In late July, a strong group of climbers who don't ordinarily climb together coalesced in Frank Slide for a fantastic day of exploration and climbing in the Zombotron Sector. I love climbing in Zombotron; a trip to the sector begins with a boulder-hopping crossing of the Crowsnest River. For most of the year, the water level of the river prevents a safe crossing, so I have always considered Zombotron a late-summer and autumn bouldering treat. Futhermore, the area is incredibly beautiful, as it lies along the river, and the rapids and trees provide a fantastic backdrop for a day of climbing.
After Kyle and I arrived at the Slide, we met up with Davin and Dan, then walked into the Healing area to drop off some mats for a group from the U of L Climbing Club. As we walked back to Zombotron, we ran into Reba (last year's Boulderfest winner!) and asked if she wanted to boulder with us for the day. She was nursing an ankle injury, but was nonetheless game to cross the river to check out the boulders in Zombotron.
After crossing the river, we headed over to the Nautilus Boulder. I hadn't climbed anything on the boulder, but was keen to try Dan's two moderate lines there (No Guts V2 and No Gory V1), as well as Mark's classic compression line Nautilus (V6). We cleaned a handful of moderate lines to warmup on, adding Captain Barnacles (V0-) and the short but very fun Fascistitis (V2). Warmed up somewhat, we shuffled the mats over to try No Guts and No Gory. Both lines looked great, but No Guts is a fantastic line, cerebral and pleasantly high - a top 50 line in my opinion!
I was very curious about the arete to the left of No Guts. It was a proud sharp arete, vertical, perched above the Crowsnest River. A barndooring fall would, it appeared, result in an unexpected plunge into the river! Everyone was a bit skeptical about the risky appearance of the line at first, but after cleaning it as best we could from the ground and the top of the boulder, we all jumped on the problem. It turned out to be a great compression line, with my left hand taking good arete holds and my right on postive but widely spaced edges. Only the first move was tricky, but the problem definitely demanded respect! Old Man and the Sea (V2/3) is another great addition to the area, another Top 50 line (perhaps it should be 'Top 100' now that we've added so many new lines to the Slide)!
Though his fingers were completely worn through, Davin wanted to put in a few attempts on his project, the uber-classic lip/arete Rising Tithes (V8). Kyle had just sent it a week before, but everyone was keen to either give the line a few burns or spot Davin. I gave it a few half-hearted tries, reminding myself how amazing Rising Tithes is. Davin came close, but had to walk away from it after a handful of tries when blood started oozing from his tips, and the clouds closed in and it started to rain (he did return the following week for the send!). Luckily, the overhang of Rising Tithes also doubles as a great rain shelter, and we hunkered down, had lunch, and waited out the rain.
After lunch (and as the boulders quickly dried) we walked over to check out some new lines. Reba was excited to work one of the mini-cave problems on the backside of the Hourglass boulder, and Kyle wanted to put in some time on a blunt arete he had described as 'slopey'. I was very curious, since Frank isn't exactly known for it's sloping holds. We laid down the mats and sent to work. There were actually two lines side-by-side, with both featuring VERY sloping smooth holds and sequential technical movement. Mark D. (who had joined us) sent the first line, and Kyle the second. Both seemed to be in the V7 range; I made good progress on the first (getting all the moves figured out but one, that I couldn't stick easily), but was stymied by the length of the moves on the second.
I'd like to remind everyone that the 2016 Tour de Frank is approaching! A full post with details soon!
Me on the first ascent of the aptly-named Old Man and the Sea (V2/3).