Thursday, August 1, 2013

Redstone, the Corkscrew, and a Fire in Sinks Canyon

We spent last week in Carbondale, Colorado with three morning sessions at the Redstone Boulders.  
 The day before we left, we saw the beginnings of a fire in Sinks Canyon as we were driving back from the Source.

By the end of the day it had spread along most of the north side of Sinks canyon.
 At this point the fire in the canyon has been contained, but the public isn't allowed to access the area.  If you're planning a climbing trip to Lander, don't plan on visiting Sinks right now.  It's very possible that some sport climbs and boulder problems in the canyon have been altered or destroyed, but it's hard to say how much has been damaged before hiking the area.  I'll inspect the damage, and post information as soon as I'm able to.

We made a couple trips to Redstone soon after Benningfield's Colorado Bouldering guide came out.  Returning over a decade later, it was nice to see that the bouldering areas are still as idyllic as they were during our first visit, and that we're a little stronger than we were in our twenties.

 Despite warm, humid conditions we were able to climb some lines that shut us down on our last trip.  The highlight was deciphering and climbing the classic problem "Corkscrew."  On our last trip, about ten years ago, I'd been unable to even figure out the problem's beta, and Ashley considered it too reachy.

This time, Ashley was able to use some very poor holds, and finish the line.

I also managed to climb the problem, but I've decided not to post the photos because figuring out beta is one of the main challenges of this problem.  I don't want to spoil it for anyone.  Don't worry about the photos above.  Ashley's beta probably only works for her.  Neither of us figured out the 360 degree spin beta.  Just figuring out standard beta we could use took an entire session.  We returned for a second session at 7am to finish the line.

Based on our experience, I think the "Corkscrew" problem highlights a growing issue for modern bouldering.  The problem is graded V5 and it's always been called V5, but it felt more like V7 to both of us.  I can think of many classic V7s at a variety of areas, in many states, that actually felt easier.  Maybe our height, or the conditions were factors, but I don't think those were the main issues.  I've noticed that the ratings of historic classics in historic bouldering areas, and the ratings found in newer areas feel like they have diverged, and this divergence is getting larger.  Nobody wants to raise the grades of historic classics, and nobody wants to downgrade all the problems in a newer area.  So boulderers base their grading opinions on the problems and areas where they started climbing.  Based on where you learned the grades and when those areas were developed, other boulderers might appear to grade soft, or seem like sandbaggers to you.  If you've traveled and climbed at a lot of places, grading can get very confusing. When I climb a new line I can often think of V5s that were harder, and V7s that were easier.  So what should it be graded?  At this point the grading scale at different areas can vary by as much as two grades, and that probably won't change anytime soon.  Another good reason not to take the grades too seriously.  

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