Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New? Highballs in Eldo

Yesterday I climbed two really cool highballs on the big block past Midnight Frightening near the boulder with Elegant Infinite. I don't really know the name of any of the actual boulders back there. Anyway, these problems were really cool and seemed like first ascents. Well one seemed like it had never been climbed and the other has a TR anchor on it so it has perhaps been climbed but I wonder if it's been bouldered. If anyone knows anything about these two lines, I'd be psyched to hear.

The first problem I did is this rad slightly overhanging face on the side of the boulder you see when you first approach it. It's about 12ft right of a 5.13 sport climb and starts off the slab the boulder sits on. You do a slightly awkward reach out to a pocket and then take a fun big swing on crimps. From there you move up to another big edge and then you have to pull the hardest moves. The crux sequence starts with a long move to a small left hand crimp. Then you hand heel match and bring your right hand to an even worse crimp. Once established on these two tiny holds, you have to make a slightly dynamic move to the jug at the lip. It's quite scary because at that point you're probably 15ft above the landing which slopes away from the problem. The mantle is relatively easy as is the 15ft of slab that leads to the top. All in all it's a super classic line. The only thing that could take away from it is the sharpness of the two small crimps. This is Eldo though and sharp holds are fairly common. It was tough to estimate the difficulty, but it seemed like V8 or V9. I'd love to hear if the problem has been bouldered or TR'ed and if it has a name. It definitely hadn't been done in a while because there was lichen on the crux crimps. If it doesn't have a name, I was thinking of suggesting the name "Jetlag" due to my 3am wakeup the day I did it.

Chuck Fryberger was out with me and caught these two ascents for his new film The Scene which will probably come out sometime in August. Here are a few captures from the first problem.

The second problem is pretty much on the exact opposite side of the boulder. It starts with a small jump to an obvious jug. Then you head up and left through a pocket and a funky pebble crimp. It has some really cool moves through a bulge and then a high vertical face with small crimps leading to the top out jugs. A really awesome line up a beautiful sweeping part of the boulder. This one felt to be about V7 or V8 and I was thinking of calling it "Bones." Though it's obvious and seems like it must have already been done, I'm pretty sure this one is new because lots of foot holds and hand holds had lips that crumbled easily. If it had been climbed, I think these would have been cleaned up a bit. Here are a few screen captures of this problem. What a treat to climb these two problems in one day!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Back in the states

So I'm back in the states now and woke up this morning at 4:40. The one good side of the return jetlag is that you have lots of time in the morning to be productive. I'm taking advantage of that to write a quick summary post about the trip.

All ended well. On Saturday we got an early start warming up at Elephant. I did a good portion of the blue circuit there which was tons of fun. It's a real adventure through the boulders and has a bunch of highball problems. They mapped out the first problems so you can go from one to the next without ever having to walk on the ground.

Once we were warmed up we headed to Elephunk and Ethan gave it some goes. Unfortunately the conditions were a bit mungy at the boulder and Ethan had to let it go for another trip. Next we stopped off at my favorite bakery (Frederic and Delphine's Artisan Boulanger in Ury) and stocked up on croissants and other delectable treats for the drive back to Zurich. With that important business taken care of, we drove over to the area with Gecko.

I had Ethan give me weight through the first move because I wanted to try slightly different beta for the next move. The higher foot worked well for me and I climbed to the top. I came close on my next go and then sent on my third try of the day. The problem felt pretty good and I found myself wishing I had more time to work on the 8b+ sit start which is the most obvious start for the problem. Next time I guess. Ethan got back on Les Beaux Quartiers 8a again and looked much more solid on the moves. Then he gave it a go from the bottom and cruised it.

We were both psyched to finish the trip on a good note and decided to end our day while we were ahead. The drive back to Zurich was mellower than I was expecting. My flights yesterday were long and arduous but I think it's always that way with international flights. Now I'm back in Boulder with lots of school work and house work to get done. I have a few climbing projects in mind too though so perhaps you'll be hearing more about those soon.

Below are three sceen captures from some of the video I got. I'll be editing a longer video of the trip that will be posted on the Sportiva site. I'll post a link to it when it's up.

Me on Gecko 8a+

Ethan on Les Beaux Quartiers 8a

Me doing Fata Morgana 8a

Friday, March 25, 2011

One Day Left...

Yesterday was a good day for me. I felt good warming up and got back on Fata Morgana 8a. I stuck the crux move on my second try but didn't have the hold quite right and fell. On my third go, I got it perfectly and cruised to the top. It was nice to come back to this problem which had sort of thrashed me several days ago.

In the middle of the day we went by Elephunk 8b for Ethan to try again. Despite the generally hot weather, it was surprisingly good conditions there. Ethan came really close but didn't quite stick. I tried it a bit and did all the moves but one. The one I couldn't do seemed really hard... I just couldn't make sense of it... and it's not really the crux move for most people.

Late in the day I went back to Gecko and made some good progress on it. I did all the moves and stuck the first move about 5 or 6 times. I think I'm really close and have a good chance of doing it tomorrow. Tomorrow is our last day and the weather forecast is calling for potential showers in the afternoon. Hopefully Ethan and I can finish our projects. It'll make the 7 hour drive back to Zurich and 15 hour flight much more bearable for me.

Check out these photos that Marc Daviet got in the photo shoot we did in Ticino.

Off to go get the best croissants in the region right now. yum!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Adversity in Europe

Well I can't really complain too much, but the beginning of the trip was a bit of a struggle. I arrived in Zurich the morning of the 11th, picked up Ethan, and drove down to Ticino. We made it out to Cresciano and the weather was glorious. I had my sights set on doing a problem I had failed on years ago called Frank's Wild Years 8a+. We warmed up and gave it some goes. We both figured out all the moves and I climbed it from 2 moves in. Ethan managed to send just before dark, but I ran out of juice and was feeling a bit spent from the long day of travel.

That night we made a big pasta dinner and something in it wrecked my stomach. I was sick all night, hardly slept at all. I'll leave out the details, but it was a really unpleasant night and there was no way I could join the crew then next day out in snowy Magic Wood. The following day arrived and the weather was completely rainy -- a forced rest day. The weather was mostly rainy for the next two days but we managed to get out and climb a few things. On the second day, I got back on Frank's Wild Years and linked to the last hard move but couldn't keep the tenuous heel hook long enough.

With the forecast showing 5 more days of rain, Ethan and I made the decision to seek sunnier situations. Oddly enough the weather in Fontainebleau was looking splitter so we got in the car and headed there. The first two days were a bit cloudy and it even rained for a moment, but mostly the weather was good. I pretty much rested the first day but climbed some easier problems in Isatis to get some movement in after the 8 hour car ride. The next day, we went to Petit Bois. There were some fun moderates to warm up on and then we hopped on Big Dragon 8a. I tried really hard on my first burn and it flared up my bicep tendonitis a bit... I guess 4 days of climbing in a row can be too much some time. I kept trying the problem a bit but never quite figured out the top moves which require a really small crimp on a sloper. Later in the day we went to another area and I managed a flash of a really classic crimp problem called Megalithe 7c (one of 3 problems in the forest with that name). I have some raw video of that ascent here.

Megalithe and La Beline from Matt Wilder on Vimeo.

After a rest day, Ethan and I headed back out with Paul Robinson to the boulder with Fata Morgana. It had rained the night before so things were a bit wet, but the problems on that boulder were mostly dry. The warm up was pretty pathetic and probably not enough to avoid more bicep tendonitous. We tried Fata Morgana for a while and Ethan eventually did it. I climbed through to the last move, but slipped off trying to adjust my hand in this bad pocket. Hopefully I can get back out to finish it up. While we were working on Fata, Paul was working the 8c traverse into it called Angama. It looked pretty cool and Paul was getting really good links on it. I think it'll go down for him quick.

Despite needing another rest day, we decided to climb again the next day. We went out to Gecko which is an awesome 8a+ sloper problem on a cool face. I stuck the first move on my first try but was baffled by the second move. Eventually my arm started hurting more and I had to throw in the towel for the day. The problem felt really hard but I think if I could try it more, I could figure it out (at least the stand start).

Yesterday was my last day of climbing (I had one rest day the day before). My body felt like it was working a little better which was nice. We had a really slow warm up at Isatis that I ended with a flash of Alta 7b+. I was psyched to do this problem because I had always seen it and thought of it as a hard problem. Next we headed to Tajine 8a+ to try it. The problem requires some really hard squeezing and heel hooking. It took a while to figure a sequence that worked for me, but eventually I came up with something I think will work. I'm hoping to get back on it tomorrow. I think I have a decent chance of doing it, but it's one of those problems that is really hard all the way from the start to the finish so it's easy to fall in lots of places. I'm psyched to try hard on it though. To end the day, I gave a go at a 7c+ called something like Terre de la Lune. It was a really cool face with slopes and a long move off a sidepull high off the deck. I gave it a go and stuck it my first try. It was super cool and I ended up climbing it again to get some video footage of it. It was probably the coolest climb I've done this trip (though that is not saying much since I haven't completed many problems).

Another rest day today and then I have 3 more days left (probably only 2 climbing). Hopefully I can finish off some of the problems I've already tried. I'm feeling better and starting to get into the groove of font climbing so maybe things will work out. It would be great to have another month here -- so many amazing problems.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Off to Switzerland Soon

It's been a crazy two months at home but I'm finally getting a bit of time off and will be heading out to Switzerland for some bouldering. I've been so busy here with research, classes, and remodeling my bathroom that I've had little time to climb outside. I managed to do some good indoor training in preparation for the bouldering nationals last month and it paid off because I ended up finishing in 15th place. I'm feeling pretty strong now even though I haven't done too much climbing since then. I beat myself down so hard during the competition that a long rest was good. Still, I'm itching to get outside and climb some fresh new problems.

I'm meeting up with Ethan Pringle and Paul Robinson over there and we're hoping to do a mix of repeating classics and doing a few new problems. Paul has been over there for a while now and has pretty much crushed everything so I'm sure he'll mostly be doing new stuff. Ethan is climbing 5.15 routes in Spain right now so I'm sure he'll be hiking the long power endurance problems. I'm just psyched to get my hands on some high quality granite. As of now, the weather is looking a bit sketchy, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will clear up.

As the trip progresses, I'll try to post some updates. I'll also be posting stuff on the Sportiva LIVE site and the Mountain Hardwear sessions blog. I'm bringing my video camera with me so hopefully I'll get some good footage to upload too. So psyched to get out... only a few days left, I fly on Thursday.