We are now deep into the fall bouldering season, and the bouldering continues, unabated. Yesterday, I headed to Frank Slide with Kyle, Mark G, and Calvin, three of Lethbridge's most stalwart boulderers. For many people, the appeal of bouldering fluctuates with the temperature and the seasons, but luckily there are those climbers who are eternally keen to head to the mountains for a day of pulling on holds at Frank Slide!
Arriving at the Slide, it was cool (6C or so) and windy, which didn't seem like ideal climbing conditions. Kyle suggested that we head to the Railway Boulder so I could do Railway Slab, one of the remaining 13 problems on my list of projects. Warmed up somewhat by the approach, and encouraged by the dying wind and the growing sunlight, we booted up and did Railway Slab, one of the highest moderate (V0) slabs in Frank. Psyched, we continued to climb another seven easy slabs on the boulder, all between about 15 to 20 feet tall. Mark G, a slab-climbing machine (!), knocked them off without hesitation, including an especially tall and aesthetic slab on the east face of the Railway boulder. (No names yet for all these new slabs!)
We then ganged up to try a strange hanging slab problem that started at the lip of a small overhang... with a mono-pocket for a starting handhold (thus combining two of boulderer's favorite things - slabs and monos - in one problem!!! ;) ). After much shenanigans, beta-swapping, and falling, Kyle finally sent the FA of Mono Slab (V I have no idea, maybe 3 or 4 but it is such an odd problem that it defies grading). Mark then cruised the second ascent when he realised that he could use his almost-supernatural hip flexibility to stand up onto the slab, and then I finally grunted out the third ascent. The slab above the pocket was also very satisfyingly good, which was nice!
I added a couple of new easyish vertical problems on the boulder above Railway, before heading down to the steep cave on the downhill side of the Railway boulder.
Kyle and Mark G. briefly worked the classic Railway (V10), without much success. We then did Gunslinger aka Railway Crack (V3) (which I flashed with a little struggling), and I worked The Approved Beta (V8) briefly without any luck on the cruxy first two moves. Feeling a little bummed, I moved around the corner and tried a slab-to-bulge-to-slab problem with Calvin. Finding the prospect of falling onto a slabby apron a little freaky, we recruited Mark, who promptly sent the line, calling it Caboose (V1?). Another fun and tall line on the Railway Boulder!
I had earlier cleaned a short problem on small holds on the opposite side of the boulder. It looked like it would be a hard dynamic problem, so we shuffled the mats over to try it. The problem really only consisted of three moves; a tricky move to a very small edge, a powerful (though not terribly huge) dyno to a good lip hold, followed by an easy(ish) mantle. Kyle initially thought the first move might be impossible, but after only ten or 15 tries were we were sticking the first move. Though I could link from the start into the dyno, it never really felt that doable to me, and I kept falling inches short of the lip hold. Kyle, on the other hand, kept getting closer and closer to sticking the crux dyno, and after only 30 or 45 minutes of work he linked the three moves for the first ascent of Blood Brothers (V6? harder? I have no idea how to grade dynos...). I had punctured a fingertip that was bleeding on the start hold, hence the name.
Calvin and Mark also sent a steepish, juggy, but dynamic problem to the left of Blood Brothers; it didn't look like much, but it climbed REALLY well on fun holds. A fun moderate addition to the area! We finished our day in the Railway area by climbing another V0- slab on a nearby boulder. Kyle, Mark, and Calvin thought it looked easy enough that they could do it in their approach shoes; I bet them an ice cream that they couldn't... needless to say, I didn't buy anyone ice cream. :)
We headed by Kyle's Dyno (V4/5?) on the way back to the car, which Kyle and Mark both sent. A fun way to finish a lllloooonnnggg day at Frank Slide! A great day in the mountains, with great weather and good friends - is there a better way spend a fall day? 15 first acents, including some of the best high slabs in Frank and a significant new hard dyno problem. Epic!
Until next time!
[sorry for the lack of pictures, I couldn't find my camera... next time, I promise]
PS> Don't forget to send me your Tour de Frank score cards!
PPS> Another problem off my current Project List! only 12 left! All the rest are much harder, though...