Monday, June 16, 2014


Happy Father's Day to all fathers, everywhere! 

I don't really engage in any typical 'Dad' activities (golfing? fishing?).  I had spent a fun Saturday with my family, but with Sunday looking dry and cool, I thought a day of bouldering in Frank Slide would be engaging way to meet my 'Dad' activity quota.   I knew Ashley and Adrian would be bouldering as well, so hopefully I would get the chance to meet up with them for a some pebble-wrestling.

Arriving at the Slide, I headed over to the river.  I stopped briefly to clear out the slash and branches from the spring close to the Submarine Boulder (a great place to get water), then headed over to the Tombstone Boulder, home to two of Frank's best arete problems, Tombstone Right (V5ish) and Tombstone Left (V3).  I wanted to try a new line which would start on the start holds of Tombstone Right, climb up and left across a steep face along a series of good but steeply angled edges, and finish on the topout of Tombstone Left.  The landing for the Tombstone Boulder is especially bad, so I spent a half-hour or so shuffling rocks around to flatten out the base.  There are two large blocks just out from the base of the boulder (with a half-meter gap between the boulder and the two blocks), but at least now the boulders don't jut out dangerously, and the problems there are a lot safer. 

Warming up, I did a couple of new easy slabs on the right side of the boulder, after flattening the landing out somewhat.  A tall, easy, and nicely featured slab up the left side of the slabby face I called Boneyard (V0), and a shorter even easier slab to the right of that I called Boot Hill (V0; you can climb it in your boots!).  I then became psyched to try a line that would start on the start holds of Tombstone Right but traverse rightward around the arete finishing up the slab just right of the arete.  After a handful of tries I managed to link four tricky and powerful traverse moves into the high slab to the right.  Sticking with the theme of the boulder, I called it Gravedigger (V4ish).

I then set my sights on the hard problem I had come to the Tombstone Boulder to do.  The line looked obvious enough, but after a half-dozen tries I realized it wasn't.  I could see how most of the moves would go - a low gaston combined with a higher right-hand sidepull would allow for a long iron-cross move to the far left arete - but I couldn't see how to get into that position from the start holds (a huge left-hand sidepull and a right hand on a large sloping rail).  I tried - and abandoned - several sequences that failed to work.  I finally used three short moves combined with heel hooks to get me into the right position. Once I had that I managed to fire the problem off straightaway.

A not-so-exciting photo of the Tombstone Boulder.  Hard to take selfies while climbing... Amazing problems on this block!

I decided to call it Graveyard Shift (V6?), partially because of the 'tombstone' theme of the boulder, and also because I was working the problem by myself with no one around.  A great new line, with perfect edges and fantastic movement.  A tricky problem to grade; it took me some time to understand the movement, but when I did it didn't feel terribly difficult (I repeated it again immediately so I could take a video using my camera stuffed into my shoe). I finished up by repeating Rest in Pieces (V1) on the left side of the boulder; I broke off a key handhold but it didn't make it much harder.

Here's the video of me repeating Graveyard Shift.  Sorry for the weird cropping (you can't see the bottom-most four feet of the boulder, or the top-most four feet; that's what you get when you use a shoe for a tripod).  Luckily, all you really miss is the fancy footwork at the beginning, and the mantle which you can't see anyways as I am around the corner.  Enjoy!

After that, I packed up and headed to the City of Giants.  I stopped briefly in the Spiderweb Area to check out a few boulders, and I saw two absolutely incredible slab problems, side-by-side on the same boulder.  Continuing along the highway, I spotted Adrian and Ashley in the boulders below the City of Giants, so I pulled over and unpacked my mats.  I worked briefly on a trail up the embankment above the highway (now, if you follow the angling ledge, there is a trail from its highest point up to the plateau above), then headed up into the City.  I joined Ashley and Adrian and we headed over to the Need Boulder, where they wanted to try Bananarama (V4).  I showed them where it was, and did it a few times while I was there.  On my second time, I broke off the small-but-crucial foothold next to the arete!  I did it again, it's a bit harder, and a teeny bit more powerful, but basically the same.  Adrian did Bananarama (the new slightly harder version) in a solid effort.

Ashley making progress on the popular Bananarama (V4).  Great problem, with a not-so-great landing.

I had previously spotted a problem nearby that looked like it would be a lot of fun.  A bulging wall on rippling slopers would lead to a tall steep slab on really good rock.  I thought it would start on a good underclinging jug at chest height, but when I was cleaning it I realised the jug was cracked, and with a little prodding it fell off, revealing a smaller but still positive sidepull.  Since it didn't look like a good start hold anymore, I wondered if a sit start would go, so I took a look at the lower, much steeper start.  I was excited to see that a sit start would be more fun, and a lot more natural!  I set to work trying to link the moves together.

Looking down at the slopers of the new project.  Problem is nice and high (16 feet?), with all the business in the first 10 feet.  Very cool, and very slopey for Frank Slide!

After a half-hour, I realised two things.  First, the problem was very cool, with about ten sustained moves on slopers to reach a good rail and midheight.  Second, it was very hard!.  Even though it will be a challenge to link all the moves together, it will be worth it; Frank Slide simply doesn't have many sustained, technical problems in the upper grades.  Definitely an exciting summer project!

By this time, my tips were feeling a bit... smooth.  Adrian, Ashley, and I headed up to the Fathers Day Boulder.  We did a new V3ish lip traverse/arete problem, and I managed to do a tricky short blunt arete problem (V5ish).  We then turned our attention to Fathers Day (V4), a problem I had opened exactly a year ago, on Fathers Day 2013. Adrian and I both managed to do it (it certainly is one of Frank Slides hardest V4s!), and Ashley added another problem that starts as for Fathers Day but heads up and left onto a steep slab.  However, by this time the showers had started, and it was getting late, so we packed up and headed out.  Another fun day in the Slide!

I won't be in the Slide for a couple of weeks; I'm heading north, hopefully to do some climbing in northern BC (Bear Mountain / Hasler).

Until next time!

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