Friday, June 26, 2009

Werk Supp and March of Dimes w/Mark Oveson

Now that Mark is done with his ultra-marathon, it was time to tune up his rock climbing in preparation for some alpine climbs we'd hoped to do this summer. We met at 5:30 a.m. and headed into Eldo. It was super windy, as usual, but not that cold. We were both in shorts and I put on a really light shell to block the wind.

We started up Werk Supp with the intent to climb the entire Bastille, if things went well and we had the time. I had to be back home by 7:30 a.m. I zipped up the very familiar first pitch (8+) and set up a belay. Mark made good progress to begin with but stalled at the crux for a bit. He deciphered it and started to move up. He thought he was solid, but his foot slipped off and he yelled up "Falling!" I caught him and he got the move the second try.

The rest of the pitch went slower as Mark was tiring and a bit rusty with this climbing. He didn't fall off again, though. At the top, without a watch, we were a bit concerned about getting down in time, so we opted to do two short rappels back to the ground. The last rappel was from the anchors at the top of the first pitch of March of Dimes (10c) and we decided to toprope it.

Mark gave me a belay first and I had no trouble at all on the pitch. A few years ago this pitch gave me fits and I worked it. I guess I remembered all the tricks, which seem obvious now, because it felt more like 5.9. Mark went next and did great getting up to the crux move and then he was just too pumped to complete it.

It was a good first training outing for Mark. Hopefully we'll be heading into the mountains in a couple of days...if Mark's confidence isn't too shaken.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bastille Woes for Derek


Last night Derek and I went back out to Eldorado Canyon to try and get on the Bastille again. Sheri came with us to hike/run while we climbed. The Bastille was wide open - no one on the entire rock. I led it with a Gri-Gri self-belay and that sucked. The rope doesn't feed, of course, by design. I need to work on a better method that doesn't involve buying a giant Silent Partner for $220. I think I'm better off soloing this pitch. Maybe I'll do it with a couple of tied knots...

I clipped the rope through the snaplinks at the top and rappelled off. I know that toproping off of these snap-links is frowned upon, due to anchor wear, but I figured one lap by a 75-pound kid wasn't going to hurt anything.

Derek climbed up through the crux, which is stepping left and then going up the first 5-6 feet with some difficulty, but cleanly. Above there he stalled on the more pure hand-jamming section. He got frustrated and eventually came down. He decided to rest a bit and then give it another go. The second try ended a bit lower than the first try. He just didn't have the energy today. He had already down a bike ride and played a match in the local open tennis tournament. I think he was a bit tired.

We pulled the rope and headed for home. I hope Derek isn't too discouraged. I'll guess we'll soon, as we've now climbed three days in a row.

More photos here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Calypso with Derek


Today was a great day. During lunch I went over and watched my son win his first round match in the MOJO tournament by a score of 5-7, 6-2, and 10-6 in the tiebreaker (they don't play a third set). Then he came into work with me because Danny, at 14, now works at Tendril! He's an intern programming for us. Cool. After work, Danny and I drove home. Here I picked up Derek (age 11) and drove to Eldorado Canyon intent on climbing the Bastille Crack for the second day in a row. Of course, it was queued up with two amazingly slow parties (as we'd observe later), so we immediately changed plans to Calypso.

We hiked up to the start where a woman was just starting to second the first pitch. I called up to the leader and found that they were rappelling after the first pitch. Great. We'd have the route to ourselves and not have to wait.

We geared up and I soloed the 5.6 pitch, trailing the rope behind me. I had never soloed Calypso before, but Derek is not ready to catch a leader fall with our weight differential. But I wasn't going to fall, so soloing was fine. We'll work on the belaying throughout the summer, especially as we start doing harder climbs.

I arrived at the belay just after the woman arrived. The guy sees my rope hanging unemcumbered and says, "You're first piece over here is going to be bomber!" I clipped into the anchors with them - they were really friendly and I had already asked if it was okay. Derek scampered up the pitch easily. Arriving just after the woman started to rappel. We waited for them to clear the station and pull the rope, as I didn't want Derek bothered by that. I then soloed the steep second pitch, which I have only probably climbed once or twice before and the last time many, many years ago. I went slow and solid over the first twenty feet, which is steep and a bit tricky. I wondered if Derek would be okay and I placed a piece with a long sling on it so that he'd have a handhold if he needed it.

I needn't have worried. For while Derek did think that section was the crux of the climb, he made steady progress up it and made sure not to pull on the sling. He's learning about liebacking and jamming and smearing and having a great time.

The third pitch was an easy traverse across the Wind Tower to the walk-off ledge. We unroped, coiled, and hiked down and back to the car. What a day...

But the best part about it (okay, maybe Danny's win was the best part), was when Derek and I were walking back to the car and I was telling him that the next time we try for the Bastille if it was crowded we'd climb Tigger next and then we'd climb this other climb. I finish talking and after a short pause Derek says, "Want to try again tomorrow?" There are no sweeter words than my son asking me if I want to go climbing with him tomorrow. It's like at the end of the work day when Danny messaged me, "Want to go work on my serve tonight?" When sons ask questions like that of their dad, there is no one answer: YES!

Photos here

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Breezy and Bastille Crack with Derek



My son Derek and I are getting back into climbing together. When he was younger we did all the numbered Flatirons (1-5), the Front Porch, Royal Arch, and the Matron. I want to climb the Maiden and Seal Rock with him this year, but we're also climbing in Eldorado Canyon. Today we went and climbed Breezy (5.5). We did it as two pitches. There was a party on it when we got they. Two really nice guys from Minnesota. They were pretty slow, so I asked if I could climb up to the first ledge and they were fine with it. I scampered, unbelayed, up to the first ledge while the leader was finishing up the second pitch - they were doing the route as one pitch.

Derek followed easily and I then soloed up the second pitch to the walk-off ledge. Derek did great on this, the crux, pitch. I didn't expect him to have any trouble and he didn't. He just worked out the moves stemming between two cracks. He's still learning crack climbing.

At the top I saw a woman that know: Rhonda. She is a friend of Tom's that I met in the gym this past winter. We followed them down the trail back to the base. They were super slow walking down this trail and they never thought to ask us if we'd like to go by. This is bizarre to me. I guess they are just in their own world and not thinking about anyone but themselves. We weren't in a big hurry, but the pace was like this: take a step, wait 5 seconds, take another step. It wasn't long to get down and I found it more humorous than annoying, but I did find it annoying.

Derek and I grabbed our shoes and headed for Calypso, which was taken up by a party of three and they were going to toprope the first pitch, so we moved on to the Bastille Crack. Here I found Pemba Sherpa, a friend of mine, and Marika, who I didn't know, climbing up the Bastille Crack to the upper portion of Wide Country, avoiding the first 2/3's of the pitch. I didn't know it was Pemba up there at the time, or I would have asked to climb up over their rope. Pemba was having a tough time placing gear on the 5.10 section above and apparently he was setting a toprope anchor so that he could try Wide Country's lower part. Eventually, Pemba lowered to the ground, I recognized him and got Marika to belay me up the first pitch of the Bastille Crack.

I zipped up the pitch with two pieces of gear (twice my usual, but I didn't want to freak out Marika), clipped the anchor and lowered to the ground. I then belayed Derek up the pitch and he did great! He onsighted the pitch, though it took him quite awhile to work out the crux section. Like I said, cracks are still a bit baffling to him. He called it his favorite pitch, so far, in Eldo and he wants to continue to work on it. We might have to do the entire route next time, but the problem with that is belaying. He isn't comfortable belaying me and with good reason. The chances of me falling on that route are very, very low, but I probably shouldn't be soloing it either. We'll see.

I self-belayed myself up the pitch to clean the draws at the top and then did a biner-brake rappel since I only had a Gri-Gri with me. It worked great.

Sheri and Danny came with us and took some photos, hiked around, and read their books.

More photos here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

James Peak




Mark Oveson and I had planned a before-work ascent of Mt. Bierstadt this morning, but were dismayed to find the road to Guanella Pass closed. A lighted, flashing sign with a long message about the closure dates and times told us it was closed from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m Monday through Thursday. Bummer. We drove by this and up to where the road was barricaded (only a half mile up) before bailing.

Plan B was to go climb James Peak from the St. Mary's Glacier. Just under 2 hours roundtrip. Lots of perfectly firm snow for the ascent/descent. It snowed on us for the upper 20 minutes, but we had no wind and really nice conditions, though a bit foggy on top. It was fun. 7.7 miles, 3000 vertical feet up to 13,300 feet or so. Back in Boulder by 8:20 a.m.

The Super Star Couloir up there looks to be in great condition... I might have to dash back here soon.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Wind Ridge with Derek and Loobster


The Loobster and I hiked Estes Cone and then into Wild Basin at bit today, but were unmotivated for a big alpine climb. At 5 p.m. we headed to Eldo with Derek and climbed the 3-pitch 5.7 Wind Ridge on the Wind Tower. This was my first rock climb ever, back in 1980 and we only did the first two pitches. This was back before camming units!

This route is the best advanced beginner route I've ever seen. It has all different types of climbing packed into three short pitches: hand traverses, jam cracks, finger cracks, a chimney, face climbing, and even a very cool roof. The position is great as well, right along a ridge for the first two pitches.

Loobster climbed right behind Derek on the first pitch, but Derek needed no help and we didn't do any more simul-seconding after this. We climbed it as five short pitches so that I could always be within sight of Derek. He didn't need me, but I wanted to watch him climb and talk with him. The attached photo is Derek going through a significant overhang on the last pitch. He looks pretty frightened, don't you think? Complete photos are here:

http://billwrightsphotos.shutterfly.com/

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Climbing in Eldo with the Loobster



The Loobster was in town this weekend and on Saturday we headed out to Eldorado Canyon to do a little rock climbing. The Loobster hadn't done any climbing for a year or more.

We started on Allosaur (5.9) and I led it as two pitches, combining the 5.7 first pitch with the 5.8 second pitch. The 5.9 pitch went well, though the Loobster slipped off once. We had one 60-meter rope with us and rappelled from a two-bolt anchor just up and left of the top of Allosaur. I rapped on a Gri-Gri with the knot jammed in the rings. I had just read about this, now obvious, technique for rapping with a Gri-Gri on a doubled-rope. Unfortunately, I didn't know where I was going on the rappel and went down a chimney thing and then had to make a big traverse to a tree with slings on it. Then the Loobster didn't untie or unjam the knot and we couldn't pull the rope down. Bummer! Eventually, I tied into the rope and climbed the overhang above us to re-route the ropes and free the knot.

We hiked up to the Long John Wall and found a party at the top of the first pitch, but no one at the base. I led up the first pitch and before I got to the end of it another party came in from the right. Apparently it is common to climb the first pitch of Break On Through (5.8) and avoid the tricky and dangerous 5.5/6 first pitch of the Long John Wall. This created a bit of a cluster.

Thinking quickly, I told the Break On Through leader, "I always combine the first and second pitches. Is it okay to keep going?" Actually, lately, I've simul-climbed this 5-pitch route as one pitch, but the Loobster and I wouldn't be doing any simul-climbing today, which was a good thing as it turned out. Anway, the dude was really nice and let us go by and I followed the first party's second up the next pitch.

The party above us strung the next two pitches and I did the same, but when Loobster arrived at the ledge we were missing a yellow Alien. Bummer. I rapped down to the last belay ledge thinking that the Loobster failed to pull the piece out of the anchor. I asked a guy down there if he saw the piece and he said that it fell by him while he was leading the second pitch and that it fell all the way to the ground. Bummer.

I climbed back up to Loobster and we did the 4th class variation to the fifth pitch to pass the other party and then downclimbed off the back and over to the Yellow Spur. While the Loobster rested, I ran down the trail to the bottom, hiked west to the West Ridge trail and then hiked all the way back up to the base of the Long John Wall, retrieved the dropped Alien, and then returned to the Loobster.

No one was on the Yellow Spur and we had a leisurely ascent, doing it in six pitches and taking a couple of hours or so. The Loobster fell twice on the opening 5.9 roof, once on the 5.8 second pitch, twice on the 5.7 third pitch, and once on the hand traverse of the fourth pitch. On the pin ladder pitch I did the 5.10 direct finish and the Loobster availed himself of the numerous quickdraws for additional handholds. He did, however, completely free the final 5.6 arete pitch!

We scrambled down the slabs and headed for the couch. The Loobster's hands were not functioning as well as when we started and he requested a day of not climbing in Eldo on Sunday.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Stefan's 100th Ascent of the First Flatiron



Stefan's Photos
My Photos

Ten of us joined Stefan on his 34th birthday to climb the First Flatiron with him. It was his 10oth ascent of this ultra-classic rock above Boulder. I brought up some sparkling Grape Juice and plastic champagne glasses and Stefan brought chocolate-covered Macadamia nuts. Yum! We did the roundtrip in a very casual two hours, including twenty minutes on top. Amazingly, we saw (and were passed by!) another 5-person group of soloists. That's the first time I've ever seen another group. They were visiting climbers who do the solo once a year.