Thursday, September 1, 2016

Frankly, It's a Lot of Fun!

Preparations for the 2016 Tour de Frank are well underway!  The Tour de Frank (which I am now billing as North America's Greatest Outdoor Limestone Bouldering Festival) is an outdoor bouldering event / competition / festival / socializing opportunity that we run every year at Frank Slide in the Crowsnest Pass.  This will be the third year of the festival, and we're expecting it to be the best event yet (as long as the weather cooperates...).  We'll be releasing specific details of the Tour de Frank over the next few weeks, but needless to say we are busy with preparations for the event!

This past weekend, Kyle, Mark D, Mark G, Dan, and I headed to the Crowsnest Pass for a day of bouldering on a (thankfully!) cool summer day.  Kyle and I also had other motives for visiting the Slide - we (and by 'we' I mostly mean Kyle) were fact-checking dozens of problems in the Slide to ensure that our new mini-guides for the House, Frictionary, and Heart of Frank sectors are as accurate as possible for the Tour de Frank!

When we arrived in the Slide, we started off our day of bouldering/fact-checking on a small block quite near the House Parking Lot.  Kyle had described it to me on the drive out, but I couldn't place it in my memory.  Walking up to the boulder, the reason for my lack of knowledge became apparent.  The boulder sits in a depression in the talus, and I had never seen it before!

A surprisingly fun line that climbs up out of a pit, the funky Painful Decision (V3).

We warmed up by working through the problems on the boulder; they were all new to me, but Kyle had climbed them years before.  Painful Decision (V3), a fun line which climbs out of a small pit and follows an arete through a bulge, gave us a few problems, but we all quickly sent the three easier face lines on the boulder, Pain for Pleasure (V1), U Dolt (V1), and Nuts and Bolts (V1).  The latter three problems climb though a face completely composed of crinoid fossils, which make for unique climbing at the Slide! 

Thoroughly warmed up, Kyle hiked off into the Slide on a fact-checking mission, while Dan starting cleaning a new slab, and Mark D, Mark G, and I headed over to the Black Slot Boulder to try some of the lines there.  Mark G and I climbed some fun (though not terribly hard) new slabs on the side of the boulder, and then watches as Mark D repeated the funky Blessings in Disguise (V8).  After a little cleaning, I realised that from the start of Black Slot Arete (V4), it would be possible to carefully climb up and right on the slab.  The line was trickier than I thought, though not truly difficult.  After falling off unexpectedly a few times, I pulled sloowwwly though a funky rock-over move to send the FA of The Oozing (V2/3).  

Mark G moving slowly and carefully on his way to the second ascent of The Oozing (V2/3).

Confident after his quick repeat of Blessings in Disguise, Mark D wondered if he could start on the unique starting hold of Blessings, but instead of following the rail out the roof, reach right and climb up and onto the slab of The Oozing.  After only a few tries, Mark sent the FA of (what I am tentatively calling) C Monster (V8?).  Very cool movement, indeed!  I briefly worked Blessings as well, but soon realized that my fitness wasn't up to the task.

Mark D nearing the end of the techy and powerful Blessings in Disguise (V8).

Having finished scrubbing his new slab lines, Dan wandered up to join us at the Black Slot. He was keen to try the fun Black Slot Arete (V4).  After watching him send it in only a handful of tries, I got excited to repeat it again, so I pulled my shoes on and did it as well (thankfully without too much problem!). 

After that, a flurry of sends wrapped up the day; Dan and Mark G did The Oozing, we all did a new (and relatively spooky!) slab on the end of the slabby face (calling it Happy Ending (V1ish)), and then we headed up a short distance into the talus where Mark D quickly sent Kyle's new dynamic line Racing the Storm (V4-7?). 

All things considered, a fun day in the Slide with fun people! To top the day off, we met up with Kyle's wife Amy, and we all headed into the pub in the town of Frank for dinner before finally driving back to Lethbridge.  Such a fantastic day - lots of climbing, new problems, lots of friends, and cool summer send-temperatures!  It really doesn't get much better than that!

Not all fun and games when you fall onto your back and miss the mat in Frank Slide!  Blunt force contusion on Mark's back... ouch!

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