Thursday, June 6, 2013

Climbing into Realization!

  Bouldering grades... a number or series of numbers given to a boulder problem to define it's level of difficulty for the second ascentionists and beyond. As for the First Ascentionist, it is a grade mostly defined "easy", "moderate", "hard" or "hardest" climb they have attempted or have ascended. The number grade is not for the first person to climb the problem. It is a number left behind for those who are seeking to improve ones own physical and metal capabilities, based on a chart analysis. Or at least this is how I would define the Boulder Grade Scale.

  The controversy of  what one problem is rated over another is a continual battle for the climbing generations. Getting the point across that our genetic body features and physical capabilities do in fact limit us from climbing with the exact same strengths. We are all slightly altered in such a way that the grade scale will never be perfect. V1 to V2 is just as diverse as V1 to V1a+. And V1a+ does exist as long as you don't try to explain this to some "grade chasing gumby".  Can you imagine trying to get the boulder grade dialed down to such a degree that it suited every body style... How? What would it look like? How many years of training would you need to be a Grand Master of grade scale numbers?    Oh wait! that problem is called "Severe Overload, V8b+(-1x77).074" Totally flashed that dude!!!

  The subject matter of this blog post is...not to raise hell but,  as I reach a more mature state in my climbing lifestyle boulders that I personally develop will no longer have a grade. I will continue to find and properly clean as many boulders as I possibly can. The aesthetics of a clean problem and majestic setting of the landscape are far more crucial than the subjective difficulties of the climb... written down in numbers. I would rather find myself in a peaceful setting at the end of a challenging climb than sitting atop a boulder trying to fashion a number that will never satisfy the masses. I did not develop the grade system, I am not the pioneer of such. I am a rock climber who is passionate and growing deeper into that passion. In no way do I feel I belong to a pro or attempted pro status of climbers. But, I will do everything in my power to be involved in the community, helping innovate and progress the sport, clean the landings, clean the rock, pick up the trash, seek new areas in the vastness of  Wyoming, logging the history and bringing to everyone a multitude of photographs, maybe even videos. I encourage all the ones who read this to value your sport/art as a passion and invest it into your life with creativity. Pushing yourself in this way pushes others as well. Bring positivity into the crowd!

  In a further note, this post came about when I made the recent first ascent of a boulder that captivated me entirely for almost 2 years. I named this boulder The Jurassic, though it does not have T-Rex bones calcified anywhere on the rock. Many fossils are found solidified into the roof of the boulder. Wyoming rock shows so much history sometimes. Many friends have joined me to attempt and even make ascents on this boulder. Ace Ashurst is the first to make an ascent on this wild boulder when we attempted the easiest route we could find. His problem starts low in the roof and climbs directly left, traversing through the inside of the boulder. Ace named this line Jurassic Classic. It is a fair climb for the beginner and advanced climber. As time went on I put up another line to the low right of the boulder using the inside of the roof. I named it Genesis and it is an advanced route requiring crimp strength. The 3rd and final line was a project only days ago I was calling Jurassic Cadillac.

 This is the problem that remained a powerful project for the months and months I had attempted. It starts on a low basketball like bubble of rock and climbs through the center of the boulder and up an arete over the face of the boulder. It is near horizontal, loaded with pinches, pockets, crimps, sloppers and even a few jugs. It is 17+ moves long and centered more for the expert climbers. When trial and error finally came to a halt on the new line, I found myself at the top of the boulder watching a beautiful sunset and the rainfall that had past only minutes before. It was falling from the sky in slow motion. Fremont Canyon was in the distance getting a short period of sun, and to my surprise, the recent wind was silenced. It was perfect! When the ascent was made I was in complete shock and also excited to my core. When I got over the roof and transitioned in to the face of the climb I was exhausted. Never in my climbing years have I felt so destroyed. My last move to a sharp crimp on the left face of the boulder was the hardest thing to reach I had ever felt. I had 1% of all my  power left in my entire arm and I felt my right hand cradling a two finger pocket slowly creeping out of the hold as I reached further and further, just tickling the crimp with my finger tips. I yelled at the top of my lungs and with some strange burst of energy clamped down on the last hold. I immediately started smiling and breathing heavy. I shouted again and again with the feeling I had just conquered a dragon. I had to rest just below the topout because my hands would not allow me to let go or re-grip the holds. They seized up and froze in place. I was scared I'd fall but knew the climb was complete now.  Eventually I flopped over the top of the boulder with my forearms in absolute agony. It was so much pain I had to get it out with some more shouting. I laughed over and over rocking myself back and forth and I continued to roll my arms up and down my shins in an attempt to draw back some new blood into my veins. The pain was well worth it. I sat for about ten minutes smiling and gazing at the sun with accomplishment.  I felt freedom, joy, solitude. For the first time in years I felt satisfied and completed. Not a worry about my jobs, my bills, may friends and family along with any bull sh*t that followed. I found a piece of me that I was long in search of. The name of this problem has been changed to match my moment of happiness. It is called Cloud Nine, and It is the hardest climb I have ever ascended.
When I can I will get photos of the whole thing and some directions for access. Hope you enjoy the newest post, and good weekend to you all.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The beginning of my obsession.

  It has been 4 years sense my first outdoor boulder problem was established... with a V grade. Before this it was merely plundering into an unknown abyss of endless Wyoming rock. So, invited by Jesse Brown, Micah Rush, Colby Frontiero to climb and develop new boulders in Wyoming at an area called Sweetwater Rocks was an experience brought into reality. Along with us was friends Andrew Ellbogen, a.k.a. Chuck,  Zac Rudy who was at the time my closest competition in climbing, and my good friend Cory Cummings a.k.a. Red Bearded Slothimal.

  It was 2009 and I had just completed my first WBS boulder competition in Casper Wyoming. We set out early the morning after the competition to the Sweetwater Rocks in Jesse Brown's "Total Recall" Van. After an hour and a half drive on smooth highways and relatively groomed dirt roads we stopped the van. Parked at a boulder spot known as the Pirates Of The Carribean. We then began warming up on whatever we could find. Everyone was having a successful run on problems both new, and old. Finally after a few good burns Colby and Micah went home and the rest of us launched on foot across the desert lands to seek out new and fresh areas of rock. Zac and I stayed pretty close hunting rock while the others spread out hungry for perfectly sculpted lines. When Zac spotted the first piece of untouched stone that he was drawn to we immediately opened up the crash pad. I however did not have a form of climbing protection until later that year. So one pad was good enough. Zac gave the line a first burn, bailing at the top he took a short break. I asked if I could give it a shot as it was my first attempt at an unsent line. He said sure, and immediately I saw the moves in my mind and cracked a smile. It wasn't sinister by any means, but I was aware that I could possibly climb it smoothly based on the size of the holds. I managed to Flash Zac's project making it my First Ascent ever. Though I felt stupid about it, Zac had a great head on his shoulders and congratulated me, then he also sent the problem. The name of the problem is Baker's  Dihedral, and I believe it was V1 or 2. Jesse was the man to help name this line because I wasn't sure how names of problems were brought up. It stuck, and the problem was sent once more that day by Jesse. Here is one of several remaining images of the problem and other routes climbed that day. Note: images are tiny because I could only find them on the website.

Jesse topping out Baker's Dihedral

The dihedral to the right of the image below with a crack is Baker's Dihedral
 Working a fun problem Jesse put up to the left of Baker's.

 This was a challenging topout.

 Colby Frontiero working a large boulder.
 Jesse Brown on the "Black Pearl"?
 Micah Rush taking claim to this tall line.
 Another angle of the "Black Pearl"?  problem...

This was a grand day never to forget, the beginning of my climbing obsession. Marking the day I began developing as many problems as I could find.