Friday July 22nd, 2011
I found my project for the trip! We headed up to the Dihedral Boulders, and while there isn’t a lot of climbing up there, it is very impressive. Each boulder that contains hard climbing would be considered by most to be world class. Before we could climb anything we had to run around a little bit and gawk at problems like; El Corazon (V13 – 8B), Gliding Through Waves Like Dolphins (V11 – 8A), and Ray of Light (V13 – 8B). Once we were settled in we hopped on Gliding Through Waves Like Dolphins. When you first feel the holds of this climb it just feels utterly impossible. Sloppy nothing holds up a blunt arête/bulge, with small crimps for the top out. After a few tries messing with a kneebar that makes the climb climbable (even though it was originally done without it), Brian and myself were able to make quick work of the problem. This is a must due or at least try problem for everyone.
It was now time to try the problem that I was most intrigued by headed into this trip, Ray of Light. It follows about a 35-degree wall with sloppy thin cracks that you have to wedge you fingers into with huge moves separating them. The hardest moves of the boulder involve the thin cracks, but the redpoint crux is at the end were you have to do a lot of moves on sloppers after hard climbing. I was able to do the hard moves down low, except the hardest move, which I came very close to sticking. I am trying to let my body and fingers heal before going back to this one, but it quickly moved to the top of my list of problems to do here.
Monday July 25th, 2011
Today was a long day… It started out with a 6:00a.m. wake-up call for the entire house and we were all out the door by 6:45a.m. First we headed to Black Shadow (V12 – 8A+) so Dave Wetmore and myself could finish some unfinished business. After an awful warm-up on Black Shadow itself we had only about an hour before the sun was completely on the boulder. Dave was consistently falling on the last move before making the painful decision to end his session and wait for another day. As for myself, I had a little bit of trouble. Warming up for me has always been a tough task and a hard warm-up didn’t help. I made some reverse progress on a boulder that should have only taken me one day. I was falling at the top of the boulder problem and having to deal with the frustrations over and over again. After some good efforts the sun forced us off the boulder and we had to move on.
From Black Shadow we headed to the Bonus Boulders to try and catch the incredible sloppy problem Witness the Sickness (V11 – 8A) before it got into the sun. We made it to the boulder with time to spare and all of us were incredibly impressed by the beauty of the boulder. Brian was able to destroy the boulder and do it only in a few tries. Rob D’Anastasio, Dave and myself all put the moves together very quickly until I took a weird fall and smacked my big toe straight into the ground casing my toe tip to bruise and the skin to separate from my toenail. Once the blood was cleaned up a little bit I taped it up and resumed climbing. Towards the end of our session the sun was creeping more and more onto the already hard to hold sloppers. Rob was able to put the pieces together and send the boulder. With Dave and myself psyched from Rob’s send, we gave ourselves just enough rest and then jumped on. Dave had the painful experience of falling on the last move a few times in a row before ending his session. As for myself, I was finally able to have a full single day session on something, and send it in the same day! This was positive for me because so many times this trip I have come incredibly close on something in one day, but still had to walk away empty handed, but not this time.
Well, already by this time in the day we had all climbed a lot! But here’s the thing, by the end of our Witness the Sickness session it was only about noon! We drove back to our house for a few hours or rest before heading out for an evening session. With our bodies feeling reenergized we left for Riverside to try Mooiste Meisie (V13 – 8B). Brian had tried this a few days before and he was able to do all of the moves, but he was having a little bit of trouble putting them together. After running through the moves each a few times, he was able to send the climb on only his third try of the day from the start! Rob hadn’t been on this problem yet, however, after about an hour of work he had all of the moves down and ready for his return. I was able to briefly try the climb before having to call it a day due to my fragile skin. I am very intrigued to get back and try this problem fresh and see what I can do.
Tuesday July 26th, 2011
My fingers, my fingers, my fingers…! Almost all bouldering trips consist of waking up in the morning and having a hard time unzipping your sleeping bag because your fingertips are battered and bruised, but this experience is something else. During the last two nights I have been woken up by shooting pains in my fingers and fingertips. I think that a lot of this is due to the fact that I didn’t climb for three weeks and for the past three weeks I have been climbing outside about five days a week, but either way the pain is pretty intense. After I woke up in the morning I was very skeptical that I would be able to climb because of the pain in my fingers. We took a nice and slow morning taking a while to get everything packed up and ready to go, once ready we headed to 8 Day Rain for the first time in almost three weeks. The weather has finally cooled down a bit and the winds have picked back up, making it possible to climb at the climbing areas that are more in the valley. Because of the pain in my fingers I taped four out of my eight fingers for my warm up, which seemed to ease the pain quite a bit. Climbing with tape on your fingers makes everything a bit more difficult, however, it’s still possible and it gives your fingers a little bit of a break when you are working climbs. At the end of our warm up we headed to an amazing boulder problem called Vanity (V7 – 7A+). I recommend that everybody try this climb! Once the warm up was complete we walked over to Golden Virginia (V11 – 8A). I had tried this climb about three weeks ago when Brian did it and I was able to come very close, but not quite send. After falling on the crux move a lot of times, Dave and myself were able to finally figure out the move and send the climb. Rob came very close and will for sure send it the next time that he is on it.
From Golden Virginia we made what is not a very far walk to Vlad the Impaler (V9 – 7C), but very tiring and frustrating. You have to walk in fairly deep sand that you slide around in a lot, then hike/climb up a short cliff ban through overgrown bushes and trees. Before arriving at this wall I was very interested in trying two climbs, Vlad the Impaler and The Big Short (V11 – 8A), but upon arrive I quickly became disinterested in The Big Short and it was just Vlad. Brian was able to flash this one move lock-off climb with relative ease; Rob and myself both were able to send in a few goes. The climb is very intriguing for the fact that all of the hard climbing is down low, revolving around two hard right hand lock-offs, once you have done those moves, the climbing is relatively easy, but you have to traverse on pretty solid rock over a vanishing landing, that might not be for the faint of heart (Dave Wetmore J).
After Vlad the Impaler it was time for me to call it a day. From 4:00p.m. on I was just the cheerleader. Brian wanted to try the incredibly sharp boulder Quintessential (V13 – 8B). Each of the three handholds on this climb are more like sharp daggers that just eat away at your skin, with nothing footholds to help alleviate the pressure on your fingertips. Brian was able to come close on the last move, but deemed the first move (the crux) impossible for him and we moved on. Now that the sun was finally setting and valley was consumed by shade, Derailed (V12/14 – 8A+/8B+) was finally climbable. After Daniel Woods did this climb in 2008 and rated it V14 (8B+), kneebar beta was found making the crux a lot easier. The grade has been disputed for some time now and Ethan Pringle was able to extend the kneebar beta even further by doing one more move on it, deciding that the climb is probably V12 (8A+) now. At this point in the day Brian and Dave were the only ones left climbing. They were able to figure out the top sequence, which is supposed to be the crux now, but they were having trouble with the kneebar moves. With night coming quick and the braai (South African barbeque) waiting for us, it was time to wrap up the day.
Today, Wednesday is a rest day that could quite possible turn into two days because it might rain on Thursday, which in the long run might not be the worst thing, except for the fact that I am running out of time (two weeks left) and I WANT TO CLIMB!
Also, Ethan Pringle was able to make a very impressive accent of Sky (V14 – 8B+) on one of his last days of climbing, adding to a very successful trip.
Pictures to be posted soon...