Monday, December 29, 2008

Luminance (v11 super-highball) by Shawn Diamond

Yesterday, Shawn Diamond climbed what one of his two spotters at the time, Walker, describes as the "scariest thing I've ever seen," and which Shawn describes as "the dumbest thing I've ever done!"

Luminance (tentatively rated v11) is an exceptionally beautiful wall above a heinous landing. It is on the steep west face of a giant block (not in the guidebook) at the head of a gully between the Windy Wall and the Secrets of the Beehive Area. Eyed previously by a few of the best climbers around, it had always been left for another day, or another climber. Shawn threw a rope down the line to check the moves. Then he summoned up the courage to step on un-roped. The wall begins with some long moves to good sloping crimps that lead to the mental challenge of throwing a total-commitment dyno to a hold just below the lip.

The ground drops off dramatically, so spotting is also pretty terrifying. Walker, who was tied into a rope for safety at the time of the ascent, was able to save one fall from just before the most dangerous point, by pushing Shawn away from the worst landing and into a pile of pads.

"There was a moment there when I actually thought to myself, 'what am I doing here?'" Shawn told me, of the moment he arrived at the committing move, and for an instant became aware of his surroundings. He realized he had to give it 100 percent: a controlled lock-off was not an option, the lip could only be reached dynamically. He stuck the move, sinking his fingers into a hidden slot at the back of the sloping rail, and the rest was pretty much a formality.

"I saw that line years ago and had been walking around New York City dreaming about it," says Shawn, who is currently at medical school in the Big Apple. "It was definitely a big step up in my climbing... My most memorable ascent, and a big breakthrough for me."

Here are some more photos I shot of Shawn on the opening moves. See also his other line on this block.

Here's a shot of the boulder, so you can see the steepness of the ledge and fall-zone

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chris Schulte, Buttermelter...

I recently heard from Chris Schulte about some new lines he has done, including an intriguing right start to The Buttermilker on the Cave Boulder at the Main Buttermilks area. Chris dubbed the problem The Buttermelter. We'll have to see if this proves popular, but it definitely seems like a fun addition. It's likely in the v11/12 range.

He says, "Start in a large hueco right of The Buttermilker, on underclings (right hand on a "ball"), lock in a kneebar and udge up and across with the right hand to the "glass dish" on The Buttermilker. Bicycle, left hand up to a sidepull crimp, double toe hooks to bicycle switch, and finish the 'Milker..."

If you can follow all that, you deserve an honorary v12 in bouldering, even if you don't actually do the problem. Good luck! See Chris's blog for more info and photos.

Another fairly hard and cool-looking line that Chris has recently completed is on the west side of the Golden Boulder (to the right of the Iron Man Traverse, if you're looking up hill). This line begins at the crack around on the back left side of this huge boulder and follows a lip up and right to the apex of the boulder before topping out. It's a nice line, and because of the adjacent boulder, even after climbing 20 feet, you will find yourself only a couple of feet above your pad.

Chris writes: "The lip traverse on the Golden Boulder consists of pretty good positive holds traversing along the obvious aspect change. There is a sorta hard move 1/2 way, over the point of the adjacent boulder, then a tough cross, and the last move is also a bit of a grunt... Maybe the last move is easier for the smaller, but a redpoint crux, for sure..."

Chris named this one Constellation, and the rating is unknown (v9-v11 range?). Sounds and looks like a great endurance problem to me. The line beginning at the same place, but heading directly up the slab remains to be done.