Saturday, December 22, 2007

Center Direct by Kelly McBride

Kelly McBride (female) of Fort Collins, Colorado, recently climbed Center Direct (v10). This is impressive as the line is extremely tough for shorter climbers, especially since the once "key" thumb catch is now entirely gone from the vital left-hand sidepull. The move to the right crimp is desperate and gets more desperate the shorter you are. Kelly was just able to make this crux move using a right toe hook.

Evilution Direct Third Ascent by Charlie Barrett

Just a quick note to mention a very impressive repeat of Evilution Direct (v11, E8?) by Charlie Barrett of Tahoe area, CA. This is NOT the original Evilution, done by Jason Kehl, but the right/direct version! Charlie's is only the third ascent as far as I know. Tony Lamiche did the FA in Nov 2002, and the line was repeated very soon after by Squamish, BC, climber Jordan Wright. Daniel Dulac famously broke his ankle falling twenty feet or so with his feet at the lip attempting the FA and was forced to fly home to France missing the Petzl Roc Trip for which he had arrived. Lamiche waited to the cool of the evening for the send.

While not a deadly line, it is very high and requires a very strong head. I'm suggesting an E8 for this -- making it perhaps the second most serious at the Buttermilks after The Beautiful and Damned -- not for the scare-factor entirely, but for this AND the sheer physical difficulty of the climbing. After the v10-ish 45-degree intro wall, there is a long committing heel-hook move at the lip to gain a good 1.5-inch edge about twenty feet up [since broken to become about 3/4-inch]. This is followed by some balancy reaches and careful half-blind step-ups. Not exactly gimme. It's been tried by all the best climbers, and while most have walked away some have not been so lucky!

Charlie says he had about 11 pads and climbed the problem after checking it out on rappel. He says he liked the direct line over the original, feeling it to be better looking with nicer holds and moves.

Thanks to Bonnie Hedlund for the photo.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pollen Grains Update

December 11, 1pm

I was just in communication with my friend Buck Branson down in Garden Grove. It sounds like his crew was the one that broke the hold on Suspended in Silence. He said it still goes, but it is definitely a little harder. He said that his crew (I'm not exactly sure who), also did the Drone Militia/S in S linkup. I asked him if he thought the "Droning Silence" name apt. He also mentioned that he worked Return Jedi as well. It sounds like he came very close, suffering the same sort of heart break I did near Thanksgiving (sticking the first really hard move and then popping off, and being unable to repeat the first move after that). It amazes me that that line had not been done earlier...


December 11, 12:30pm

Hi Wills,

I hope you and Lisa are doing well. I've been wrapping up my time in law school, and finding a lot more time to get out buttermilking. Tim recommended I should give you an update.

Back in October a group of us were at Jedi Mind Tricks and we began to look at the obvious, beautiful arete to its left. Peter Dixon and I tried the most aesthetic start, on two right slanting edges just right of the arete, for a while but did not make much progress. Then he noticed a flake system about 5 feet to the left. After some tries I climbed it and then Peter repeated it quickly. We began standing up with our hands in the flake, firing up to an edge left hand, and then worked up the arete. While there are some loose looking flakes, it was not difficult to stay on good rock the whole way. We dubbed it Massage from Below inspired by the local hotsprings. Difficulty wise, the first few moves down low are the business, and it is probably somewhere between V7-V9.

Just after Thanksgiving, a group of us returned to the Pollen Grains, noticing that one of the "key" low sidepulls on Suspended in Silence was gone. For some reason, I had never noticed the prospect of linking Drone Militia into Suspended in Silence. It follows a very pretty line. I managed to do this problem in a few tries, with the business coming at a hard move that involved getting your left hand on the high edge of Drone Militia you usually use with your right hand to reach to the cobbles. I don't know if this has been done before. We dubbed it Droning Silence, and it is probably between V6-V8. Also managed to do a direct exit to Drone Militia - Drone Direct. I started as for Drone Militia, but from the pocket and the jug a few moves up went straight into a hueco with my right hand, grabbed a bad sloper with my left, and launched up to a patina jug a few feet left of the cobbles. Fun problem probably about V8-V10.

On the Thanksgiving trip I came close to doing the line left of Jedi Mind Tricks, starting off the perfect right leaning crimps and climbing up and right, staying just right of the arete. After concerted effort I managed to stick the first move, a painfully long lock off to a small right hand sidepull, but then had my hand pop off for the next move to a good patina edge. I must have tried the first move 30 more times to no avail.

Last week, between finals, I drove back down to Bishop to go try the problem. Suffice to say it had been on my mind for a couple of weeks. On Thursday I went out there by myself, spent the morning hiking around, and by the time I warmed up the storm began to approach. I tried the line for about 90 minutes in the rain, until the wall and all of my stuff was soaked, but could not manage to do the first move. I gave up and retreated into town, expecting the storm to prevent anymore climbing. I spent the night in town with a friend who had to be out early the next morning. When I awoke at sunrise, the sky was clear and the sun was out. I raged out to the Pollen Grains, and the boulders had a dusting of snow on them, and the north sides were damp and cold. But the Jedi Mind Tricks face was perfect. After scarily topping out Jedi Mind Tricks by myself (I did not want to hobble out of there!), I moved on to my project.

On my second go that day I stuck the first lock off. I got all nervous, like "don't blow this next part again." I worked my way up the left facing patina, to the big ramp, and to a creaky jug at its top. One move off a small crimp brought me to the top. I yelled for what felt like 20 minutes. I am really psyched on this line. I think it is one of the ones. If it has not yet been done, I would want to call it Return Jedi. It is a weird sort of difficult, being an awkward, balancy static lock off. It's probably somewhere between V9-V11.

Hope to see you down there soon!


Friday, December 7, 2007

Jorgeson climbs "The Golden Rule"

Kevin Jorgeson has climbed another spectacular line at the Buttermilks that is a likely first ascent. He suggested "The Golden Rule" as a name for this highball/route that took three pieces of gear, assuming, he says carefully, that it is an FA. It is likely 5.12 with what Kevin says is a heady v4 crux over a very bad landing on a beautiful unprotected blunt arete. This leads to some gear in a thin crack which is passed to make a bold topout on the arete.

This very pretty line is found on a massive boulder in the Secrets of the Beehive region, sitting in a ravine between the Secrets area proper and the Windy Wall area. There is an arete on the northwest (downhill) side that was climbed by Chris Sharma, while the west wall itself remains undone as far as I know, along with some other possibilities.

Thanks to ANDY MANN ( for the image.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Flight of The Bumblebee


i see after looking at your site that the problem has been done and is called flight of the bumblebee. it is a kevin jorgonson problem.

cool. i saw this thing and wanted to climb it. it had no chalk on it and i figured it had not been done. i climbed up the west side and dropped a rope down it. i used a grigri to look for holds. i brushed and scoped out the holds. i did not TR the line. i also brushed a series of very dirty but solid holds on the lower angle north face of the boulder to use as a downclimb. i tried the problem 2 days later and fell from the crux at about 25 feet. i had many pads and good spotters. the landing was hard and i split my face open with my left knee. i left a bit shaken up. i also really dug a hole in my right index finger on a sharp crystal, you know the one. i put three stitches in my cheek that night to stop the bleeding.

i returned a week later, november 29th. i had six spotters and pads again. i did the problem on my first go. i had a great time climbing the line and believe it is really high quality. my friend matt video taped the ascent. i tried to climb it a second time and fell from the crux again. the fall was again long and hard but i did no damage.

i feel this is a really high quality problem and could be climbed on sight by a strong bold climber.

the hardest problems i have done are V8 in rating. i have done some FA's that may be harder but are unconfirmed. i am very happy to see the problem is difficult. i was not sure how hard it was. it felt hard. the moves at the crux, 4 in a row to get onto my feet, felt like solid V7 .

i would like to talk with this kevin jorgenson if possible. do you have a contact for him ?