Thursday, June 5, 2014

Leavenworth Bouldering (Part 3)!

Saturday morning dawned warm and sunny!  A perfect day for climbing, but sadly it was our last day in Leavenworth.  I was pretty excited, nonetheless; the previous day had been one of the best days of climbing I had had in a decade, and while my tips were really sore (and bruised), I felt strong and relaxed.  We planned to go to the Swiftwater Area in Tumwater Canyon, and to take it easy, climbing a few moderate problems before we headed east.  Enjoying the morning sun, we packed up, cleaned our campsite, and headed into town for breakfast before heading out to the boulders.

Pics from earlier in the week.  Me trying Is (V7).  The beta I ended up using was different than I am using here... Thank goodness.  Turns out a tiny dynamic push with the left foot is all you need to reach the juggy rail high above my right hand.

By the time we arrived at the boulders, it was already quite warm.  We walked in to the boulders, excited to try some lines in Tumwater.  Much of the rock in the Tumwater Canyon is finer than that of Icicle Canyon, and some of the boulders at Swiftwater almost look like sandstone.    We warmed up on some fun steep moderate lines, and watched some guys work the infamous roof crack problem Royal Flush (V2).  It looked like so much fun I taped up to try it; I couldn't quite manage to turn the lip where the jams become a bit loose...  I should learn how to crack climb! We then moved on to the Campus Traverse Cave.  This boulder is huge, and hosts several quality lines, especially Sitting Bull (V7) and The Footless Traverse (V5).  We briefly tried Sitting Bull, but with time running short we decided instead to do quick laps on The Footless Traverse before packing it in.  I managed to squeeze in one more V4 flash on the left side of the cave before we headed back to the van, but our time in Leavenworth was over, and it was time to start the long drive back to Canada!  I had had an amazing time in Levy, and it was fun to climb shirtless in the sun, living the dirtbag life!

The drive back to Lethbridge was long.  And tiring.  We broke up the drive briefly by stopping to check out a potential new granite bouldering area; Kyle and I were both really impressed, as there were seemingly hundreds of perfect (though often fairly blank) granite boulders in a forest, with rock similar to Squamish.  With hours of driving left, though, we had time only for one quick problem before getting back in the van and driving off into the dark, bound for Lethbridge.

Another out-of-sequence photo, me on WAS (V8).  It was HOT earlier in the week when I was trying it, but the rock is so textured I'm not sure it made any difference.  Again, I ended up using a sequence much different than shown here; in the end, my right hand never even touched the arete, it went right from the hueco to the lip!

After we returned to Lethbridge, things slowly slid back into the same groove.  My hands were pretty much thrashed, so I took a self-enforced week off climbing.  There's always a sense of unreality after a long climbing trip; it often seems to me that my climbing life is more real than my day-to-day life, that it is somehow more immediate, more important.  I suspect I am not the only one to feel like that!

Things I Learned About Bouldering in Leavenworth that You Should Know!

1) The rock is textured.  It never wore out our skin, but it bruised our pads.  Conserve your tips!
2) There are ticks in Leavenworth.  I got bit by one in Levy, and found another walking across the rock at Forestlands.  Check yourself periodically, and don't thrash around in the bushes looking for new problems like I do, especially in spring when the ticks are out!
3) When eating out in Leavenworth, you will encounter sausage.  All kinds.  And schnitzel.  Be warned!  Eat like a Bavarian King in the morning, then send all day!  I won't even get started on the taffy...
4) The Forest Service campsites were much nicer than I expected, and generally cheaper than similar sites in Canada.  It's worth $19 a night to be close to the boulders, although if I was going for a longer trip, I'd find a nice spot a little further up the canyon, and maybe try camping for free on Forest Service Land. Camping in most of the Canyon seems forbidden, though.
5) If you are going to Leavenworth, spend some time training on edges and SMALL footholds.  It'll pay off!  Likewise, get used to BIG reaches on hardish problems before you go.  You'll be ready for the reachiness!
6) The grading of problems in Leavenworth is a bit weird.  Easier problems (V0-V3) seem really soft, as do most of the moderate problems (V4-V5).  However, most of the V8-V10s seem hard for the grade (possibly due to breakage of footholds).  The result?  V6-V7 is a weird grade range!  Solution? Check your ego at the door, and take the grades with a grain of salt.  Just enjoy the classic problems!
7) Go to Forestlands.  It is justifably the most popular area!  But don't go on the weekend when it gets busy.
8) Leavenworth could be a REALLY good slab problem area.  If you like slabs, bring a wire brush and a rope/harness, and get scrubbing.  With a little work, Leavenworth will yield dozens of some of the best slab problems I've ever seen.  This seemed especially true in Tumwater.  But document them and let people know where they are, it would be a shame to clean problems and not share them!
9) Levy is dirty.  There is sand and dirt beneath most problems, and when you get hot it sticks to you.  I was filthy after a a half-week, and we were psyched to find $4.00 showers at the RV campground across the highway from the Safeway.
10) It gets hot in Levy.  We had great temperatures, but I suspect that it would be too hot if we were there much later.  April and May would seem to be the perfect months, as with October and November.  More swimming in the summer, though; all the rivers were SUPER high when we were there, which meant no swimming at all.  

- - - - -

The following Saturday Shelley, Aya, Rowan, and I went to Frank Slide to go bouldering (and have a campfire, and hot dogs, and marshmallows, of course!).  We met up with Kyle, and spent the day in the Healing Area.  I did Jahealy Direct (V3) for the first time, and a handful of easy problems in the area as well. Kyle and I went over to to Mark D's new problem Supernintendo, just right of the arete on the backside of the Nintendo 69 Boulder.  We both did it quickly (I allmmmosst did it on my second try), and we felt that it was a fun and worthwhile V5ish-V6ish addition to the area.  It doesn't look that appealing (it has a sharp hold), but it climbed really well.  Kyle and I spent some time working the arete project, and I felt we made really fantastic progress, slowly understanding exactly how the problem would possibly go.  Hard, for sure!  I spent some time grooming the landing for two problems on the next boulder, both starting on a prominent rail.  Kyle did a heelhook-to-a-big-reach problem on the left (about V5, no name yet), and I did a V2ish problem I called Cracked on the right (it has a positive, slightly loose but completely chockstoned hold on it, hence the name). 

What next?  We're fully into the early summer season here, and my list of projects at Frank is only getting longer.  I hope to get several of them done this summer!  Also, I am heading up north to visit my parents in late June, so hopefully I can get out climbing to either Hasler Bluffs or Bear Mountain (hopefully both!).  I'm also hoping to visit a new granite bouldering area west (a long way west!) of Lethbridge, and open some of the classic new problems there.  Lots on my plate this summer! 


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