7 out of 8 ain't bad!

I think having my appendix removed this fall was one of the best things to happen to me since rupturing my tendon in 2003.  Seriously.  Sitting on the couch for 6-7 weeks helped me realize just how much I truly love rock climbing.  The movement, the scenery, the struggle, the trees, the fresh air, the confidence, the doubt, the blood, the sweat and the fears, the friends and the sunshine, and the beer,  good god the beer.  These things I longed for.  This last month has been a terrific rehabilitation for me.  Starting in Indian Creek, then the Red River Gorge, home for a week of plastic and wood, and now here Boulder CO, for the Canyons and Flat Irons.  I’m more stoked than ever.  I’ve climb 7 out of 8 days.

Quick recap of the last two days;  We met friends in Golden on Monday, you know the bad boys from PimpinandCrimpin.com? Yah them.  Hilarious.  We went up to Clear Creek Canyon, because that’s what they do.  Beautiful.  The Creek has some magnificent rock, marble swirls everywhere.  We originally went to Primo Wall, but I couldn’t seem to get into it without having done ‘Sonic Youth’ FIRST.  You have to drive right by Sonic (one of the ubber CLASSIC 5.13’s on the Front Range) to get to Primo Wall and I’ve been wanting to climb that route for more than 10 years, so I was shaking like an alcoholic with an empty bottle.  We did two warm ups and drove the 8 minutes back to the New River Wall so I could have a go at it.   Here’s a photo of the dihedral section of the climb.  I stole this pic from Mountain Project.com

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This route was first freed my Kurt Smith and Mike Pont in 1990.  And later redpointed by 60 year old Jim Logan.  It’s incredible.  Not as hard as I expected, (sorry if that offends anyone) I just expected some major resistance climbing, but in reality it’s two short roof cruxes separated by a few no hands rests.  Also, I think because I’m a little taller, I was able to stem most of it, and reach to the better holds.  Nonetheless it was an exceptional climb.

On my way down, I saw these incredible looking holds to my left.  The obvious arete.  I lowered into them, sampled the holds, solved the crux, and lowered to the ground.  I rested for about 10 minutes and went back up because my poor girlfriend was freezing cold on the ground, wearing three downjackets, I must say though she looked so cute.  I sent the climb on my ‘second’ attempt, first lead try.  I later found out it was called ‘Fountain Of Youth’, 5.13d put up by Daniel Woods I think.   AWESOME, but maybe only 5.13c.  Even better than Sonic Youth (in my opinion).  Bouldery, but with wonderful holds and an amazing position.  Here’s a photo of DW on his redpoint.  Thanks to his dad Steve.

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So then yesterday, I FINALLY got to go up and try the Five Year Plan.   One of the most exceptional 5.13 roof cracks anywhere on the planet.  Here’s another 2 photo’s I stole from Mountain Project because I couldn’t find very many, and I forgot to take any pictures of my own.  I’m a little confused about the use of the bolt and the anchor at the lip.  Perhaps it’s to work the route without rope drag, but we chose not to clip the bolt, and climb all the way to the anchor over on the face each time.  There was a really hard move over the lip, harder than we expected, but it was worth it.

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Jason Haas entering the crux.  Apparently, a big crystal broke, and now it’s a little harder.  Maybe 5.13c?

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Here’s Ethan Pringle surfing out to the arete near the end of the crack.  Wicked shot by Andy Mann.  The rock is soo prefect.  And below, J-star shootin guns.

So, where was I?  Oh ya, I went up with my friends Jason Kruk, Jonathan Siegrist and Andrew Burr.  I’ve known Jason for some time he’s been climbing around Squamish forever, most notably he and Will Stanhope just made an all free 7 day ascent of Golden Gate 5.13 on El Capitan.  I think they’re officially hooked on the big stone.  But it was my first time climbing with J-star.  If you haven’t heard, Jonathan just got back form the Red River Gorge where he ticked nearly everything there.  In fact, I think it might be the greatest two weeks of sport climbing ever done, by anyone on US soil.  Check out his blog,  the man (24 yrs old) is not only strong, not only fit, but incredibly light hearted, funny as hell and super motivated to crush rocks with bare hands.  I think you’ll be hearing a lot more of him over the coming years, he’s got the spirit and he’s not afraid to hike.  respect.

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So, away we went.  45 minutes of hiking.  We tag teamed the route.  Each of us having a full first burn and trying to learn the sequence.  Hard crack climbing more often than not has technical sequences just like hard sport routes.  You have to figure out the most efficient way to do things.  But here lies the PROBLEM.  On hard, steep cracks, by the time you got it figured out, you have little skin left over for the redpoint.   Because there were three of us, and because it traverses, and because it’s so steep, we decided to just leave the gear in place, instead of cleaning it each time, which would just be a mutha fukin bitch.  I didn’t expect to send it on my second try.  If I had known I was going to do it, I probably would have asked Kruk to clean it.  But since we hadn’t reached the anchor over the lip yet, it wasn’t cool to lower off the one little nut we had placed.  Still I was very – very happy to do this climb. And honestly, I don’t think it’s much different placing the gear, it’s one of those climbs that just has a couple of hard moves separated by jugs.  I loved the feeling of cutting my feet loose on finger locks.  When I reached the lip a sudden wave came over me, “SHIT, I still haven’t done the upper slab”.  I focused on relaxation, took five deep breaths and punched it with all I had over the last bulge to the chains.  So thankful. So grateful.  I LOVE that climb.  I then tried to do it a second time placing gear, but I had too many bloody knuckles for an honest attempt, I tried to tape up, but with that and 7 days on, I felt a bit tired.  In order to prevent further tearing, I tried to use a sequence that Jason had solved, but changing beta on the fly hardly ever works, (NOTE) and so I flew.  Jason and Jonathan both did really, really well on the climb, but again, skin was an issue and so they opted to save the send for another day.  Perhaps I’ll do it again, if Jason or Jonathan (or ayone else) want to go back, but otherwise, I’m stoked with my ascent, I have more routes to do, and places to see, I only have 5 days left after all.

gobbie

  • elias

    wow you fuckin rock dude!!!! great post

  • Busy-ness breeds great posts. Glad you have been busy, because that really was a fun post. Keep crushin!

  • Andrew

    Sonnie have you checked out Matt Wilders new route in the Flatirons? It looks amazing. It still needs a second ascent.

  • Sonnie

    Thanks. Andrew, no I haven’t checked it out yet, I met Matt at the gym and we chatted about it. I think it’s an instant Classic. But the weather here is about to turn not so good, so I think I’ll just stick to routes I think I can do in a day. But I’ll be back next April I think. So Stoked.

  • I think did the first ascent like 30 years ago @ A2 or something, thats dedication. Nice post.

  • ooops, I meant to say Jim Logan did the FA like 30 years ago.

  • Okay. Sonnie. You are a super nice guy, great friend, talented and creative writer, better climber, but I think I am going to have to go on a hiatus with you and your blog, at least for the next few weeks.

    You see – you are just so DANG good at capturing climbing with your words and pictures. I used to read this for a climbing pick-me-up, to stay excited, motivated, and learn something new to hold me over until the next time I got to climb, which was usually the next day. But now…. alas. It has been seriously since the Red when you were there since I have climbed. That’s 4 or 5 weeks! So now, I just read this post and got so sad hearing about how much fun you are having rock climbing! (don’t get me wrong, pal, so glad you are tearing it up! give ‘eh hell!) Africa’s rad over here, really, but I guess I didn’t realize how much climbing had become part of who I was.

    First on my list when I get back stateside: invent a pop-up climbing gym that can fit into a backpack. One button and your backpack pops open into a fully equipped climbing gym that can go anywhere with you in the world! No problem.