Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Slick Rock!

Went to Slick Rock last weekend and had another great day there.  Every climb I have done on slick rock has been memorable and just plain chill.  

Slick Rock is a 1200 foot tall slab of solid granite set in the lick creek sub basin.  The perfect U-shape of the valley, easily observed from a belay ledge 600 feet up, is a great visual of how a glacier slowly moved through annihilating everything in it's way.  Lining the valley are huge stands of Ponderosa Pine and Tamarack, while numerous waterfalls work their way down the other side of the valley.  On either side snow capped peaks with large unclimbed faces tempt the adventurous climber.

We left Moscow at 8 am and headed towards McCall.  The scenic drive down highway 55 always seems to go quick as the Salmon River keeps the eyes busy.  After losing an hour at "Time Zone Bridge" we made it to slick rock around 1 pm and probably got on the rock around 2.  This trip we had decided to do the Classic route (5.6) with many comfy belay ledges.  It was Bridget's first multi-pitch climb and she did amazing!  She climbed quickly and didn't have any problems removing gear!  Also by the end of the climb our transitions where super quick.  I've never done this route with my 70 meter rope, but we made it up in 5 rope stretching pitches.

The decent didn't seem as bad this time (I guess after 6 prior times, one gets used to it). 
Also Bridget kicked the descents ass! She is one tough lady.  After meeting a really nice couple from Boise and talking to them for a while on the road we headed into town to go swimming at the MOSS beach.  After swimming it was time for the post slick rock ritual burger and pbr at Paradise Burgers.  For those that are going through McCall and haven't heard of Paradise burgers, check it out!  

On Sunday there was free boat trials on Payette Lake so after making some bomb breakfast burritos at Adrienne's we headed to the lake.  Eventually it was time to head back to Moscow, blah.  Overall a really great weekend!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Multi pitch efficiency

I haven't been out on any climbing trips for the past few weeks while my fingers slowly heal.  This agonizing process has given me some time for reflection.  Inspired by a post on rc.com I've been trying to sort out my strengths and weaknesses as a climber.  My conclusion is that many of my weaknesses, (finger strength, endurance, overall fitness), can be contributed to the amount of beer I drink.  Which isn't going to stop anytime soon.  I enjoy beers with friends, and often I enjoy beers at the crags. 

So for now I will focus on my strengths.  I consider myself above average on quickness and also feel that I have a fairly strong lead head.  The later which probably contributes to the quickness

My first years of climbing where infused with mini epics and a lot of learning by experience.  I feel like these mini epics and years of learning before committing to something larger have prevented me from having big epics.

Some tips I've found for being fast on multipitch.

1. Quick transitions-  Work out a system with your partner for making the transitions as quick as possible.  I like to have my partner put all the extra gear on the rope in front of me so I can rack it at the same time.  Also I try to take drinks, eat food, go to the bathroom, when the other climber is getting ready to climb, as to not waste time.  

2. Rope management- This is key, time spend dealing with the rope will only slow you down.  I like to stack it as neatly as I can right under me so I can push it down with me feet.  For hanging belays a rope hook or over the leg works really well. 

3. Placing efficiently and not too much.  The more comfortable you feel on lead the less gear you will place.  This equals less time placing and less time cleaning.  The only place I put in tons of gear is to protect my second on traverses.

4. Use some sort of auto locking belay device.  This will allow you to belay from above with ease and be able to lock off the climber should something happen.

5. Study the topo, route, and decent before you get on the rock.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Projecting at Granite Point

The first weekend I arrived in Idaho 4 years ago, with new friends, I set out in search of somewhere to climb.  The closest place was Granite Point.  Coming from Laramie, WY, home to over 1,000 routes within a 30 minute drive, it was quite hard to stomach what I saw when I turned down into the canyon that held the snake river.  Needless to say I was expecting more than a 50 foot tall by 300 foot wide, slick, graffitied, chunk of granite with hoards of drunken college students partying on top.

Over the years I've kept coming back though.  Why?  For me it is the gradual progression of routes that take me a long time to get clean.  I'd never really projected routes until I moved to Idaho.  This was a whole different style of climbing and I've learned to appreciate it.  

For almost two years I worked on a 5.11a, stiff in my opinion, called Hand over Hand. 

My two new projects there are Steroids to Heaven a soft 5.12c (probably 5.11c/d at most), razorblades a sharp and crimpy 5.11c/d, and psychosynthesis (5.12a, seems much harder for me)
Here are some pictures of Tom and Zach working razorblades.  I've heard Tom got it and I think Zach will get it soon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tieton Canyon

I went to Tieton Canyon with Bridget this past weekend.  It would be about a 3.5-4 hour drive from Moscow.  At first arrival I was very pessimistic about what the climbing would be like.  Upon first sight it looks like a bunch of chunks of columnar basalt.  From past experiences climbing on columnar basalt I've known it to be not very solid.  The basalt at Tieton is VERY solid and makes for really good climbing.  The first day we went to Royal Columns and spent the first half of the day on the side closer to the trail.  We did some really fun routes including Jam Exam 5.9, Orange Sunshine 5.10b, and Western Front 5.3.  The cracks while not splitter are quite interesting.  I found after fiddling with cams a lot that passive pro works very well here.  I was still happy to have my cams, but equally as happy for the passive stuff.  We had heard that the ratings at Tieton are sanbagged, I found it to be the opposite.  I felt most of the ratings up to 5.9 were fair, and that ratings after that were inflated.  We found a great free camping spot by the river, and had a really fun weekend!  Below are a few pics of the climbing there.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

McClellen Rocks

 For a very long time I'd wanted to go check out a place called McClellen rocks.  What had enticed me to this area was the supposed "best crack in spokane".    We spent the next three weekends there checking out the area.  First, it's definitely a Spring/ Fall shoulder season area.  During these times there are, less ticks, less mosquitos, no poison ivy, and no rattlesnakes.  We had a really good time there and got on a lot of routes.  Here are a few photos.

  Conrad on someone else's open project 5.hard 

  Me on middle finger of fury V5/6 with a 20 foot topout.
             fell from the top move 4 times, but finally got it! Should have brought more pads.

Me on "The best crack in Spokane"  Was it the best crack in Spokane????  Out of all the cracks I've climbed in the area probably!  It's hard to grade this climb, but if it where on a roped climb it would probably come in somewhere around 5.11.  The climb starts about 2o feet back and climbs out of the cave eventually turning totally horizontal.  Perfect hand size pods the whole time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tum Tum

Since my awesome spring break trip to red rocks I've been getting out a lot.  I think I have been out climbing 10 weekends in a row now!  My fingers are paying for it, and I will have to take a break for a few weeks, but it's been a great spring.  Some highlights have been.

Tum Tum:  Went to this place a few weekends in a row and got on a few really cool cracks!

Pictured above an old lead route called battleship gallactica? I think.  5.11+/V5- if you jam it, and probably V6 if you face climb it. The great part is this thing tops out at like 25 feet.  I worked on it for a few hours and finally, barely, barely, sent it!

Next we found a pretty long roof crack, that started out as hands and widened to offwidth at the crux.  I came really close to sending but chickened out.  Since if you fall off the finish you tumble 30+ feet down a cliff.  But, none the less really cool crack. Heres a picture of Elise on it below.

This place has some great face bouldering, and a shrine on the top of the hill with a neat deck, pretty cool.  Heres a few pics of some friends on the face routes I suck at.