I have to confess; my first week back at home after my trip to the Boulderfields wasn't pretty. My skin was a bit thrashed, but my knees had taken a beating and were very sore for several days. More importantly, though, I was really hungry... all the time. I ate (a lot), and an unfortunately large proportion of what I was eating seemed to be ice cream and potato chips. I seem to have reined in my binge, though, and now it is time to get back to climbing and training!
Yesterday, Mark, Kyle, and I headed out to Frank Slide. As always, choosing a sector to climb in created a bit of discussion, but I was keen to head into and climb in the Heart of Frank Sector. Beyond a handful of sessions on and around the Mushroom Boulder, I have never climbed much in the HoF, and I felt that a little exploration was overdue.
Arriving at the Slide, we packed up and marched into the Slide. The HoF is fairly close to the Interpretive Center, and as we walked in (and throughout the day) we could hear people (especially children) talking and laughing at the Interpretive Center. Sound carries well down the hill from the viewing platform there, it seems.
We spend some time looking at new lines, then settled into the business of cleaning new problems and warming up (two activities which seem to go very well together, in my opinion). We also wanted to try the David Hasselhof Project, a tall bulging wall above a deep cave near the Mushroom Boulder; Mark and I had spent a lot of time cleaning it last year, but had never come back to try it. We warmed up by climbing four short slab problems (one of which seemed quite hard to me!), and then briefly worked and climbed two new arete problems on the backside of a nice block of very smooth (and very white!) 'porcelain stone'. We don't have names for the new problems yet, but I'll post them when I have them.
Kyle then came over and showed off his skill (skillz?) in an impressive flash of the harder of the two arete problems. Sufficiently warm, we moved over to try a steep arete/prow problem I had spotted and cleaned earlier; a sit-start on an opposing sloper and edge led to a very cool sequence of slopers and pinches up a short prow. For the first 20 minutes (or so) I was fairly perplexed by the line, but once I had figured out how to keep my feet engaged while moving my hands between the blunt holds, I managed to do it quickly. I was curious to see how Mark and Kyle would do on it, and wondered if they could flash it, but while they both had great first attempts on the line it took them several attempts to do it. The problem is about V6, has great movement, and is a great addition to the HoF area.
After that, we moved on to the 'David Hasselhoff' Project. I *think* we originally started calling it that because the bulging cave is situated above a huge flat boulder which I once compared to a beach; this lead to discussions of beaches, then to Baywatch, and inevitably to David Hasselhoff. Jokingly I started referring to the best-looking line on the face as the David Hasselhoff Project. Although the face looks amazing at first glance, the rock quality to the left and right of the project (which has solid rock) isn't that great. In the end, we found that the 'Project' in fact was two lines, starting on the same holds; a version that goes up and right, the other going up and left. The left version is a bit harder, but both feature good edges up through a tall bulging wall. Very fun! We spent some time working on the low start to the 'Projects', but the low start will add several very hard moves to the problem, and as such will take a lot of work.
We did a handful of other lines on the wall as well; Mark and Kyle did a line that involves a long move to a jug at the lip, and I did a problem that started on the same holds but veered right to the end of The Hoff. Satisfied with our work in the 'Beach Cave', we shuffled the mats to try one more project at the end of the day. I had tried the problem - a series of angled rails that lead to an arete - last year, but was baffled by the incredibly smooth rock (!) on the problem and a very cryptic sequence. This time, I was able to work the line with Mark and Kyle, and although we made progress, the problem didn't get sent. In fact, I'm not even sure that we deciphered a workable sequence, although not long before we left I managed to do a couple of the moves that I had previously been unable to manage. Maybe there is hope yet!
By this point, our skin was getting thin, so we packed up and headed out of the Slide. I grabbed a coffee and an ice cream at the gas station, and turned the van eastward, our backs to the setting sun. Another satisfying day at the Slide!
POST SCRIPT: The drive to the Crowsnest Pass provides time for a lot of discussion of many issues, and as you might imagine, many of the topics are climbing-themed. On the drive back, we contrasted the climbing in The Boulderfields with that of Frank Slide. It seems to me that the climbing in the Boulderfields is incredibly fun, with lots of big holds and steep faces. However, I admit that I am drawn to the technical and cryptic climbing of Frank Slide, and especially enjoy the challenge of deciphering the sequences needed to succeed at the Slide. Both areas are a lot of fun, but you can certainly learn a lot about climbing at The Slide!
Until next time!