Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ambrosia--Direct Start and Third Ascent by Isaac Caldiero

This afternoon Isaac Caldiero made the third ascent of the amazing highball/solo Ambrosia (v11) on the Grandpa Peabody at the Buttermilks.
 Isaac Caldiero, up above the hueco on Ambrosia (Photo: W Young)
The impending stormy weather presented an extra challenge. It was a warm, but windy day with a mist of rain occasionally drifting in from the mountains to dampen aspirations. But that light intermittent rain evaporated as fast as it arrived and Isaac was motivated by the cooling of the breeze that provided conditions far better than he'd seen over the last warm week.

 Isaac nearing the top. Photo: Devlin Gandy

Interestingly, Isaac was able to make a direct start that had eluded Kevin Jorgeson, thereby straightening out this already fine line. He began with some intriguing technical moves to pull onto a good hueco about four feet off the ground. This quickly led to crimps and sidepulls and some more hard pulls and high-steps to gain good edges below the rest-point hueco a little below half-way. There, Isaac took a long rest as a buffeting wind threatened to blow his pads away. Then, using another original sequence, he pulled into an undercling in the top of the hueco and stretched up past the mid-point crux. Isaac's familiarity with the moves meant the top was more or less a formality for him, though the wind did its best to take the feeling out of his fingertips!

"The main attraction was that it's a huge obvious line on one of the most notorious boulders in America," says Isaac of Ambrosia. "I've been doing highballs for a long time and as soon as I heard Kevin had done the proudest line on the boulder I knew I had to check it out. Finally all the stars aligned and I was able to get out here and suss it out on a TR."

Breather before the committing finish. Photo: Devlin Gandy
Other big lines Isaac has done are some proud FAs in Turkey including Kumar Bas (v8) as seen in the video Herakleia (by Mike Call), plus several highballs in Southern Utah such as a second ascent of Somewhere Over the Rainbow (v9) and also the second free solo ascent of The Present (5.14). But Ambrosia was his hardest highball to date.

"Most highballs I've done have hard moves down low that lead to an easy top out, but this had small smears big moves and technical pulls all the way to the end. Right off the start I realized the seriousness of this particular line. For the most part it is super solid, but there are a couple of holds near the top that are definitely questionable. Usually when I think of soloing that high off the ground I wouldn't want to have any doubts about the rock at all, but I really wanted to do this line. It's a really, really cool boulder and to top out on the most highball line on it was really inspiring. I think doing the top several times was a lot about gaining confidence in the rock as much as my own ability."

 On the summit. Photo: Devlin Gandy.
Nice one Isaac! Thanks to Devlin Gandy for these images! Check out more including a video on Isaac's blog.