Sunday, October 26, 2008

Poudre Canyon Sessions

Ian on Circadian Rhythm.

It's a good time of year to climb in Poudre Canyon. It has been busy up there, but Horan's guide hasn't had any obvious impact yet. Everyone we've seen the past two weekends are boulderers who've been climbing up there for years. Ian Dory was up there last weekend, and he's was coming very close to doing "Circadian Rhythm." It amazes me how in just a few years "Circadian Rhythm" went from being one of the hardest problems in the world, to something locals are climbing. Ft. Collins climbers just keep getting stronger.

Brandon and Amanda wrapping up the day.

Yesterday, I got on Divergence for the first time in six years. The opening crimps felt much better to me than last time, and I was able to pull up high enough to grab the high sidepull, but I kept popping right off. I have no idea how people stay on the thing. I'll probably wait another six years before I get back on it.

Just left of Divergence, some chalked holds grabbed Ashley's attention. I had written the line off due to it's lowball nature. Ashley jumped right on. She's not as frightened of lowballs as I am.

Ashley sent it, and added a crazy low lie down start to the problem which made it even more frighteningly lowball, but she convinced me to get on it by betting me a dollar I couldn't do the first move. After many attempts, I got the first move, but we moved on before I sent the problem. It's better and more difficult than it looks for short climbers, but probably not very interesting if you're over 5'6".
After falling off a variety of problems, we decided to wrap up the session by repeating "Perch." It's a technical sit-start problem, but it eases up substantially once you have the beta worked out. It has easy on the skin holds, and fun movement.
Here are photos of Ashley on the top half.

After climbing "Perch," Ashley and I started talking about moving somewhere new. Though we aren't seriously considering it, we talk about it sometimes. The best experience in bouldering is topping out a classic problem, that's really hard for you, that you haven't done before. The longer you live in an area, the harder it gets to have this experience. You climb all the nearby classics that suit you, and to keep getting up good new problems the price keeps increasing. You have to drive farther, hike longer, risk more, and keep getting stronger, which gets more and more difficult. We sometimes fantasize about living somewhere new, with hundreds of classic problems that we've never tried before.
Before packing up, I saw some chalked holds I hadn't noticed before on the back of the Scuba Steve boulder. A dyno off two holds to a sloper and top out. I really wanted to do something new so I started working on it. It took me a few goes, but I started getting the height I needed off my jump to slap the sloper. I almost caught it a couple times, and suddenly I felt psyched again. The problem is short, far from inspiring, and probably not very interesting for people taller than me, but it got me excited. All you really need, is a problem with one good move you're not sure you can do, but still feels possible, and you have good bouldering. New classics will keep getting harder to find, but there are still plenty of moves around Ft. Collins that will push us, even after many years of bouldering almost every weekend. And, if we ever do run out, there's always trad climbing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Red Feather Aesthetics

After not getting out last weekend due to cold rain, It was great to get out again in perfect weather. Appreciating the beauty of the sun, trees, boulders, and meadows.

We got some great bouldering in, but we also enjoyed just hanging out, telling jokes, and stories.
Jacob and Amanda between attempts.

We started the day at Desperado, and then walked further up the gully. Jacob did the probable first ascent of a slab on the back of the boulder shown below. It involves a fun running start to reach a sloping edge about nine feet up. I managed to latch it right after Jacob, and then we moved on to the dyno problem pictured below.
Jacob on the problem.

Jacob, Ricky and I made countless attempts on this line. Jacob caught the top once, but didn't figure out the mantle fast enough. Heartbreaking. Ricky figured out some static beta, and came incredibly close to latching the top, but we'll all need another day on this problem.
Ricky's method.

Just across a small meadow in a thick aspen forest is a nice line that Jacob found and cleaned on rappel during previous sessions. He had worked out the crux already, but hadn't topped it out yet. It's a little high, and the end involves standing up on good smears without any good hand holds. After we each had a couple goes, I topped it out. Jacob and Ashley got to the top out, but were too worn out to commit to it. I had the advantage of not having worked on "Desperado" earlier in the session. I've decided to name the problem "Aesthetics." It feels V4, and is very fun. Thanks Jacob.
Ashley on "Aesthetics"

The top out.

Lately, I've been contemplating the experience of beauty. I don't remember being taught that boulders, meadows, and cliffs are beautiful. Or that solutions to boulder problems have a beauty to them, but I experience it. The only downside is that, for me, the pursuit of beautiful experiences through bouldering often feels selfish. Somewhere in my midwestern upbringing, I picked up a certain sense of guilt whenever things seem too good. So I write my experiences down in this blog, and take a lot of pictures. By sharing, I feel a little better about how much fun I have bouldering. While many people seem unable to see or feel the appeal of rock climbing. To me it is obvious and undeniable, and I feel an instant connection to all the other people that enjoy this sport. I'm not sure what makes people so different in their interests, but I know that reality can be beautiful, and it feels important to devote time to experiencing it.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Couple Red Feather Problems on Video

Here is the video of Desperado. The contrast is too high, but you can get an idea of what the problem is like. The second problem is an ascent of the Stegasaurus Dyno by Jacob. It turned out pretty good.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Red Feather Sessions

I've made a couple trips up to Red Feather with Jacob recently. The leaves are changing, the weather has been perfect, and Jacob has been showing me more new stuff. Here are some photos.

I'm not sure what it is about Autumn leaves, but I'm always inspired by them.

Jacob standing in "Flash's Meadow." It's a really beautiful area this time of year, and you cross it to get to all of the following boulder problems. Some are at the edge of it, and others are an hour's hike past it.

There aren't established trails to boulder problems, but cow trails lead everywhere you want to go.

Jacob attempting a dyno problem we don't know the name off. It's definitely been done, but it's harder than it looks. I'd love to know the name. It's a great problem that I'll be going back to.

A Red Feather problem called "Desperado." Vedauwoo has a different problem called "Desperado." Both are great problems. This one is V7/8 and has four consistently difficult moves in a row. I'll probably post video of it soon.

Happy dog photos.

Happy dog in Aspen.

Happy Jacob in Aspen.

With so many spread out and rarely visited sectors of boulders, it's sometimes hard to tell if you're getting a first ascent. Some developers of Red Feather bouldering don't bother naming the easy and moderate problems. Jacob and I climbed and named a lot of problems during our last session. Some had been done before, some might have been first ascents, and a few are pictured below. Let me know if any of these have names already. I'm not trying to pull a "Horan" on the place.

Jacob climbing "Lady Moon Underlook" at the "Hidden Gym."

Jacob climbing "Porcelain God." A classic V4 on glass like patina.

Jacob climbing "The Glass Slab." A perfect V2. We also worked on "The Glass Arete" which is a much harder problem that climbs the right side of the arete in this photo. Jacob found them and Ben Scott got the first ascents.

Jacob climbing in a very cool pit on top of the saddle. It has a long wall on its west side covered with tall moderates on featured patina.

Hiking out.

Jacob thinking about where we should go next time.

Red Feather is a beautiful area that offers a unique bouldering experience. The good rock is very spread out and well hidden. Overhangs are rare and usually featureless. The majority of problems are moderate, but paradoxically much harder than they appear. Amazingly little of the rock is good for climbing, and because of this it hasn't, and probably won't, become a destination area. Yet I've had some of my most memorable and enjoyable sessions up there.
Thanks again Jacob.