Monday, July 20, 2015

The Slide that Keeps on Giving

On Saturday, Kyle and I headed out to the Slide, with the goal of exploring the western-most end of the area; namely, the Railway and Heart of Frank sectors.  I thought that perhaps we would have time to hit up a couple of areas, try a handful of projects.  Kyle thought otherwise, noting that the best-laid plans at Frank often go awry when the exploration bug sets in.  His words would prove prophetic.

We hiked up to the ridge above Railway, where a small collection of boulders sit atop a relatively sharp ridge of talus.  We wanted to try the problems on one boulder in particular, a nice-sized block with a long overhanging face, and good landings.  The catch?  The boulder is topped by gravel, which had made topping out on the block unpleasant.  Kyle had put some effort in years ago to clean off the topout, and I contributed another hour or so to cleaning up the mantle on the boulder.  It eventually became a lot better (though still not ideal), and so if you are in the area feel free to bring a brush (or broom) and do a little sweeping!

We spent some time cleaning up the boulder (and working on the landing a bit), then proceeded to climb all the lines on the boulder.  Coincidentally, the easiest line was on the right side of the face, and every problem that we encountered as we moved left across the face was a bit harder, with the two most difficult lines on the far left (and steepest) prow.  Approximately, the lines were V1, V1/2, V2, V3, with the final two lines in the V5(ish) range.  The final two problems - a line that climbed out a short roof to a hanging dihedral (likely calling it Eclipse) and another that compressed up a great double-arete feature - were both stellar!  It seems likely that the first line hadn't been done before, and likely that second one had (it is a very obvious line, and Kyle remembers seeing chalk on it years ago).

I am always impressed that there are still new lines to climb, even though I have climbed at the Slide for well over a hundred days since moving to Southern Alberta three years ago. Just when I start to think I've climbed and/or seen everything, I jump on a line that is new to me, and find a fantastic gem.  The V5ish compression line that we climbed is a good case in point; I've looked at the boulder before but never tried anything on it.  When I finally climbed the problem, I was surprised to find one of the best V5s in the entire area!     

Kyle on the third move of the amazing squeeze/arete problem on the ridge above the Railway Cave.  If you are an aspiring V5 or V6 climber, it is well worth the trip up to the ridge; the problem is one of Frank Slide's best at that level of difficulty!

Just as we finished all the lines, Mark D came up to the ridge to climb with us for the remainder of the day.  He warmed up on the easier lines on the face, and almost onsighted both of the V5s in an impressive effort.  We then moved on to the next cluster of boulders on the ridge, but were disappointed to find that the problems there were of low quality.

Kyle setting up for the punchy last move of the compression/arete line.  Allez!

By this time it was very late in the afternoon, and we decided to head down to the Railway Cave to try the long left-hand arete that forms the lip of the cave.  Starting on the farthest left side of the cave, we tried to climb the long and undulating arete all the way to the finishing jugs of Railway - a distance of probably 15+ feet!  After four tries, I managed to link the entire problem (getting savagely pumped each attempt), and although he put in a valiant effort over an hour or so, Mark was unable to send the problem.  Kyle almost tried the problem, but was feeling too sleepy... :)  Regardless, another brilliant, fun line (with the bonus of being nice and high) probably in the V5 or low-end V6 range.  I'm planning on calling it Hang 'Em High.  The real prize (and enduro-fest) remains, however, which is a possible linkup of Wild West (V5) into Hang 'Em High, a problem with almost 20 feet of climbing, and more than 15 moves.  Yikes! 

I have finally made a dent in my 'Summer 2015' project list, since both the compression problem and Hang 'Em High were on the list of 10 problems.  Lots of climbing left, though - time to get busy!

Until next time!

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