The second crux comes just shy of the chains on some of the smallest crimps I've ever matched up on. The one they show the close-up of Sharma grabbing in the video is the 'good one.' Ha! I ended up getting a high left foot and doing the move static. Overcoming blank stretches of rock at the New has taken me a decade to understand the technique. The beta that works requires putting your foot by your shoulder. Understandably, Sharma wasn't able to crack the code in the hour he spent on the route. I think that's interesting and a testament to the specialization required for some of these climbs. As you can see, this is a screen grab from video. I've got a cool concept for this short film that will take a while to put together over the winter.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Everyone is going to a Quarterly
Deadpoint mag did, so I guess I will too. I’ll be lucky to update this blog 4 times a year and it will likely be right after an issue goes to print. For the first time in months I sat down today, looked at my list of things to do and realized I had trickled down to the stuff on the backburner. Blogpiece.
A quick recap: After leaving Ten Sleep, I went to Rifle for the month of September. The conditions were perfect and it was a great scene. My friends J Mcnasty and his beautiful American geisha bride were there so I jumped in on their honeymoon. I had a single goal for Rifle; to climb Living in Fear (5.13d). The style in Rifle has never ‘suited me’ which is a euphemism for saying ‘I’m weak.’ The relentless dull thud of moderately difficult movement always leaves me hanging on the end of the rope with flamed forearms. I knew it would be a challenge and it was. As usual for me, it came down to the wire. I was progressing up the route literally one more move at a time and I had fallen just shy of the finishing hold two or three times. It was pretty cool to finally grab it on my very last day there. The usual suspects were all there at the project wall cheering me on and it felt really nice to feel the positive support from the locals. Rifle’s always had a bad rap for having an elitist crew but on the contrary I find the regular climber’s there to be the most supportive and positive group to be found anywhere. Great times.
Me, Lilah, Abby, and J Mcnasty
The '5.8 dyno' seen here is supposed to be the redpoint crux of the route Living in Fear. I fell above it a few times. And it's not 5.8!
I pulled the rope, wrapped up a loose end getting some interview footage and headed east. The next two days I drove across the country with a single thing on my mind, my New River project, which I always called ‘the mega proj’. It took a while for that name to settle in. It’s never mega at first. But slowly and surely the years had ticked by and before I knew it, I’d been steadily working it for four years. This would be my seventh (or eight?) season on the route and I knew I was going to send this year. I had to. It nearly drove me to madness. I planned my entire life around the route and it was getting old. In fact, the entire trip out west that I had just completed was planned to maximize the specific strength I needed for the route. “3 months of techy face climbing at Ten Sleep followed by a month of thuggy gym-style climbing should do the trick, I thought.” I hadn’t been home 2 weeks when I surprised myself by sending. Sending this route was a HUGE deal for me. I named it Picket Fence and gave it the grade of 5.14b. It took me a long time to process the event and I still think about it a lot. After I sent the route, I hiked out to it every day for about two weeks. I’m not sure why but it was kind of like I lost an old friend. Maybe someday I’ll think more about it and try to write about it.
The crux of Picket Fence is a stand-move to catch a sidepull. On Nov. 11, 2008 I stuck the move and fell on the next one. It took me three years to regain this highpoint. I was not going to fall there again!
With the mega proj off my back I got to turn to a few other routes that I’d had on the backburner. First off was a route I bolted at the Meadow a few years ago. It is just to the right of Toxic Hueco (5.11d) and climbs perfect rock. Unfortunately it’s kind of a one move wonder surrounded by excellent 5.12a terrain. Usually routes are pretty easy to decipher after a while but this one took a great deal of time. The blank stretch of rock had a few options. I worked a sequence out left of the bolt last season and started trying to redpoint it that way. Then at some point, I figured out a sequence to the right of the bolt and finally a figured out a sequence even further right of the bolt. Oddly, every single sequence was the same difficulty. (V9ish) I finally settled on the rightmost sequence and moved the bolt which is a shame to have to do. I hate having to drill another hole in our perfect stone but it had to be done. The new sequence involved reaching high to a mono and pulling it down to the waist. The next hold is a tiny right hand razor mono crimp. A rock over onto a bad foot and one more crimp and it’s over. Easy to the chains. I named this one Trident (5.13d) for its unique 3-pronged crux section.
This photo shows the beta for the middle method. In the end I took the mono in my right hand with my left hand. This is a nice route that someone should come do. Leslie Timms photo.
After Trident, I was able to finish another route I’d had draws on for a year or more. The route McCrayfish and Chips (5.13d) is at Beauty Mountain just a short hike down from Picket Fence. I’d never invested time in it because I’d been working my other project. It’s actually a great route that should see some more traffic. Very steep and very powerful for NRG climbing. Stephen Meinhold got the first ascent about 3 years ago. I remember that day clearly. We had stashed two victory beers in a cave between our two projects. He drank his that day. I just drank mine a few weeks ago when I sent Picket Fence! It tasted fine. Since then it’s only been repeated once by J Mcnasty. I don’t understand why people don’t come and do these excellent routes. It blows me away.
After the send of Picket Fence I dug around in the cave and found the four-year-old celebration ale that I had stashed there. Like a fine wine in a cellar it had been preserved perfectly, though somehow still tasted like bitter defeat.
And finally, after that rig I ended up giving another go to the Hoax of Clocks project at Central Endless. When Porter bolted it a few years ago I tried it and it felt impossible. I actually wrote a tentative grade in the guidebook as 5.14c. In the years since then it developed a pretty fierce reputation, mostly because when Chris Sharma came a few years ago, he tried it and wasn’t able to send it second try. I didn’t witness this because I was failing on my project at Beauty that day. But there is some footage of it online that you can check out here at minute 3:20.
The route starts with maybe some 5.12c to gain the first crux. This crux ended up being the most powerful for me. It's funny to watch in the video how Sharma pees on it. He is really strong, but we all know that already.
This go around, I figured out some good beta at the crux and sent the route on my fifth day on it. It’s really cool to be able to get the first ascent of a classic new face climb on the Endless Wall, one of America’s premiere face climbing areas. It’s a beautiful route but, like many Endless Wall routes, it’s plagued by big horizontal breaks that offer excellent recovery. The grade of the route comes down to the difficulty of the hardest moves. I’m guessing about 5.14a.
It’s funny to reflect back on climbing when, for some reason; it seems that climbing has been a relatively small part of my life over the past few months. I put a lot of effort into our latest issue and I think it turned out really great. Check out issue 18 here.I spent an almost equal amount of time editing the video footage that I compiled in Rifle. It was really great to get to film some hero-status climbers like Joe Kinder, Dave Graham, and Jonathan Siegrist. I really look up to those guys so it was a real treat to get to hang out with them and shoot some video. I still have a lot to learn with creating videos but every time I do one I learn more. It’s been a great new hobby. If you're not already a member of the Stash at DPM I recommend doing so. 1 dollar a month is a small price to pay for the amount of entertainment offered. Join up, if for no other reason than to support us. We try hard, and that's the best you can ask for. If you're a member of the Stash, check out the Rifle video here: