Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Valley of the Karst!

At long last, all the stars properly aligned, and I managed to get to the City of Giants for a day of exploring and bouldering.  On Sunday we headed into the City, specifically to the Karst Boulder.  The Karst Boulder is, for Frank Slide anyways, a singularly unique block of limestone.  It features a highly eroded surface with intact karst-like features (in places similar to the Tonquin Boulder in Jasper), indicating it must have once been part of an exposed (or partially soil-covered) face high on Turtle Mountain.  During the slide must have floated atop the sliding mass without rolling or flipping.  In its current resting place, the Karst Boulder is tall, covered with climbable features, and overhangs at a perfect angle.  Unfortunately, the landing beneath the boulder is especially rough and blocky, even for Frank Slide. 

Even Mark is dwarfed by the Karst Boulder.  Karst (V0/1), Karst Low (V3), and Dark Waters (V5) climb the steep face to Mark's left, while Giantsbane (V6) climbs the face on the far right of the photo. The tall prow to Mark's right is a true king line, but you'll need at least a dozen mats.  At least.

Arriving at the Karst Boulder, we dropped all the mats and took some time to look around. Ashlee, Ryan, and Kyle started warming up on a fun lip traverse problem immediately adjacent to the Karst Boulder.  Mark and I spotted several nice-looking potential projects among the maze of blocks that constitute the City of Giants; it'll be nice to get back there to do some more exploring!

Warmed up, we started in on a tall, heavily featured face on the far left side of the boulder.  A stand-start on a beautiful incut jug-slot seemed to be the most obvious line, so we lined up to try it.  Kyle immediately climbed to the top of the boulder, following first a series of sculpted mini-jugs then positive edges and flakes.  It was easier than I anticipated, and soon I topping out on the amazing line as well.  We named it Karst (V0 or V1) after the amazing holds on the bottom half of the problem.  Certainly, one of my favorite lines at Frank Slide! 

Warmed up, we added two very distinct starts to KarstKarst Low (V3) starts down and left on a crimpy slot and either a sidepull or undercling, while Dark Waters (V4 or V5) starts on a flat jug to the right.  Dark Waters is really fun, but unfortunately it is difficult not to dab on a block behind you, which really detracts from the line.

Using my camera, I took a brief video of Kyle on Karst Low, the sit-start to Karst (V0/1).  When you climb Karst, there is another boulder behind you, which  is nice (in a weird way) because a spotter can stand on top of that boulder to spot the second half of the problem, hopefully directing the climber onto the mats far below in the unlikely instance of a fall on the easy exit to the problem. 

Mark on the start of Karst Low (V3 or V4). All those light streaks stick out of the rock like tufas or bones.  A really fun highball (about 20 feet high) on fantastically-shaped holds. Crazy.

Every problem on the Karst Boulder looks amazing, although the two most striking lines are the tallest and have - by far - the worst landings.  Maybe with a dozen pads they can be tamed; but even with that many pads a weird fall into the talus would send you to the hospital.  Anyways, here's the video, even though it doesn't do the problem or it's amazing holds any justice.

Kyle 'Schulte' Marco sending Karst Low (V3) with authority. 

While I was cleaning and climbing some easier lines nearby, Kyle shuffled the mats over to try a slightly overhanging face heavily featured with small tufa-like features.  He sent it relatively quickly, employing a long deadpoint to reach the finishing jug.  I almost flashed it (using a bowling-ball pocket to do a static move instead of a dyno), but had to settle for a redpoint a half-dozen tries later.  Mark Guckert sent it soon thereafter, and eventually Mark Derksen threw to the finishing jug as well.  Kyle named it Giantsbane; another great problem for the area.

After adding another few problems to surrounding boulders (including the fun, technical, and slightly exasperating dyno problem Le Swoop (V4), and a short but tricky arete I may call Father's Day (V4ish)), we headed over to Trent's Cave (V6) on the other side of the City of Giants to finish the day.  Mark flashed it (not surprisingly, it suits his style very well), and Kyle sent it a few minutes later.  I was surprised to repeat it on my second try, making me wonder if it's perhaps a bit soft for the grade.  We spent a few minutes working the moves on the Glassberg Project (a very cool 25-foot long lip traverse / overhanging arete), then called it a day.  We headed back to Lethbridge, fully thrashed.

Kyle styling his way out of Trent's Cave (V6).  Nice work, Kyle!

Mark on the Glassberg Project.  Only the first half of the problem is in the photo.  Bring all your guns, and don't forget the hipster glasses.

I was a little disappointed that I didn't try anything particularly hard, but I was psyched to finally climb on the Karst Boulder.  I won't be Frank for a couple of weeks; instead, I am looking forward to trying some of the new sandstone problems at Bear Mountain next weekend. 

Until next time, happy bouldering!


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Trent Hoover said...

Sadly, I never got back to Hedley again. I was really looking forward to putting up some more problems there, as I always thought it would be an amazing fall/early winter area when things were getting too rainy on the coast. There is a lot of potential for steep hard lines at the base of the talus. The landings up there are much worse, but the boulders are big and steep. I always hoped that someone would find a good bouldering area close to Kamloops, but I suppose it hasn't materialised yet. [Hedley does have the best deep-water soloing spot in BC, though, at Bromely Rock, check it out!]

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