Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Roof cracks in Vegas

Red Rocks!
introduction to desert sandstone at the Yin&Yang crag. Pic by Edouard
In the last two days, I got to climb two routes off the top end of Red Rocks grade index ticklist :) two single-pitch roof crack climbing testpieces that were so good I believe I'm now spoiled for the quality of routes here. I'll have to get on more to find out! I arrived to Red Rocks a few days ago. It is one of the best venues in the States with nice weather, a ton of climbing in all styles and beautiful ambiance among walls of desert sandstone. All that, bizzarely enough, only few miles out of the most outrageus city on earth, Las Vegas, a human monument to... money? 

A few messages and video links were exchanged and we had a team. Eric, the man and his moustache, and Kathy, the short but oh-so-crusher girl who talks as much as she climbs. All in all just a genuinely good vibe on belays and climbs :) thanks guys! 
The objective was two 5.13 roof cracks: The great red roof and Desert gold. 

THE GREAT RED ROOF from Sonnie Trotter on Vimeo.

Sonnie Trotter's video got us all syked on The great red roof. I will say it was a bit misleading when it said sketchy protection. In the vid one can only see two cams sticking out the crack. We ended up bringing too little a rack, well, we were missing one piece actually, but for people less balsy than Will and Sonnie, this can be meaningful :D Red Rocks is the first time I'm climbing trad on sandstone and I'm still getting used to it. When rock was breaking and flaking under my shoes on approach, it reminded me to be more careful with pro. Sandstone is much more prone to break than the granite in Yosemite. Chicken or thoughtful, anyway I am mortal, unlike those guys!

The great red roof barely climbs like a crack. It is ten metres of a cool flake/sloping feature (the crack is angled, rather than perpendicular to the roof) with almost no footholds at all. Ha... jams are few and poor, you are supposed to campus it! It takes good pro, that is incredibly strenous to place. 
Somewhere midway your forearms, lats and back are burning with pump, feels like a weird sport route without bolts, so wack!
I came close to flashing but eventually pumped out. On my second go, I felt my core power waay weaker, but somehow managed to pull it off, in a clean style, placing gear! Kathy found better tight-hand jams that put all my this far earned crack technique to shame, some ninja kicks, and did it with only a hang!
crew working on the roof

getting pumped on The Great Red Roof. Pic by Irene Yee
Desert gold is different. It is an actual splitter crack with a crux in a slightly overhung ring-lock section. It gets progressively wider and turns into a roof with hands and cupped-hands (for those not familiar with the art of climbing air between two halves of rock, these are all references to crack width). Hard finger section into a pumpy roof with exposure! 
Crack climbing on sandstone is much different to granite. Because there's less friction, technique is even more important. The finish to Desert gold felt harder than Separate reality, even though it's said to be 11d (lower grade than Separate - that one is a bit of a given :P)

look at that crack!
pulling on the ring lock section. Thanks for the photo Eric!
somewhere above the desert... Eric belaying Kathy on Desert gold
I managed to send despite struggling with the ringlocks,

I am so looking forward to my apprenticeship in crack climbing in Indian Creek! No footholds, no crimps on the face beside the cracks. No european cheating (besides an odd layback here and there, I am keeping this!), only fingers, hands, up to elbow- and thigh-jams, whatever goes, whatever jams.

Alrght, cut the crap... this trip has been a whirlwind of fun and new discoveries. I could go on about routes I did and others did and whatnot. Although sending matters, I remind myself to take in every day as it comes and enjoy every aspect of it. The climbing community here really is composed of great people and this is what is making my experience unforgettable. Shout out to road trip buddies and climbing partners! Let's keep the send train going! Off to Indian creek tomorrow, yeeee!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Voyage in North America

Starbucks in Bishop sounds like a lame place to be. But right now it makes sense... outside is cold! They say it never rains in the desert, but Bishop has greeted me with some cold, cloudy and rainy and snowy weather. Tips are well sanded down from two consecutive days of bouldering. Inevitably a rest day is approaching, after all, there's the hot springs I have to see ­:) it might work well instead of a shower, too. But we're pretty psyched on the Sad boulders tomorrow. It means another day of cranking. Then the Reel rock 10 tour is on and we're gonna throw a party. It's pretty cool to be here...

 It's been a month since I'm in the States and I can't help but feel like spoiled. At least I'm trying to send hard to make this trip not feel just like a three month vacation. I don't go bouldering that much, but Bishop brings out all the psyche I've got for it. The Buttermilks are up there with any world class boudering area. The amazing space-like desert landscape creates the typical Buttermilks picture: clear skies, mountain backdrop and a hill scattered with egg shape huge boulders. We are running around like kids. I also think it's really similar to Prilep. I keep telling people how good bouldering is there!

 Leaving aside all the stereotype and prejudice I have on the USA (which I feel all hold true, in fact), visiting here is such a nice time. Maybe it's the climbing community that makes me feel so welcome, I'm part of it now, jumping on the usual fall circuit of Yosemite-Bishop-Red Rocks-Zion-Indian creek, being a full-time dirtbag. But anyway the States greet you with nice people everywhere. America, home of the free, land of the brave, sometimes coming across as stupid, but never fails to surprise in some way...

 Bishop is the next stage of my trip after Yosemite. It's a nice change from big wall climbing and it's nice to take it easy each day playing around on world class boulders. I spent a month in Yosemite, packed full of climbing with my friend David and enjoying the vibe of the Valley. What the Valley means for a climber is too big to describe with words. All of the climbing culminated in a great time on El Capitan, where we climbed the Freerider over the course of a full week! We shot a ton of video so we'll make a slideshow when I'm back home in December, to tell the story of how we climbed the Monster offwidth, the Enduro corner, the Boulder problem and the Teflon corner and the other 28 pitches of what is Freerider, the modern day big wall free climbing classic. And an attempt in the incredibly ballsy face climbing testpiece, El Nino, some larger-than-life single pitches like Separate reality and the real Mount Everest, that is, the Midnight lightning.

Soul Slinger V9 at the Buttermilks
Bishop... the desert
Atari... doesn't get more perfect than this!
David relaxing and clipping some bolts in Owens River Gorge, the sport climbing venue next to Bishop
Tao on the approach to the Owens River
a day at the 'Milks...
 Damn! I feel like there's too much catching up to do on this blog. Maybe I'll be more regular, or maybe not... depends on weather, and psyche, right :)? Anyway thanks for reading! And thanks to all the people I've met on the way and who have helped me out... buddies Tao and Edouard for rides and keeping it real, Kim for giving us a lift, all the Camp 4 people, the Swiss team that lent us the portaledge, Helen and Josh for pics on the Freerider, Slovenian team at Camp4: Ursa and Spela, Ziga, Marko, Alen and Blaz, and everyone I forgot. Last but not least Dave for putting up with me on the wall and at the camp!
me leading the Enduro Corner, on the sixth day, somewhere under the Salathe Headwall, 150 metres from the summit of El cap

well syked after the Enduro corner! Almost there...

all the luxuries of staying on the wall

Dodaj napis

Camp 4 banda :)

Separate reality. It's all there, in form, not only a myth! photo by Francois Lebeau, thanks dude!