Yankee Jim and the Bitterroot

About time for my bi-monthly blog post…  Well, it’s been a pretty nice spring here in SW Montana.  Had to chase the good temps here and there but nothing to complain about (except ticks!).  A few weeks ago I was pretty psyched on Yankee Jim.  I managed to put down a couple fun new-to-me problems that I’d never climbed at the Locomotives – Mr. Leslie and Lightweight, both V6 and both highly recommended.

But, the main event was across the river – Montana’s Most Wanted.  This amazing problem is on the far west side of the Campground.  It was a fairly under the radar project for a long time before somebody climbed it a couple years ago and officially opened it to the masses.  Pat Dyess may have done it first but he’s a ginger so he is not to be trusted.  I spent one perfect day figuring out the moves and trying it from the start for a few hours.  By the time I figured out the moves I was already worn out so I couldn’t quite put it together.  But, I came back a few days later and put ‘er down first try.  One of the best around!  I finished up the day by climbing a new problem put up by Tony Chang in the talus west of MMW – Genghis Tron V5.  It’s another great problems with an awesome landing thanks to the hard work of Tony (and possibly others).

Lightweight V6-ish

Lightweight V6-ish

Crux move on Montana's Most Wanted V7

Crux move on Montana’s Most Wanted V7

Genghis Tron V5

Genghis Tron V5

 

Last week I was able to get out of town for a couple days.  I’d been wanting to go somewhere all spring with the top choices being Lander or Cody but I’ve been really busy so they never quite materialized.  I decided a quick trip to the Bitterroot was in order.  One day in Lolo, one day in Lost Horse, three goals – Hooray for Boobies SDS V7 (Lolo), Lock Off Lichen Lips V6 (LoHo) and Big Chuck V6 (LoHo).  With a lot of sweat spent and a lot of skin lost (mostly at Lolo) I was able to climb all three problems!  Big Chuck is good, Lock Off is better, and Boobies is another one of the best.  Hooray for Boobies SDS is a couple moves into the best dyno ever followed by one of coolest mantels ever.  What more could you ask for?

Snagging the dyno on Hooray for Boobies SDS V7 (Lolo)

Snagging the dyno on Hooray for Boobies SDS V7 (Lolo)

trying Succubus V7 (Lolo)

trying Succubus V7 (Lolo)

Lolo Rock

Lolo Rock

Big Chuck V6 (Lost Horse)

Big Chuck V6 (Lost Horse)

 

Lastly here a little vid I put together of three Montana classics (mentioned above) that I climbed this spring – Montana’s Most Wanted, Lock Off Lichen Lips and Hooray for Boobies SDS:

 

-EC

Neat Rock Boulders

Loren, Bridget and I made it out to the Neat Rock Boulder in the Madison Valley yesterday.  They were only in town on Sunday and the forecast didn’t look good but we went out anyways.  It was a bit chilly warming up in the morning, but it slowly turned into a perfect day.  The sun popped out every once in a while which was great to bask in, but not long enough to heat up the slick rock.  We did a sweet little circuit on Lolo’s old stomping ground hitting up most of the classics.  I think I’ve said this before, but y’all should really hit up the Neat Boulders if you haven’t.  It’s not the largest area, but there’s some real gems out there!

We finished up the day on the Butterfly Effect, a classic two-mover V5/6 that Loren put up years ago.  While we were trying it I joked to Loren about doing a variation going up and right avoiding the jug finish of the Butterfly Effect.  Upon further inspection, it actually went!  I was able to decipher the moves and put it together just before we called it a day – the Lolo Effect V6, named after the man himself.

Photo from the day:

Loren - Tick Season V2

Loren – Tick Season V2

Loren - Tick Season V2

Loren – Tick Season V2

Loren - Tick Season V2

Loren – Tick Season V2

Bridget - Serendipity V0

Bridget – Serendipity V0

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EC – Serendipity V0

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Loren – 5.15/V15 OW Project

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Bridget – Yesteryear V5/6

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EC – Yesteryear V5/6

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Loren – Follow the Wind V5

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Loren – the Butterfly Effect V5/6

-EC

A Few More from the Southeast

Well, I’ve been back in MT for over a week now and per usual I’ve been slacking on the blog.  Made it out to Whiskey yesterday and did a nice circuit at the End of the Road.  For anyone thinking of heading out next weekend be warned, there is lots of snow.  Pretty much all of the boulders are dry, but there’s a foot or two on the ground everywhere that doesn’t get baked with sun.  I normally bring gaiters but spaced it yesterday and my socks were soaked after just a bit of hiking.

Anyways, last I left off I was midway through my trip and had visited all the big three in the SE (HP 40, Stone Fort and Rocktown).  I finished up the trip by heading to 6 different areas in 7 days – the Lilly Boulders (Obed), TN, Stone Fort, TN, HP 40, AL, Rocktown, GA, Blowing Rock, NC and Rumbling Bald, NC.

As a quick summary, Stone Fort, Rocktown and HP 40 are all world class areas.  Any of the three are amazing destinations that shouldn’t be missed.  I wasn’t super impressed with the Lilly Boulders.  They seemed like a fun local area.  Probably wouldn’t go back for the bouldering, but the sport climbing looked stellar.  Although I didn’t spend much time, I was pleasantly surprised by the North Carolina areas and Rumbling Bald in particular.  The polished gneiss was a bit of a shock to the fingers after a couple weeks of perfect sandstone, but there were tons of classics in an amazing location.  Combine that with all the stuff around Boone and I think North Carolina could be a potential destination again in the future.

Photos:

Flexorcizer V7, Lilly Boulders (the Obed), TN

Flexorcizer V7, Lilly Boulders (the Obed), TN

Case - my Sequoia replacement for the day at the Obed

Case – my Sequoia replacement for the day at the Obed

Lab Rats V6, Rocktown, GA

Lab Rats V6, Rocktown, GA

Horse Pens 40, AL

Horse Pens 40, AL

Green Knob V5, Rumbling Bald, NC

Green Knob V5, Rumbling Bald, NC

the Biltmore Estate outside Asheville, NC

the Biltmore Estate outside Asheville, NC

Statue at the Biltmore Estate

Statue at the Biltmore Estate

-EC

Stone Fort, TN and Rocktown, GA

Not many words this time, but here’s a few more photos from the previous week in the South.  Just for you, Isaac:

Red House V7 - Stone Fort, TN

Red House V7 – Stone Fort, TN

the Wave V6 - Stone Fort, TN

the Wave V6 – Stone Fort, TN

Golden Shower V5 - One of the most aesthetic boulders around.  Climbs pretty darn good too.  Rocktown, GA

Golden Shower V5 – One of the most aesthetic boulders around. Climbs pretty darn good too. Rocktown, GA

Iron crimps at Rocktown, GA

Iron crimps at Rocktown, GA

Ruby Falls - This waterfall is INSIDE a mountain that overlooks Chattanooga.

Ruby Falls – This waterfall is INSIDE a mountain that overlooks Chattanooga.

Onward to the Lilly Boulders (the Obed), TN tomorrow and then Rumbling Bald, NC the following day.

-EC

HP 40!

Well, it’s been a pretty eventful last week.  I finally managed to plan my dream trip to the Southern sandstone of the U.S. of A.  I left last weekend and went to the Montana Bouldering Championship in Billings at Steepworld.  It’s been a great comp in the past and it seems to get better every year.  I’m on my way to a bouldering paradise for three and a half weeks so I just needed to pace myself and not get injured (that’s called foreshadowing…).  Well about 3 hours into the comp, I’ve got my card filled out but there’s one more problem I might be able to do.  I get halfway up the problem, do a hard drop knee and feel a pop in my knee.  Pretty sure I would’ve heard it too if the comp wasn’t so loud.  No pain, but I’ve been here before and I was certain I tore my meniscus.  I called it a day and iced it.

We hit up Chuck E Cheese for the annual post comp skeeball tourney and then I continued on to Sheridan where I slept in my truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot (classy!)  For those of you that seen the classic movie No Country for Old Men, remember the scene where the bad guy gets shot in the leg and hobbles into the pharmacy to get first aid stuff?  That’s how I felt getting out of my truck and limping into Wal-Mart for Ibuprofin.  I was not optimistic about crushing problems a few thousand miles away…

I decided to continue on anyway.  I stopped in Sioux Falls, where I grew up and stayed with my sister.  2nd day after the comp, I wasn’t limping anymore.  Then onto Saint Louis to stay with my college BFF Megan.  At this point I started hearing about a crazy ice/snow storm that was going to hit the South… a blessing in disguise.  Instead of getting up early and heading straight to the deeper South, I toured around Saint Louis with Megan and gave my knee an extra day to heal up.  We hit up Sweetie Pies (crazy good soul food), the Zoo (most animals weren’t out, but the reptiles were in full force),  and the SoIll climbing gym, which I’d wanted to check out for a while.  I even climbed a little to test out my gimp-ness.  I was definitely scared of weighting my right leg, so I would just climb until it got hard then jump down.  Cool gym with a very friendly staff!

the Eyeball feature at SoIll, much bigger than I expected

the Eyeball feature at SoIll, much bigger than I expected

My original plan was to go to Chattanooga and Little Rock City, but the weather looked a little more promising at Horse Pens 40, Alabama.  After breakfast, I left Saint Louis and made it just past Memphis where I camped.  The following day I arrived at HP 40 just as the 4 inches of snow (!!!) was beginning to melt.  Area-wise, HP 40 isn’t that big, but everything you’ve heard about the fabled slopers is 100% true.  Crazy table sized slopers everywhere!  I’d always dreamed of these slopers, but never really thought it through fully.  Awesome slopers for you’re hands means in a few moves you’re going to have terrible smears for your feet.  As Shakespeare says, “Aye, there’s the rub.”  That’s the real technique that you have to get used to to climb at HP 40, smearing.  I climbed 3 days and did tons of classic problems.  As per HP 40 lore, I got shut down on a V4 (Centerpede) and a V5 (Millipede) and had to project a couple V3’s, but had tons of fun.  My knee isn’t 100% yet, but I don’t think it’s held me back on anything except one or two problems with odd landings.  No right leg drop knees for a while, so hopefully I don’t get psyched on anything where that’s necessary.
The other brilliant thing with HP 40 is that is located on a private ranch/campground.  You pay $15 a day for camping/climbing.  They’ve got restrooms, showers, and even a little general store with most necessities.  Here’s a few photos:

Entrance to Horse Pens 40

Entrance to Horse Pens 40

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Bum Boy V3

Bum Boy V3

failing miserably on Millipede V5

failing miserably on Millipede V5

In more local new, David Sjoquist (aka Derveed the Swede), finished up the longstanding sick-proj at Whiskey Gulch going up and left from Caught in the Act.  “Decapitated” V11.  That guys gets his green card and thinks he can steal all our projects…  Nice work Derv!!!

Ho trying what would become "Decapitated" V11

Ho trying what would become “Decapitated” V11

Well, onward to Chattanooga and Little Rock City!

-EC

10 from ’14

Like many climbers, I enjoy my lists.  Now that it’s 2014, I had to take a look back at the year that was 2013.  For the first time in my climbing life, I had a pretty solid balance between sport climbing and bouldering, if you look at the year as a whole.  I went to Hueco in February (which is heavily featured in this list, for good reason), bouldered for about 2 months around Bozeman, then turned full-time sport climber for more than 4 months.  Since this is supposed to be a bouldering blog, I’ll stick with an all boulder top ten, with a few favotire routes in addition.  Anyways, here’s my top ten boulder problems from 2013 in the order that I climbed them:

1)  See Spot Run V6, Hueco Tanks, TX – Like I said, Hueco is going to be very prominent on this list.  My first and only previous trip to Hueco was in 2010.  During that trip I mostly  got shut down.  Everything felt really hard and I hated the regulations.  Fast forward to 3 years later, in much better shape and armed with three of my favorite climbing partners I was able to climb tons of classics!  In an area chock full of classics, See Spot Run is right near the top.  The crux comes right off the ground for the first three moves.  Just after the crux, the problem eases off a little, but it gets tall fast.  A few big moves on not-as-good-as-you-want crimps see you to a relatively easy top out at about twenty feet.  A historic gem.

Myself on See Spot Run

Myself on See Spot Run

2) Ghetto Simulator V2, Hueco Tanks, TX

Another very long problem, but this one is unique because of the rock slab a few feet behind the problem.  Although, you don’t want to take an uncontrolled fall anywhere, you can step off at just about any point on this 25+ foot problem.  Pretty much 20 feet of steep jugs with a few crimps at the end right when you’re pumped.

Myself half way up Ghetto Simulator

Myself half way up Ghetto Simulator (photo by SHo)

3) Dragonfly V5, Hueco Tanks, TX

The best problem I did at Hueco and one of my all-time favorites.  A semi-juggy traverse leads to the sweet crux, campusing from a right heel hook to a left heel hook then gaston-ing to victory.  Dragonfly along with the following problem were part of my best day of bouldering I’ve ever had.  I’ve had better days in terms of grades, but I’ve never climbed so many classics in a day.  I climbed Warm Up Roof V4, Warm Up Roof Right V5, Brutus V5, Hector in a Blender V6/7, Dragonfly V5, and the following problem…

Ho mid-crux on Dragonfly

Ho mid-crux on Dragonfly

4)  Moonshine Roof V4, Hueco Tanks, TX

One word – surfboard.  About half-way through this 15 foot horizontal roof is the surfboard feature which is exactly what is sounds like, a surfboard hanging from the roof.  Ridiculously fun heel hooks and toe hooks.  I knew I didn’t have much left in me at the end of the mega day so I gave it everything and pulled off the flash.

No photo of Moonshine Roof, but Jeff gives it two thumbs up.

No photo of Moonshine Roof, but Jeff gives it two thumbs up.

5)  Sign of the Cross V3, Hueco Tanks, TX

Yet another classic from Hueco.  I tried this one a little on my first trip and couldn’t even pull off the ground, but I was able to send it first go this trip.  Old school goodness.

6)  the Hourglass V6/7, Leavenworth, WA

After the summer long hiatus from bouldering, I left Smith Rock and headed straight to the primo granite of Leavenworth, WA.  I had low expectations jumping straight from sport climbing into bouldering but the week went well and I was able to put down a ton of great problems, including the Hourglass.  The Hourglass starts with a few moves of relatively easy slab, you then balance up on small crimps and jump out to a slopey jug above the lip.  Definitely a circus trick problem, but one of the best circus tricks I’ve done!

Myself on the Hourglass

Myself on the Hourglass

7)  Chasing Windmills V6/7, Superbia (Boulder Batholith), MT

Remember that description for the Hourglass?  This Batholith classic is surprisingly similar – moderate slab moves lead to a jump to a jug at just the right height to keep it interesting.  While Patrick Odenbeck did the FA of this problem with a wild jump to the jug, I was too much of a wimp to go for it.  Instead, I figured out some beta to get slightly close to the jug, making it a not-so-wild jump.  Here’s a vid of Odenbeck on the FA:

http://youtu.be/y-Fz2ptlUfE

8)  IsRail Direct V7/8, Moe’s Valley, UT

One of my favorite problems from last year was the amazing sloper problem Israil in Moe’s Valley, Utah just outside of St. George.  While I was very psyched to do Israil, I left some unfinished business with the direct sit start.  The direct starts with a big move from underclings to a decent sidepull, then a giant dyno to join up with the sloping brilliance of Israil.  Although Moe’s tends to be not quite the quality of stone as Joe’s Valley, this one would be a classic anywhere.

Myself on Israil Direct

Myself on Israil Direct

9)  the Sting V4, Red Rock, NV

Perfect stone, great moves, aesthetic and a gorgeous location – what more can you ask for?  I got lucky on this one and pulled off the correct beta first try for the flash.  One of the best sandstone problems I’ve done.

the Sting

the Sting

10)  Boysize V7, Joe’s Valley, UT

Last but not least, the Joe’s Valley old school humble-er Boysize.  I’d tried this briefly on a previous trip but it felt literally impossible.  Luckily this time I came armed with the a secret weapon – Derveed Sharkfist.  Derv had the not-so-secret toe hook beta, which changed the problem from impossible to barely do-able.  Even with the new beta, I had to really work for this one.  Due to some fog induced humid conditions, I had an unusually high number of dry fires  and finally had to call it a day after dry fire-ing off after the crux.  While everyone else was on their way back to Bozeman the next day, I went straight back to Boysize in less than ideal conditions (foggy and 25 degrees) to send the problem. 

Myself on Boysize

Myself on Boysize

 

Bonus Five – the Roped Stuff

1)  War Path 5.12b, Indian Creek, MT

A low crux leads to continuous 5.11 perfection on War Path at THE Indian Creek outside Townsend, MT.  If you like incredible Montana limestone, do this one.

War Path (photo by Christine Sjöquist)

War Path (photo by Christine Sjöquist)

2)  the Dinner Roll 5.12b/c, the Fins, ID

Another one with a thin boulder problem that leads into perfect 5.11 pockets that go on forever.  If you like hueco-like pockets, do this one (and every other climb at the Fins).

the Fins

the Fins – Dinner Roll is just left of the large yellow streak on the left-most wall

3)  2 Wycked 5.12c FA, the BBC, MT

The BBC is the biggest reason why I didn’t boulder for so long during the summer.  Over the course of about three months I was able to bolt a dozen new climbs.  Of all the new routes, 2 Wycked was hands down the best.  I spent about 3 days bolting this 100+ foot monster and another 6 days to send it.  Amazing, gently overhung, mostly enduro climbing for 60 feet is followed by another 40-some feet of thin, some may say heinous, technasty to the chains.  If you don’t have the beta dialed, you could fall off just about anywhere in the last 25 feet.  For weenies who can’t handle the vertical tech-fest on the top, there’s a mid-way anchor to bail to.  I know I’m biased, but this is the best route I’ve done.  If you like super incredible Montana limestone, do this one.

Dusl on the lower half of 2 Wycked

Dusl on the lower half of 2 Wycked

4)  Cocaine Rodeo 5.12a, Ten Sleep Canyon, WY

This one goes down as the coolest climbing experience I’ve had – bouldering or roped up.  We’d just arrived at Ten Sleep a few hours earlier and I was dead set on getting one more pitch in.  Problem was that it was nearly dark and sprinkling.  The smart move would be to call it a day or maybe get in a easy pitch.  Nope, not me.  For some reason I decided strap on a headlamp and give an onsight burn on Cocaine Rodeo. 

By the time I screamed my way through the first crux, it was fully dark except for the 5 feet of light emanating from my dying headlamp.  After downclimbing a few times I was able to pull through the second crux to another good rest under a small roof.  While resting, I noticed a pattering noise getting louder – “Is it raining harder now?”  After hearing a yes reply from below I leaned out to feel the strengthening rain coming down. 

I’d come to far to let the rain win so I started up again pulling through what I thought was the last crux.  I was wrong.  Turns out the final 15 feet of this 100 foot route is the redpoint crux.  After another 10 minute up-climb down-climb session, I was able to battle through the final crux only to be left with another 10 feet of enduro climbing on completely juiced forearms.  Those that have sport climbed with me know that I yell from time to time.  Well, this was entirely another level of yelling.  I was yelling AT MYSELF as loud as I could, basically pissed off because I knew I was going to fall off the very top of this route after getting so far.  Thanks in large part to Leslie and Kelsey yelling right back at me to hang on, I was able to pull through and clip the chains.

If you like memorable experiences, onsight a route at your limit in the dark and the rain (hopefully Cocaine Rodeo).

Myself low on Cocaine Rodeo (photo by Kelsey Sather)

Myself low on Cocaine Rodeo (photo by Kelsey Sather)

5)  Zebra Zion (3rd pitch) 5.9, Smith Rock, OR

Trad climbing doesn’t get much better than the last pitch of Zebra Zion.  Two pitches up the Morning Glory Wall at Smith lead to this mega-classic trad pitch.  The pitch climbs up a slightly overhung juggy flake that goes on for about 40 feet.  While the climbing alone would make it a classic anywhere, the position, perched high above the Crooked River and all of the Smith crags, cements it into mega-classic status.  If you like climbing, do this one.

Friend on Zebra Zion circa 2005

Off Route Courteau and the Gooch on Zebra Zion circa 2005 – Third pitch is the lighter colored flake at the very top of the photo, just right of center

 

-EC

How about some BOULDERING?

Still slacking on the ol’ B-log, so here’s the obligatory photo dump of bouldering shots from the last couple months.

the Hourglass V7, Leavenworth, WA

the Hourglass V7, Leavenworth, WA

Tin Man V6, Leavenworth, WA

Tin Man V6, Leavenworth, WA

Premium Coffee V7, Leavenworth, WA - Some of the coolest slopers ever.  I will be back for this one.  (photo by Marc "Off-Route" Corteau)

Premium Coffee V7, Leavenworth, WA – Some of the coolest slopers ever. I will be back for this one. (photo by Marc “Off-Route” Corteau)

Walter being Walter

Walter being Walter @ Full Gravity Day ’13

Kerrek

Kerrek @ Full Gravity Day ’13

Christine

Christine @ Full Gravity Day ’13

Herb

Herb @ Full Gravity Day ’13

There was a creepy clown gorilla.

There was a creepy clown gorilla @ Full Gravity Day ’13

 

the Sting V4, Red Rock, NV - Contender for best problem I've done on sandstone.  Joe and Sarah, do this one!

the Sting V4, Red Rock, NV – Contender for best problem I’ve done on sandstone. Joe and Sarah, do this one!

Lizards at Triassic, UT

Lizards at Triassic, UT

David - Lemonhead V6, Triassic, UT

David – Lemonhead V6, Triassic, UT

Christine @ Triassic, UT

Christine @ Triassic, UT

Nice spot Christine.

Nice spot Christine.

Quoia peeking out of her road trip den.

Quoia peeking out of her road trip den.

DJAJ - Boogie Nights V6, Triassic, UT

DJAJ – Boogie Nights V6, Triassic, UT

 

Classic Colorad-bro parking technique at Joe's.  We got yelled at by locals for parking like this for 45 seconds while loading up so I'm sure they appreciate Rad-Bros doing it for more than an hour.

Classic Colorad-bro parking technique at Joe’s. We got yelled at by locals for parking like this for 45 seconds while loading up so I’m sure they appreciate Rad-Bros doing it for more than an hour.

DJAJ - the Weak V3, Joe's Valley, UT

DJAJ – the Weak V3, Joe’s Valley, UT

Walter - Kinda Brawny V8, Joe's Valley, UT

Walter – Kinda Brawny V8, Joe’s Valley, UT

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Yep.

Yep.

Derv's battle cry.

Derv’s battle cry.

Also, here’s a short video of some of the sandstone classics I did in Nevada and Utah over my extended Thanksgiving trip.

 

 

-EC