Monday, July 7, 2014

The Summer Continues!

Every summer, in late June, I drive north to visit my parents in northern Alberta.  Aside from the obvious pleasure I take in seeing my family, I am also motivated to drive north by the opportunity to climb on the sandstone of northeastern BC.  This summer, I managed to get out for a day to Hasler Bluffs just outside of Chetwynd BC.  There are two projects at Hasler I'd like to do; the first is an open project just right of Armageddon, and the other is the 'Orange Crush' Project I bolted a few years ago.  Both are in the .12+ range, and since hard routes at Hasler are usually really sequential and interesting, I was excited to get on them.

I met up with Chris Dart in Dawson Creek, and we headed out to Hasler.  To make a long story quite short, we arrived at the crag, we both did Self-Service Pump (.10+) to warm up, then we put the draws on the project right of Armageddon.  The second half of the route proved to be both hard and cryptic, and it took us a couple of hours to decipher the sequence and techniques needed to link all the moves.  At the end of the day, we were both linking the route in long sections on toprope, but it was simply too hard for a quick send.  I did it with one fall on toprope, though, so hopefully I'll get it next time I'm in the Peace Country!  While some of the holds are a bit sharp, the sequence is incredibly intricate and quite cool, a great project!

Once back in Southern Alberta, I headed out to Frank Slide for a day of bouldering with Kyle and Josh B. from Red Deer.  Josh is (as far as I know) the first boulderer to do a extended road trip to Frank Slide, and is quickly racking up an impressive list of sends, including The Prism (V8), The Communist (V7-), and The Socialist (V7/8).

Perfect 'Frank edges' on Overdue (V2ish).

Arriving at the Slide, Kyle and I headed to the City of Giants, which we hoped would be mosquito-free (it was).  We warmed up on a few of the easy highballs on the Split Boulder, then decided to do the two high problems I had cleaned on the roadside face of the boulder a few months ago.  This face features really amazing flat edges of all sizes, from thin crimps to big ledges, all roughly facing the same direction.  First, we did the taller of the two lines (about 15 feet), a bit right of the tall arete problem Deadline.  A tricky start led to much easier moves on cool holds; though the landing is less than ideal (a weird fall would end up with the climber hitting the boulder behind them instead of the mats) it is a great easy problem.  Then we headed a few meters right and did the second problem, a slightly harder line I called Overdue (V2ish).  A low start on flat edges leads up and left on more flat edges, then back right to a huge jug and a big move to the lip.  Luckily the topout was easier than it looked!

 Kyle getting ready to get high on Past Time (V1).

Warmed up, we headed around to the back of the boulder to try the Split Right project - or at least a variant of it.  Instead of the usual low start, we instead opted to start on the first hold of The Possiblizer (V4ish?) then head straight left into the project.  This turned out to be a great idea; it avoids the first reachy (!) move of the direct start, but climbs through the rest of the problem.  We were making great progress - I even fell from the last move - but we decided to move on to other, easier, lines after Josh made quick work of The Possiblizer.

Kyle getting higher and higher on the tall, fun, and slightly spooky Past Time (V1).

We walked around the City of Giants for awhile, scoping new problems, and ended up at a large white block near the Karst Boulder.  We managed to put up a new tricky arete problem on really solid rock; the boulder is composed of what I call 'porcelain stone' (very hard, very white, and dropped pieces make a ringing sound like pieces of broken ceramic), so I called the new line Porcelain (V4ish).  Josh nearly send a great-looking eliminate on the face, then we then moved around to the back of the boulder where a handful of new lines waited for us.  First we cleaned and send a quirky line that proved to be a lot of fun.  A powerful first move to a huge ledge hold was followed by a strange (and strangely difficult) mantle-esque move to a good rail hold.  I called it Mantle Master (V1?2?) after nearly falling from the weird mantle move... Josh did it much more easily than I did!

Josh B. crushing a lap on Porcelain (hard V4ish).

Josh added another problem to the right of Mantle Master he called Mantle Asylum (V1), and then cleaned a line up the sloping left-hand arete.  It looked like an obvious crimp-and-pinch problem, but in my experience the smooth texture of the 'porcelain stone' at Frank Slide can become a real factor in hard problems!  Josh's fingers were beat up (his third day on!), and it was getting late, so he bailed, leaving the arete to Kyle and I.  I tried it for a half-hour or so, but a tricky short dyno to a blunt pinch was shutting me down, so I settled into the role of spotter and pad-caddy.  Kyle linked the first five moves fairly quickly, but then realized that the mantle wasn't going to be easy.  Kyle's "Frank experience" paid off in the end, though, and he managed an absolute end-of-the-day (9:00 or so!) send of a great new line!  A brilliant effort to end the session!  After some discussion, Kyle decided to call it The Cure (V6? Maybe harder?).

Kyle contemplating life and mantle moves amidst the blocks of Frank Slide.

We trudged back to the van, packed up, and then headed to Tim Hortons for something to eat and coffee to drink for the long drive back to Lethbridge.  Another great day of bouldering in the Rockies! 


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