Thursday, April 28, 2011

A One Boulder Session at Little Cottonwood Canyon

On our trip back from Vegas we spent a morning at the Gate Boulders in Little Cottonwood Canyon. We ended up getting a full session on just the Fly Boulder. I did seven problems, and would like to return for some more work on "Super Fly" someday. The Fly Boulder has over 15 problems, but it isn't covered in holds. It's an aesthetic block.

Ashley climbing "Standard Overhang."

"Crystal Pinch" was my favorite.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring Break Bouldering at Red Rocks

We didn't want to fight weather over Spring Break, and the beginning of the week didn't look good in Wyoming or Utah. For nice weather, we needed to get to Bishop or Las Vegas, and this year we chose Vegas.

Heat might be bringing the season to a close, but we hit the jackpot, with unusually crisp temps and light breezes all week. We spent one session at Kraft Boulders, one in Oak Creek Canyon, and then two more at Kraft. The concentration, convenience, and quality of the Kraft Boulders kept calling us back.

The Monkey Bars boulder kept us busy for a session and a half, by itself.

We warmed up on the problem "Monkey Bars." Then we took a few tries working out and sending "Monkey Bar Right." After that, Ashley began working on the "Monkey Bar Traverse" while I climbed the exciting problem "Hyperglide." Ashley decided she needed to come back for a second session on the "Monkey Bar Traverse."

After day two in Oak Creek Canyon, we took a rest day, and then returned to the Monkey Bars boulder. It took quite an effort, but we both managed to hang on through the full "Monkey Bar Traverse." It climbs just like a line from Hueco Tanks.

Ashley taking a walk between tries.

It's strange that sandstone bouldering can be featured like Hueco, but the Kraft Boulders often are. Solid patina features you can crimp on with confidence.

Not all the holds are solid patina though. Occasionally we needed to trust hollow, fragile features, that made us think twice. But nothing broke.

Most boulders at Kraft are nicely sized and have a variety of problems. We enjoyed the problem "Jones'n" which ascends the central feature on the Burnout Boulder below.

No bouldering trip to Vegas is complete without an ascent of "The Pearl." The guidebook says to start with your left hand in the pocket, but this isn't good beta if you're short. If you're under 5'7'' try using a right hand in the pocket. This allows you to reach up with the left to gaston a slimper so the long deadpoint to the edge is a little shorter, and you don't need to cut your feet. If you're over 5'7'', left hand in the pocket, big deadpoint with the right, is more straight forward and probably easier.

"The Pearl" is a great problem, but "Blood Trails" gets my vote for the best V5 at Red Rocks.

The desert looks boring from the road, but there is a lot to see when you're out in it. Various species of lizards were everywhere.

And spring break is a great time to see abundant wildflowers.

I'm very excited to get back to Red Rocks next season. At the moment, it's my favorite bouldering destination. The bouldering itself isn't quite as spectacular as what you'll find at Hueco or Joes Valley, but it is still spectacular, and Red Rocks has so many advantages. Unlike Hueco, you can explore without a tour guide and be out from dawn until dusk. Unlike Joes, there are plenty of nice places to stay and things to do on rest days. The scenery is amazing, and the sandstone is easy on the skin so you can climb a lot more and have fewer rest days. We climbed so long each day, the easy problems began to feel really hard.

Ashley under "Potato Chips" at the end of the session.

This post wouldn't be complete without mentioning the new guidebook "Southern Nevada Bouldering" by Tom Moulin. It inspired us to make the trip, and it turned out to be the best guide I've ever used. Finding the boulders with the guide was easy, even in Oak Creek Canyon where many boulders aren't near trails. The directions, maps, and photos are so well done that each could be sufficient by themselves. Used together, I was always confident that I knew where I was going. I found the star ratings to be generally conservative. Some of the one star problems would get two or even three stars at other areas.

But the guide has one misleading feature that I feel must be mentioned. Tom appears in photos climbing many of the boulders, which is meant to show their scale. But Tom doesn't show himself next to a normal size person in the guide to give the reader a sense of his scale. I was tricked again and again. Every boulder we visited was one and a half times taller than I expected it to be. Tom must be really tall! Problems that look low ball in the guide photos are actually reasonable. Problems that look reasonable in the photos are actually highballs. And problems that look highball in the guide, are free solos. Now that you know, hopefully you won't be fooled like I was.

Buy the guide. Obsess for a while. and enjoy a trip next season.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Oak Creek Canyon Photo Post

We spent one day of our Red Rocks trip bouldering at Oak Creek Canyon. The hike is much longer and the problems are much less concentrated than at the Kraft boulders. But the problems are high quality, and the scenery is worth the approach. Tom Moulin's Southern Nevada Bouldering guide makes the lines easy to find. The photos tell the story better than writing can.

Mt. Wilson deserves photo alteration. The sandstone Mt. Moran.

Warming up on the "Cabana Traverse."

The "Blood Trails" boulder.

Hiking up canyon.

Bouldering doesn't have to be high, or even that difficult, to be terrifying. "Brokeback Yoga" makes you feel insecure, committed, and vulnerable all at once.

"Peter Peter"

A final look at the boulders while hiking out.

More from our Red Rocks trip in a few days.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Blood Trails" Red Rocks, NV

We just got back from a week of bouldering at Red Rocks. So good! I have a lot of photos, and things to write about. But, now that we're home it will be a couple days before I have a chance to put the post together. Here is video footage I edited during the trip. The classic problem "Blood Trails" in Oak Creek Canyon.

Interesting moves, on sloping patina covered sandstone features, up a slightly overhanging arete, in a beautiful setting. Fantastic!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spring Tease

Spring weather can be the worst. The temps begin to rise, the snow melts, you get excited to get out on the weekends or after school, and then the wind comes in. Every warm day this week has been stupid windy. I don't know how else to describe it. Ashley and Autumn decided it wasn't worth it today. Luckily, Sierra was psyched to get out with me.

Conditions have been rough, but during the two times we tried to get a session in, I did find a couple lines I like. Last weekend we hiked up to the Don King boulder and did a little climbing before the wind chased us out. The east roof is unpleasantly chossy.

But the west face is nice.

We climbed "King Groove" and then got to work on an unnamed V6.

It feels hard to me. My preferred sequence is trying to dyno past a poor pocket to the lip. I like the line, came close, and plan to try it again.

Today, I tried to get out of the wind by climbing at the very bottom of the canyon. Partially successful, I discovered (or rediscovered) a fun line. A hidden crimp made it easier than I expected it to be.

I brushed a lot of lichen off the top, and a little off the bottom. It still has some lichen in the middle, which adds some excitement. Until I learn of another name, I'm calling it "The Orange Peel" V1.

The week's weather brought back to mind an old joke.

Why is Wyoming so windy?

Because Nebraska sucks.

Now the forecast says we could get heavy snow by next weekend. I'm beginning to miss the days we had in January :(