Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Charlie Barrett, Spectre & Mandala SDS ...

It's good to finally hear that Charlie Barrett has defeated his nemesis The Spectre (v13). He'd had the early moves of the problem and the moves around the lip on lock-down last season and yet would spin off every time he tried to hold the swing after the long move left in the middle of the crux.

Then he picked up a tip from Kevin Jorgeson, to bunch his right leg in and up to his right side, to a small edge, before cutting, and this worked to reduce the swing. It was Rusty Klassen that had suggested the idea to Kevin, proving that no matter how accomplished a climber you are, you can always learn from others. After a push on from Kevin, Charlie held the swing with the new beta, immediately announcing, "I've done the Spectre!" On his next go from the start, sure enough, the ascent was a formality. Nice!

Charlie playing on The Spectre mid summer!

Charlie was also able to check off the The Mandala Sit Start (v13/14) by using what he describes as the "big boy beta," climbing directly up from the start and using a tiny sharp crimp-sidepull with the left to lean across right to the big undercling/sidepull of The Mandala. This was the method that Ethan Pringle figured out and was also used by Cory French. If you are not tall, you can't use this method because the span across is too far, yet many taller climbers find it easier. As Charlie has noted: it's a different problem that way, but is still The Mandala Sit Start!

ON A SIDE NOTE: It is worth pointing out, for the purists out there, that many people are now starting The Mandala by beginning with their right hand in the undercling and their left on the crimp above (as you would arrive from the above-mentioned version of the sit), though doing so requires a big boost up, and is not the original problem--which begins with the right hand on the crimp as needed when stepping off the ground. It is strange to see 6-foot-plus climbers standing on a huge stack of pads to bring the starting holds down to waist level, rather than showing respect and doing all the moves of the climb (as Sharma did originally) before claiming an ascent.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sucker Punch v5?

Occasionally there is a breakage of a hold so big that when it hits the ground even I hear about it. The hold that came off Sucker Punch (formerly v4) at the Happy Boulders, is just such an example: the huge starting jug has been ripped from the wall. Perhaps someone was going for the big dyno (skipping the usual crimps used to gain the lip), or just climbing on it after a heavy rain... Or perhaps its time was simply up. I don't know, but I hope whoever broke it wasn't hurt. Oh, and by the way, you did us all a favor!

Trevor Markel on the new Sucker Punch

The giant hold was sitting below the boulder, but has recently been broken up by people checking it out and tossing it around, so you may not even notice it now, but you will see the white ring of chalk circling the now clean, smooth rock above the current starting holds like a water mark.

Anyway, I reclimbed this sweet problem the other day a couple of times and felt it was a grade harder than the v4 it used to get (maybe more?). Plus, it's excellent: even better than before! I started at the now lower starting holds, went left hand up to a sidepull, threw a high heel with the right, rolled through to the upper crimp with the right; matched; held the swing (crux) and popped to the top. If anyone else has any input on how hard they feel this is, please let me know.

Tim's Fred Traverse (v9), that begins around right and finishes here, should feel a touch harder too; maybe a grade but perhaps not.

Trevor Markel nearly doing the new Sucker Punch

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Charlie Barrett, Luminance 4th

Charlie Barrett climbed Luminance (v10?) for it's fourth ascent on Tuesday. He top-roped it and said it felt good in the cold windy conditions, so quickly did it solo, with a spotter tied in on the ledge as for the first two ascents. This line is a beauty for sure, on immaculate rock, and certainly deserves the attention after all these years! Soon we'll all be doing it.

Well, maybe not ... Charlie said the swing after the short left-to-right traverse was the hardest part of the problem, with potential to spin off, and fly down the rocky ravine. He was able to keep his feet on and lock off solidly at the big scary move to the jug, but felt he could blow that move and probably get away with a long drop into the crevasse, which he filled with a few pads. Of course he's not going to blow it, so he can say that, can't he?

Charlie wrapped up the day with an ascent of Michael Caine Sit (v12), which is now officially "hard" as determined by none other than the man himself, Fred Nicole, who also climbed it recently (it had a couple minor breaks earlier this year). A good day for climbing after all.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fred Nicole, The Swarm (v14)

Another early-season ascent has come from 39-year-old Swiss master Fred Nicole, who climbed The Swarm (v14), taking advantage of the cool temps on Monday 19th.

Fred had tried the problem about four years ago, but was on a very short visit then and didn't have time to get the line done before a heavy dump of snow shut down the area! This year, he and his wife decided to spend about a week in Bishop. He went up and impressively did the line on his first day. Fred used a similar method to that which Matt Birch used on the first ascent, matching close on the crimp for the third move, before the shouldery move right, saying it felt less powerful that way.

See also: Wilder and Clifford's ascents of The Swarm

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Luminance Video

This is a pretty sweet little video shot by Jonathan Deguzman of Dan Beall making the third ascent, first ground-up ascent, of Luminance:

While the problem is listed as v11 here, I believe Dan feels it is more like v10. Great effort ground up, that's for sure. See the previous post.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rock Creek Prow and Charlie's Prow Proj.

The prow in the talus, by the tree, at Rock Creek was climbed from a standing start by Charlie Barrett a couple of weeks ago. I believe this was the first ascent, though if I'm wrong about that, let me know. The way he climbed it was to pull on using a very glassy undercling/sidepull for the left hand, and a pinch on the arete for the right. The first move involves putting a right heel high on the arete and making a huge slap up. It's a hard and intimidating move where your left hand is liable to spit off to send you spiralling down the talus:

Charlie on the Prow (stand), first move.

The next move involves a similarly intimidating dyno for a decent high-friction wrapper that is impossible to see exactly, but is good if you hit it--so I'm told! It needs a tick mark a foot long... though of course we don't use tick marks, and even if we did, we'd brush them off later, or at the very least photoshop them out!

Charlie on the Prow (stand), second move.

After this, the problem is as good as over: there's not a lot to it but those two hard moves. Adam Thomason repeated it, after taking a little while to psyche up. Supposedly the problem is in the v8 or v9 range, but I confess I found both those two moves super-hard, and didn't do either of them, as being shorter seemed to make them exponentially more difficult and intimidating for me. Plus, I suck!

I found an entirely different problem that climbs the same feature, but stays on the right of the arete. I began with my right hand on the pinch on the arete, but used a small crimp next to it for my left hand. From there, I could throw a heel and roll to a tiny crimp on the right side of the arete and again up the arete to another hidden crimp, which I shared before pulling through for a jug. This also felt about v8 or v9 and is a little highball.

It is clear that the big prize is a sit-start to Charlie's version, which he worked on a couple trips. It has big squeezing dynamic moves on poor holds out a very steep piece of rock. It will be one of the hardest problems in the Bishop area when it goes.

Charlie on the third move of the sit-start proj #1.

Luminance (v10?) Ground-Up by Dan Beall

As hoped, I have more info on this remarkable ascent of the superhighball Luminance by Dan Beall. Dan, who is a Junior at the University of California San Diego, had gone out to the Secrets area to try The Swarm. He moved over to look at Luminance, which his friend Tim Wilkens was playing around on (figuring out the moves, but finding the temps less than perfect). They had a couple of "mondos," a Mad Rock pad and a MOON Saturn pad but no rope, so started working the line ground up!

Even the start of the climb is a bit frightening: "I was really nervous going into it," says Dan.

But with no particular expectations, Dan gave it a go. After several forays across the scary lower moves, he soon found himself looking at the meat of the climb--a huge pull from one good edge to another with the terrifying drop zone into a ravine enough to make him second guess the outcome. However, after sitting down for a while, "until I stopped shaking," he says, Dan pulled on once more and this time committed to the throw.

"Even though you feel like you're going to die, I think that the climb is actually fairly safe with just a few pads because of how positive the holds are and how relatively controlled the falls should be. The only place where you could get really hurt I think is the move to the lip, but if you can get there, you really shouldn't fall, it's probably the easiest move on the climb."

I think basically what he's saying is that the holds are pretty positive at the big move, so if you have a positive attitude, and a lot of power, you know if you are going to stick it. A fall could certainly be very serious, though ...

Let's see if others will step up: it is unquestionably one of Bishop's most incredible pieces of rock, and Dan's ascent one of the most impressive achievements so far! Wow, the season has barely begun...

Dan's friend shot video, so hopefully we'll be able to see that shortly. [Video here]

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Luminance... 3rd Ascent

Dan Beall has reported his third ascent of Luminance (v10?) today. I'll try to get more info about this, but Dan says it's "really spectacular."

See also: Luminance FA.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tony's Dyno and more ...

Well, temps are improving and Rock Creek continues to give up its toughest lines to some determined efforts and the occasional snap ascent. Interesting news of note is Adam Thomason's second ascent of "Tony's Dyno" (v11?) on the Boy Named Sue Boulder a couple of days ago. This sweet problem diverges left from the classic little crimping number, The Fluke, and had not seen a repeat since France's accomplished mountaineering and ski guide Tony Lamiche quickly dispatched it back in October 2007.

Adam had abandoned trying the problem the way Tony had done it and opted for a variation: From the good crimp of The Fluke, he swung his left foot over far to the left to a tiny horizontal edge, and reached wide left to grab a micro sidepull before throwing and sticking the lip with his right hand. While I do remember Tony had considered this option when he did the line, he didn't pursue it for long. It seems to be at least as hard as the original method, though requiring very different technique/strength and perhaps a longer reach due to the wide spans.

The original method is from the good crimp of The Fluke to stall at a very poor left hand crimp/sloper, at the angle change just up and left, before pulling feet up and throwing again (left hand) for the top. I repeated the problem using this method yesterday and it was an amazing feeling to stick that crazy move. Here's a pic of Charlie giving it a go:

Charlie Barrett throws for the top on Tony's Dyno (original variation)

Also of note is Charlie Barrett's second ascent of The Harem (v9?)--which he flashed! (The problem is at the base of the talus, directly across, and a touch downstream from the Campground Boulder, and is the right arete of a small wall. It is slightly spoiled by having a tree very close plus a very long move, which combo has put off most suitors, though it is otherwise a fine compression problem with a really nice slopey arete for the right hand). Ian Cotter-Brown also made a very fast ascent of the River Face Arete (v10, see below), checking it off in just three goes.

Charlie again, this time flashing The Harem.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sit Down Dude ... And more ...

Charlie Barrett has added a sit start to the classic Rock Creek arete, Dude (v9). The first move with a very bad foot, a nubbin for the right hand, and the left hand on the slopey arete is the hardest--a quick move up to gain a flat crimp for the right. It makes the climb a lot longer and less of a trick. How hard is it? Well, who knows ... "It's something to play around on," says Charlie.

A couple other things of note are two lines I did on the back of the Batter Boulder about a week ago: This is the boulder that is just up and left from the boulder with Clearcut and Overzealous (the Talus Boulder, in the guide). First, I repeated The Batter Effect (v5/6), though I started from an obvious left hand horn/sidepull and right hand on a good sidepull around the same height. There really didn't seem space to start lower if you want a pad under you, though apparently it was done from a lower start originally by Jeff Sillcox and a grade or so harder.

Andrew Stevens on The Batter Effect

Then on the back of the boulder I did the jump-start arete at left (not too hard, but committing) and also a sweet little sit-start beginning at right (also committing, but harder--v6?? Really don't know). The latter crosses the slopers until you can swing out left, grab a sidepull and then roll into the good hold and then top out as for the jump-start--well worth doing, though some serious pad skills may be needed to avoid breaking your neck if you fall.

Begin right line with both hands on the lowest point of the rail

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rock Creek Action--River Face Arete

The River Face Arete (v10+?) has seen two repeats in the last two days. First by Ryan Olson, during a short visit (he's on his way back to college in Vancouver, BC), and then today by Adam Thomason, Crowley Lake local at present. This line is the left side of the well-known Campground Arete (v9/10), starting and finishing on the left side. Both climbers considered it quite a bit harder than the original version and made very long stretches to gain the top. This line is a really sweet, technical problem, with the upper hold being in just the right place--a shallow divot in the sloping lip: perfect.

Ryan going for the lip on the River Face Arete

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Super-Highball Slab Lines

There are many beautiful glassy pieces of rock around the Buttermilks, but few are as near-perfect as this tall white granite slab at the Pollen Grains.

Kevin at the easy ground high on the white slab

The boulder, that I simply named the White Slab Boulder is up hill above the Timothy Leary Presents Boulder (aka The Hive). The slab is low angle but extremely tall and intimidating and no walk-up. I listed a couple of projects on this in my guide. Starting from the northeast facet, a couple of days ago, Kevin Daniels led the way, climbing up rightward to the blunt arete and following this to the top at about v1.

Mike Brady climbing Kevin's line on the big white slab

It's a heady climb because you have to make a move high up with a big drop over a sloping slab of rock. You definitely don't want to take a fall, so it's essentially a solo. I began further left and climbed up the left side of the slab, with a trickier start at about v2 or 3 and then similar climbing on perfect rock and plenty of air again. I also climbed another line that begins below the north-facing facet and joins Kevin's line, with a more direct start waiting.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

FA on Timothy Leary Boulder by Kevin Daniels

Kevin Daniels made the first ascent of this pretty line today, KD Presents, just left of Timothy Leary Presents. It's a bit grainy but will probably clean up with some traffic. It has some really cool moves including this high-step onto the xenolith with a blank wall above. Only the tall will make it through the groping finish on appalling slopers that steadily improve the higher you stretch. Kevin barely made it up and was pretty terrified in the process. Shorter folk may have to improvise another method or perhaps launch a terrifying jump ...? More pics below.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pollen Grains: a World of Projects

I went up to the Pollen Grains a couple evenings ago to check out a new line that Kevin Daniels climbed on the Hive Boulder, called The KD Factor. Turns out to be a pretty nice and sustained climb that begins down and right from the terrifying On the Cusp. You can begin with either a low (almost sit) start, or from a good jug at head height. I opted for the latter because I didn't feel like dragging a pad in there, though the low start could maybe push the grade a notch just for the hard first move. Anyway, the climb moves up and left passing between the wall and a boulder leaning up against it (kinda tight squeeze through there), which is probably the physical crux (hard roll through) and comes right at the start. From there, you climb up and left to good holds below a giant inclusion and move up and further left to join Timothy Leary Presents with an excellent but scary move on a slopey rail. I'm guessing the climb goes at about v3, and with a low start (at a large slopey pocket) would likely be a v4.

Kevin repeats The KD Factor.

Interestingly, we all then noticed the wall lef of Timothy Leary Presents which looks excellent, with positive pockets (a very rare feature at the Buttermilks) leading to another giant xenolith:

Kevin moving to the xenolith on the project

I climbed the line going right from the xenolith to join TLP at about v4, naming it Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out, but the direct finish straight up from that large inclusion thwarted our best efforts.

Kevin attempting the direct finish.

This direct finish not only totally lacks holds, but is made all the more tricky by the fact the rock is super crusty at the moment. A good cleaning will no doubt help. Stay tuned for further developments.

Topping out on Timothy Leary Presents (v3).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mandala first July ascent? Chris Sharma

It is late July, and thundery clouds roll close above in hot humid air. The Buttermilks are pretty deserted other than a group of youths from the Yo! Basecamp summer bouldering class, all having an amazing time climbing with one of their heroes, Chris Sharma.

These kids are psyched. I mean psyched! What would they like to see? The Mandala ... ? Well, sure... But in this heat ...?

"I'll give it a go," says Chris, as a few heavy rain drops hit the ground.

Chris pulls on and, despite almost no warm up (one time up Saigon a half hour prior), he fires off The Mandala first go while the group of youngsters and some not so young look on in wonder!

Chris made the first ascent of The Mandala in Feb 2000. He has focused mainly on sport climbing for the last few years, establishing and repeating several 5.15 climbs.

Bishop: the land at the end of the rainbow!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Shawn ... Image by Damon Corso

Shawn Diamond image by Damon Corso.

This image shows Shawn on the upper section a.k.a. Magnetic North.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Direct North (v14??) by Shawn Diamond

Shawn Diamond has reported a new line on the Grandma Peabody via a comment on the 8a.nu website. The line is a link of Direction into Magnetic North, the latter being a sweet addition that begins at the jug finish of Center Direct and moves up, rightward at first, across the wall on perfect patina. Shawn says, this "is absolutely the most proud line on the boulder--climbing straight up the middle of the Grandma face from sit to top--following really difficult climbing the whole way."

Shawn has suggested v14 for the line and named it Direct North. Though someone has (in a fit of optimism) dabbed some chalk on the blank looking overhang just right of Magnetic North, this particular line, reported by Shawn, is likely the hardest one that will go any time soon (other than perhaps adding a traverse into it from right or left...!).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Black Stuff Low Start by Jarod Arnsten

Jarod on the new line (both pics)

Just heard from Jarod Arnsten that he did a super-fun addition to the Sads, by climbing The Black Stuff from a low start. "I noticed that the cavern had some sweet start holds at the very bottom," says Jarod. The climb starts down in the "hole" with a good left hand crimp and a good right hand crimp plus a big dish hole for the left foot. It climbs the face using long lock offs to what Jarod describes as "a sweet crimp with a good thumb catch," and then uses, "some cool trickery to get into the start to Blackstuff." Jarod thinks the line might go at around the v6/7 range. Please check it out and report back!

Thanks to Jarod for both the images.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rock Creek mid-week

Ian Cotter-Brown, Dude v9/10

Conditions were pretty good at Rock Creek mid-week, despite Bishop heat. Good enough for a session on the Boy Named Sue Boulder where pointless traverse link-ups are the name of the game ... Last year I linked The Groove into Boy Named Sue, and Charlie Barrett linked Boy Named Sue into The Groove and later Blood Brothers. Life Ain't Easy has since been linked into The Groove, and now the race is on to link Life Ain't Easy into Blood Brothers! Ian Cotter-Brown, shown here sticking Dude (v9/10?), fell on almost the last move of the latter link up with his foot up on the slab. Jeff Sillcox was also close.

Dude went down easily to Ian, who had always thought the problem was near-impossible, but with the added friction of the late evening temps, that all changed and he quickly stuck the move twice out of two! He used a right-foot-only method for the jump, left foot off. Nice. Tony Lamiche's eliminate dyno, to the right (beginning on The Fluke), remains unrepeated, but surely not for long ...

UPDATE: Ian completed the traverse link on Saturday 25th. Life Ain't Easy into Blood Brothers = Blood Sport ... (v11?)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jesse Bonin in the Aquarium

I heard from Jesse Bonin that last Saturday he climbed Aquarium (v11/12?) which begins with Aquatic Hitchhiker and tops out the boulder by climbing left from the "jug" backward through the Beefy Gecko traverse to join Beefcake all the way to its end. As far as I know, this is the first time the boulder has been climbed from start to summit without using the back wall, and it's almost certainly the hardest line done at the Sads.

"A whole lot of squeezing and heel-hooking," says Jesse. Asked about the obvious possibility of linking that same start (Aquatic Hitchhiker) into a topout through the gap directly above (Light At the End of the Tunnel, v8-ish), Jesse feels this would be the "real gem link-up." But he added, "I did not have nearly enough pads to even try that stand start. Kinda freaky looking last move. Everything would have to be coated in pads."

It is also worth noting that the start to this line (same as Aquatic Hitchhiker) is not the LOWEST possible starting point, and so you could add a couple more very hard moves there: "It looks totally doable," Jesse commented.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cory French, Spectre v13

Quick note to say congrats to Cory French for his ascent of Spectre (v13) on Monday 13th.

Nice work Cory. I believe Cory figured out the problem over three or four days and used a roll-through move at the start allowing easier placement of the key right toe, before matching the small crimps just before the crux. He moved right above the lip before topping out up the high slab.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lisa Rands climbs Xavier's Roof

Lisa Rands climbed Xavier's Roof (v11) this afternoon. Despite feeling exhausted after a couple of long drives to an event near Las Vegas and back, she headed out to Dale's Camp and was surprised to quickly figure out the top of the problem using the right crimp beta. After sticking that crux move late in the day, Lisa thought there was a slim chance she could save herself a return trip by making the send before it got dark. She just managed to bust it out with a hard fight making the long lock-off past the miserable slopey nothing.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Alex Johnson, A Maze of Death

In an astonishing feat this afternoon, Alex Johnson climbed A Maze of Death v12 in five tries (really five tries, that is, beginning from the start each time!). She had watched Jeff Sillcox on the problem a couple of days ago and went over his beta before trying it. Jeff had perfected new beta over a few days. "It was crazy!" said Alex, "It's kind of straight-down crimping. It was the perfect problem for me. Totally my style."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lisa Rands, Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Lisa Rands braved the surprising early spring heat to climb Haroun and the Sea of Stories, v11/12 at the Buttermilks this morning. This spectacular line is unquestionably one of the best in the Bishop area. It went in the guide as a v12, but subsequent ascents have tended to peg it at v11 (including mine, though that's not conclusive). The rating is not really the point with a line of this quality: it's just one of those rare pieces of climbing that you simply won't find too often. Beginning with funky and disorienting moves on shallow huecos using an overhead heel-hook, it rises up the underside of a huge block on fused golden rock, passing fingery patina to a pumpy finish twenty-five moves in. A recent break near the top forced Lisa to alter her sequence, and she found herself screaming to stick a long move to gain the lip. From there, an okay rest comes before a relatively easy topout.

These are some shots of Lisa working the moves earlier in the year:

Jeff has some pics of the actual ascent on his blog.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Xavier's Roof v11? ...

This is a shot of Justin Alarcon climbing Xavier's Roof at Dale's Camp, using the elegant "downpressor" method. This is certainly one of the problems of the moment. Yesterday there were about 20 people milling around the amphitheater watching events as several climbers attempted the line using a variety of sometimes unlikely-looking techniques. The two most successful styles seem to be:

1. The strong lock-off using the small right crimp with a high left foot stopping at the bad sloper/pinch on the way to the jug with the left hand.

2. The right high-step beta (as shown here) and utilizing the obvious right-hand sidepull, where the left hand presses out the move, pretty much static.

The intro section--beginning below and slightly RIGHT--with v6-ish climbing doesn't add a huge amount but just enough to keep the finish interesting for those at their limit. Concensus seems to be that the line goes at around v11, which feels fair to me too, after I also managed it, having watched Justin carefully a few days earlier! This is really a beauty, as many people have already noted.

Jimmy Webb climbs this and a few other Bishop classics in a vid he posted on vimeo. Some very smooth climbing! Don't be fooled by the footage of Hueco Wall though: how the hell does he do it like that ...? Agreed, starting at the right is the correct start, but most people will make the first move out left to the small xenolith, which is a stretch in itself!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Another Sweet New Line at Dale's

Went out to Dale's Camp again, this time to check out the Project Boulder, so listed in the guidebook because of the potential for at least a couple of decent new lines. The one on the front side (facing east) is a sweet looking piece of rock that (as with the ones in the previous post) I've been intending to get on for years. I've even pointed others to it, but maybe it didn't look hard enough for the top climbers to want to invest the effort cleaning.

I did rap down the block as it looked like it would be pretty grainy, but as it turned out the only hold that really needed to be cleaned was a large sloper out right. The problem begins with some footless (or near-footless) moves on good finger edges with a tricky pull to grab a right-hand sidepull. Reaching up, the left hand finds a pleasant pear-shaped pinch from which the crux move up and right to the sloping ledge is made. Probably around v6-ish and surely this will be a classic one day! Check out the video I made with a my point-and-shoot (sorry about the wind noise):

UPDATE (Monday 9th): Climbed a harder left variation.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Two New Lines In the Bank

I went out Tuesday (yesterday) to Dale's Camp to check out some projects up on the Xavier’s Roof Boulder. This boulder has had me staring every time I’ve been up there, as I’ve always wanted to see if the very high west side of the block, or the steeper northwest side would be climbable. But motivated by other things, I had never been there at the right moment to get to grips with it.

I was with Randy Puro, who remembers being at this boulder with Michi Tresch (a climber from Switzerland, who put up several great lines in Bishop about 10 years ago). Randy told me that he remembered Michi attempting at least one of the projects, the tall west-facing scoop, but doesn’t think he topped it out. He did however vouch for the fact that the ‘jump-start” line (listed in the guide on page 304 as unknown/project) had indeed been done, and he thinks it was by some guy (Will Perrin) from Wales!

I have been suffering from an injured left shoulder, so wasn’t about to attempt the very shouldery Xav’s Roof, which our friend Justin quickly dispatched, though I thought I could probably try one or two of the projects instead. I threw a rope over the boulder to check them out. The line that runs up and left to join the good patina of the jump-start problem turned out to be on excellent glassy rock and required only one hold to be cleaned! My first go, egged on by Randy’s encouragement, I made it through the climb. It is an amazing boulder!

Thanks to Jeff Sillcox for these photos:

The west-facing scoop is just as good, but very different--delicate and airy. It feels quite a bit more frightening than the above line despite being a lot less physical. Thanks again to Jeff Sillcox for the image:

In the Bank

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Jeff Sillcox, Aquatic Hitchhiker

A lot of people had eyed this project, or even tried this project, but Jeff Sillcox actually managed to hitch a ride on this project, listed in the Bishop Bouldering guide on page 170. At the Sad Boulders, Aquatic Hitchhiker follows the same line as Feel Like a Barnacle (which is sadly mis-described in the guide -- not my fault I swear! Come on ... no way did I write that ...), but while Feel Like a Barnacle climbs out along the keel of the Ice Cave roof using feet on the back wall as needed to reach the finishing jug at the hanging arete, Aquatic Hitchhiker climbs the same near-horizontal prow without touching the back wall... at all. It begins with the right hand on a narrow pinch of the keel, the left hand on a decent crimp. To start the moves, pull on by extending to a left foothold and bringing the right heel onto the keel not far below the right hand. Jeff has suggested about v11 for the problem. See photos of this on Jeff's blog.

Further bad weather also sent Jeff back to the Ice Caves to try a top out to the line, which he also did, climbing it from the jug through "v5-ish" entry moves to a hard lunge at the top.

Obviously a link-up of any line into this v8-ish finish will produce a problem of full-value. Sadly the landing is not so sweet here, so you'll need a lot of pads. Also, the rock at your back on the last move could add a bit of spice. Again, photos at Jeff's blog show this line that he dubbed Light at the End of the Tunnel.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Golden Rule, ropeless by Shawn Diamond

Damon Corso has kindly sent me these images of Shawn Diamond climbing The Golden Rule on the giant block in the gully near the Secrets of the Beehive area. This climb was first done by Kevin Jorgeson in 2007, as noted in an earlier post.

Around the middle of February, Shawn first top-roped the line and then climbed it ropeless as Damon took some photos. Shawn reported that the line has interesting moves in a spectacular position on top-quality rock. He described it as bit more scary than Rise, his line on the opposite corner of the block, due to it having some awkward moves really high up, though the overall difficulty was not nearly so great.

All photos by Damon Corso:

Photos: Damon Corso.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Video link

Check out some cool footage of Bishop shot by Jon McCartie called Mirando. Thanks for the heads up Ben.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cory French, Mandala Sit

Cory French climbed The Mandala Sit Start (v13/14) today, using a method probably devised by Ethan Pringle (who came close to doing it before injuring his ankle/foot in a fall from high on the problem last year). The new method uses very different moves from the original sit start, starting by reaching up with the left hand to a small sharp sidepull and then spanning all the way across right to gain the undercling of the regular Mandala with the right hand. The third, and crux move of the sit involves controlling the swing while coming in with the left hand to the good crimp at the start of The Mandala. From there, the regular Mandala is climbed by keeping the undercling with the right and going up directly with the left hand to the flat edge high above. It's a method that will only work for those over a certain height, and Cory, being 6' 3" as well as very strong, found it not too bad and was close to linking these new moves of the sit into the normal start the same day he completed the latter, just last week!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ethan Pringle, Flight of the Bumblebee

Today Ethan Pringle repeated Flight of the Bumblebee (v8? superhighball) at the Secrets of the Beehive Area, making the third ascent of this intimidating line (after Kevin Jorgeson, FA, and Kevin Daniels). The problem begins with a leap to a good hold and then follows a flake and rising seam up and right on good crimps to a small overlap. Getting established above the overlap is the crux. Ethan rapped the line to brush and feel the holds before climbing it second try. The landing is bad, with big boulders, and the climbing is insecure. Overall, Ethan felt it was more scary than This Side of Paradise but not so scary as The Beautiful and Damned. Here is a cool video of Kevin Daniels doing the second ascent.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jeremy Smith says "This climb needs YOU!"

While climbing This Side of Paradise (a v9/10 superhighball at the Bardini Boulders) Canadian Jeremy Smith felt the uncontrollable urge to send a message to our readers ...

Jeremy climbed the line ground up, ticking it on his second attempt, taking perhaps the 6th ascent (there could have been others). The problem was made famous in the video The Sharp End in which Lisa Rands makes the fourth ascent. Jeremy is the second person I know, after Charlie Barrett to climb "Paradise" without checking it out on a rope and he was quick to call this spectacular prow, "The best line in Bishop." Big praise from the big man who has made short work of many of the area's finest climbs.

Jeremy is here making a long-overdue pilgrimage to Bishop from Squamish, British Columbia, the town where he has spent the past eight years or so, and where he shares management duties at the local climbing store Climb On -- see the lovely pic of him on their website. An early claim to fame is Jeremy's likely third ascent of The Buttermilker during his previous trip to Bishop back in 1999! At 6-foot-2 and with a booming voice to match his personality Jeremy is hard to miss.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Evilution Direct Video

Tobias "Zlu" Haller has a little video of his ground up ascent of Evilution Direct you can find at his photo site along with some interesting and artistic photos on the site too. Great work Zlu!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Line on Solitaire Boulder

I climbed a really steep and spectacular line today on the north side of the Solitaire Boulder (it's the side you see as you approach from the Checkerboard area or from the Painted Cave boulder) and faces in the opposite direction to the classic Solitaire. I was wondering if anyone had done this before and maybe given it a name. It's an amazing-looking overhanging wall that's pretty high, but unfortunately the rock is really crusty. There was chalk on the first holds. I climbed it by a big drive-by dyno and then some crimps on iffy rock and biggish pulls to buckets over the lip up and right. It seems about v9/10? Could be easier but feels hard as committing to the upper moves is a bit frightening. It's actually pretty good fun despite the crumbly rock. Anyone have info? Please let me know!
UPDATE: Been suggested at v7 by some (see comments below).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Jeff Sillcox, The Buttermilker

Oh yeah ... and Jeff finally did The Buttermilker (v13), getting a now rare ascent of this line. Recently most people have been climbing a shorter version of this problem by starting on underclings, rather than the original problem, which involves a sit-down start at the lower left--it could make a grade of difference ... The higher start seems to be winning out for popularity, but is it right to re-describe a long-standing testpiece with new starting holds? Should the high start be called The Buttermilker, or should that name be used only to describe the problem from its original starting point?

Alex Johnson, The Mystery (v12)

Alex climbing The Mystery (Photo: Jeff Sillcox)

Alex Johnson has had an amazing day at the Buttermilks today, which included her ascent of The Mystery (v12), a sustained problem involving big moves and a lot of body tension... "Super core-intensive," says Alex.

"It's definitely the hardest thing I've ever climbed," says Alex, who has rarely had to go back a second day on a problem before. She was close the first day she tried The Mystery, but ended up taking a couple of returns to it on other days before getting it done.

The same morning, she also flashed The Fall Guy (v9). Alex has spent about two weeks in the Bishop area, acquainting herself with the rock, and climbing some classics at the 'Milks like Evilution to the Lip (v10), The Checkerboard (v8), Soul Slinger (v9), and flashing Moonraker (v9), and High Plains Drifter (v7).

"I love it!" says Alex, of Bishop. "I like that it's crimpy and that there's no hike... I also really like the highball aspect. The weather was awesome. It was gorgeous! I'm definitely coming back. "

[Thanks to Jeff Sillcox for the photo!]

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Giovanni Traversi, Evilution Ground Up

G on Evilution

Giovanni "G" Traversi today succeeded in his quest to follow in the footsteps of his brother Carlo with a ground up ascent of Evilution (original version, v12). G took a dozen or more(?) falls pulling around the lip before finally unlocking a sequence and finding the reserves to get the line done! Congrats for sticking with it G!

Jorgeson steps up to another level ...

Kevin Jorgeson has taken headpointing to a new level at the Buttermilks with his first ascent, solo (after TR practice), of a line dubbed years ago "Ambrosia." The climb, on the east wall of the Grandpa Peabody, begins with v12 bouldering to gain a shallow hueco at the point most would consider the highballing limit. This is followed by a bold v7/8 sequence of huge moves between good edges that quickly covers about another 15 feet and takes the climber through that blurrred line between highballing and soloing. After that, and without significant rest, comes a strenuous section of what Kevin suggests is probably mid-5.12 climbing past pretty patina to the top of the wall, about 45 feet up.

This spectacular gold-and-black-streaked face had once been a top-rope project of Tom Herbert, back in the early 1990s. Herbert had been able to do many, if not all, of the moves, but abandoned the line, imagining it to be in the 5.14 range. He figured he'd take his climbing elsewhere: The Buttermilks, at that time were such a backwater, he told me, that he found it hard to justify dedicating so much time to a TR project no-one else would ever see, or ever be interested in! Nevertheless, he had named the line Ambrosia (food of the immortals) fitting with the Buttermilk theme, and connoting (as the quality and beauty of the line deserves) the very pinnacle of Buttermilk climbing-- More info about this and Kevin's same-day repeat of Luminance at the Big Up Blog.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tobias Haller, Evilution Direct (ground up)

Austrian Tobias Haller has made the 6th ascent of Evilution Direct (v11) in a proud effort at the end of the day today. After slipping at the last hard moves with his foot skating from the edge of the boulder's lip and taking a frightening fall, he was able to summon just enough energy to get the problem done a short while later. Interestingly he is the first person (as far as I'm aware) to climb the line with no prior inspection from a rope, preferring to watch, learn from others, and go for the boulder ground up. No doubt he was helped in his goal by the recent popularity of the line--plenty of beta, well-chalked holds--and the enormous numbers of pads being brought daily to the base of the Grandpa Peabody. Three-deep is now standard for pads below this face it seems! So why not go for it ground up? Great ascent from Tobias!

Tobias climbing the lower section of Evilution

Tobias climbing Haroun and the Sea of Stories (v11/12)

Matt Wilder, Mandala Sit and Evilution (Original)

Matt Wilder has had an extraordinary trip so far, climbing Evilution Direct (v11) and The Swarm (v14), and following those up just yesterday with The Mandala Sit-start (v14) and Evilution (original version, v12). Matt climbed The Swarm, Mandala Sit, and Evilution in a two-day spell that he describes as, "My best two days ever." It feels all the more satisfying for Matt as he'd taken something of a break from hard bouldering over the last several months in favor of pursuing some trad ascents (e.g. FA of Viceroy, 5.14 in Boulder Canyon), and a bit of endurance training, getting back into the bouldering fairly recently. If that's not over-achieving enough, Matt just finished a Masters degree in computer science and is now moving on toward a PhD. How do these people do it?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tim Clifford, Matt Wilder, The Swarm (v14)

The Swarm (v14) has had a couple of new ascents in the last few days, first from Tim Clifford (an ex-Brit now living in Squamish, British Columbia), and then today from Matt Wilder (of Boulder, Colorado). "It best represents the hard Bishop crimpy problem," says Tim. "I was really psyched to climb it. I knew I only had a few tries, due to my skin, so had to dig deep."

Tim suggested that the line may not involve such hard moves as the grade implies, but also noted that because of the tiny holds, it requires a patient technique of "waiting and making each go really count."

In case you don't know Tim, he's the climber who made the first ascent of The Singularity, an incredible, and incredibly hard, unrepeated problem in Squamish, once known as The Room Project.

Here is a short slideshow of Tim Clifford climbing The Swarm (the 9th ascent I believe) during his recent trip here. Thanks to Georg from Squamish for the photos!

Tim Clifford climbing The Swarm (v14); photos by Georg

I also shot some pics of Matt Wilder climbing The Swarm today (10th ascent). Check these out:

Matt Wilder climbing The Swarm (v14); photos by Wills Young

Friday, January 2, 2009

Got Pads...? Matt Wilder climbs Evilution Direct

Matt Wilder 20ft/6m up on Evilution Direct (v11), Friday Jan 2.

Matt Wilder has made the fifth ascent of the phenomenal Evilution Direct (v11), calling it, "One of the best boulder problems I've ever climbed." The hold he's reaching for in the above image broke about a month ago making the top part of the line slightly harder and more sustained than previously.

Matt on the penultimate hard move.