Friday, January 23, 2009

Featureless arete climbing

Aretes have always been one of my favorite features to climb on - bouldering or roped. They come in all shapes and can require very different styles of climbing. Plus they almost always have a distinct aesthetic line. One interesting arete type is the slightly overhanging blunt prow. Partage in Font is a great example of this. These problems always require subtle body movements, strong footwork, and poor handholds. It is really amazing the what can be a hold on an arete, like a little dish that wouldn't be a good foot hold on a face of the same angle. What makes these holds useable is the fact that you can contort your body to the other side of the arete and reach around the arete to grab the hold. In doing this, you essentially change the angle of the hold by the angle of the arete. This is often the trick to climbing hard aretes. Another aspect of this type of arete climbing is the tension you keep between one hand and the opposite foot. It's a really cool feeling to be clamping the arete between a right hand sloper and a left toe smear or heel hook.

What brought up this topic, you ask? Well, yesterday I tried this project that Andy Mann showed me that pretty much fits this bill. At first we were convinced that it wouldn't go because there weren't enough holds. Then I started trying the moves and surprised myself by what was holdable. I ended up figuring out beta for all the moves and successfully did all but one. It turned out to be really cool in the subtlties of holds and body positions. It's a bit sharp and crimpy which makes it slightly less pleasant than something like the near-5 star Partage. Still I'm pretty psyched. I'll have to go back soon and try to send the whole thing. It will definitely be intersting as the top is about 15ft above the talus and the last move is a dynamic move for the lip off of a small crimp that could easily pop. I did the move on TR a few times because we only had two pads. Hopefully the weather holds around Boulder long enough for me to give another go on this.

Here's a picture of me trying this project taken by Andy Mann. Below are two photos of me climbing Partage during my trip to France last March. The conditions were perfect that day and I eeked out a flash of this amazing problem (perhaps the first flash). Needless to say, this was one of my greatest climbing achievements and was a truly special experience.


  1. Matt id love to a short interview with you but i could not find an email to contact you at. If your interested please send me an email at or post your email address somewhere on your blog please! Thanks for your time.


  2. psyched on the send news... andy was really excited about finding that line and was anxious for someone to sack up and try it out... nice job!

    glad scotty was on hand for the film, as well.

  3. Matt,
    I have the same problem, your "" address bounces. How can I e-mail you?

    Fletch' (ABI)