Monday, April 28, 2014

More Bouldering... of course!

On Sunday, Frank Slide was a-bustle with bouldering activity, relatively speaking.  There were at least seven people out in the slide, including people from Lethbridge, Calgary, and Cardston.  From talking to Kyle the previous day, I knew that some people were interested in climbing in the House Area, so when my vanload of people (really just Mark G, Mark D, and I) arrived at the Slide on Sunday morning, we headed up to the ridge above the House Boulder.

I was interested in heading up to that particular area for two reasons.  First, because this is where the compression problem Commodore 64 (V8, a stout Adam Currie FA) lies, and secondly because one of the 'missing problems' (namely the 'March of Time' project) is up on the ridge as well.  I had scoped, cleaned, and tried a few moves of the 'March of Time' late last year, and started cleaning / building up the landing as well.  Though perhaps not the most impressive-looking line at Frank Slide, it has a 'Squamish-like' appeal; thin start holds in a small cave lead to a difficult lip traverse to an easier finishing arete.  I had also cleaned a more moderate line to the right, and was curious to see how it would climb.

It was windy and cool, so I had a hard time warming up (although shuffling rocks to build 'patios' helped!).  We warmed up on some easy slabs and short problems at the top of the ridge, and then moved on to some more difficult lines.  After a few tries, I did the V4-V5ish problem on the right side of the face (no name yet), which ended up being fun (though only the first two moves were particularly hard).  I then tried the 'March of Time' project for a bit with Mark D.  It should be a cool line when it gets done as it has a fairly well-defined sequence; pull on with difficulty using a right-hand edge and a left-hand sloping blocky sidepull, this is followed by a hard move to the lip, and then four hard lip moves to the right lead to another four easy arete moves.  Should be very hard, perhaps V9 or V10.

Finding it too cold to work on the problem seriously, I shuffled a few mats over to try a steep slab that Mark Guckert had found.  It ended up being tricky, with relatively easy moves leading up to a final long move to a tiny edge at the top of the boulder.  Quite fun despite being an eliminate (aretes are off) and having a little loose rock.  We did the problem again using the arete, and though it climbed differently it was also a fun line.

Evan Erickson employing foot trickery to pull through the reachy crux of Commodore 64 (V8).

Shuffling the mats around to the rear of the boulder, Mark G, Mark D, and I tried Commodore 64.  I did well on my first attempt, but was stymied by a long move to a good crimp at the lip.  Mark D did the problem quickly, reaching through the crux moves to the good hold at the lip with relative ease.  We were soon joined by Evan, Kyle, Ashley, and Kristy.  Evan was keen to try Commodore 64 as well, so he pulled on his shoes to give it a try.  Unfortunately, we were both were stumped by the long move to the lip holds.  Not being tall enough to reach through the move (or strong enough to use Kyle's compression sequence), we resorted to trickery to climb the left arete of the boulder.  Evan used a brilliant heel-hook / toe-scum combination to statically pull through the crux, whereas I eventually used an overly-high and balancy high step to gain the lip.  It felt quite hard to me - huge props to Adam Currie for finding and sending this line years ago, and for Kyle Marco for getting the second ascent!

People were trying another line to the right, on the boulder immediately right of Commodore 64.  I had filled in the pits beneath the problem and cleaned up the holds earlier, so I was keen to try it.  A right hand crimpy sidepull opposed a tricky left heel-hook to start, and I sent it in a few tries.  Definitely a fun new V5 or V6 line to do when up trying Commodore 64!  Mark D called it The Price of Gold, try it if you get the chance. 

Many ways to skin a cat!  Kyle and I on the first move of The Price of Gold (V5?6?). 

In the meantime Mark Guckert was trying an unusual bomb-bay slot/crack problem formed where two boulders leaned against each other, forming a small but deep cave.  Soon everyone was trying it, and intrigued I jumped on it as well.  The two boulders form a undulating wide crack, necessitating an interesting combination of face climbing, crack climbing, and off-width climbing techniques.  Having the most crack-climbing experience, Mark G sent it fairly quickly.  After pumping out and falling off a few times, I focused on getting the hand-jams placed as smoothly as possible, and send the entire problem.  One of the most entertaining problems I have done in a while, very cool movement! (Post-script: Mark G has called the crack/slot problem Meatgrinder (V3))

Evan Erickson compresssssing at Frank Slide!

After this, people dispersed a bit into the surrounding boulders to try a few more lines before packing up and heading home.  It was nice to finally get a chance to try (and eventually send) Commodore 64, and now that there are more problems in the sector surrounding this testpiece it will undoubtedly see a little more action.

Until next time!

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