel and Cortney to check out the sandstone bouldering we'd heard about up there. I hadn't heard the greatest things about the area, but then again, nobody was denying that there was actually climbing there. Internet pictures of steep beachside sandstone on 0Friction.com and a topo from DrTopo.com sealed the deal.

Our first destination was the Chuckanut Drive roof. It lies 40 feet from the road roughly 5 miles south of Bellingham, on the small roof at the edge of a large slabby boulder. Though I had heard about this problem a decent amount, we weren't inspired so we moved on to try our hand at finding the beach bouldering at Larabee Beach. An hour or so later, after much walking, we found a sweet boulder by the water's edge.

Here's Cortney stretching for the jugThe view down the beach
After playing for a while, we decided to check out Sehome Hill, a park right near WWU that we found a guide to on DrTopo. The woods were much cooler, and we found a good number of awesome green sandstone boulders to climb on. Joel climbed a hard line near the top of the hill, while I had a small epic on a climb called Bombshell. After spending a good deal of time sweating off of the top-out, I finally sent and we checked out a few more areas before getting pizza in town and returning home tired and happy. Though we didn't climb on that many problems, I was impressed with the quality of the sandstone in Bellingham and would not be surprised if motivated locals had developed other quality areas.
Here's the video of my triumph over Bombshell...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Heaven's Gate

This Wednesday Kyle and I headed out to Index to climb Heaven's Gate on the Upper Town Wall. The route begins up Lamplighter, a mixed off-width pitch, makes a short traverse, and finishes with three outstanding bolted pitches. Having never visited the Upper Wall before, I was both excited by the amazing granite landscape and apprehensive about the height and exposure. I've been making a concerted effort to regain some competance on a rope, but the steep sport climbs I had been working at Little Si definitely only lie halfway between bouldering and big, multi-pitch granite routes (even if they're bolted).
I am continually humbled by route climbing these days - the strength and precision required by hard bouldering seems trivial compared to the mental game for even moderate-level trad climbing. Working my weakness in this way has been at turns both frustrating and rewarding as I've tried to wrestle my ego into check. Half the time I end the day on a high, glowing because I stuck with a climb and used my head well. The other half of the time I'll end up feeling weak, stupid, and like a spoiled primadonna - I'm used to driving home with an extra notch on my belt, and there's really no such thing as 'bailing' on a boulder problem (except maybe that Boxcar Arete).
Anyway, Wednesday was one of those perfect days... The exposure was engaging, a nagging feeling in the back of my mind telling me not to relax too much, but I felt totally committed the whole time and there was no whimpering. Kyle led most of the pitches, and we topped out the wall with no falls. What an affirming experience! We hung out at the top for a half hour, then rappelled past another party. Back on the ground, we climbed Dana's Arch, a spectacular short pitch, and checked out some other walls before heading down the hill. It's worth stating that I am so thankful to have a reliable, confident, and encouraging partner like K-Diesel to help adventures like these fall into place...
Here's Kyle and I on the wall

Kyle, way up the third pitch, a 35 meter face with some of the coolest stone I've ever encountered

The view from the top

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pretty Boulders + Labyrinth

This weekend I meant to head to Gold Bar with Cortney, Joel, and Johnny for a couple of days of bouldering at the top of the hill. As we neared GB the coastal precipitation had in fact worsened, and it was drizzling steadily when we stopped in Index to check out the cliff. It was a pretty easy decision to hop back in the cars and head over the mountains, free spirits that we are.

We made it to Leavenworth in the late afternoon and headed up to the Pretty Boulders, a spot Cortney had never visited. The setting was very serene and Cortney, Joel, and I had a nice session. I finally did the dyno on Pretty Hate Machine, fulfilling my trip quota of one personally unclimbed problem... Cortney climbed strong and sent Pretty Burly, then made quick work of Pretty Girl as the sinking sun began to cast long shadows.

We camped in the Icicle, rare for a Friday night, and the next morning headed up to the Labyrinth. I never made it up the hill, instead becoming obsessed with an unclimbed line along the start of the trail. A bit of gardening and landscaping (and some attempts...) yeilded a fun new stand-start. The monkeys were done with their session by the time I sent and the problem recieved second, third, and fourth ascents within the hour. Here are two pics of me, and Johnny, on the line:

After that we headed to Swiftwater for a group session... we ended up at the Footless Traverse boulder, where Cole rapped the direct top-out to Big Booty Bitch Slap. After a bit of mini-traxion monkey business, we pulled the rope and Johnny dispatched the line from the sit in a couple of tries. Good times. Here's Cole cleaning:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Punk Rock

This past weekend I ventured up to Punk Rock with Cortney, Joel, and Johnny. We climbed on mostly new stuff that Joel had found on a recon mission the previous evening... a pretty rough hike along, and then down the steep top of the ridge, but well worth it for the fresh salt-and-pepper granite.
The view from the camping...

Joel warming up on the 72 Horsepower boulder

Johnny on an unnamed arete

Cortney on an unnamed five star dyno...

Joel attempting the uber-proj