Thursday, May 2, 2013


I seem to be developing a bit of a habit.  A Frank habit.  Last weekend, I stuffed three mats into the van, and headed off yet again to Frank Slide.  This time, however, I would be climbing with a different crew of folks.  Kyle had headed south to Joe's Valley, and Mark had exams.  Fortunately, the pool of climbing talent in Lethbridge is a lot deeper than that, and so I picked up Justin and then headed across the river to McDonalds, where we would meet Ryan for the drive out.  They're both enormously entertaining guys, so I was fairly certain we'd have a lot of fun. 

Justin had to stop in Pincher Creek for the morning, but Ryan and I headed onto the Slide.  I convinced Ryan that we should head up to the 'Mark of the Beast' Project.  We cleaned it up a bit, and sorted out the landing, and I started working the funky moves that define this problem.  All the holds on this problem are decent, but the moves are tricky and the body positions unusual.  Unfortunately, the landing for this problem is somewhat* dangerous, and we also kept getting blasted by gale-force chinook winds howling through the Crowsnest Pass.  Nonetheless I made good progress before we packed it in and moved to a more sheltered location.

Meanwhile, Mark G. (sans Beth) and Calvin had arrived, so we set up shop at a boulder in the trees near the House Boulder.  I had walked by the boulder a few timess, and had often wondered why it didn't seem to have any established problems on it.  Part of the reason, I think, is that it had a little loose rock, and part of the reason is that it is a bit tall (likely 18 feet at the tallest side).  Luckily, we had a rope with us, and a little cleaning produced several aesthetic, fun lines.  We managed to climb 11 new problems, including four really standout lines:

- Charlie the Horse (V0), a fun and easy slab, great for those new to the Slab Arts...
- Ghost Rider (V4), a very cool highball with a mid-height crimpy crux, pioneered by Mark, Ryan, Calvin, and Justin...
- Aftermath (V5ish), an absolutely stellar highish problem on perfect full-pad edges, and
- Four-Inch Pinch (V2ish), a classic moderate cave problem, reminscent of Superfly (V4) in Squamish.

We then moved on to the House Boulder area, where we did Galactic (V4) (I flashed it easily, which was nice), and some more highballs, including one on the House Boulder itself (it has likely been done before, but I decided that it needed a name, so I called it The Second Story (V0)).

Feeling a bit fried, we moved to the far side of the Slide to try the slab testpiece Frankenstein (V5).  I don't have any slab shoes at the moment, and I quickly gave up trying to climb Frankenstein.  Mark was making great progress, and came to within a few moves of sending!  Calvin was making decent progress as well, but Frankenstein is hard.  I mean HARD.  Very tall, very sustained, and features very small crimps, dimples, and sidepulls. It's similar to Black Slabbath (V7ish) in Squamish, I think, but a little shorter (only a little!) and a bit easier.  Still, a very formidable slab!

All in all, a great day of sending!  I think the next Mini-Guide that we will release will be for the House Boulder Area, so keep tuned for that.  The Healing Area Mini-Guide is online at, so you can find it there.

Sorry for the lack of photos!  Next time, for sure!

*Note: Even by my standards, this problem has a sketchy landing.  A fall at the wrong time, or in the slightly wrong direction would either have you slam into a fridge-sized block, or pitch 30 feet down a steep talus slope... Still, it is too amazing not to be climbed!

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