Monday, December 2, 2013

Warm(ish) Weekend of Bouldering!

I didn't get out of town last weekend, so by this weekend I was feeling pretty itchy to get out to the mountains.  I wasn't able to get out on Saturday, and no one was super-keen on going out with me on Sunday, so a solo mission was in order.  A quick stop at Kyle's to grab an extra mat (my extra mats live at Kyle's garage bouldering wall, aka 'The Karage"), and I was on my way!  The weather in the pass was supposed to be +5C with sunny breaks, which is well within my criteria for a day of winter bouldering.

Arriving at Frank, I wanted to go for a hike into the little canyon I had looked at earlier in the year; the rock wasn't good enough for sport routes, but I wanted to see if there were any seeps that might be forming up into ice climbs.  It didn't turn out to be the ice-climbing mecca I had hoped, although I did see one nice-looking mixed route forming up.  It was dripping pretty vigorously, and when it gets colder it looks like it'll have a couple of vertical-ish fat pillars about 10-12 m high, with another 8-10m of scrappy 'rock and moss' mixed climbing above that to the top of the cliff. There's some deadfall on the ledge at halfway that'll have to be tossed off, but that should be easy enough to do.

Still too warm for fat ice (it was dripping!), but I'm hoping that with a little cold weather this forms up into a nice short mixed route with a couple of pillars and a short mixed boulder problem at the top.  It seemed to have lots of water, so should get a lot fatter. SUPER short approach! :)

Not the greatest ice climb ever, but it does have a SHORT approach!  Probably only a couple of hundred meters along a nice trail, and you can rap right down the route to put up a toprope.  And since it is really close to the Slide, I'm hoping for some winter sessions of 'morning ice / afternoon bouldering'.

Steep, tall, blocky... but made of some kind of weird sandstone/limestone rock (not good news).  But if I could just convince the owners of the huge house 200m away to let me run a water hose to the top of this thing...

Now with wet feet and covered with sweat, it was time to go bouldering.  I headed to the House Area, where I am determined to put up a problem in the HUGE cave on the east side of the boulder.  I put a toprope on the cave to check it out and see how solid the holds are, but unfortunately it is so steep I could only clean the top five feet or so before I was swinging too far away from the face to be effective.  I was able to clean the bottom eight feet, and the top five, but that leaves about 15 uncleaned (and HARD-looking) feet of climbing in the middle.

Now I was starting to get cold, so I put on my shoes and started working on the first six moves.  It turned out that they weren't particularly hard, but really fun, and I was pretty pleased with my effort when I linked them together.  I then tried the "V7" on the right side of the cave (aka 'Crowded House'), with the goal of linking the first four moves to the tiny block/pinch at the lip of the roof.  I did that, but the next two moves look virtually impossible (!!!).  I am skeptical that this problem has ever been done (especially without dabbing), at least with the holds that are there now (maybe something has broke off?).  Does anyone know anything about that line?

Terrible photo of the bottom third of my 'House Cave' project. Steep! Three big shelves lead to two incut sidepulls... then a 5 foot blank.  Ugh.  Too tall (20ish feet) to work comfortably. Ideas, anyone?  Ladder? 

I then swept off and climbed a very fun new problem just to the right of the "V7", calling it House of Cards (V4ish).  The first three moves are fairly tricky, but then a series of HUGE footholds make the rest of the problem simple.  A fun addition to the House Boulder.

I went for a big hike through the talus, heading above the House Boulder in a big loop to the Heart of Frank and the Mushroom Boulder and back.  I saw a few potential projects (one looks quite good and fairly hard), and a few other already-cleaned lines that look fantastic.

It was starting to get late in the day, but since it wasn't dark yet I thought I had time to get a little more bouldering in.  I packed up, and headed over to the Albatross Boulder.  I really wanted to try Hoedown (a problem I had cleaned a month or two ago, that had been since climbed by Mark Derksen).  By the time I got there, it was getting windy/cold/dark, but I tossed the mats down and put my shoes on.  It took me a few tries to remember the beta, but once I had done that I managed to send it pretty quickly.  It's a fairly ugly line, but it has some very cool moves so I was happy to send it.  Mark had given it V7, but V6 seems more appropriate.  A strong compression climber with good heel-toe skills might even find it easier than that.

 End of the day!  Just squeaked out a quick send of Hoedown (V6/7) before it got too dark.

By now it was 5:30, and getting dark.  I hustled back to the van, drove to Tim Horton's for tea and a doughnut, and started the loooonnng drive back to Lethbridge.  Not the most productive day ever, but a nice day of adventure for the first week of December!

It is supposed to be much colder next week, which makes me think that it might be a while before I get back to Frank.  Until then, happy climbing!

PS> To browse through all the new problems at Frank Slide, check out the Frank Slide section at!  It's a great website, and I use it to keep track of all my FAs. [Full Disclosure: I am not affiliated with  Although it would be sweet if Jamie sent me a hat.]

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