Sunday, November 30, 2008

Alex Puccio climbs A Maze of Death (v12)

This afternoon Alex Puccio climbed the short, steep, and very powerful line A Maze of Death (v12), first done by Dave Graham late in 2002. This pretty, concave wall, with its perfect patina is located at the Bardini Boulders area not far from the Main Buttermilks and is an incredible piece of rock.

Alex traveled to Bishop with Carlo Traversi and spent just long enough to get a feel for the area: "I have had a great time in the wonderful land of Bishop. There is so much to be done here. I can't wait to come back."

Working off of beta devised in conjunction with Garrett Gregor (who also climbed the line recently), Alex used a sick lock-off at the start to gain a key right hand sidepull/undercling and then a twisted drop-knee to make two moves with the left hand to gain the good (ish!) crimp below the upper slanted rail (see photos below). That latter part was Garrett's sequence, and apparently a great way to avoid a heinous upper gaston move. Even so, the final pull through is no gimme and proved a thorn in the side for a few days for Alex: Though close to success on her first day at the line, she became frustrated by deteriorating skin and tired muscles during her visit. A rain break and a Thanksgiving Day interlude broke the pattern, and Alex returned for a fourth time to claim this major first female ascent!

"I found the moves on A Maze of Death to be quite hard," says Alex, who struggled at first to deal with the slick footholds. "It is very technical with precise movements. I had to make sure I placed my feet PERFECT. I think I came away from the boulder as a stronger climber and person."

Well, hey, that's what a trip to Bishop will do for people!

Alex Puccio making the moves described. Photos: Wills Young

Stained Glass (v10) by Tilly Parkins, First Female Ascent

Just received this note:

"Hi Wills, I’ve recently returned home after spending most of November around Bishop and the Buttermilks whilst traveling with my partner, Tilly Parkins. During our time at your bouldering paradise we had the opportunity to climb many of the best lines that the Buttermilks have to offer. One ascent in particular I would like to report is Tilly’s send of Stained Glass (V10), which according to locals could possibly be the problem’s first female ascent. An amazing and pure line, Tilly first spied the problem via youtube and fell in love with the thin and technically demanding climbing. Working the problem over a few days, Tilly managed to fire this classic Buttermilks test piece on the last day of our trip (destroying a tip in the process)! A wonderful and fitting end to our time in this awesome location. The send was ever sweeter for her, as she had a knee reconstruction and multiple surgeries in 2007 after tearing knee ligaments (LCL and PCL) and rupturing the joint capsule when a heel hook went horribly wrong. This was one of her first sends since recovering and it’s good to see her back in form." -- Mark Withers

Tilly Parkins on Stained Glass (v10)

I do believe this is the first female ascent of this outstanding Buttermilks gem. No question about it, this is one of the finest little problems I've seen anywhere in the world, but it is a tough choice for a road trip--indeed a bold choice for Tilly given that she is likely the first woman to do it. It is notorious for its tiny, skin-eating crimps, and a heartbreaking lunge for the final hold. Great stuff! Nice way to come back from an injury! -- Wills

Here's a vid of the ascent:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Evilution (v12) 4th Ascent, Carlo Traversi

On Friday Nov 21st, Carlo Traversi made a swift fourth ascent of the super-highball Evilution (the original version, and I think it's the fourth ascent!). Speaking to me today he said he took "five or six falls" in all, and did the problem from the ground up without even looking at the line from a rope -- a proud achievement and a step up in style from previous ascents by Jason Kehl (FA), Ethan Pringle (2nd), and Kevin Jorgeson (3rd) . Climbing ground-up on this line is a reasonable proposition if you can find and schlep a truck-load of pads the 100 yards or so from the road--though there is a crux up high (from about 15 to 20 feet), the ground is flat. Nevertheless, despite talk, no-one had made that step or totally committed to the process until now.

Carlo is visiting while on a road trip away from Boulder, Colorado. Interestingly, he grew up in the Bay Area,under the tutelage of the groundbreaking Buttermilks boulderer, also from that area, Kevin Jorgeson.

Running beta (refined since earlier ascents) from now-Bishop-based highball master Charlie Barrett and well-chalked holds were two important factors that helped Carlo succeed on Evilution ground-up. "If I had been trying this with no chalk on the holds, it would have been nearly impossible," he said. I would think he's right: the upper crux comes after a very steep v9/10 intro and is, in itself, in the v9 range. You come into it kind of blind from below and the holds are hard to see at all without chalk. Another factor in his favor is the fact that Carlo, though relatively short at 5-foot-6 is one of the physically strongest climbers around.

Carlo took two big falls from the upper crux where the climbing is hard, crimpy and required him to make a stab for what he describes as a "chalked blob!" He figures a v12 rating appropriate.