Wednesday, June 17, 2015

An Early Summer Trip to Neverland

Finally, three empty days in my schedule corresponded with three nice days in the forecast for Neverland.  I love the place, but good bouldering weather out there and time in my schedule don't overlap very often.

My goal for the trip was to climb "Wilford's Reserve" V7/8, a great line put up by Collin H.  Davin introduced us to the line last year, and Ashley got it then, but I always fell jumping for the lip.  Even when I started at the move just below the lip.  Whether I'd be able to catch it this year or not was a mystery.

We set up camp, and got out there in the evening to take advantage of cooler temps.  Since Ashley had already climbed "Wilford's Reserve" she got to work on "Wilford's Reserve Right" V7, and finished the line before the evening was through.

I didn't climb "Wilford's Reserve" that evening.  But I finally did all the moves.  Including the jump to the lip, just barely managing to catch the swing.

I had warmed up on the amazing line "Aging Moose" V2.  Collin also put up this line with some of the best solid incut holds anywhere.  Ashley decided to try it at the end of the session.
And she did it!  She's been getting brave.
The next day was a rest day.  We hiked to look at some formations, but I tried not to hike too much.  Mostly I just sat in the shade, reading Zen of the Plains by Tyra A. Olstad, and enjoying the birds, butterflies, and wildflowers.  Thirty-six hours with nothing that I had to do, except rest up for the next bouldering session.  Wonderful!
That evening we hiked to the top of the formation just east of camp to watch the sunset.  Some pretty little thunderstorms were moving around the area.  Strange since there wasn't supposed to be any chance of storms in the forecasts I had checked.
After the sun went down, the little storms grew together into a massive thunderstorm with the most intense lightning I've seen since my childhood in Iowa.  The crazy thing was the storm didn't seem to be moving, just growing.  We were lucky not to be in the center of it, but the edge reached us late that evening.  We all got into the truck, and waited for an hour while lightning, rain, and small hail slowly moved through.  When the storm finally moved away it was traveling to the northwest.

The next morning was my one chance to finish "Wilford's Reserve." But the crux hold at the lip was wet.  Rain water was leaking out from under the flake above it.  I stacked pads and stuffed my wool sweater under the flake to stop the slow trickle.  Then used chalk and my cotton shirt to dry off the hold.  After warming up, I was feeling pretty good.  A breeze was picking up, and I thought it might happen.  I got through the beginning feeling pretty good.  I jumped to the lip, started to swing, and my hand ripped right off.  The hold was still damp!  

I was desperate.  What was I going to do?  I decided to give Ashley's beta a try.  Her method includes a heel toe lock in the roof, and moving to the lip to the right of the wet hold.  I'd refused to seriously try it that way last year, because I hate the sensation of having insecure hands with a high foot locked in.  If my hand popped I might fall on my neck/head!  But when I tried it this year, it felt much easier than the throw to the lip.  Maybe I was lucky that my crux hold got wet? So I tried it from the start with the new beta.  
Here's the uncut footage.

With that, I felt finished.  But we still had plenty of time in the day, so we walked down to the Black Boulder.  We have a lot to work on down there, but not much that could be completed in a session.  After spending some time on projects, I decided to brush up something I thought we could do.  The overhanging rock on the southern side of the Black Boulder always looked interesting to me.  But it's about twice as tall as I feel comfortable with, and the top looks like it has loose blocks.  I decided to try and figure out how to get to a large secure looking jug in the middle of the face.  Below it was a perfect hold for a sit down start.  The line of least resistance goes left slightly to get up past the small roof and diagonals right through edges and slopers to grab the jug.  Then you down climb/jump off.

Ashley nabbed the first ascent, and once everything was clean, and the moves were worked out, we decided it was probably a V4.
"Black Ops"

It was a great trip! But it was probably the only one we'll get to Neverland this Summer. It will be too hot from here on out.  We'll see what we can do to get back in the Fall...

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