Getting ready to work Anthem.
Photo by Crista Hollenberg
Last week Crista and I went to the Monument Boulders for the first time. We found two problems with pre-existing chalk and the rest was up to us.
The parking for Mustang Canyon, where the Monument Boulders are located, is the same as Black Velvet. As we left the car we passed two guys gearing up for a day of rope climbing in BVC. They stared at us as we walked by. Maybe it was because we had crash pads? Two girls going climbing WITHOUT THEIR BOYFRIENDS????!!! OMG WHAT?! They didn't know about the bouldering out there? We just smiled and said hi and headed off into the desert and 1.2 miles later we were at the Monument Boulders.
The hike isn't that bad. After crossing the BVC drainage it's pretty flat the rest of the way and the boulders are in an unmistakable cluster that you can't miss. Crista and I warmed up on some of the V1-3s and then I started to work moves on Anthem. Ever since I finished Monkey Bar Direct back in December I have been thinking about this problem and I was super excited to try it. I messed around for a while and did all the moves except for the second. We took a break and headed to Kung Fu Grip, a powerful two move V6, which Crista proceeded to crush in something like 15 mins. And I was thwarted.
Crash pads under Kung Fu Grip.
I wanted to do all the moves before leaving because I wanted to be ready to try it from the beginning the next time I came out. I struggled for a while until I found a magical heel hook and Crista pointed out a crucial toe that changed everything. I was able to do all the moves and even put a few small links together. By that time I was tired and we wanted to get back to the parking lot before dark, since neither of us had ever been to Mustang Canyon before, so we packed up and trekked back to the car. But I was super happy, and slightly surprised, to do all the moves in a day. I knew that if I could get through the first to moves I would have a chance of finishing the problem.
Three days later I returned with Max. After a shaky warm up I fell off the first two moves several times before my heels stayed on and, out of nowhere, I found myself on top of the boulder!
Here are some photo of my sequence at the end of Anthem. My weird cross move is not pictured.
Photos by Max Moore.
I love this problem and not just because I did it. I love it because it's far enough away that it doesn't see much traffic, it's steep, fun and powerful. It's in the shade all day, which makes the session more enjoyable this time of year as things start to warm up. I LOVE steep climbing and I love projecting and completing steep problems out here because they are so rare.
Max also took some SICK iPhone footage and made a video. I finally figured out how to embed video on my blog so here it is!
We finished the session earlier than expected (Max did almost all the established problems at the Monument Boulders and I still failed at Kung Fu Grip) so we hiked back to BVC to get on Normal Dream. Max of course crushed it instantly and I discovered that my leg does not fit in the knee bar so unless I can come up with some alternative beta this problem is like V16 for me.
Normal Dream. Photo by Max Moore.
Max snapped this photo in the one second I have before my knee pops out. I'm still shocked by how quickly I was able to do Anthem. I was budgeting for at least three sessions out there before success so I am extremely happy that is not the case. I'm not sure what is next for me. I would like to do some classic mods (that are really hard for me) like Mr. Moran and Vino Rojo but we'll see how hot it gets.
I have been trying to write the Hueco post ever since we got back. What can I say that hasn't been said before? Hueco is magical. There you will find the best bouldering in North America and the only reason I can't say "the world" because I haven't climbed outside the continent... yet. There are a lot of climbers who can't seem to get over the regulations and to them I say "Great. Stay away. Hueco doesn't need people who are going to complain, potentially break rules and ruin it for the rest of us." A little bit of patience in Hueco goes a long way. Again, the place is magical. You can have your best climbing day EVER on one mountain or on one tour. You can walk from classic to classic without breaking a sweat. You can school boyfriends as they project boulders you've done a million times. You can meet women who inspire you to climb harder and get stronger.
Thanks for the memories and sweet spelling skills, El Paso.
Max said it well a few weeks ago when he wrote that El Paso feels more familiar than the city we live in now. El Paso might not be the cleanest place but Hueco feels like home and I learn something new every time I go. Thanks to my friend Linda I discovered the Cielo Vista Natural Market. She brought me a very fresh and yummy sandwich from their deli last year during the Rodeo that I will never forget eating. This time around we didn't make it there but we did make it to CiCi's. We sat there until they closed and wouldn't let the bus boy take our plates until we took a picture of the them. To be clear it was not just Max and I that night.
Is there such thing as too much pizza? Yes.
The Rock Ranch has changed dramatically since there first time I stayed there. I lived there for three months (half in a tent and half in a trailer) last season and I had to go back to see what the AAC did with the place. Wow. For those of you who haven't seen the new barn it has completely transformed from a Hanta Virus party to a clean, open room with insulated walls, windows and three bathrooms with showers and toilets. Even the piles of scrap metal outside were organized. The house has been cleaned up as well. I hope AAC can keep that place open (and nice) for climbers because the Ranch has been through a lot and it's a huge part of the climbing history down there.
Gansito: in memory of Steve. Also... what is it?
This was the best climbing trip I have ever been on. Somehow I managed to do more hard boulders in three weeks than I did last season in three months and had an exceptionally fun time with good friends. We had so much fun acting like fools and to those with no sense of humor who thought we were being serious I apologize. Sometimes we just have to make fun of ourselves.
I would have said that I think I am doomed to fall at the end of Baby Martini forever (hardest problem in all of Hueco and the only problem on my list that I didn't send) but after watching Max trying The Move on Alma Blanca one hundred times, or more, I now know that if I just keep trying and never give up I will do it. Seems way to obvious when I type it out like that. I was there for every single attempt of Alma Blanca and I don't think I have ever personally witnessed such determination in rock climbing and it was incredibly inspiring to be a part of. Using Max as an example to learn from I will do my Hueco nemesis boulders and I will climb much harder than I ever thought was possible.
Time to get those bionic biceps.
For those of you wondering what I climbed please feel free to reference my 8a.nu scorecard or my Sendage profile so that you may judge me for the grades I took and the comments I wrote. Memorable sends include Melon Patch, Hershey's Symphony, Choir Boys Light, McBain and Sign of the Cross. Paleozoic was probably the best though. Let's all agree to give that one five stars.
Thanks to the good people at Evolv for getting my new shoes to me the day before we left Vegas.
I can't wait to get back to Hueco next season and dive straight into the back country where I have projects waiting. Oh and P.S. it was an epic drive home. Never stop in Tuscon during the annual Gem and Mineral show because everything is super duper expensive.
Happy New Year! A lot, or a little depending on how you look at it, has happened since my last post. So where do I start?
I barely remember what took place before Christmas. I was in the scenic loop one cold day and for some reason I thought that I should try Ride the White Horse. The problem is so hard for me that I could barely pull on to the boulder, let alone do any moves - except for the top out because that is the easy part. I hiked back to the car laughing out loud at myself because I was completely shut down.
Turtle Head Peak.
Between the 25th and the 1st I was very bust at work with a surprising amount of weddings to make flowers for, including over 30 weddings on New Year Eve, but I did manage to complete Monkey Bar Direct (V8) before January. I had been trying that thing off and on for almost a year but sent in three days with better beta. I was obsessed with doing the problem without matching the eye socket/bowling ball pockets but I finally had to accept that was not my beta and ended up matching. Some people do a bump move to a big hold and most of them cut their feet but I crossed to the big hold and somehow did the problem completely static. I didn't get any video of the send because there was a crowd there (Vegas was invaded over New Years - luckily many of the invaders were friends) but Max and I might go back one day to get some footage.
For months I let my desire to climb the problem a certain way keep me from finishing it which is really quite amateur now that I think about it. As much as I dislike crimping my smaller fingers make it possible for me to match things and pull off small holds. If I had accepted this sooner I probably could have finished the problem a while ago. But there is really no sense in dwelling on "what if" and in all honesty I really don't mind because I had a lot of fun projecting Monkey Bar Direct and I learned a lot about understanding and accepting beta.
View of Vegas from Bitch Slap 5.
There is something that has been on my mind for some time and I feel like I can't hold it in any longer. I used to be emotionally effected by whether or not I could finish a boulder and I have worked very hard to change that about myself. Negative people tend to infect the others around them and I don't want to be like that because I actually enjoy climbing and I don't want to ruin it for others. I love climbing; it makes me happy and having a great day is just as much of a success as sending a project. Obviously it feels incredible to finish a project (this feeling being one of the many reasons why I love climbing) but I really can't stand it when someone's happiness depends on sending. When I am around people like that I get sick to my stomach.
Climbing is so much more than just sending and there are many ways to have a great climbing day. There are a few things I do to ensure a positive experience so that I don't go home moping and depressed like a pathetic fool.
Great company is a given. As is the obvious and often overlooked practice of having enough food and water so you don't get hungry and grumpy.
Having a blast warming up on Natasha's Highball.
I love giving myself the goal of climbing one new boulder, of any grade, for the day. Two weeks ago I went to Black Velvet Canyon with Max and, lets be honest, I'm not projecting any of the hard classics out there but as we drove to the parking lot I told myself that I wanted to climb one new boulder. Max was warming up on Natasha's Highball (an extremely tall V2) when suddenly an urge came over me and the next thing I new my shoes were on and I was climbing an equally tall V0 slab to the left of Natasha's Highball. It may have taken me 5 minutes to climb because I don't do many high balls but when I got to the top I felt completely satisfied and I had a huge smile on my face; one new boulder! New boulders of every grade are my personal key to a positive attitude, having fun, building confidence and are often a much needed break from projecting.
If I am going out for a session on a project I look at every improvement as progress that gets me ever closer to completion. Even if I spend all day on the thing and don't send I know that my body is perfecting the moves and the day turns into a training success.
I try to remember to say things like "that move is fun" or "what a cool hold" instead of "I can't do it" and "this is too hard." I know that sounds silly but this is a valuable verbal method Max taught me in order to stop sounding like a miserable negative person at the boulders.
Now I'm not perfect and it takes a lot of hard work to change old and bad habits but being more positive is completely worth it. I have infinitely more fun now than I did when I was being a negative nelly. Unfortunately I had to spend time around some truly awful people who didn't know how to have fun, even though they apparently loved climbing, for me to realize that I needed to change. If only people like that could learn how to change as well.
Last month I said that the winter bouldering temps had arrived. Well, turns out I was so wrong because up until this week it has been in the low 70s/high 60s here. We had another storm and snow has fallen once again. Even though I still hate being cold I really hope I am finally right about puffy coat weather.
Taken from the third floor, where I can conveniently scope conditions.
Now that the wedding hell of 12/12/12 has passed I hope to have time to get back outside and finally try the problems that require these freezing temperatures.
Even though I know the Buttermilks get crowded and the Tablelands are dirty (I accidentally found at least two poos on the hillside above Rave/Acid Wash - pack it out people!) and full of climbers playing music (I will never understand why people think it's appropriate to play music at the crag - but I also know it will never stop happening) and even though I suck at pockets and slab I will always love Bishop.
Maybe it's because I've been going there longer, and more often, than any other place or because I used to go there before I ever started climbing. It probably has something to do with the spectacular setting and the proximity to the High Sierra or the fact that I've spent New Years and Thanksgiving there and probably will do so again. Sometimes I talk about going to Bishop without having a specific project in mind because I just want to be there.
This trip was incredibly short and we didn't have much of an agenda. We only stopped because Bishop was conveniently located halfway between Vegas and our Thanksgiving destination. It was so peaceful walking up to the boulders without the looming pressure of a climbing trip; knowing that every single climb was going to be a bonus.
This time we went to Dale's Camp, one of the many outlying areas of the Buttermilks, to check out Xavier's Roof and Zen Flute. I don't have any pictures of us climbing, just a handful of Instagrams showcasing the surroundings.
Looking toward the main area from Dale's Camp.
Since I have been coming to Bishop for a few years I have tried a lot of problems, most of them have been out of my league until recently, and the mega classic Serengeti was one of my first projects. Ever since my first session on it back in 2009 I think I've tried the problem almost every time I've been in the Happy Boulders and during our first evening I walked up to it and finished it off with a very satisfying day flash. I know I've been capable of sending that problem for a long time but I had some sort of self-defeating mental barrier to overcome before I could. I am so happy to finally lay this problem to rest!
Toxic Avenger/Bubba the Legend/Mr. Happy/Etc.
That same day I knocked out a few more moderates and Max also sent a handful of new problems including a new double digit boulder. It was a very successful bonus trip.
We even ran into some people we knew, The RV Project and Isaac to name a few, not very surprising due to the holiday weekend and the vast amount of climbers who took over the town. The only thing that was surprising was the heat. It was at least 70º in the sun for two days in a row! I was shocked because last year the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving were freezing (at least I was freezing).
Driving up the East Side.
I am little sad that we don't have any plans to return to Bishop for the season but we are going to Hueco for three short weeks in the middle of winter and we have something a little more international in the works.