Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happenings from the Falcon's Lair, and the Source

Today Ashley and I were planning to head out for a bouldering session after school. But the stress of school, and the heat of August, left us exhausted and unmotivated. We stayed home, and I'm catching up on the blogging instead.

On Saturday, I had another incredible day of bouldering at the Falcon's Lair with Davin and Jesse. Each of us left our most exciting projects unfinished, but it was still a great day. Every day I go up there, I come back with at least three more days worth of bouldering that I need to do. So I now have nine sessions worth of bouldering planned out at the Falcon's Lair without even looking for more lines. The projects just keep multiplying.

Davin trying a sit start amongst the alpine flowers.
Jesse got the day started with the first ascent of a tall slab left of "Danger Danger" called "That Easy." I added a sit down start which adds three good moves and bumps the grade up to V5 "Not That Easy."
Two slopers make it go.

We went up the hill for some more work in the Ice Cave. Later we found the stunning line Davin is on below.
It's still a project, and I'm torn on which problem should be my priority. The first ascent of the line above or finally finishing off "Wind in the Willows."

Davin climbing his new slab called "A Fine Evening Indeed."
Jesse spotted this roof/arete line in the morning, and it consumed most of his session.
He cleaned it top to bottom.
Jumped on the start.
Used a few toe hooks.
And came so close to finishing it, twice. It will be a great problem once it's completed.
During every session we've hiked out in nice light. One of the perks of the big days up there.
Thanks for the great day of bouldering and conversation, Davin and Jesse! You can read Davin's account of the day at A Place of Legend.

On Sunday, I decided to take Ashley up Torrey Valley for a session on the Mead boulder. In my memory it sat in the shade of the forest.
Turned out, it was in full sun, and we called the session off after only warming up. A gym session was scheduled for after school the next day.

Source Sessions
During the last few weeks of summer break, I spent many sessions at the Source by myself, and a few more with Ashley. My main motivation was a project which took me four sessions to climb. It's the most difficult first ascent I've done. The only first ascent I've completed which pushed me as hard as the most difficult established problems I've climbed. I really enjoyed heading up during the evenings with three pads, watching the sunset over the Winds, and climbing in silence.

Right after we got back from Squamish I was more psyched on lip traverses than usual. I realized that good ones can be fun. So I added a V3 lip traverse at the Source.

Ashley climbing "A Lip Traverse."

The same week, I connected a low roof into a problem I completed last year named "Thug." The new version doubles the moves, and pushes the difficulty up two grades. Alan put a lot of work into helping me clean the roof. I've given the full problem the new name "John Henry."

It requires a painful hand jam, powerful crimping, and it's at the Source. Ashley says "It will never be repeated."

Another day, Ashley joined me for some work on the south side of the formation near the "Serpent Traverse." Some cleaning and landing work has been done by someone (Chris?), and new lines and projects have been established. Ashley and I enjoyed a new short line that had great movement despite it's lack of height.
An unknown V4/5 from the lowest holds.
We also worked on a line which we think might still be a project? Powerful!!
That's all the news and photos I have to share at the moment. It feels good to be caught up on the blogging for a little while. Plenty more could have been written, but I've got so many other things I should be doing. Got to keep working for the weekend.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Return to the Falcon's Lair

On Sunday Alan, Bryan, and I hiked into the Falcon's Lair. It looked like it might be a rainy day as we drove in, but the clouds cleared and the weather was perfect all day. We began our day at the Lander boulder, and had a balanced session. About a third of our time was spent on problems done last trip, the other third exploring, and a third trying new lines. Alan committed on his first try, and did the first ascent of "Danger Danger." It involves pulling on a large insecure looking block/flake, and then topping out over a pit. Fun stuff, despite the danger.

Bryan climbing "Danger Danger" V1.

We attempted five new lines that looked to me like they would fall into the V4-7 range, but each one included at least one move we couldn't do. Many had great finishing moves, but we weren't able to climb to them from the best looking starting holds. It was a little frustrating.

Trying a line that should start by my feet.
Bryan climbing "Capp's Slap."

We did a lot of exploration, and saw many good lines. On the sunny side of the canyon the granite isn't as clean, and the talus is a little smaller than it looks from a distance. It will still be really good, but it will take more cleaning, and be less concentrated than I originally imagined.

This line is definitely worth cleaning.
Rather than break out the brushes, we went up to the Ice Cave. I came closer than ever to sending "Wind in the Willows," but I'll need another trip. Alan and Bryan climbed "Cracked Eggs."

Alan at the start of "Cracked Eggs."

And Alan did another first ascent, "Sidewalk" V3.

Named after the white streak leading to the top.

"The Twins" looks beautiful, but is pretty low angle. A great V0 or a scrunchy, silly feeling, V1/2 sit start.

"The Twins"

This wall was the first to catch our attention during the exploration day. It's a nice height, it's featured, but unfortunately it lacks feet and everything faces the wrong way. We tried two lines, and couldn't get up either.
Many of the best looking walls were seen during our hike out, and I got psyched for the next trip.

The future.
It was fun showing Alan and Bryan around. Thanks for coming out, and letting me jump on so many lines. Another big beautiful day in the alpine. The next day, my whole body felt worked. Upper body sore from the bouldering, lower from the hiking. All I wanted to do was eat, hydrate, and watch TV... like a normal American.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Wind River Bouldering in the Falcon's Lair

Falcon Rock
Yesterday, Davin, Brian, Jeanie and I hiked into the new alpine sector. We bouldered for six hours, and made the hike out again. We hadn't officially named the place yet. Tongue in cheek, I called the area "Falcon's Lair" after the large falcon shaped rock visible above the boulders. "Because the area should have a name at least as cool as Wolverineland." The name seemed to stick, and though I suggested others, it turned out to be too late. The area is called the Falcon's Lair now. It's not my fault, the rock formation deserves most of the blame. Come on, it looks just like a falcon. Anyone would have suggested the name.

Since getting back from Squamish, I see lip traverses everywhere. It's like a disease. We started our day by warming up on a very good lip traverse that caught my eye. I named it "Squamish Syndrome" V2/3. I drew a line showing it on this photo.
Davin and Brian let me try a lot of problems first. The rock has good friction, and things were easier than they looked. I ended up getting to name a lot of the moderates.

Here is Davin climbing "Lander" a very nice V1 roof on jugs. A sloper on the edge of the roof, furthest left in the photo, is the starting hold of a V3 Brian found. Brian gave me the first attempt. I've decided to name it "Capps' Slap."
I'm impressed by Brian's level of motivation. It's inspiring that he drove all the way from Boulder to check out "Falcon's Lair," just days after getting back from a bouldering exploration trip to Alaska. He's traveled a lot, and is able to share beta on the best bouldering areas, worldwide.

Brian getting the second ascent of Davin's problem "Day of the Black Fly" V4.
Brian explored a large section of the valley during the session, and found a lot of blocks that look promising.
We could have climbed boulders in many directions, but we ended up going up to the edge of the snowfield. Drawn by the cool conditions, the beautiful stone, and the fact that we'd already looked at it last week. As small storms passed the temps ended up falling dramatically. The wool caps and fleece we brought were put to good use. Our finger tips hardened, and the rock made a good impression. At one point I heard Brian say "This stone belongs in a museum."

We started climbing on a boulder we call the Ice Cave because it had fresh icicles at the bottom. I climbed the easiest line of holds I saw coming out the roof, for a problem called "Cracked Eggs" V3. In this photo, Davin is sitting at the lip of the problem. The roof moves were lowball yesterday, but they won't be when the snow melts.
Brian climbed the first ascent of the most difficult problem out the roof so far "Wind in the Willows" V8. Davin got the second ascent, and I came close to finishing it.

Brian climbing "Pika Prow" V1+.
Davin put up a classic V1 slab to the right called "Musk."

The best line of the day had caught Davin's eye during our exploration last week. The bottom climbs really well, with interesting movement on pinches, heel hooks, and slopers. The snow has melted, and the landing is worse now, but not ridiculous. The top is difficult and committing. It's still a project, but it will be a classic once it's unlocked.
At six o'clock we decided to head out. If we had visited another sector of boulders, we would have ended up hiking out in the dark.

Brian riding his pad down a snowfield.
Carrying out the sled.
Nice light and a scenic view.
Alpine bouldering in the Wind Rivers takes much more time and effort than a trip to our local sport climbing areas such as Wild Iris. If you've already spent bouldering days going into the main areas on Mt. Evans or to Upper Chaos in RMNP, the Falcon's Lair approach hike is comparable. A complete session requires a full day, some hiking on steep slopes, and across fields of talus. The reward is beautiful alpine scenery, crisp conditions in the middle of summer, and clean granite of incredible quality. I love the area, and plan to get in as often as I can. School is starting, so it won't be as often as I'd like.

Thanks go to Davin, Brian, and Jeanie for the incredible session. I'm looking forward to the next one. Read Davin's excellent post about the day here.