Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jill Church Waters, Fight Club

Jill Church Waters, who moved to Bishop last year with her husband and baby daughter, recently climbed Fight Club  (highball v10?) on the Saigon Boulder at the Buttermilks. This problem, first done by Randy Puro around 11 years ago, soon gained a reputation for being near-impossible after a lack of repeats and the break of a small edge used on the first ascent. With the boost of v11 in the guidebook, the line saw more interest, but few if any repeats per season.

With a vague beginning--it was originally done as a jump-start to slopers--Fight Club's start is somewhat indistinct (impossible if you are too short to leap to those holds). But whether you begin with both hands on, or one hand, or none at all, you still have to pull the crux mantel to get onto this undercut boulder. How hard is this mantel? With conditions being critical on the problem and because the rock sits in the sun all day, it normally feels impossible! Under better conditions, it may not be too bad ... Jill suggested that it felt closer to a v9 for her, after checking it off on a super-cold day, but go try it... very few succeed! Make it through that techy mantel and you have the highball slab to negotiate. Getting to the top is quite an adventure. A proud ascent by Jill, for sure!

Jill has been getting after it recently with ascents of Beefy Gecko (v11), and Bubba Gump (v10), to name a couple, but also declared her ascent of Lydia's Mouth (a reachy v3 at Pollen Grains) one of her hardest to date!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Climbers' Coffee with the BLM

I received a note from Becky Hutto at the Bishop office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) telling me about the free coffee mornings the BLM are providing for anyone who wants to join them at the Pleasant Valley Climbers' campground (a.k.a. The Pit campground).

Please drop in starting around 8:30am for a fee wake-up brew (of coffee!) and take the opportunity to pose any questions or concerns you have about the management of the Happy and Sad Boulders (which the BLM are responsible for).

The BLM have been great at working climbers for the preservation and enjoyment of these areas for all and I urge everyone to help keep the areas as clean and unspoiled as possible. Please also take the chance to say hi.

Normally the BLM does these coffee mornings once a month, but during spring break these are EVERY week, please click the image to see the dates, thanks!

Saigon Superdirect ground-up by Dan Fong

Matt Mersel wrote to me with a link to a vid of 19-year-old UCLA student Daniel Fong (originally of the Bay Area) climbing Saigon Superdirect in ground-up style. Matt says, "We were out a few weekends ago and Daniel gave it a few burns and took some steep drops, but he got it first go last weekend. Never used a rope!"

As far as I know, the FA of this line was done ground up by George Ullrich in 2008, after half-hearted efforts by all the top names in the game, but it still rarely gets climbed and certainly sees few serious attempts in this on-sight style. Though it is above a flat landing, it's a very bold line, differing from the regular "direct" by gaining the good pinch with the right hand and slapping over the lip to a sloper where the regular direct goes right. See also a pic of Charlie Barrett on this. Nice work Dan!

Above: Daniel Fong holding the sloper after the big move on Saigon Superdirect (v9/10). Image by Edward Cheung.

Here's a vid Matt shot with a GoPro:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

More Happy Highballing, Laka, Boom Shaka (V3?)

Zach Miller wrote recently after reading about other people's highballing adventures. Back in November he and friends did a little exploring of their own, including a pretty spectacular FA by Zach of  Laka, Boom, Shaka. Here's the note from Zach:

Hey Wills,
Since the lastest has been about potential highball FA's.  I have one to report.  A little late, but back in november, my friend Jeff and I went scoping for lines along the Happy's rim past "Atari" and "hard crack" (which is qiute a scary one, I might add).  We brought some ropes to look closely at a particular pocketed wall that you can actually see from the happy's parking area.  After climbing some crusty pockets and fun but not so ideal climbing (on top rope), we turned to this particular walls southeastern buttress.  The line looked good. I cleaned it up and climbed it a couple times on TR.  Now what remained was to climb it without a rope. The next day, after manicuring the landing zone to avoid falling on impaling rocks, I brought some more friends (Matt Deshazo, Jesse Whirl, and my friend Jeff Brennan) and some pads.  I made the heart-felt ascent first go.  It was very exciting!
The climb goes out an overhanging prow about 20-25 feet tall.  However, it feels more like 40-50 feet due to the hill side giving away much like the established neighboring climbs (Atari and Hard Crack). And the landing zone is just big enough to make it safe.  I recon the climb is only about V3 but would get a couple heart flutters. 
My buddy Matt Deshazo, after my apparently inspiring ascent, decided to go for it as well.  He climbed all the way to the top and hesitated to finish.  And to our amazement after crying out in despair, he dropped from the top of the boulder and landed perfectly on the set of pads carefully placed on a perhaps 5' by 5' LZ.  He was okay!  And without much more hesitation, he got back up there and sent it.
I highly recommend this climb to anyone that wants a good thrill.  Its not as difficult as other highballs in the area, however has some really good moves high off the ground. If your tring to find it, follow the rim past hard crack.  You should be able to see the wall from "hard crack".  The problem itself is on the opposite side of the wall (the eastern side).  Bring at least 4 pads and a couple spotters (mainly to keep the climber from tumbling down the hill).  The climb is very picturesque as Mount Tom and the wheeler crest rest in the background.

Below are two videos, the first showing the drop from the lip, the latter the second ascent by Matt Deshazo. All I will add is, please take care on that rock out there, it can be pretty fragile!!

Laka, Boom Shaka V3 2nd ascent attempt from Zacharias Miller on Vimeo.

Laka, Boom Shaka V3 send from Zacharias Miller on Vimeo.