Thursday, July 14, 2016

Frank Slide Spring Training!

Frank Slide's (growing) reputation as a "virtually-year-round" bouldering area got a boost this year, as not only did we get out climbing to the Slide every month this winter, but also that 'spring' arrived in late February.  February, March, and April provided great climbing weather, and as a result a lot of climbing days were logged, and many projects got sent.

While I have avoided serious injury this year, I've been dealing with a few problems that have prevented me from training the way I've wanted to.  First, I tweaked my groin tendon (from open-hip heel hooks at The Karage, mostly likely), then I developed distal bicep tendonitis (during a bout of training in May, an issue which I suspect I will be plagued with for some time), and finally I've been quite lazy. ;)  Nonetheless, I've managed to have a lot of fun at the Slide this spring!  Just last Satuday I was out at the Slide, and had a blast; I did some community service by cleaning the loose rock off the classic slab Splinter (V0), and climbing some of the beautiful lines on the Aftermath Boulder with Ernie and Adam from Calgary, including the highballs Evil Eye (V3) and Ghost Horse (V4).

Though there have been a few wet spells this spring, generally the weather has been amazing.  Jonas, Kyle, and I got in a great session in the City of Giants on a warm day at the end of January, and added a handful of new lines directly below the Giant itself, including the funky Alberta Meat Market (V4, which I was very happy to flash for the FA), Deadpool (V4, with Kyle making it look easy), Charcuterie (V3), and the weird-but-fun-how-do-I-start-this-thing Old Testament (V3).  Jonas has (at last!) pushed firmly into the V4 grade with his solid send of Deadpool, a techy vertical line with sloping (!) holds.

(top) Jonas G. solving the riddle of Deadpool (V4) in the City of Giants, (bottom) Kyle on his way to sending the funky notched arete of Alberta Meat Market (V4), using beta I did not approve of...

Throughout the spring, we continued to explore new lines in the City of Giants (the area that keeps on giving!), with a handful of new first ascents including Skyward Sword (V6), Wind Waker (V4), The Poetry of Material Things (V4), Twilight (V3), and the very fun slab Ocarina (V1).  Dan Anhorn and I spent some time building a landing on the right side of the Baby Giant, which permitted the first ascent of a handful of lines, including Kiai High (V3), Kiai (V5), Chi Sao (V9), and Chi Sao Left (V10).

In Frictionary, we also added a handful of quality new slab lines on the Mel Gibson Boulder, including Braveheart (V2) and William Wallace (V1).  Later, in May, another fun group coalesced in the City of Giants to add more moderates to the left side of the Baby Giant, in the now-named Hobo Cave, including Hobo Safety Meat (V2/3) and The Littlest Hobo (V2/3).  We also re-discovered how rewarding and fun it is to climb with a group, when a handful of Frank Slide's regulars spent some time working through an old project of mine, finishing a new line that Mark D. named Force of Will (V5/6).

Kyle Marco successfully using the less-than-obvious and crowd-sourced beta to stylishly send Force of Will (V5/6). Mark Guckert showed us all that finger-jams may be more useful at Frank Slide than we thought...

The big story this spring, however, has been the continuing rampage of Josh Bylsma through the boulders of Frank Slide.  Not content simply repeating old testpieces, Josh has added dozens of hard new lines to the Slide this spring, including Deliverance Sit (V9), Cocoon (V8), Dark Age Low (V11), and the world-class line (and long-term project of mine) Mark of the Beast (V9).  Most impressively, Josh finally nailed down the first ascent of the power-endurance-yet-powerful project on the Mushroom Boulder which he named Quantum Leap (V12), which is (as far as I am aware) the hardest problem in the province.  Congrats to Josh!

 Mark D. trying to overcome gravity on the gold-streaked and  powerfully dynamic Apollo 11 (V10).

Josh B. packing up after an unsuccessful session on Mark of the Beast (V9).  It was just a matter of time before he sent, though!

Several of Josh's notable first ascents this spring aren't impressive due to their difficulty, but rather their height.  Though he climbed several high lines, his most notable are (after top-rope cleaning / examination / rehearsal, a wise idea due to Frank's friable rock) the delicate and ridiculously high The Hoover Effect (V1/2 X, with a crux about 20 feet of the deck), and the powerful and monstrously high Colossus (V8) on the House Boulder itself (probably almost 30 feet high, with a tricky mantle at the end...).  Needless to say, none of Josh's highballs have yet been repeated. Erp.

Mark Derksen has also been hard at work in the Slide.  In an impressive one-session effort he repeated Crowded House (V10), repeated Morgan Dunnet's Cognitive Dissonance (V10), and after a lot of work finally wrapped up Frank Slide's classic cave line Railway (V10).  Mark also got the first ascent of the thin and dynamic project to the right of Baby Jesus Dyno, a line he called Crucifix (V10).

(top) Kyle starting up Ocarina (V1), and (bottom), pulling into the crux of Wind Waker (V4) in the City of Giants.

The rest of the Frank Slide 'locals' (can I call them "The Frank Pack"?) have been very active this spring as well.  Kyle Marco (aka The Wizard of Frank, aka Red Beard, aka Obi Wan Kyle-obi (I just made that last one up)) added a brilliant new line in Frictionary, which we called Cherry Pepsi (V7, Frank's most kneebar-laden line).  Davin Simmons, a new transplant to the area, has been hard at work, repeating old lines and finding new ones that have been long-overlooked.  Stephan and Aletha have also been VERY evident at the Slide, and have steadily worked through many of Frank Slide's classic lines, including Killer Bees (V4) and Sunspot (V5).

On a final note, I would like to remind everyone that the Tour de Frank, Alberta's greatest outdoor bouldering event, is coming up in late September.  We'll post the date in a few weeks, but it should be a great event again this year, with an entirely NEW list of problems (yes, we're moving the event to a new area!).  Keep it in mind when you are planning your autumn climbing trips!

Me on the nicest highball slab in Frictionary, Tomb With A View (V0).

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