Sunday, March 20, 2011

More Sinks Canyon Sandstone Bouldering

The Ice Age Area as viewed from the road.

The sandstone in Sinks Canyon isn't quite as solid as I would like. It also has a lot of lichen, the holds are often sandy, the problems are pretty spread out, and there isn't a guidebook for it yet. But conditions were perfect today. We had a fun session, and the problems will clean up with some traffic. Here are photos of the problems we did.

We warmed up right off the road. I'm pictured on an easy and fun slab problem. A variety of up problems, traverses, and even a hand jam crack can be climbed on this boulder.

Just uphill and to the west is this boulder. The problem shown below is the most classic line we topped out today. I'm pretty sure it must have been done before, but we needed to clean a few holds. I'm calling it "Inversion" for convenience until I learn its original name.

The starting holds.

The inversion move.

After warming up we drove a short distance to a pull off just before the Sinks Visitor Center parking lot, and hiked up to the Ice Age area.

We tried a difficult sloper problem. Powerful compression and frustratingly sandy, we moved on pretty quickly.

We wanted to make sure we got a good workout. So we jumped on the next boulder uphill a little ways, just because it was there. We did a sloper lip traverse from right to left. Then we got to work on a short line using two hole features. We couldn't quite do a sit down start, so we started as low as we could.

Right hand in the hole, and left underclinging the bottom of the boulder. It's short, but the move going up to the second hole was the hardest single move we did all day.

Ashley beat me to the top for the first ascent. It's called "The Hole Deal."

We hiked east to a boulder I'm calling the Tusk.

This might have been cleaned a little since my last trip. I couldn't be sure. Until I hear of a previous ascent I'm calling the problem below "Right Tusk."

It tops out by traversing out right. The Tusk still has some lines that need to be done.

Just left of the Tusk boulder, we climbed this interesting feature from a sit down start and called it "Drum."

We ended the day on an arete just west of the Tusk boulder.



Monday, March 14, 2011


While the quality of modern climbing media can be debated (and has been on many blogs lately) climbers definitely have a higher quantity of climbing writing and photos than ever before. Blogger created the "My Blog List" feature, so now it's easy to see what's been updated.

I remember back in the day...
I had to click through a long list of bookmarks just to find out what was updated. I would visit Justin Jaeger's blog and Enlightened Chuffer's everyday, hoping there would be something new. Their blogs inspired me to start this one, and oh how I miss their regular updates. Today it's Facebook this or Twitter that, and I don't like it one bit. Most people don't have the attention span to write, or to even read a full blog post anymore. I'm surprised you've made it this far into this one. A sign that you have more perseverance than the average internet surfer in this day and age. Unfortunately, most of the personal climbing blogs have already died, or are just barely hanging on, with a post every couple months to show they're somehow clinging to life by a greasy mono or two.

One man in Spain has surveyed the entire planet searching for all the climbing blogs that still show signs of life. He's discovered just over 500 blogs worldwide and used the "My Blog List" feature so that anyone can find the most recent updates. He calls his site Climbingpost. With Climbingpost you can hit refresh every few hours, and have a few new posts to look at, or possibly read if you know the language, and are the type that can read a whole blog post.

The climbing magazines still do a fine job, and I'll be keeping my subscriptions. But in just a couple days I've read them cover to cover, and I need even more climbing media. How many times can I reread my old climbing anthologies? How many times can I skim through my collection of guidebooks? What can show me the whole world of climbing as it really happened, just hours after the sessions have ended? Climbingpost can.

The Lloyd Climbing Blog is a personal climbing blog, and I'm planning to keep it that way. Here is the climbing journal entry for last weekend.

Conditions were perfect at Sinks yesterday, and I sent my project "Mo." It felt so good! I was excited to reach a personal goal, one that I consider a new level in my sport climbing ability. And I had a sense of relief. Now I can now move on, and do other climbs, or start bouldering again if the snow keeps melting. The climbing took an intense focus, and gave me a slightly altered state of consciousness. A heightened awareness, which I've started to look for after difficult sport climbs. If only a neuroscientist had been there to measure my blood and brain chemistry immediately after the climb, they might have discovered something. Doug Robinson wrote about the affects of climbing on consciousness and brain chemistry in a couple of articles at the end of his wonderful book A Night on the Ground A Day in the Open. He has been working on a complete book about the subject since at least 1996, which will be called The Alchemy of Action. It's a very interesting topic, and I'm looking forward to learning about the connection in more depth.

One thing I wasn't looking forward to was the possibility of a climbing hangover. They often follow my best climbing days, and I got hit by another one today. Had to wake up an hour earlier for school, physically tired, and a little depressed. That's the way it goes. You lose weight, train a little harder, climb something slightly harder than you've ever been able to climb before, and after the session everything else is the same as it ever was.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mo Attempts and a Film Review

A climber ending the day on "Duck Soup"

We spent today, and a session last weekend, climbing in Sinks Canyon. I've spent parts of five sessions now, trying to redpoint "Mo." I've done it many times with one short hang. Endurance isn't a strength of mine, and "Mo" requires more of it than the average 60 foot route. It might have happened by now, but we've had less than perfect conditions. Last weekend was cold, and today it was cold and windy. Pumped arms, numb fingers, and one exciting fall.

Spring Break will be here in a few weeks, so I'm making the transition from training mode to performance mode. My hyper-gravity sessions have been making me stronger, but it's time to take off the weight belt. By which I mean, I started dieting last week.

Hiking out last weekend.

When we got home from the canyon today, I was surprised to see that my copy of "The Disciples of Gill," a film by Pat Ament, had already arrived. I just ordered it on Wednesday. I've enjoyed Pat's books (maybe I'll write a post about them soon), and already have a copy of his film "The Silent Climber." After eating a tiny dinner (I'm so hungry right now...), I sat down to watch it.

It's very different than most recent climbing films. Slow paced and reflective, a collection of 1970's bouldering film footage, slides, interviews with some of the early participants in American bouldering, and footage of Pat taking his young daughter out for some easy top roping and discussion of bouldering. She listens as he explains "The neat thing about bouldering is, just a big pile of ruble is a paradise for a boulderer."

The film feels homemade, without the professional polish that most of us have become accustomed to. But how meaningful bouldering sessions, and bouldering friendships, have been for Pat, John, and the other early boulderers inspired by him, comes across very strongly. Many of the men interviewed haven't been able to boulder for decades. Some of the injuries they suffer from may have been caused by bouldering. Yet they have very fond memories of it, keep in touch with their bouldering partners, and obviously don't regret devoting so much of themselves to the art.

In one scene, Pat tries to do a little bouldering despite suffering from adhesive capsulitis in both of his shoulders. It's painful to watch, and becomes even more so when he breaks off a large flake, falls hard to the padless ground, barely missing a large rock with his head. It brought up fears of old age that I didn't realize I have, and a renewed appreciation of the present when I'm still relatively young, and able to climb pain free with just two ibuprofen pills.

I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in the history of American bouldering. The footage of John Gill's dynamic moves, his one arm lock offs, and lever based moves, and Jim Holloway floating up problems on Flagstaff mountain are incredible. No one boulders like this today. A formal style, similar to gymnastics, appears in their climbing. A reminder of bouldering's origins. A statement to the climbing world of the time, that bouldering was a separate pursuit with very different goals than traditional climbing and mountaineering. The disciples of Gill were playing a different game, in a different venue, with different rules. It was so distinct, removed in so many ways from the rest of climbing.

Today the distinctions have blurred. Roped climbers use dynamic techniques, rehearse their pitches, and can often fall without fear. Boulderers go for the topout using any free climbing style, or lack of it, that works. Today bouldering appears to be a logical evolution of the climbing pursuit, but it wasn't in the 50's. Gill made a leap in approach, even more inspirational than his leaps on the boulders. I didn't quite get that until now.

"The Disciples of Gill" is available for $18.00, shipping included, from