Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spring Season!

Spring is well underway here in the Peace Country, and that means perfect temperatures, no mosquitos, and long days.  Together, these factors spell spring bouldering!  I have finally managed to make short trips to the two closest bouldering areas - Mt Babcock and Bear Mountain.  I was pleasantly surprised by both areas, although for different reasons.  First, Mt Babcock had even more bouldering potential than I remember (certainly potential for more than 1000 problems in the area).  Second, a bit of exploring and some good information (thanks Julian, Carlee, and Chris!) showed me that Bear Mountain had a lot more to offer than I thought it had.  As a result, I have moved a lot closer to my goal of opening (or being involved in the opening) of 100 new problems in the Peace River country this year.

Session 1: Mt Babcock.  Andrew and I hatched a plan to head out to Mt Babcock for a day on the long weekend. When he showed up at my house, he also had Rachelle and Chris Dart in his truck, which was nice - the more the merrier!  Heading across the border into BC on logging and mining roads, we arrived at the giant jumble of boulders on Mt Babcock known as The Boulder Gardens. There was still a fair bit of late-season snow in some spots, but we hiked around the area (guided by my trusty photocopied map!) checking out the potential and looking for projects.  Finally, we turned a corner and found a perfect warmup boulder of coarse conglomerate.  The rock at Babcock ranges from fine sandstone to coarse conglomerate, and this boulder was somewhere in the middle (with a matrix in the coarse sand - pea-sized pebble range).  We cleaned and sent three good warmup problems, with 'Hedgehog' (V1) being especially fun.  We worked a sent a harder slab pebble-pinching problem (V3?) on the boulder too, keeping us entertained.

We had spotted a wicked-looking highball nearby, so warmed up we headed over to clean it up, and throw some bouldering mats down.  The line starts on a big frown-shaped pocket, and heads up by compressing two opposing rows of crimps.  Very fun, but very hard!  We made *some* progress, but had a hard time linking moves together.  We dubbed it the 'Charles Dickens project' (referring to the scary height of the problem and the three ghosts of A Christmas Carol). We'll have to train hard and come back for it! 
The 'Charles Dickens project' (V10ish) - a highball up the belly of a BIG sandstone block.  Too bad I can't do half of the moves.

All-in-all, a very informative trip.  Mt Babcock holds a LOT of boulders, with a lot of steep, hard, lines.  Interestingly, there will be a lot of crack problems, which is unusual for Canada.

Session 2: Bear Mountain.  The following weekend, I had a spare morning, so I decided to make a quick trip out to Bear Mountain, just over the border in BC.  With better directions to a better part of the cliff, I headed out early to get in a few hours of exploring and bouldering.  I wanted to try and repeat all the problems on Carlee's Boulder, and get a few new problems done as well.  Arriving at the area, Lupin (my German Shepherd) and I explored for an hour, then found the Carlee boulder.  The boulder was A LOT dirtier than I had hoped, although Carlee, Chris, and Julian had done a good job of cleaning the problems on the block.  I didn't flash Carlee's Cave* (although I came close), which climbs out a long easy roof to a slightly harder lip traverse.  Its a really good warmup, because almost all the holds - and moves - are big.  I did manage to flash Carlee's Pinch Problem*, with big moves to big coarsely-textured holds (including a cool pebbly jug-pocket at the lip).  I could see that another problem was possible, by heading directly left from the start jug and escaping the roof via a long reach to a one-finger pocket.  It's been awhile since I climbed a hard mono problem, but I cleaned it up, taped my finger (!), and gave it a shot.  In a half-dozen tries I managed to pull through the mono and the pebbly crimps above and finish the problem.  Although the mono is a bit grim, it is still a fun line.  I called it Carlee's Great Escape (V3/4).
Carlee's Boulder; Carlee's Cave* has a low SD by the mat, heads up and out of the photo, then traverses left along the lip before topping out at the arete.  Carlee's Great Escape (V4ish?) heads directly left (i.e. above the mat) after the starting hold.

The grim mono of Carlee's Great Escape... ticked and ready for action.

I prowled around a bit, and uncovered a cool overhang between two GIANT boulders.  There were four lines, with some of the nicest holds I've seen in some time.  The premier line on the boulder started on a big pocket, and headed up and left along a line of incut slots and crimps.  Although not hard, this problem is classic (!), and will be popular.  There is a potentially VERY hard dyno project on the boulder as well; I'll have to find someone who enjoys that type of thing.
 The starting holds of Shaman (V1+ish).  Very cool, and very solid rock!  The big pocket perfectly swallows my entire right hand.

A very fun trip!  Since Bear Mountain is only 107 km from my house, I will be back there soon!

What next?  A trip to Hasler is in order, and return trips to Mt Babcock and Bear Mountain as soon as possible.  I need to get out a lot before the mosquito season arrives!

* These are not the real names of the problems that Carlee, Chris, Julian, and Tyler did.  I don't know them, so just made them up.  Carlee's Great Escape IS the real name of the problem I did.  The grade may be suspect, though. Harder? Easier? Who knows.


Chris said...

What happened to your route development plans? I sent those brushes up there for a reason. :). Also Hassler is relatively bug free during mosquito season - dry microclimate and windy most of the time.

Trent Hoover said...

I still have big route development plans, but I haven't been able to find anyone to go to Hasler with recently. I think I may actually need to make a road trip out there and get some stuff cleaned and bolted by myself, then redpoint when I can find a belayer. Very sad...