Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014: The Year in Review

Another great year of climbing - mostly of the ropeless variety - has come and gone! Bouldering was heavily featured on my climbing menu this past year; unless I am mistaken, the only times I put on a rope were to clean tall boulder problems.  Most of my climbing days were spent at Frank Slide, but I did manage a couple of trips, one to Leavenworth, Washington and one to Priest Lake, Idaho.  I began my new ‘real’ full-time job in August (I am now a Professor at the University of Lethbridge), but managed to keep on climbing through the fall, though not as frequently as I would have otherwise liked.  Given that I am 43 (turning 44 in January!), I was pleasantly surprised that I climbed so well this year.  I climbed a number of hard(ish) problems this year, though I have no illusions that I am as physically strong as I once was (erp!).  Hopefully with a little effort I'll get in proper shape again in 2015.

Regardless of my level of fitness and my state of employment, I had a lot of fun climbing this year.  So, in no particular order, the top seven things that went down in “Trent Hoover’s Bouldering Universe” in the last 12 months!

Evan E. on the stellar almost-highball The Communist (V7), Aftermath Boulder, House Sector, Frank Slide.

1) My trip to Leavenworth, Washington.  For years, I have listened to and read about trips my friends made to Leavenworth.  Though I lived in Vancouver for years, it was always so much easier to go to Squamish or to the Fraser Valley instead of crossing the border and driving to Leavenworth.  This past year, though, I had to opportunity to go on a 10-day trip to Leavenworth with two great boulderers, Kyle M. (Frank Slide’s reigning king of bouldering) and Colin D. (one of my oldest friends, and perpetually excited to climb).  We went to Leavenworth in mid-May, and had a great time; perfect weather, lots of fun, good people, and a chance to sample the bouldering of one of America’s best bouldering areas.  For me, the trip culminated with a send of one of the west’s most celebrated problems, Was (V8).  Another highlight of the trip was watching Kyle almost do The Amphitheatre Dyno (VHard) at Mad Meadows, a truly giant jump.  Needless to say, I didn’t try it (those of you who have ever seen me dyno will appreciate that).

Caitlin D. on The Hueco Route (V1), Mad Meadows, Leavenworth.  The foot in the hueco is Colin's, who managed to climb entirely into a huge hueco... 

2. Keep The Faith (V8), Priest Lake.  Some people think boulderers have no sense of adventure.  While that may be the case for some people, it certainly doesn’t apply to me (or so I like to think ;) ).  The search for new boulder problems (and new areas!) has kept me prowling about the mountains of western North America for many years.  This year was no exception, and in August Kyle and I headed off to Northern Idaho on a hunch; that we might find new boulders in the Lion’s Creek watershed near Priest Lake.  After a long drive, we finally arrived.  We DID find lots of boulders in the forest there, but most of them were unfortunately blank.  Still, we did clean one of the coolest new problems I’ve seen in a long time.  We spent two days working the moves, and I sent it on the last day of the trip, naming it Keep The Faith (V8).  A series of underclings lead to a big cube-shaped block underneath a roof, followed by a very cool lip move and one of the most unique top-outs I’ve ever seen.  Immediately to the left of the problem is Black Robe (V4), a very cool highball with a fantastically continuous rail that zigs and zags from the base of the problem almost to the lip.  Two world-class problems, side by side!

Me on the huge roof block of Keep The Faith (V8), Priest Lake, Idaho.
3. 71 First Ascents!  I am always thankful that I live close to a bouldering area with interesting problems.  I am even more thankful that Frank Slide has interesting problems still waiting to be done.  Graveyard Shift (V6), Helping Hands (V1), the fantastic bulge problem The Blessing (V7), and the fun prow Black Peter (V4) were all great new problems we found in The Slide this year.  I am looking forward to another year of new problems at The Slide and beyond.  I have my eye on more lines, so I’m excited to get back to training this winter in hope of doing a few more hard FAs come spring.

4. The Karage, Lethbridge.  Kyle’s garage (aka The Karage) has been a great place to train.  A TV, a couch, and lots of holds; what else does one need? It’s pretty much a three-season facility, though, since it can be too cold to climb at in winter unless temperatures are unseasonally warm (which does happen periodically, given that we live in Lethbridge).  I need to be a little more regimented with my training in 2015, though, if I am going to reach some of the goals I have set for myself.  The Karage has a new DVD player, and in 2015 it might get a new TV. 

Kyle M. starting up the fantastic highball Overtime (V2ish), City of Giants, Frank Slide.

5. The 2014 Tour de Frank.  This autumn we hosted the inaugural Tour de Frank, an outdoor bouldering competition / festival.  We kept it pretty casual, with minimal advertising, and still had about 30 people show up.  We’re not certain of the TdF’s future, because there are many logistic hurdles to overcome, but we’re hoping that next year we can elevate the TdF to make it a fun regional event.  This year, the TdF was won by Andrew Funk and Josh Bylsma (tie) for the men, and Shelley Hoover for the women.  

Andrew Funk on the seldom-repeated and intricate Fender (somewhere between V6 and V8) during the 2014 Tour de Frank, Frank Slide.

6. The Right Right (V8).  I was excited (and pleasantly surprised) to send The Right Right, which is the right-hand version of the Split Right Project (which is still undone).  The so-called ‘Split Projects’ were long-standing projects on the backside of the Split Boulder in the City of Giants, and I was glad to send one of them. The Right Right is a heel-hook dependent problem (which is cool), but on small edges and pinches (not my strength).  Regardless, I managed to send it in a handful of tries on my second session on the problem.  On the same day, I sent the FA of The Blessing (V7) and also sent The Cure (V6/7), a Kyle Marco technical arête line on the Porcelain Boulder.  A fantastic day in the Slide!

Josh B. on Morgan Dunnet's testpiece Cognitive Dissonance (V10).  Hard!

7. All the hard lines in the Slide that went down (though not by me) this year!  Several lines were done that are not only brutally hard, but inspiring; Morgan Dunnet’s powerful Cognitive Dissonance (V10) (check out the video HERE) and Josh Bylsma’s testpieces March of Time (V10?, a very hard (!) lip traverse), and The Shield (V10ish, harder as you get shorter).  These problems are now among the hardest problems at the Slide; the other hard lines being Terry Paholek’s Shelley Was A Doctor First (V10), and Adam Currie’s  now-broken Chain Gang (V11?).  Another huge send was Morgan’s Split Left (V9), one of the most technically demanding and powerful problems in the slide.  Another key ascent this year as Kyle's send of the absolutely stellar The Communist (V7), which is one of best (if not THE best) problem at the Slide.  The number of hard problems exploded in The Slide this year, and there are still hard projects remaining; Josh is making the Sunny Corner Project look feasible…

Jonas G. on Calvin's Arete (V0/1), one of the lines in the Karst Valley Sector; dozens of lines went up in Karst Valley and the City of Giants this year. 

So what does the New Year hold?  The future is always a mystery, but there are a few things I am looking forward to in 2015.  I have a half-dozen lines in The Slide I would really love to climb; most (but not all) of them are currently unclimbed.  It will take some dedication on my part, however, to get in good enough shape to climb them.  Most of the hard problems in the slide are on flat edges / crimps, which isn’t my strength.  However, it is easier to make gains if you work your weaknesses rather than your strengths, so that is what I hope to do in my quest to knock off a few more hard problems in the next twelve months.

I would also like to go on another spring trip, either to Joe’s Valley (which is number one on my list of places to visit) or to Hope / Okanagan.  The bouldering at The Boulder Fields by Kelowna looks fantastic, but is primarily on crimps, which doesn’t make me that excited.  However, it IS really steep, which would be a nice change from Frank Slide.
Finally, I am looking forward to climbing more with my family in 2015.  My kids are old enough now they don’t immediately hurt themselves in the boulders, and it would be great to climb with Shelley at Frank Slide.  So, with a little luck, bouldering will be more of a family affair in the next year.

And finally, as always, I would love to climb with you!  If you'd like to climb at The Slide, and have a tolerance for bad landings, let me know; I'm always up to show people around!

So Merry Christmas and a Happy New (Bouldering) Year, everyone!

Jonas G. on the fun new slab Salted Earth (V0), high in the City of Giants.