Friday, July 31, 2009

At the Castle with Lord Byron

Years ago I made Country Club Crack (CCC) on Castle Rock a project of mine. The first pitch is a boulder problem face move rated 11b/c and the second pitch is a beautiful hand crack that passes a roof and pinches down to off-fingers at the crux (11b). I eventually got both pitches clean, but that seemed a lifetime ago this morning.

I met Byron at the Justice Center in west Boulder at 6 a.m. and we drove 12 miles up the Canyon to Castle Rock. It had been raining all week and I wasn't surprised to see the first pitch slab moves covered in water. This was my lead, as Byron wanted the crack and felt he was close to redpointing it. I stood in a sling on the first bolt, did one move, clipped and grabbed the draw at the second bolt and then made tenuous moves left and up over wet ground. This was a bit scary, but got to the crack without incident.

The crack itself is rated 5.8, but it's more like 5.9. It has a tricky, flared start and I was a bit desperate here and almost fell off. The rest of the pitch has some challenging moves, but interspersed with nice stances for placing gear. Fifty feet up I clipped the belay bolts and brought Byron up. Byron didn't like the wet slab below any more than I did.

Byron fired the crack pitch up to and over the roof to the leg-hook rest. He looked really solid, placing lots of gear easily. When I redpointed this pitch I had it down so well that I could go further between gear, but I needed to do that to save energy for the crux above. That doesn't seem to be an issue with Byron. He has power to burn.

At the crux Byron plugged a key jam with piece and had to downclimb, place a different piece, and remove the other piece. By the time he did all this, he needed a rest and hung on the rope. So close. After a brief rest, he fired the crux and up to the belay. He made the pitch look reasonable and since I had it down pretty well before, I figured it might go well for me also. Not so much.

The pitch has nice jamming, but it's tight in a lot of places and the crack leans a bit to the left, making it a bit more strenuous because of the difficulty with the feet. I barely made it to the stem rest below the roof and rested quite awhile. I pulled the roof with the thinnest of margins and rested from the leg-hook, though it isn't that restful, as your leg and abdominals are still working.

I climbed up to the crux, pumped silly and hung on the rope. After a rest, I climbed a bit higher and hung again. Finally, I was able to do the crux move and barely do the traverse to the right. I remember this was so pumpy when I first starting working this route and it eventually became really casual. It's back to be being really pumpy.

Ah, the memories... This is a great route. I should start working this baby again and try to get some fitness back. We rapped off and I was at work before 9 a.m.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bastille Crack w/Mark Oveson

Mark and I met at 6:00 a.m. and headed into Eldo to do the Bastille Crack. It had been ten years since Mark had climbed this route (I climb it probably five times every year) and really wanted to see it again. I led everything and we pitched it out as five pitches. Mark is trying to get himself back into solid 5.8 climbing shape, so I took the 5.8 right finish at the top. This proved to be a bit challenging for Mark and I believe there was some rope weighting involved, but it's a tricky, steep finish.

We had a great morning, as usual and were driving out of the park a bit after 8 a.m.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Outer Space w/ Buzz

Buzz had recently climbed Outer Space with Bill Briggs and done really well. He wanted to return and lead the first pitch (10a), so I led the approach pitch (Werk Supp). Buzz fired the pitch! I was shocked. That is a very tricky and pumpy pitch. He looked better leading than I felt following. I led the second pitch (10c), which was a nemesis pitch for me for a long time, but I got it wired...

Apparently I forgot the beta. I barely made it through the first crux and was baffled at an intermediate crux before liebacking it (a feared technique for me since I'm weak). Then the last crux - going left stumped me for a long time and when I finally tried something it was wrong and I came within an inch of falling off of it. I was so pumped doing the last easy moves that it was scary. Dang...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bastille with Tom

The Naked Edge is now open and I need to build my fitness to climb this route. I met Tom this morning at 5:30 a.m. to start this process. We did Hair City (5.9) with Tom leading the runout first pitch and I leading the surprisingly burly 5.9 roof second pitch with the massive, but easy, runout above.

We descended and Tom led Breakfast in Bed (5.8) and then descended again and I led the first pitch of Out to Lunge (5.9) and Tom led the second pitch above the walk-off ledge (also 5.9). That was enough and we headed to work.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Reggae and Tagger with Mark Oveson

Mark and I hit Eldo again to get in some more training for Mark. The goal is to get him back to solid 5.8 climbing so that he is comfortable to try the East Face of Mt. Alice.

We started on Calypso and I led the first pitch up to the anchors. Mark followed, but not in the trivial manner he used to climb this pitch. He paused at a couple of tricky sections. I then zipped up the very familiar Reggae (5.8). Mark followed easily up to the crux section and, after taking a moment to figure out how to start it, did great.

Mark then led clear to the summit of the Wind Tower and I followed. We downclimbed off the usual descent and back to the base of Tagger. I led this pitch and set up a toprope for Mark. Mark expected it to go rather well, remembering it as more technical than burly, but hand strength still comes in handy here and Mark was stymied by the first hard move. He tried a few different things before coming off. He climbed back and up and still couldn't do it.

By now I have already switched into my Exum Ridge scrambling shoes, but I clipped into the rope and climbed the entire pitch again in these shoes (on toprope now, of course). The crux in these shoes was indeed the first move where good edging skills are handy.

Mark gave the move another try, but was done for the morning. We had met at 5:30 a.m. and it was just before 8 a.m. as we headed out.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Werk Supp and March of Dimes w/Mark Oveson

Now that Mark is done with his ultra-marathon, it was time to tune up his rock climbing in preparation for some alpine climbs we'd hoped to do this summer. We met at 5:30 a.m. and headed into Eldo. It was super windy, as usual, but not that cold. We were both in shorts and I put on a really light shell to block the wind.

We started up Werk Supp with the intent to climb the entire Bastille, if things went well and we had the time. I had to be back home by 7:30 a.m. I zipped up the very familiar first pitch (8+) and set up a belay. Mark made good progress to begin with but stalled at the crux for a bit. He deciphered it and started to move up. He thought he was solid, but his foot slipped off and he yelled up "Falling!" I caught him and he got the move the second try.

The rest of the pitch went slower as Mark was tiring and a bit rusty with this climbing. He didn't fall off again, though. At the top, without a watch, we were a bit concerned about getting down in time, so we opted to do two short rappels back to the ground. The last rappel was from the anchors at the top of the first pitch of March of Dimes (10c) and we decided to toprope it.

Mark gave me a belay first and I had no trouble at all on the pitch. A few years ago this pitch gave me fits and I worked it. I guess I remembered all the tricks, which seem obvious now, because it felt more like 5.9. Mark went next and did great getting up to the crux move and then he was just too pumped to complete it.

It was a good first training outing for Mark. Hopefully we'll be heading into the mountains in a couple of days...if Mark's confidence isn't too shaken.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bastille Woes for Derek

Last night Derek and I went back out to Eldorado Canyon to try and get on the Bastille again. Sheri came with us to hike/run while we climbed. The Bastille was wide open - no one on the entire rock. I led it with a Gri-Gri self-belay and that sucked. The rope doesn't feed, of course, by design. I need to work on a better method that doesn't involve buying a giant Silent Partner for $220. I think I'm better off soloing this pitch. Maybe I'll do it with a couple of tied knots...

I clipped the rope through the snaplinks at the top and rappelled off. I know that toproping off of these snap-links is frowned upon, due to anchor wear, but I figured one lap by a 75-pound kid wasn't going to hurt anything.

Derek climbed up through the crux, which is stepping left and then going up the first 5-6 feet with some difficulty, but cleanly. Above there he stalled on the more pure hand-jamming section. He got frustrated and eventually came down. He decided to rest a bit and then give it another go. The second try ended a bit lower than the first try. He just didn't have the energy today. He had already down a bike ride and played a match in the local open tennis tournament. I think he was a bit tired.

We pulled the rope and headed for home. I hope Derek isn't too discouraged. I'll guess we'll soon, as we've now climbed three days in a row.

More photos here.