Sunday, March 16, 2014

Finally, Back to Frank!

Finally!  After a cold and snowy February, the weather has become substantially more spring-like, and after consulting the weather oracle (the internet) to assure myself that it was going to be reasonably warm, I caught a ride with Kyle to the biggest bouldering area in Alberta's Rockies, namely Frank Slide!

On the drive out to Frank, Kyle and I discussed what area we might visit.  I have projects in several areas, so I didn't particularly care which area I ended up at.  However, when we arrived at the Slide it seemed windy, so we decided to head to the Aftermath Boulder, which is one of the few boulders to be completely in the trees and thus somewhat protected from the wind.  Not long after we arrived in the parking lot, we were met by Evan, who had come down from Calgary to boulder in Frank Slide for the day.  Evan is responsible for several of Frank Slide's hardest problems, including Nintendo 69 (V9).

We packed up and headed in to the Aftermath Boulder, postholing through the occasional late-season snowdrift.  Luckily, the ground around the boulder itself was bare, and we dropped our mats.  Evan and Kyle started to warm up on some of the boulder's easier problems, but I still felt somewhat cold so I went for a short walk through the slide, taking the opportunity to look for new problems. I saw a handful of great-looking short problems, most of which looked like they had to see an ascent.  Feeling warm, I headed back to see what Kyle and Evan were up to.

Kyle and Evan were discussing Aftermath (V5), a great problem on the east face of the boulder.  This was one of the first problems on the boulder, and follows a series of edges up to a interesting topout on an arete-pinch and a blocky horn.  Shuffling the mats, Evan promptly flashed the problem without too much difficulty.  I climbed up and down the first half of the tall arete Evil Eye (V2/3ish) to warm up a bit, then climbed Aftermath as well.  Kyle tried the problem a few times, but then became interested in trying The Communist (V7) with Evan.

Evan sending The Communist (V7), an absolutely brilliant problem that is, fortunately both protected from the west wind and in the full sun; a perfect winter project.

The Communist is one of the very best hard problems in Frank Slide.  Tall, delicate, with a very well-defined sequence, The Communist was first climbed by Kyle late last year.  After arranging the mats below the problem, Evan flashed through the first half of the problem only to fall on the delicate match on a long sidepull at mid-height.  After refining his beta (and breaking off part of one of the pockets on Evil Eye with his foot), he send the problem for its second ascent after only a half-dozen attempts.  Very impressive!  Kyle came close to repeating the problem quickly as well, while I floundered for the better part of an hour on the first move. Though I have managed the other hard moves on the problem, I have never managed to do the first move (which I consider to be the hardest, of course!).  I was coming close, though, so hopefully I'll climb it sometime soon.

Then, Evan, Kyle, and I all climbed Evil Eye, the tall, overhanging, and uncharacteristically juggy (for Frank) arete to the left of The Communist.  Evan and Kyle then turned their attention to a potential right exit to The Communist, which would replace the last two moves of that problem with four fairly serious compression moves out right.  After an half-hour of work, Evan managed to send that as well, calling it The Socialist (V7/8).

Sticking the first move on Invincible (V6), the crux awaits in the next two moves...

After a bit of a lunch break, I moved the mats leftward around the arete to try Invincible (V6ish), a highball I had established last fall on the south face of the boulder.  Though it took us a bit of work, we all managed to send this problem as well, with Kyle and Evan opting to do a long deadpoint past the crimp I use to do a much more static move.  Perhaps it's not as hard as I had originally thought, especially if the easier beta uses a long dynamic move!  [Note: I am truly terrible at dynamic moves.] 

Two ways to skin a cat.  Kyle (top)  deadpointing the crux move of Invincible while I, strangely enough, crimp my way through it (bottom). [Note: look at that weird open-hand crimp I've got going on.  After 20 years of bouldering my fingers are so inflexible that taking a crimp open-handed makes it look like I'm using a pocket.  Yikes.]

I also climbed the large 'question-mark' shaped line of holds on the face (essentially following the start of Ghost Rider and finishing on the top moves of Invincible), calling it The Riddler (V3?).  It really just has one hard move, but features a lot of very cool movement.  I also tried to repeat Ghost Rider (V4), but was so pumped at the top of the problem I had to downclimb a move then drop down to the mat.  Scary!  Evan almost climbed Ghost Rider on his second try, but like me was too pumped and had to drop off from high on the face.

Evan on The Riddler (V3ish).  Fun climbing on good holds, except for the one crimp that is, obviously, the crux of the problem.

Feeling thrashed from a five-hour session on the Aftermath Boulder, we packed up and headed to Tim Hortons for doughnuts.  As always, a tasty way to end a day of Frank Slide bouldering!

[Tim Hortons should provide me with promotional consideration for all the free advertising they get!]

Until next time!