Sunday, July 17, 2011
Castle Hill Winter
We went to Castle Hill on the weekend, for what may be the last time before we leave NZ. It was an amazing day - brilliant blue skies, with snow covering all the mountains surrounding the basin. It was probably only 14C out, but the sun was SO warm everyone was in their tshirts. Truly stellar bouldering weather, crisp and dry!
I am, unfortuately, still recovering from my badly sprained ankle. It feels OK to walk around on it, but it is really inflexible, especially in frontal flexion. Needless to say, this makes climbing at Castle Hill really hard, as you need to drop your heels and smear a LOT. All I could really do was frontpoint, but I did manage to get up a few great problems. I also didn't want to fall very far, which also limited what I could climb. Still, the day was perfect and I had a lot of fun!
I climbed Timeless (V2), which is a really cool arete problem with a key mono pocket. I then managed to climb the V4 to the left, which is a cool line that climbs through a little bulge on 1 and 2-finger pockets. I really wanted to climb a few slabs as well, but was disappointed that my ankle couldn't flex enough. Rowan and Aya did a bunch of little problems too - they had a great deal of fun at Castle Hill.
At the end of the day, Shelley and I discussed how Castle Hill ranked with respect to the other world-class areas we've been to (principally Squamish, the Buttermilks, and the Bishop Tablelands). We discussed the pros and cons of the areas; the rock, the quality of the problems, the holds, the landings, the scenery, etc. Shelley thinks that Castle Hill is best of the big areas she's been to, and I more-or-less agree. What makes Castle Hill special is that a high proportion of the problems are really good, especially in the low grades. Squamish is awesome, but really is only great in the V6 - V10 range. Of course, I will likely think that the next area I visit is the 'best' area I've ever climbed at!
Here are some photos of our day.