In Southern Alberta, springtime has been fantastic! Flowers are everywhere, and the weather for climbing is almost perfect. Rowan (who is now 7) has been itching to get out to Frank Slide for some bouldering, so on Saturday we packed everyone up and headed to the Slide for a day of springtime adventure. Aya isn't really that keen on climbing these days, but she still likes to get out to the Pass for a little hiking and to spend some time by a campfire.
On the drive out to the Pass (which is always too long for Aya and Rowan), I decided that we would go to the Spiderweb area, for two reasons. First, and most importantly, it has a number of smallish boulders close to the parking lot, which means easy access to kid-sized boulder problems. Second, the Spiderweb area has a handful of projects I am working. We arrived at the area, packed up, and strolled down the maze of grassy paths that give the Spiderweb area its name. We stopped at a smallish boulder beside the path, and I cleaned and climbed three short-ish problems that were all surprisingly good; a short cave problem on the front of the boulder (Orange Crush (V2), a very fun line named for our new provincial government), a left-to-right lip traverse on that same face (V3 or V4), and a short cave problem on the back of that same boulder (V2ish).
I found a fun juggy face for Rowan and Aya to climb, and they had a blast doing a first ascent! Rowan did it first, and called it The Titan's Head (V0-), as he's on a Greco-Roman mythology kick these days. Rowan managed to climb a half-dozen other problems in the area, mostly slabs, and had a great day of sending! After three hours of climbing, we agreed that it was time for pastries and headed to one of the best cafe-bakeries in Alberta - the Cinnamon Bear!
After we finished our coffee and pastries (amazing, as always!), Shelley, Aya, and Rowan headed over to the river to enjoy a fire and hot dogs, and I headed back into the Spiderweb area to session on Josh B.'s new problem, The Renaissance (V8 or V9). It is a stout line; essentially seven continuously hard moves that lead to a juggy slab high on the boulder. I find all seven moves to be quite hard - the problem is obviously close to my limit - but I find the first move (a hard pull to a sloping shelf) to be especially grim.
The difficulty of The Renaissance lies, primarily, in a noticeable lack of footholds. The problem starts matched in a sloping dish under the belly of the boulder, but without any holds to engage your feet, I find it very hard just to pull onto the start holds. To engage my feet (one pasted on a little nub, and the other smeared hard against the blank face of the roof) I have to really try hard to generate ANY momentum. As I get older, the "try hard" part of climbing is definitely something that takes more focus than it used to!
Regardless, after some work I managed to slap at the second hold a few times. Satisfied with even that much progress, I then set to work on the rest of the problem. The Renaissance is odd for Frank Slide in that almost every hold is sloping (not an edge), and it requires a lot of body tension throughout. I know that to do the problem I will have to discover the most efficient sequence, and so I spent a half-hour just trying individual moves, learning how the individual moves fit together. I'm pretty satisfied with the progress I made (I linked moves 2-7 in a few blocks), and left the problem with the feeling that more training is needed to punch through the first move.
I spent a little more time trying a few more projects in the Spiderweb sector, but then packed it in and headed over to the river for hot dogs and some 'adventure time' with Aya and Rowan. All things considered, a good day in the mountains!