Thursday, March 4, 2010

Frankenstein FA

Two weeks ago, Cortney and I were hiking around the woods in Index with our buddy Chris Henson to look for boulders. We found a small cluster in the woods below the Upper Wall, and have been back there several times to clean them... It is a nice area that should yield some quality lines, but at this point we have only established three new lines. The reason for this is that I became obsessed with Frankenstein - the tallest, proudest line of the area.
The Magical Forest of Index
Me Attempting Frankenstein
Frankenstein is an 18-20 foot tall boulder that slightly overhangs a drop-off landing. When I first saw it, I knew that it would be a classic problem, but that it would require a great deal of work. And not just climbing effort - work. Cortney and I built two landing platforms from fallen logs in the area, ripped a 100-pound flake off the start, and spent two whole days excavating the lip and rappel-cleaning the face. The first day I began attempting the climb, I ripped an undercling off from halfway up, went rocketing backwards through the air, and came to an abrupt stop on John Stordahl's (meaty) shoulder over a steep, rocky landing. This is probably hyperbole, but I like to think he saved my life.
Cleaning on A Rope (cue circus music)
After two more days of trying the line, I had figured out a workable sequence for the beginning and was starting to make headway on the blank upper section. The crux of the climb revolves around a sloping right-hand crimp that is the last decent grip before the finishing hold three feet above. This past Sunday, I dangled around and figured out a method that I thought would work, but once I pulled the rope I had only a few goes left and couldn't manage to send it. On Monday afternoon, I took off from school and met Kyle in Index. With five and a half pads and his encouragement, I sent the climb first try of the day. Here are some photos and the video of the FA. I plan on drawing up a topo to the area in a few weeks, but for now it will just remain a little secret between you and I...

Kyle Climbing Igor, A Right Variation on FrankensteinJohnny Stordahl and I On Another Project
As an interesting post-script to my personal first ascent epic, Kyle sent the line second try. That is, in two tries total. After several days of working it, visualizing potential sequences in my head, and lying awake at night imagining it, I had built the climb up in my head as being super-hard. I was prepared to propose the grade of 8C+ for it. But Kyle walked up it like it was one of those cute little walls in a children's playground; it instantly became just another boulder climb that the impending legions of gymbros will effortlessly scamper up. I guess it just goes to show how the process of figuring a climb out can have a huge impact on one's subjective impression of its difficulty. In a larger sense, for me it really highlights the entire subjectivity of the whole bouldering thing, and makes the current internet debates about the "standards" and "solidification" of cutting-edge bouldering grades seem comically shortsighted and artificial. Oh well; at least I had a lot of fun. Best wishes for a beautiful weekend to everyone...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sky Valley Pics

This winter has been wonderfully dry and warm... there has been a good 'early spring' season in Gold Bar, and lots of people have been making it up the hill despite the length of the hike. There isn't too much to report, but I've taken some nice pics over the last two weeks and thought I'd share them. Enjoy!

Joel Warming Up At Que LunaCole Allen, Unfortunately Still Recovering From FrostbiteCortney Sending Midnight LichenJoel on the Samurai BoulderNice TreesCassie BearMe on the Baby FaderSunset Panorama