Friday, February 26, 2010

The Buttermilker by Chris Webb-Parsons

"Doing this problem feels like the first real step on the way back," said visiting Australian Chris Webb-Parsons on completing The Buttermilker (v13) at the Cave Boulder, the Buttermilks. A year since his severe shoulder dislocation, and a bit less since the ensuing surgery, Chris could barely hold the positions on the crux of the line when he arrived in Bishop this winter. But he kept at it, and saw steady improvements. After doing a standing start, he was convinced both his shoulders still needed strengthening before going after the full/true ascent. Taking a break, he headed over to the Bay Area to work out with weights in an effort to build up his shoulders. Returning with confidence and psyche renewed, he did the problem on his first morning back (today) and was clearly delighted.

 Chris Webb-Parsons, The Buttermilker

Chris will soon be heading back to Australia and hopes to be at full strength by the summer, when he has plans for a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, a possible appearance at the Vail, Colorado, Bouldering World Cup, followed by further travels around the US.

Over the last few years, Chris rose to prominence in Australia with ascents of the hardest lines there including Dai Koyamada's 60-move monster "v16" Wheel of Life. He was fast moving through the hardest lines at Hueco last year when he ripped his shoulder.

While Chris recovered from surgery last year, he helped complete the huge task of writing a guidebook to the bouldering at the Grampians, Australia, with his fellow climber and guidebook author Dave Pearson. I've seen a copy of the guide and I can honestly say it is a work of art, beautifully laid out, with extraordinary detail. The images are excellent and enticing, and by all accounts the climbing there is phenomenal. Check out Chris and Dave's excellent new website Grampians Bouldering. You can also check out Chris' website.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Highball Montage

Please enjoy this sweet montage of Charlie on This Side of Paradise (Bardini Boulders, v10).

Thanks to Matt Arnold for the images and Olivia Nguyen (Graphics and Design). Climber: Charlie Barrett.

Meanwhile, don't forget there are risks to highballing. No matter where you climb, rock can break! Check out this solid-looking well-weathered hold from one of the Buttermilk's most amazing highballs, The Beautiful and Damned (v13).

There used to be this perfect little horn that you could grab at a sort of half-way point on the line, just before the really heady slab moves begin. Well, it snapped off when the line was being worked on TR. Now this already desperate line will be a touch more sustained and a bit more of a stretch on that first slab move. With all the snow we've had this year dampening the rock, plus the freezing and thawing recently, you can't be too careful going high off the ground.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fight Club

Ian Cotter-Brown made an ascent of the very rarely repeated Fight Club (v10/11?, on the Saigon Boulder) yesterday, making me realize I have to get out and do that line! It's kinda scary to top out up the slab leftward, but a direct has also been done. Here are a couple of shots of Ian from a couple days before his send, taped up and ready to rumble! Don't let that hippy tie-die fool you!


Fight Club needs cold, ideally cloudy conditions.

Sean McColl completes Evilution Direct, Ground-up

Sean McColl arrived here in Bishop about a week ago, down from Vancouver, Canada. After re-acquainting himself with the rock here (checking off a few classics including Stained Glass Sit), he went back to finish up the climb he came close to doing on his last visit a couple of years ago: Evilution Direct. A prior ground-up ascent had been made by Tobias Haller (all be it with a huge number of pads). Others had inspected the line on a rope.

Sean had attempted it ground-up a couple of years ago, locked off the crux and pulled up above the lip before backing down and dropping because the upper section was snowy/wet. Despite a small breakage a year ago, leaving the move past the lip a touch harder, Sean took just a couple more goes this visit to complete his ground-up ascent. No doubt there'll more to come from Sean if the weather holds!

Ethan Pringle also checked off Evilution Direct. He'd rapped the line to familiarize himself with it in the morning and did it in the cold after the sun dropped behind the mountains.

Sean also did a bizarre start to The Fall Guy/Haroun that begins up to the right of the normal Haroun start and leans into the start of Fall Guy using toe hooks. It sounds utterly crazy and if/when I get more info I'll add to this report.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Charlie's New Squeeze Gets a Work-Over!

Kevin Jorgeson added a no-jump version to Charlie Barrett's new squeeze line (which surely must be called Charlie's New Squeeze) and climbed it without a jump start. There's a good left foot (tiny sharp edge) and a pair of tiny opposing crimps to start. You can pull on first, and then smack left hand to the sweet blob in the scoop. Some crafty intermediate moves and heel-hook trickery make the middle sequence amenable to those who can't pull off the long slaps that Charlie makes look easy. It probably goes at v10-ish. Here's a shot of Adam Thomason working his left heel up to the blob:

Ambrosia 2nd Ascent by Alex Honnold

This afternoon at the Buttermilks, Alex Honnold made the second ascent of Ambrosia, the striking highball up the Grandpa Peabody's immaculate, gold-and-black streaked east wall.

Kevin Jorgeson who made the first ascent last winter was there with Alex, spotting him during the climb which was also watched by a group of onlookers who helped to pile a dozen or more pads at the base. Alex has suggested that the new method he figured out for the lower crux checks in around v10--a little easier than Kevin's method, due to the discovery of a wide pinch that helped him past the hardest sequence.

However the real meat of the climb comes committing to the next section of the line, beginning with an awkward few moves just above the rest that check in around v7, followed by sustained though relatively easy climbing all the way to the summit. Alex had top-roped this section before his solo, though he did get a bit confused near the top to find chalk from another climber who had also been working it by a different sequence! I took a few snapshots of the ascent.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Charlie Barrett Squeezes a New Line by the Sharma Scoop

Charlie Barrett, added a heinous squeeze line that climbs the right rib of the Sharma Scoop, beginning with a jump from the ground. You end up with the left hand in the right side of the "scoop" and grope powerfully up a very blunt prow. It looks good and was repeated today by Kevin Jorgeson. It checks in around v10 or v11. The Buttermilks needs more lines like this! The Sharma Scoop is at the Main Buttermilks area--out to the east of the Drifter Boulder for those who don't know this groping sloping classic.

Charlie, who repeated Spectre last year, has been on a tear the last few months with a slew of repeats covering the gamut from The Bubba Lobotomy and Kill On Sight (v12s at the Happies) to nasty crimpy traverses like La Belette and Baburre Short (v11s at the Buttermilks). Not to mention his ascents of harder Buttermilks lines Michael Caine Sit, A Scanner Darkly, and Form Destroyer (all v12) last year. All this down to his ascetic lifestyle, apparently, plus a diet of nearly pure sushi dinners, bacon-and-eggs breakfasts, and the occasional tennis biscuit.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Stained Glass, After 300 Tries? Andrew Stevens Sends ... Finally!

"I first tried it in Spring nearly four years ago," says Andrew Stevens of Stained Glass: "I roughly calculated that I fell off the last move about 300 times!"

Andrew is a 47-year-old Bishop climber, RN and emergency department manager at the Northern Inyo Hospital, who has been climbing for about 30 years. A long-time trad climber who has spent many seasons in Yosemite, he is also a keen sport climber and turned to intensive bouldering relatively recently. Stained Glass was his first v10 ascent, and what a beauty! "It's the coolest thing I've ever done in climbing," says Andrew.

"I always felt strong enough," he adds. "For me it was all about the footwork."

Keeping Andrew motivated over nearly four years of effort were all the friends he met at the base of the line. What he's taken away from the experience, he says, more than anything, is the sense of camaraderie gained from days out, with locals and visitors alike constantly encouraging his effort.

Nice one Andrew! Hopefully I'll be able to post a photo or a link to a short video clip soon.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Siemay Lee, Beefy Gecko (v11)

It's great to report that Siemay Lee completed her 10-day project at the Sad Boulders, Beefy Gecko (v11) at the end of last week. She's been trying the problem on and off for a while (on perhaps 10 separate days), and finally put it all together for her first v11 send. Congrats Siemay!

Siemay and leg-warmers on Beefy Gecko. Photo: Michael Pang.

Now, before anyone asks, she correctly avoided the large hold--which is off-limts for this problem--that sits above the constriction where the roof (capping boulder) meets the side boulder. Impressively, Siemay manages to balance work as an internal medicine doctor with her passion for climbing, often traveling with her equally motivated climbing partner and husband (and ER doc) Noah Kaufman.

There's a video on Noah's Blog.

New Line on Get Carter Boulder, by Ryan Held

Ryan Held wrote a bit ago about a right-to-left traverse into Seven Spanish Angels that he completed around mid-January. It starts on a low jug at the far right side of the east-facing wall. This was a project that had been tried a bit in the past by some locals. Ryan has named the line, Each One Teach One and reckons it checks in around v10/v11.

Ryan on Each One Teach One

Chris Webb-Parsons in Bishop

It was great to see Chris Webb-Parson's smiling face in Bishop again. Around this time last year, just before arriving in California, he had been climbing at Hueco (Texas) when he dislocated his shoulder and had to return to his home in Australia to get surgery and recover. A year has gone by and he is back again, not as strong (yet) as he was before, but it seems like he's not wasting time trying to regain his former level.

Chris has succeeded on several problems in the v11 and v12 range here. At the Happy Boulders he did Kill On Sight (v12, the new sit-start on the arete right of Slow Dance) and Bubba Butt Buster (v11). At the Buttermilks, he did The Mystery (v11?) utilizing a better sequence at the end, and later adding the traverse into this, The Oracle (v12/13). He also did a high-start to The Buttermilker (from the underclings) and The Mandala. Hopefully Chris will bounce back to full strength and we'll have more to report soon!

As an aside, it is worth pointing out again, that Chris Sharma's problem The Mandala, as Sharma has mentioned to me himself recently, starts with the left hand on the low crimp, just his other landmark ascent The Buttermilker begins from the sit.

Dan Beall Update

Well, I've been focusing on other things than writing this blog, but quite a lot of action has taken place here in Bishop that I need to catch up on. There have been yet more new lines reported to me and some impressive sends, plus a couple of ascents slipping under the radar that went unreported. In the latter category were Dan Beall's ascents of The Swarm (v14), Direction (v13), The Mandala (v12), and the rarely repeated Fight Club (v11), all of which he added to his impressive tick list here during a spell of visits from just after Thanksgiving to early January. He also climbed the world's hardest v9 (after breakages) in America's Fit Homeless (v9? Has anyone else climbed this lately?).