Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bathobouldering 101--Slabs

What is "classic" bouldering? In the Batholith, there are jillions of pebbles to play on, though they generally fall into 3 main categories: Steep/overhang problems, which nearly all boulderers would like to find and are hard to come by in BB region; Crack problems are plentiful around these parts, and are the "foundation" climb(s) to which to perfect crack technique; and lastly, the dreaded Slab problems... ...Everywhere. For this type of climb, I think that it has to encompass different types of moves to be the most enjoyable, and get repeated often by others. Gastons, high-steps, heel-toe matches, long reaches, and mantle top-outs all on the same "blank" stone are what go into making a true "Classic" for slab problems. Pure poetry in motion when they get had--here's two views of Ladd on a "Classic" boulder

Monday, June 17, 2013

Corner Project no more...On a Pale Horse

I believe it was the fall of 2008...

Whitmore and I were out clambering around in the Boulder Batholith. A standard day of new granite, some suds and some laughs...and it had started raining, so we decided to channel our motivation into exploring.

There was a set of roads that I had scoped that jut off of Delmoe Lake looked like a interesting drive through some new terrain...perfect for exploring...we basically wanted to see where it went and how far we could go.  It's a bumpy road...mainly used by motos and ATVs, but we ambled along in the rain...

Whitmore saw it first, the formation behind it pokes out and is visible from the road. It wasn't until we ran down there that we realize what we stumbled upon.  A beautiful, slightly overhanging sealed corner with a crack/seam running parallel.  It was wicked tall...and looked improbable...especially considering it was dripping and the problem was shrouded in a bit of moss.

Fast forward to April 09...things were beginning to melt in the upper zones of the Batholith and I was out with Ron and Max hitting up the Northern Aspens. As the day wound down as bit, I suggested we go check out the Corner Project...see what the conditions were like and give it a cleaning.  It was still wet...but we managed to give it a good initial scrub.
The first scrubbing...April 2009

I figured come July that it should be dry I headed out with Hutch and the Brotherman for a couple days of attempts.  It took awhile to even get the beta together to get off the ground...but after a while we were established and making moves.

First session (July 09)

Brotherman sussing out the beta

Right around my 09 highpoint...

It soon became apparent that the window for this problem is pretty short. Due to the angle and location, it takes quite a while to dry out, and by that time, the heat is usually on the the available time to attempt this project with optimal conditions seems to be fairly short each year.

The starting moves also feature a very intense (read: sharp) pinky jam...which becomes more painful with each passing attempt...botch your first couple attempts, and you're out for the next few days.

I went back a few more times, though due to the height, difficulty, and the weather window, it was difficult to round up the psyche (and pads)...notably, I went back last summer with Odenbeck and Hutch...Patrick was very psyched on what he saw, and together we pushed the high point...then Patrick punched it even higher.

(you can crank up the quality in the settings...)

Well last weekend was our we headed out with a stack of pads...

This is where I stop, and let Patrick continue the narrative.



I honestly have been obsessing about this problem ever since Tom showed it to me by pointing toward the old blog posts about finding the corner and the early attempts.


For me this problem is a dream come true.  Tom showed me the Corner Project last year and I just could not believe it.  A slightly overhanging corner seam with a crack.  The problem would sure take some unusual moves.  Could it be climbed?   It truly looked impossible- especially a five foot section that is about fifteen feet off the deck.  There are just no holds up there... or are there???

Let the stemming begin...
Photo: Jeremy Champion
Tom, Jeremy, Kalah, Katie and I all set out this weekend to give the Corner Project another session.  I had my doubts mostly because of the precip that we had all week, the weather window for this problem is small indeed.  Regardless we headed up there with like 9 pads and were pleasantly surprised that it was dry.  Tom and I set to work cleaning it some more- a little moss had reemerged from the crack but otherwise it was looking good to go.  We started to work on it and luckily due to the little video we took of it last year we were able to piece the lower beta together pretty quickly.  After many attempts we both were falling and flailing more and more.  I was feeling defeated already.  Playing in my head was a conversation I had with Tom at the beginning of the week- that if it didn't go this weekend there would be a serious "shoe throwing" tantrum...  

How the ????
photo: Jeremy Champion
The problem is basically divided into three sections: A crack with a wicked sharp pinky lock accompanied by tension laybacks.  Next you make a span move to gain the stem corner.  Finally the upper stem corner.  Tom and crew figured out the crack problem years before, and last Summer I figured out how to get into the corner.  The upper section of the stem corner continued to not only look blank and featureless, but more and more impossible.  The crack on the left closes down and the corner has no positive holds; and it is really taxing once you get into the corner, the body tension is really intense.  With no real progress we had pretty much given up then I thought I would give it a final go.  I completely botched the opening crack moves and struggled to get into the stem.  Once there I was somehow able to palm the wall and move my right foot up to a tiny smear.  Then somehow as if by magic I was able to get my left foot higher and stand up enough to reach a sloping gaston. 

On a Pale Horse FA
Please foot hold......
photo: Jeremy Champion
At this point I was so zoned in that falling was not an option also you are pretty high up now a fall from this high would hurt.  After a little body twisting I finally was able to get oriented so I could reach the lip.  I was more surprised than anyone... how did I get on top of this thing F#$% YEAH!  

photo: Jeremy Champion

I am calling this bad boy "On a Pale Horse" after one of my alltime favorite books.  One cannot deny the corner's book like qualities.  This problem certainly is difficult and super awesome because of the many disciplines throughout.  I am super psyched to be fortunate enough to get the FA this amazing feature.  I will remember this send for a long time to come.



Friday, June 7, 2013

Not so Dryads

Got out for a quick solo session in the Dryads on Sunday.  After looking at Hutch's photos from 2010 I tried to find the path that he took and find some of the blocks that he did that intrepid day.  I found many of them  and more... and then the rains came which seem to be the story this Spring in SW Montana.  I also found a leg trap that had been put under a boulder that I scoped over the last week.  Not cool!  Luckily the trap had already sprung before the dogs found it.  I guess is be careful out there especially if you have dogs with you.

I was able to climb some of the lower talus problems.  The rock is super good!  Tons of patinas and many variations possible.  No pictures of that though.  I did find a sweet crimp ladder on the upper bench.

Oreiades Boulder - Oreiades Ladder - Dryad Boulders
Here are some of the blocks I found.  You may recognize some of these from Hutch's shots from 2010.
Super awesome bomber patinas with an overhanging start!

Close up of the overhanging start to the above boulder (might need some cleaning though)
Tall crack line

Hands on the other side (same boulder as above)
Tall and wide on the left tall and thin on the right

Lotsa stuff

More weird stuff- Blade feature upper left in lighter rock is interesting

More train tracks

Pedestal with patinas

And more features

With some cleaning this could be epic and epically difficult

and more features

Backside of the Oreiades Boulder

Oh yeah and this overhanging offwidth that Hutch found years ago
Then the rains came and the Dryads were not so dry.