Monday, June 3, 2013

Franks, Two for a Dollar!

The last two weekends have produced very successful bouldering forays into the massive limestone cookie jar that is Frank Slide.  I'm finally comfortable with what I consider the three "Main Areas" of Frank Slide, namely House Area, Healing Area, and Snakebite Area.  I'm currently working on the mini-guide for House Area, so I've spent the last three trips to Frank in that area, putting up new problems and attempting to get consensus grades nailed down.  I've been climbing a lot with Kyle, which is great because he both knows the area incredibly well and is a solid climber.  Together we've managed to get the House Area pretty much wrapped up (69 problems from V0 to V11), so the new mini-guide will be done this week, I hope!

I'm already looking ahead, trying to decide what area I should attack for the next mini-guide.  Snakebite is probably the best bet, but I am also tempted to do a guide covering Zombotron / Wind Ridge / Rising Tithes Areas (the three small areas across the river), mostly because I haven't climbed there in a while and it would be great to do some exploration over there.

Saturday Number One
Kyle and I were keen to head out, but everyone else was busy elsewhere, so we went to Frank to get some stuff done in the House Area.  We had an amazing day, doing or working 20 problems, including 15 first ascents.  We started just across the road from the House Area parking lot, and did all the problems on the Sofa King Boulder including 2 FAs (Sofa King V5, Sofa Queen V3, Posturepedic V1, Pocket Face V0, LaZBoy V0), five FAs on the Curse Boulder (Private Dancer V1, Hug O War V1, Hide and Seek V2, Tipping Point V2, and the unexpectedly hard The Curse V5).  We then moved over and did two new dyno problems on a boulder close to the highway (the perfectly clean dyno Kyle's Dyno V6, and Dead or Alive V3), and then five new problems on the newly named Teen Titans Boulder (Starfire V0, Robin V1, Raven V4, Cyborg V2, and Beast Boy V2). 

Random picture from the previous weekend.  Kyle chalking up to do Rocksteady (V4).  The gang from left to right; Ryan, Beth, Kyle, Mark G., Adam, and Amanda.

After all that, we had lunch and headed over to try The Shield project in the City of Giants.  It was likely too late in the day, because we didn't make any progress at all.  Actually, I couldn't do any of the moves, leaving me feeling a little bummed.  We did walk over and try my cave project, and I unexpectedly sent it after several tries, calling it Trent's Cave (V6).  It's very steep for Frank, and follows a incut rail out a small cave.  More reminscent of Squamish than Frank!

By this time it was getting quite late, so we packed it in and headed to Tim Hortons for celebratory coffee and donuts.  A great way to end the day!

Another random photo.  Mark checking out a sandstone boulder between Lethbridge and Frank.

Saturday Number Two
This past Saturday, I went to Frank Slide with my family - Shelley, Aya, and Rowan!  Shelley hasn't really climbed for the past five years, so I was curious what she would think of Frank Slide.  Shelley had never been that enthused about the bouldering in Squamish.  While the forest was amazing, and  the boulders very beautiful, she had not really appreciated the "right heel hook left lockoff" style of climbing on rails and slopers. She really prefers crimpy climbing on slightly overhanging faces, which is really the Squamish anti-style.  When we arrived in Frank, we went to the House Area (which seemed most kid-friendly), and we warmed up on a few of the problems I had done last week.  Shelley did everything pretty easily, including a quick send of Tipping Point (V2).  Aya was also excited to boulder, and seemed fearless!  She soon asked for the cleaning brushes, because she has found a new problem she wanted to do. I helped her clean it, and she sent her first-ever first ascent, which she proudly called The Stripey Problem (V0).

Aya on The Stripey Problem (V0).  Working her project for the first ascent!  And no mat!?  Over those blocks!? Brave!

We headed up the hill to the House Boulder.  I wanted to try two problems adjacent to Salacious which appeared in the old guide; a "V5" that apparently followed a "traverse in from the left" and a "V4" that traversed in from the right.  It appears to me that these problems are either (a) based on misinformation, i.e. they were never actually problems, or (b) holds have broken, which seems unlikely after examining the rock.  In terms of recording history and writing a new guide for the area, I've made the awkward decision to supplant both of these "problems" with new lines that have well-defined starts.  I knew that one of the lines (the "V5") had actually been done via a low, well-defined sit-start.  It is unclear who did it first (perhaps Evan Erickson?), but I decided to call it Lost (as much a description as a name).  Arriving at the boulder, I padded the landing and starting working it from a incut lefthand sidepull and a small right-hand crimp at the left side of the cave (about a meter left of Salacious).  Kyle and I worked through the beta for the problem, which involved tension-dependent moves on sloping edges along the lip of the cave.  The start was hard, used a difficult high-step to push into the first hard move of the problem.  I finally did it, figuring it was V7.  The "V4" on the right didn't appear to have any start or even any interesting moves, so I abandoned it, relegating it to the dustbin of history.  Had it once been a problem?  Had holds broken?  Hopefully one day I'll find out, but until then, it won't appear in the guide.

Aya on The Stripey Problem.  Still no mat!

I convinced Shelley to try Galactic (V4), which she flashed with relative ease.  Like me, she is skeptical that it is really V4; perhaps a downgrade is necessary.  I did several of the moderate problems in the area, including the 'block' problems above House, which I dubbed Lego Blocks (V1) and MegaBlocks (V3), the latter of which is one of the worst problems I've done at Frank.  We finished off the day with a visit to the Aftermath Boulder, where Kyle and I tried the Communist project briefly.  Kyle broke off a key hold, but then discovered a slightly better slot-crimp nearby, which actually seemed to make the next move slightly easier.  I think Kyle will send it soon, and I hope that I will as well.  Aya wanted everyone to try her problem, so on the way out Kyle stopped and didThe Stripey Problem, which turns out is maybe harder for tall people...

All in all, a good day in the mountains! As always, a trip to Tim Hortons for doughnuts followed.

I'm hoping to get to Frank next weekend, and knock off at least one of my projects.  I've been a little lax lately, not really trying my hardest.  As a result, I'm getting close on some lines, but I haven't finished any of them.  Time to stop letting myself down, and get to business!  So many projects I'm trying to wrap up right now...

1) The Mark of the Beast Project. This line is amazing, with some of the best movement I've experienced at Frank.  However, while it's only V5 or so, it has a terrible landing.  A fall from the crux would be serious (you land on a large angled block), but a fall from the finishing slab (which thankfully looks easy) would probably result in a trip to the hospital. 

2) The Communist Project.  A great tall project, lots of body tension, really poor feet.  Kyle unlocked what looks to be the last hard move on the weekend, but putting it all together is going to be HARD.  I think it's likely V9 or so, and I suspect that my knees are going to hurt from all the high falls that I am going to take.

3) The Prism Project.  I feel like I'm getting close on this, one move at mid-height is giving me a hard time, and the finishing crux is going to be weird/hard.  It's not pumpy, though, so that works in my favor!  Very cool moves, maybe next weekend?

4) Salacious (V8/9). I think I'm adding this to my Project List.  I did Lost (V7) last weekend, which is basically a slightly easier / better start to Salacious.  I think with a little effort I can manage Salacious as well.

This is just the short list, though.  I've got a bunch of stuff on my 'long list', including Rising Tithes (V8), the Sinking Ships Project, the Rumrunner Project, The Shield Project (likely V11ish, too hard for me most likely!), The Submarine Project (currently underwater, most likely), plus the three projects in Trent's Cave.... Time to get busy!

Yet another random Frank photo.  Mark on Get Carter (V7).  Mark went sport climbing last weekend, instead of Frank.

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