first tick

Antonio vs No Skill 20140517
Phil belaying Antonio on No Skill 12c
Phil vs Terrible Angel 20140517
Phil on the start to Terrible Angel (8c?)

Phil claims the first tick of the season. Antonio and/or Arthur had claimed first tick, I think, a couple months back but those statements could not be verified. I understand their frustration. Such a fortuitous symbol may foreshadow a fruitful season for one Phil.

Phil on Tom’s Burly Shuffle 12c:

Though not prone to political activism I do think most entrenched politicians should suck it, making this dude compelling: Dustin Barca. He deserves a read is all I’m say’n.

Freediving seems super rad and I never do it. I don’t know what to say about this other than it’s French: Narcose

infinitesimal progress

One little pull...
One little pull…
We got a bleeder.
…and we got a bleeder.

Strictly Ballroom got a little closer to becoming a finished project after Saturday’s session at Owl Tor. I hit the mono move off the dog (I love saying that), for the third time ever, and slapped the jug at the break. Though not a statement of undeniable success I did pull through the mono more confidently than ever. I knew I would hit the crimp and I new I would make a reasonable bid for the next jug. This has me psyched. Unfortunately one good pull on my ring finger totally split my skin. By my estimation I get one or two pulls per finger on the mono. If I alternate between ring and middle fingers, which is reasonable, I can get four attempts per day at most. That’s troubling. Oh well – Owl Tor’s just not giving away projects. Who knew?

Diet is important now. It’s always sorta important but now it might be the most important thing. I hate dieting. I hate that climbers need to be small. Men should bench press boatloads of iron, grow beards, eat meat, drink, pillage… the opposite of dieting. So I better get a project ticked this time around.

fairy princess skin

Skin has been an issue this season. I believe a fairy princess switched skin with me while I was sleeping. Alternatively, I could be convinced a diabolical pediatric surgeon grafted fresh foreskin onto my fingers. It’s super frustrating to cut short a climbing day because my stupid skin hurts, is on the verge of splitting, is fully split, whatever. So I’m attacking my digits with finger nail clippers, a pedicure sander thing, and stupid lotion all the time. At least one person per climbing session will ask me how the manicure is going. I know what’s causing Skinageddon. Route projects, by definition, demand a lot of repetition. I’m getting on harder projects this season. The holds are smaller and I pull on them harder. Their little features are wearing down my skin with specific intensity. The shallow mono and 2-finger pockets one finds without exception on Owl Tor cruxes is chewing up the ~1/2-inch of dermis around the distal interphalangeal creases of my ring and middle fingers. That stuff has to be healed to continue quality redpoint burns.

In the past I’ve noticed a correlation between climbing better outside and improvement in the gym. That is, after focusing on real route projects for a while and seeing some progress on that front I would also feel a bit stronger when I would drop by the gym. I do not recall the reverse holding true. That could be because I just never noticed, is the theory I’m working with lately. The local climbing gym really is a resource, I’m telling myself. I know strength acquired there does not strictly transfer well to climbing outside but there has to be some transference. I’ve been increasing my time at the gym in hopes the type of general fitness I know can be improved on plastic will provide a boost to the focused effort my route projects require. And my local gym just installed a campus board. I love campusing. It’s the purest form of climbing.

No and Then

Inspired by one of my generation’s iconic celluloid gems this post’s title is appropriate as I tried to parlay my send of Gala Gala Happy into Strictly Ballroom. But there has bees no and then. Strictly Ballroom has shut me the fugg down. My schedule for a redpoint on Strictly is now in the lifetime-ish range. Sadly, there’s just one problematic move in ~50ft of climbing – going to, and then from, the low crux Satanic crimp following the route’s signature mono – but it’s truly a deal breaker. Newsflash: f you can’t do the move you can’t do the route. To make things more frustrating, getting to the move is not an issue. Neither is linking from there to the chains. Anyway, progress is stalled.

Only a fool would turn his back to the Buddhist Palm (8b).

In more optimistic news, a diversion to Mr. Lee’s two weeks ago has me psyched on Buddhist Palm. I one-fall’d it, second go, having not been back there this season. It felt really good. Steve and Bob made their annual appearance that day so maybe this can be chalked up to good vibes (Bob’s always gushing sunshine). A redpoint could materialize here as Phil and I plan to get back to Mr. Lee’s more in the Fall. I’m also psyched on Terrible Angel. Last Saturday was the second time I linked to TA’s first bolt, first being a couple weeks earlier. Prior to this season, as far as I know, the opening sequence has not been linked since Wills Young did so many years back. The trick has been to pull the first right-hand mono with my ring finger, hit the good left-hand crimp, then switch to my middle finger as I reach to the second mono with my right hand. And don’t work high-step shenanigans. I pull the left crimp with my right foot in the low 2-finger pocket; technique won’t save me here. Switching fingers between pockets is a first for me and I’m psyched that my favorite Fred Nicole quote is coming into play. To paraphrase the Swiss Beast from a forgotten Climbing magazine circa 1990’s:

“One finger is working while the others rest.”

The rest of the route is great; hard, very hard, and great. Phil put together the finishing sequence this season and it’s brilliant. Speaking of brilliant… rad little vid from the surfing world:

ORG – November 2013

‘Sex’ follows the bulging wall leaning in from the right.

My intention for a 3-day climbing trip to Owens River Gorge was to flash 5.12’s. That didn’t happen. After an epic battle on a 12b to turn what should have been a flash into a 1-fall followed by a second-go meltdown I decided to step it down a notch. Day two saw flash failure on an 11c “warm up” before a 12a near miss. But I learned better than to give it a second go after an exhausting flash attempt. So I stepped it way down to a 10c that turned out depressingly difficult. Finally, on day two’s final route, I put a flash on a bouldery 11d. I flashed day three’s initial 11b and the next two 11d’s.

Subsequent trips should focus on three flashes daily. Routes should be in the 11d to 12b range and eventually the whole 5.12 spectrum. We’ll talk about 13a’s later.

Lower Gorge, Penstock Rock

day 1 – D.W.P. 5.11c

Meant as a warm up, was too much route. I pulled the rope, sent, and started to feel that maybe my flash burns were closer to my redpoint capacity than I had thought.

day 1 – Flashflood 5.12b

After this I know my flash level is close to my redpoint-in-a-day level. I probably spent one hour trying to flash this sucker only to fall, stew on it for a few, and give it another go. That was a  bad idea. My day was over.

Upper Gorge, All You Can Eat wall

day 2 – O Henry! 5.11c

Also not a flash, though I scraped together a redpoint next go.

Upper Gorge, Trestle Wall

day 2 – Bazooka Country 5.12a

I should have flashed this. Rather, 1-fall.

day 3 – Pop Goes the Weasel 5.11b

Signalling the end of my day, and the trip, what should have concluded a no fall, all flash Sunday turned into a self-hate-athon on what is otherwise a pleasant route.

Upper Gorge, Warm Out Wall

day 2 – Herniated Bone 5.10c

A joyless flash – I wanted to take. I was not prepared for insecure slab business.

day 2 – Mini Me 5.11d

Fugg’n finally a flash I feel good-ish about and a nice end to day 2. There’s a crux crimp in the middle of this wall that I was pretty confident would spit me off, and I guess “stands as a good intro to thin gorge crimping”.

Upper Gorge, Upper Elbow Room wall

day 3 – Walk the Yellow Line 5.11b

Flash; and better than coffee for getting the day started. Yeah, I said better than coffee. Gaining the “roofed dihedral” makes for some awkwardly unnerving sequences.

Upper Gorge, Holy Trinity wall

day 3 – Sex 5.11d

Great route. I was psyched to flash after a wee fight up top. The climbing bears no resemblance to the description on MountainProject. It is unmistakably cruxy from the second-to-last bolt to the clipping jug, as the printed guide suggests. The exposure is uncomfortably great and was a fine addition to a day that very nearly had me reaching for a change of boardies.

Upper Gorge, Failsafe Wall

day 3 – Thrill Pig 5.11d (to the left of Drill Rig 5.11c)

Ordinarily a 13-bolt crimp-fest would not excite me. And I wasn’t exceedingly excited. But I narrowly eked out a flash on what could make for a nice lap route in the future.

Tuesday at Rattlesnake Canyon

I met up with Bernd and Andy for a toss on Andy’s Trebuchet after work on Tuesday. It was good stuff.