Wednesday, September 24, 2014

(The Other) Limestone Bouldering Area!

I couldn't help but repost this video of the bouldering in the Gran Sasso of central Italy.  Limestone doesn't usually produce boulders big enough for bouldering on (the rock tends to fracture instead of forming blocks).  I was excited to see this trailer for a film about limestone bouldering in Italy, especially as several of the problems look very (!) Frank Slide-like.

The film Magia di Calcare (Magic of Limestone) by Roberto Parisse

The film is entitled Magia di Calcare (The Magic of Limestone).  Click here to enjoy the short film!

PS> Let me know if the link doesn't work for you, or if the photo doesn't appear...

2014 Tour de Frank Recap

The 2014 Tour de Frank was a success!  Perfect weather and a great group of climbers was a winning combination for the first annual Tour de Frank.  We had intentionally tried to keep the event low-key, with minimal advertising, as this was our first attempt at running an 'outdoor bouldering festival' event at Frank Slide.  Despite the limited advertising, we were excited to see about 25 people come out to the Tour de Frank, including handfuls of climbers from Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge, the Crowsnest Pass, and Lethbridge. 

Orientation started at about 11:15 (with free coffee and muffins available), and by 11:45 climbers were heading out into the Healing and Snakebite Sectors of Frank Slide for five hours of bouldering.  Everyone was provided with a guide to the area and a scorecard (which listed the 70+ problems that were included in the TdF this year, including four previously unclimbed projects).

After orientation, I stuck around the 'front desk' for an hour or so, in case any stragglers showed up.  Luckily, there were fun problems close at hand, and I warmed up by climbing Cottonwood Road (V1) a handful of times with Jonas Gagnon, who recently moved to Lethbridge.  I also managed to repeat the tricky Two for a Dollar (V3) before moving on.  I was happy when my wife Shelley (as well as my children Aya and Rowan) showed up to climb as well - we rarely get to climb together!  I was also excited to see my friend Geoff Mintenko, who I hadn't seen (or climbed with) in over a decade. The Tour de Frank is a great way to meet people, apparently!

 Boulderers around and on the notoriously reachy Snakebite (V2).

We headed over to the Snakebite Boulder where we climbed with a handful of boulderers from Lethbridge and Cranbrook, as well as Jonathan (and his two amazing girls Ruby and Sadie) from Beaver Mines.  Shelley warmed up by doing the reachy Snakebite (V2) fairly easily, with Jonas coming very close on the line as well.  We packed up and headed over to the Relentless Area to climb some of the slabs on the Foxhole Boulder, where we climbed briefly with Kyle and a few people from the Crowsnest Pass area.  I tried to repeat the powerful Relentless (V6) with Dan and Geoff, but none of us could quite make the huge cruxy reach at mid-height. I then turned my attention to Redonculous (V5) to the right of Relentless (which I had never tried before), coming very close but falling off the last hard move.

Boulderers from Lethbridge and Cranbook sending the powerful Apple Shampoo (V4/5).

Packing up to head over to the Healing Boulder, we met up with Dan Archambault, Andrew Funk, Josh Bylsma, and Mark Derksen (from Edmonton, Red Deer, and Lethbridge).  They were steaming through the hard problems on the scorecard, even though it was a bit too warm at that point for truly hard climbing.  I chatted for a bit, but then quickly dashed over to the Killer Boulder to do a lap on Killer Bees (V4) before I ran out of time.  I did manage to send Killer Bees, but I was too slow on the walk over to the boulder and didn't get it done before the time ran out.  I wished I had had the opportunity to climb a bit more, but being one of the organisers it was a great experience just to be able to hang out with so many climbers. The social experience was as rewarding as the climbing, certainly!

With sore tips, I headed back to the 'front desk'.  Kyle was already there, gathering the score cards.  Andrew and Josh had tied for the top overall spot, with Dan Archambault close behind.  Seeing what they had accomplished in five hours made me think I need to devote a little more time to training! Not everyone turned in a scorecard, which was fine with us; not everyone is as interested in the competitive aspect of the TdF, and we were excited to see that people were interested in coming out just to enjoy a day of bouldering.  

When all the points were tallied, the winners were:

Top Junior Male: Will Kwan
Top Junior Female: Ciara Meadows

Top Beginner Female: Danica Jensen
Top Beginner Male: Jonas Gagnon

Top Master' Male (40+): Dan Anhorn

Top Open Female: Shelley Hoover
Top Open Male: Andrew Funk and Josh Bylsma (TIE)
All things considered, it was a very successful TdF, especially since we hadn't advertised the event widely and hadn't expected too many people.  The only small disappointment was the rather small number of climbers from Lethbridge.  The Lethbians that did attend were definitlely psyched (!), which was awesome to see, but it would have been nicer to see more climbers from the closest city to the Slide.

I also wish I had had more time just to be able to connect with the climbers.  In particular, I wish I had been able to spend more time climbing with people from the Crowsnest Pass (if Crowsnest Pass climbers are reading this, I'm hoping to get the chance to climb with you again!).

We're already planning next year!  Huge thanks to my co-organisers Kyle and Alyssa; Kyle spent a lot of time distributing pencils and signs to all the areas, and Alyssa took some amazing pictures despite having her foot in a brace (all the photos above are by Alyssa).

Until next time...

PS> I'll try to get names attached to the captions in the photos, I don't have them here at my desk...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tour de Frank THIS WEEKEND!

The Tour de Frank is almost upon us!  This Saturday! 

This year, the TdF will be a low-key event - intentionally so.  We're working to create a casual event, with a focus primarily on the fun bouldering at the Slide, having a good time, and creating an opportunity for people to meet other climbers at the biggest bouldering area in Alberta.

Having said that, we have a great selection of problems for people to choose from (from V0 to V8+, with four unclimbed projects). Whatever your climbing level, we have problems that will ensure you have a good time.  Come out and climb!  The weather forecast looks absolutely perfect!

If everything goes well at this inaugural (and experimental!) event, we'll expand into a more substantial event next year.  This year, though, it will be a casual event.  We'll have the trappings of an outdoor bouldering event at Frank Slide on Saturday, though; free coffee and muffins in the morning, slacklines and a fire afterwards.  Prizes will be really minimal (as this is a 'test run'), but so is the entry fee (entry by donation to offset the cost of food, any excess money collected will be donated to the Southern Rockies Route Bolting Fund).

The format and rules of the Tour de Frank are as follows:

1)  You have FIVE hours (11:30 – 4:30) to climb as many problems as you wish!  There will be 70 hand-picked problems to choose from. We will use your SIX hardest problems to determine your score, though, so plan wisely!  You only have so much skin!
2)  You MUST (and this is NOT negotiable) have at least ONE spotter and TWO pads when attempting problems.  We realise that this may be inconvenient, but this is not a bouldering gym.   Our solution?  Be social!  Climb with others!  Climb with people you don’t know!  Introduce yourself, and ask for a spot.
3)  When you complete a problem, check it off on your Check List by initialling beside it.  Simple!  Don’t lose your pencil.
4) Keep track of the time.  Starting heading back to the main area / parking area around 4:00. You must have your sheet handed in by 4:30. 

In both Male and Female groups there are Beginner (V0-V1), Intermediate (V2-V6), Open (V7+), and Masters (40+ age), and Junior (age 0-16) categories.

Time & Location
10-12 Free Coffee and Muffins, 11-11:30  trash cleanup (see a TdF helper if you want to help), 11:30-4:30 Bouldering!  We will meet at the east end of the slide at the gravel road that parallels the river (see the map below); the gravel road can be accessed from the main highway by turning south (toward the river and Turtle Mountain) at the last turnoff at either end of the slide, and following the road back into the slide.  If  you are approaching from the east (from Calgary), take the last left turn you can make before the slide, driving down the hill, and turning right before you cross the bridge. 

We'll have volunteers around to help people find problems.  Don't worry if you've never been to The Slide before!  

DO bring a bouldering mat if you have one, though!  We'll have a dozen mats for use at the TdF, but we can always use more at the Slide!

See you there!