Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Red Dihedral- Part 2

A week after getting thoroughly worked on the Red Dihedral we returned with Celin Serbo, a friend and local photographer, to send the first pitch and get some shots on this beautiful route.

When we got to the base of the wall, another team was already racking up to try the same route!  It's interesting how routes and areas go in and out of interest in the climbing community...  I guess the Red Dihedral is hot this year!

Anyways, after a short chat, Greg and Lee graciously allowed us to climb on the route and they went off to do something else.  Thanks boys!!!

So after flailing and aiding all over the place on my first try, I dug very deep on my second go and barely pinkpointed the first pitch.  I have to say that at most modern climbing areas, this thing would probably be rated 13a or b.

Justen did very well on his first redpoint try but bobbled his beta and fell about 2/3 of the way up at the devious and insecure upper crux.  After a short rest he tied back in, made it to his high point and heroically battled up and down four times at the upper crux before eking through to better holds.  Nice job Justy!

Here are some of the amazing shots that Celin took that day.  You can checkout more of his photography and videos at http://www.serbophoto.com/.

 Justen at the rest above the lower crux section.

 Me in the upper crux

 Me palming like crazy at the end of the lower crux.

 Justen Resting before the upper crux.

Justen getting into the rest.

 Justen funking through the upper crux.

 Me getting committed on the upper crux.

 Me praying my feet stay on the upper crux.

Still praying...

Justen at the hard earned rest.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Red Dihedral

Some routes are on everyone's ticklist but never get done.  They are stunning, classic, and proud, but something keeps people away.  Maybe the approach is huge and difficult or it's notorious for being hard and scary.  Sometimes it never gets done simply because there's no information about it.  For whatever reason, years fly by, and other routes get crossed off the list, but these routes remain.  

The Red Dihedral(5.12d) is one of those routes.  I wanted to do this route 10 years ago, when I first moved to Boulder and saw a picture of it in the Eldorado Canyon guidebook.  However, like most climbers new to Boulder, I got overwhelmed by the amount of climbing and sucked into sending convenient trade routes to alleviate the stress as economically as possible.

This year, I want to step outside of my comfortable sport climbing bubble and trad climb a bit more and the Red Dihedral seemed like the perfect choice.  So, after putting it off for a decade, I nervously trudged up to the Mickey Mouse Wall and tried it with the perfect partener, Justen Sjong.  

A view of the Red Dihedral from the ground.  The first 30 feet is the crux and then it eases off just a bit.  The crux is protected by a new bolt, a couple questionable pitons, a very good fixed stopper and a small, slightly rusty RP.  Since the first piton keeps you off the ledge it's a good idea to supplement at least this piece,

Justen Sjong booting up.

Here are some pictures of Justen trying the upper bit of the crux dihedral section.

Besides the occasional face hold, this pitch contains lots of very insecure palming with your hands and smearing with your feet.

Justen getting his stem on!

Me mentally preparing to lead.  I almost made it through the entire crux but fell just before the crack.

This thing is HARD!  Neither of us made it to the top of the first pitch.  This hyper-technical 80's testpeice is just another example of how bold and capable climbers were 30 years ago.  With our nerves fried, we humbly cleaned our gear and vowed to return. 

A final look at the pitch before we rapped off.  With only two weeks left before the wall closes, I am very excited to get back to this pitch and send it.  Maybe 2012 will be the year I finally clean up my ticklist...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ager- Spain's Shelf Road

I hate Shelf Road.  Aside from a couple of good routes, I find the climbing unpleasant, and most of the lines a bit squeezed and contrived.  I would rather climb at the gym than spend a day at Shelf.  In fact, I would rather not climb.  This said, somehow, I managed to spend my last climbing day in Spain at an area called Ager- Spain's Shelf Road.

The night before, we were looking through the guidebook trying to find an nice climbing area on the way to Barcelona.  Ager had a good spread of grades, and lots of routes, but I could tell from the pictures that it was Shelf-like.  Despite my strong protests, we ended up Ager.

On a positive note, the view is amazing.  These are taken from the parking area.  

The view from the cliff is even better

This was the first cliff we visited in Spain that didn't have hoards of people waiting for every route.  Probably because the crag gets good in January and we were 2 months early.  But we didn't know that, so we pushed on.

The crag is mostly vertical to slightly under with a short overhanging wave within the first 20 feet.  Small, sharp crimps abound.  Tufas and steep rock are seriously lacking at this crag.

 The middle cliff was definitely the proudest cliff at Ager.

Lower right wall.  The lack of chalk and visible holds made the 5.11's and 5.12's in the orange sections of this crag look like 5.15!

 Cool ancient wall at the base of the wall.

 Ted on some 12+ in the blazing sun.  So hot!  Temperature hot, I mean.

It was a hard day.  Disappointed by the cliff, but still trying to climb, I went to put my "good" shoes on and ripped out the tongue! 

Frustrated, I grabbed my camera and tried to find some beauty outside of the climbing.  The most interesting thing I found was some wormwood.

We stopped at the obsevatory for Doug at the end of the day.  Apparently, Ager is famous for it's clear skies.

Ager was our last attempt to see as much of Spain as we could.  In my opinion, it felt like a horrible waste to spend our last day at such a low quality area.  Although I hated the climbing, I still felt fortunate to be there.

The climbing was over, and my thoughts shifted towards home and the familiar.    Maybe the next time I go to Shelf, I will think about Ager, and remember how beautiful climbing is and how lucky I am.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wargasm 5.12b PG13

On Monday, Joe Mills and I checked out a fully bolted, 2 pitch, open project called Wargasm.  It's located above the Mickey Mouse Wall in a very obscure corridor on the East Ridge.  Even with the new guidebook, it took us about two hours to reach the base of this route because we got lost countless times.  In fact, we contemplated bailing a couple of times because the approach was so involved.

Since we were lost, I took a picture of the view from a small, snowy ledge on the East Ridge.

The route goes up the blocky rock to a nice ledge with a midway anchor.  The second pitch follows  the black arete in the upper middle of the picture below.

Although the first pitch has solid rock, it is extremely dirty so we pulled past the bolts to reach the upper pitch.  If cleaned, the first pitch could be around 5.11+.  Here's Joe at the start of the second pitch.

Joe near the top of the second pitch.

Close up of second pitch.

The upper pitch is a very technical climb which is peppered with small edges, and pebbles with the occasional arete move and a thin crux in the middle.  After working the moves, we both sent on our second go and decided it was around 5.12b PG13(because of the placement of the 2nd bolt).  Although it wouldn't increase the difficutly this could be led in one long 180 foot pitch.

With the sun quickly fading, we decided it would be much easier to rappel than go back the way we came.

The view from the East Ridge Corridor alcove.

Joe figuring out our escape plan.

Looking up at the second pitch of Wargasm.

Joe on the ground and me getting ready to rappel.  I hate rappelling!

I am very impressed with the motivation and effort it took to equip this route and would love to know who installed it.

So if you are looking for a very obscure route, or want to better our style and redpoint the whole route, go check out Wargasm!

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