Saturday, January 25, 2014

Frank and the Big Bad Wolf!

Each week, I patiently watch two smartphone apps and a website, waiting for the forecast to tell me, with some certainty, that the daytime temperatures in the Crowsnest Pass will creep above the freezing mark. When a weekend forecast of +5C appeared, there was no decision to be made; a day of bouldering was approaching.  The weather didn't disappoint me, and Kyle, Mark D and I headed off to Frank Slide!

Though it wasn't windy in Lethbridge, it was definitely breezy at the Slide when we arrived.  We headed into the City of Giants (again), looking forward to finding and sending some new problems.  Like last weekend, I hauled a cleaning rope into the boulders, hoping to find and prep some new highballs.

Arriving in The City, I rappelled and cleaned three high problems on two separate boulders. The first was a tallish (15 or 17 feet) boulder near the Shield Boulder, and the other was the downhill side of the Shield boulder itself (probably 17 to 19 feet high, higher in the middle of the boulder).  After spending some time on the rope, I peeled off my harness and went to find Mark and Kyle.  I was keen to try try some of the problems I had prepped last weekend, including a couple lines on a very unique wedge-shaped feature on a boulder near the Split Boulder.

Mid-afternoon sunset in the City of Giants!  When the sun drops behind Turtle Mountain, it is very dramatic to watch the sunny border retreat across the boulder field.

When I found Mark, he was making solid progress on the hard project on the backside of the Split Boulder.  Kyle was hiking around scoping out new projects, and when he returned I convinced them to shuffle the mats over to the boulder with the wedge-shaped feature.  First up was a short problem that started on a good undercling.  Kyle and I sent it straightaway, though the starting hold flexed a tiny bit (always a nerve-wracking thing in Frank Slide).

We then turned to the problem that climbed up and right through the strange wedge-shaped feature. It took us a fair bit of work, but we finally sent The Rule of Two (V5ish?), a very cool line that climbs up a blade-like feature, through a difficult match, and right through a good sloper to a good topout on very solid rock.  Kyle and I then did the final project on the boulder, a very funky and fun problem that starts on the same hold as The Rule of Two but heads directly up on positive edges and a steep arete.  I think I may call it Helping Hands (V1+); the face moves were easier than they looked, while the topout was trickier than it appeared at first glance.  A fun problem!

Kyle making quick work of Helping Hands (V1+).  Very fun sequence, easy if you climb it smoothly and technically, but could be hard if you botch the sequence.  Like I did my first try.  The Rule of Two shares the same first move, but continues right around the arete for seven more stout moves before topping out.

After wrapping up those problems, I convinced Mark and Kyle that we should move over to the first problem I had cleaned.  It looked to be a committing compression problem, following a series of sloping sidepulls up a slightly overhanging face.  Arranging the mats carefully (we only had three mats, and the landing was far less than ideal), I started up the face.  Intricate and technical climbing led to a high-ish crux - a tricky move to a undercling followed by a balancy move to an incut sidepull.  I climbed up to the crux three or four times, but that was as much as I managed.  I'll wait until its a bit warmer and I have another mat, I think!  I'm calling it the 'Bad Wolf' project, partially because I've been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately (and partially because the problem is big and hairy...).

Me, squeeeezing on the Bad Wolf Project.  High feet, subtle movement, transitional heel hooks; felt a lot like Squamish, specifically like a taller version of Slap Happy (V4) under the Grand Wall.

I did another two moderate problems to the left (both quite fun lines on positive edges), and Mark managed to send a short hard line on the next boulder (The Elitist (V7ish)).  Good fun, and a nice send by Mark!

With the wind picking up, we bouldered a bit more (Mark went back to the hard project, and I did another easy problem), then we packed it in and headed for coffee.

What hard problems look like. Mark D on the thin and crimpy start holds of The Elitist (V7).

We went to The Cinnamon Bear (it is open until 5:30 on Saturdays!), where I ate two excellent cinnamon buns (their signature pastry) and downed a coffee.  A trip to the Cinnamon Bear always makes a trip to the Crowsnest a bit better; its always a treat to find such a friendly little cafe. Properly coffeed up, we started the long drive back to Lethbridge...

I've been making a real effort to find and clean moderate lines in the City of Giants, and today went fairly well; we put up three or four easy lines that will hopefully make the area a lot more accessible to moderate climbers.

Until next time!

No comments: