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.