Monday, March 7, 2011

Dan Mills, Sad Boulders Project (v11?)

Dan Mills has reported an ascent of a long-standing project at the Sad Boulders, suggesting v11. I say project.... At least I don't know of anyone who has climbed it--but if someone knows different, I hope they'll post a comment. It is an obvious line on a giant block facing south and the first really big boulder just off the path, a couple hundred yards up from the lower parking on Chalk Bluff Road. It's a proud line, in fact, and may have gone unclimbed this long due to its orientation (it faces the sun and heats up even on cool days), and also, of course, it is pretty hard.

Here's another angle added later (see comments):

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Direct North (v14), Guillaume Glairon-Mondet

I recently learned that French climber Guillaume Glairon-Mondet made an ascent of the desperate new line Direct North (v14) on the Grandma Peabody Boulder's steep side. The line is an obvious extension to Direction, and takes on this photogenic wall of immaculate yellow-streaked rock by its hardest sequence, stacking the excellent highball Magnetic North (v8/9?) onto the testpiece Direction (v13).

Starting in the underclings, first Direction is itself a v13 sit-start to the original "one-move-wonder" Thunderbird (a tough v11 utilizing a tiny right crimp) and leads to some full-pad crimps above and right of the finish of Center Direct. After gaining the crimps, and taking a shake, perhaps, the line moves up and right following Magnetic North which has a longish span to another small right crimp followed by a tough and nervy heel-hook lock-off to gain good jugs that lead to the lip.

Guillaume, who also climbed The Mandala Sit Start (via the left sequence, v13/14), and grabbed a possible fourth or so ascent of Iron Resolution (v13) in Joshua Tree, before heading back to France, said that Direct North was the hardest ascent of his trip. Though he flashed the upper section (Magnetic North), he found the move from the heel hook extremely hard when reached from the start, taking a fall there on one of his attempts. He also described the crux move (on Thunderbird) as "really HARD!!"

Guillaume described the line as "the most logical of the whole boulder," by which perhaps he means the most compelling, or most impressive, I'm not sure. Given the rock quality, this is certainly one of the most perfect hard lines in the Buttermilk area--the holds are bullet hard, and the climbing is sustained and amazing.

See an earlier report for this line.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Swarm Direct (v13?), Nalle Hukkataival

At the end of Feb The Swarm (at the Secrets of the Beehive Area) received its obvious and long-awaited direct finish from visiting Finnish celebrity Nalle Hukkataival. Many others might have done this problem, but for the effort involved in rapping and cleaning the line and dealing with a known loose hold. The loose hold did break (so I heard), but only to leave another edge.

As expected, the direct version checks in at roughly the same grade as the original and surely goes high on the list of top crimping testpieces of the West! It looks awesome and is on that perfect polished brown rock, some of the best in the Buttermilk area. Apparently Nalle doesn't find this style of climbing particularly hard and had more trouble with the Sit to The Mandala, which he felt was harder, even via the left (generally considered easier) variation, which is the one he did. He writes about The Swarm Direct, and more about his Bishop visit on his blog post.