Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yosemite Part I

Last week, Cortney and I went to Yosemite for a bit of a vacation before we started school and work this fall. It was a bit warmer than we expected, and even more crowded than we expected, but we still had a great trip and got to climb on some really amazing boulders.

I'm pretty busy this week, so it may be a while before I upload the pics from our trip, but for now here's a video of Joel Campbell climbing The Diamond, a Matt Wilder problem at the recently-developed Candyland area in the Valley. This is just one of many five star lines we saw during our trip. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Leavenworth Article

I'm proud to announce that an article I co-authored with Jackie Hueftle about Leavenworth bouldering has recently been published in Climbing Magazine. My good friend Max Hasson took all of the photos, which feature only Washington-based climbers on the beautiful granite boulders of Leavenworth and Gold Bar. I had mixed feelings about writing an article that would give Leavenworth more exposure and bring more boulderers to Washington, but I think that we did a good job and that's really all that I could hope for. It's my hope that the increased publicity will simply increase the pace of Leavenworth's development, as well as push us "locals" into the mountains to discover more new areas.

Check it out, and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Leavenworth Stuff

I’ve been climbing in Leavenworth a lot over the last few weeks and I thought I’d provide a brief overview of some of the new development that's occured over there. It has continued to be really warm, which has driven us to the river’s edge during the hottest mid-day period... the results have been wonderful.

One especially notable climb is “Annie’s Climax” at Muscle Beach in the Icicle. This moderate top-rope route starts off of the large ledge mid-cliff that most people use as a place to hang out and drink beer, or leap off of into the deep blue pool below. On a tip from Jens Holsten, our crew of monkeys recently re-discovered that this climb offers an ideal deep-water solo: it’s scary, easy, committing, and safe to jump off the top of. I’m still too chicken to even jump off the ledge, let alone the top, so I might wait until I can do the route on top-rope first. But it has been awesome watching Joel, Johnny, Drew, and others climb (and fall from) this route, especially when it’s ninety degrees out. It’s worth noting that the climb receives zero stars in Viktor Kramer’s Leavenworth guide... he must not have put it up. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pics of this one.

Another worthwhile new find is Joe’s Boulder, found by my good buddy Joe Treftz this spring. Hidden in a small alcove on the other side of Icicle Creek, Joe’s Boulder offers a couple of tall, clean faces that sport some of Leavenworth’s most striking new lines. The holds are Gold Bar-like horizontal seams with just enough of a gritty edge to grip. I posted a video of a line on this boulder earlier, and I’ll post directions whenever I’m at liberty to do so.

Joe's Boulder

Perhaps the most notable recent first ascent is Johnny’s climb on the looming roof at the Carnival Boulders that I posted about earlier. The name says it all: Big Happy or Legs Go Snappy. It was especially impressive watching Johnny cut his feet and campus the high crux moves because he was concerned about swinging if he fell from the lip...

The FA of Big Happy or Legs Go Snappy

The final recent development I’ll mention regards some new climbs in the upper Icicle. I posted about the Grandview Boulder earlier this spring, which at 12+ miles up is probably the furthest established boulder problem in the Icicle. Just downhill from the parking area is The Sloping Lady, a fun, juggy slab right at the water’s edge. The name is fitting, as the climb vaguely resembles the Sleeping Lady, but is just barely fifth-class.* Two weekends ago, Cortney and I explored a spot just down-canyon and found a large swimming hole and a promising little rock face. We returned this weekend with ShickD and Max and, after a bit of swimming, cleaned and climbed a new line. It’s not huge or insanely hard, but it was tricky enough to be rewarding, and I think it’s quite pretty. I named it Mighty Mouse, in honor of my favorite childhood cartoon. Photos and video below...

Drew on Grandview Cortney on The Sloping Lady Mighty Mouse The Swimming Hole The FA of Mighty Mouse

* This is the first grade that has ever been mentioned here on NWGranite, and does not represent the beginning of a trend. The authors of NWGranite would like to assure you that, despite this isolated incidence of flagrant grade-oriented spraying, this website remains a grade-free zone.