Last weekend I was thrilled to have the opportunity to climb at Frank Slide with four of Edmonton's funnest (can I use that word?) climbers, namely Terry P., Selena W., Dan A., and Bob S. On any given weekend, Frank Slide is usually populated only by a small handful of climbers from Lethbridge, with occasionally a few from Calgary or Fernie, so it was great fun to climb with some of my long-time friends from further north. Sadly, I didn't have a camera with me, so I don't have any pictures (although I might try to borrow some from Selena to post here...).
Mark Derksen caught a ride out to the Slide with me, and arriving a bit early we went for a walk in the City of Giants to scope out new lines. The City holds a great deal of potential for new problems, so I am always curious to poke around in it's nooks and crannies. In one spot, there are two mushroom-shaped boulders lying almost side-by-side; I not-so-secretly hope these two boulders will yield several exciting problems.
Warmed up, we went to meet the Edmontonians at the Cinnamon Bear, a great local coffee shop with excellent cinnamon buns. After coffee and a pastry, we all headed back to the Slide. We started at the House Area, which, with the new guide and the 'Superheroes' Circuit, is a good place to start any day at Frank. Indeed, Kyle, Ryan, and Logan were on the circuit, so we stopped and said hello.
We then walked in to the Salacious Boulder, where we dropped the mats and started warming up. I worked to convince everyone that we should try the highball to the left of Plan 66, which had never seen a bouldering ascent as far as I can deduce (partially becase of its height, but mostly because it features a rather grim landing). Once booted up, everyone who jumped on the problem made short work of it. Luckily, the crux was very low, and the high, white-striped face features several good edges. Terry, Dan, Kyle, and Mark then turned their attention to a potential extension of Lost (V6). They worked out a bold sequence of pinches and small edges that traversed the lip of the Salacious Cave to a positive mini-jug on the far wall. Eventually, in an impressive effort Terry managed to put all the moves together, sending what is one of Frank's hardest problems, Shelley was a Doctor First (V10). Dan and I spend a half-hour working a tension-dependent problem with very sloping holds to the left of SWADF, but didn't manage to send it (to be honest, Dan was close, but I really could only do the first two moves). Selena and I DID manage to put up a new problem that heads up and left from the start of Lost, which I called Found (V3 or V4).
From here, we headed over to the Wild West Boulder so everyone could try Railway (V10). Mark and Kyle have been working Railway for some time, and were keen to get an infusion of energy and beta on the line. Terry and Dan did not disappoint, with both of them sending Railway quickly (What?!? Quickly?! I had almost starting thinking it was impossible). Both Kyle and Mark made great linkage on the line as well, and for the first time I actually think they might be able to do the problem soon.
Not really keen to embarass myself on Railway, I started working an old arete problem to the right of Railway. Not knowing much about the line, I wanted to ascertain the sequence and difficulty of the line for the guidebook. I knew it was supposed to be about V5, but didn't know much more other than that a starting hold had apparently broken off. I quickly realised that the problem was harder than I had anticipated; I was stumped. Selena thought I should use a really extended heel hook, this helped me make the first move but not much more. Terry came over to try it, and it seemed to stump him as well (for a handful of attempts, anyways). He eventually climbed it using a bizarre toe-to-toe compression method (which I was unable to replicate successfully). Certainly, a lot harder than V5!
I did Wild West (V5), a problem I had always wanted to try, then we packed up and headed back towards the cars. I thought everyone might like to try some of the lines in the City of Giants, so we marched up into the heart of the slide. Terry flashed the Glassberg Project, topping out on a midway jug and calling it Fart Bathtub (V6). Dan sent it quickly as well. While I came fairly close a couple of times, I didn't have enough steam left to link everything together. Next time!
With throbbing fingers, we headed back to the cars, and went to find some pizza. Another great day of fun climbing at the Slide with good friends! This summer, I really want to spend some time finding (and hopefully climbing) some new problems at Frank, in order to produce a little more depth in the V6 to V9 range in the area. Climbing with strong Edmontonians makes me think I should step up my training, though!
At any rate, it should be a fun summer, with lots of new problems getting done. Cheers!