Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rainy Wednesday

On Sunday I had had plans to go out to the lake with David Blong, but he totally bailed on me and went to the Red. I hope Sarah showed him how to stick clip properly, like they do in the red. And how to project a route, like they do in the red.

Luckily, Howard and Minda also wanted to go out to the lake, I was still able to get out there, and in a super efficient car to boot. Howard had also invited Tom and Makinon Herbert to come along, which was awesome, because it would be both of their first times climbing outside, with the exception of some bouldering in the Garden Of The Gods.

Every time I drive around I always have to remind myself that this is March, not June. Everything is green, the weather is nice, and it definitely showed in the number of climbers on the bluff. We left Milwaukee at 8, and were up to the wall by probably 10:30, and it was already quite crowded. Not summer weekend crowded, but there was at least one group at every buttress on the East Rampart.

I was hoping we'd be able to toss a rope down Peter's Project, Michael's Project, and maybe Callipigeanous, but they were already taken, so we walked down a bit further. To my surprise nobody had set up on the bedroom wall yet, though one party was getting ready to lead up Foreplay. Howard set to work hanging a rope on Orgasm, and I hung one on The Green Bulge, a nice long 5.7 that my rope was barely long enough for. Everyone climbed Orgasm, and Tom and Makinon did a great job on that one as their first roped climbs outside. I went back up to the top and hung another rope on Second Coming, just to the right of Orgasm. I climbed up Second Coming once to check the gear, since I'd heard that it was somewhat suspect. I found the gear to be pretty good, with a bomber blue master cam protecting the crux. after that it was a little bit spaced out, but over easy terrain, so I decided to lead it next go. I also did a direct start to Second Coming, called Resolution. I rarely find routes that I would tell people to stay away from, but this is one of them. A long mantle move to a heinously thin two finger crimp, followed by a long reach that I was just tall enough for, did not add up to a quality climb in my book.

Then I moved back over to Orgasm to try the direct. This is a very good route with a great crux sequence on gastons and sidepull pinches. I botched the sequence the first time around, then waited for the shade to get the send. After that I led up an easy 5.4 corner called Cerebration, so that Minda and Makinon could try their hands at getting a stuck cam out. Unfortunately they were unsuccessful, so I climbed back up and set another anchor on the routes Hirsute (meaning excessive hairiness in women), and Second Balcony (meaning not the first balcony). Hirsute looks better than it climbs, but is still an okay route. Second Balcony climbs exactly how it looks, and is mediocre at best.

It was starting to get a bit late, and Tom and Makinon had to leave soon, so Howard and I hung a rope on Foreplay so that they could climb one more before they left. After they climbed it, I led up it and Howard and Minda got their first experience following someone up a route, which even though it was a short 5.5 at the lake, I think was still fun for them. Once they got to the top, we broke down that anchor, and the Hirsute anchor, and set one more on the climbs The Balcony, and The Mezzanine, both 5.4. This particular section of the bluff contains several easy inside corners, and even prompted Sven to make a few jokes in the guidebook, with such hilarious descriptions as "another inside corner or chimney" for Second Balcony. Oh Sven, you need to let more of your humor shine through! Anyways, The Balcony is another blah inside corner, and so is The Mezzanine, except for the fact that it has a cool old ring piton near the top, and a stripe of white crystal embedded in the rock near the start.

At the end of a surprisingly productive day (11 more routes climbed) we heard Alex climbing on Bagatelle, and later talked to him while he was coming down the gully. Bagatelle is very high on my wish list of climbs to do this year, and I can't wait to get on it. Next day out on the rocks is hopefully friday with Jim and whoever else wants to come out, provided Blake and I finish building his woody, which I don't expect will be a problem.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Two Pines

1. Meet at 7
2. Climb lots of routes
3. Lead Thoroughfare
4. Be back by 5 to work

Those were the goals for yesterday. 50% ain't bad right? Let's start at the top. I'll say we met at 7ish. If by 7ish you mean 8ish. On my way to the park and ride Blake texts me that Taylor is running late, so it'll be more like 7:15. No big deal, seeing as I still have to pack all the gear in my trunk into my bag. But then Taylor forgot her harness at the gym. Rookie mistake. On the plus side, I did get to see the sunrise, so that was kind of nice.

On the way out to the lake I may have seen the best thing ever. ABS Global (apparently it stands for American Breeders Service, not American Bull Semen, which is a pretty big let down) is having a slogan competition for their sign. Let's put our heads together and figure this one out folks.

After that we made it to the ferry only to realize that it was Wednesday morning, and it was refueling. Another rookie mistake. Finally we made it to the wall bright and early at around 10:30 or so. Blake wanted to climb at Two Pines, so we set ropes on Full Stop, Mouse's Misery and Thoroughfare. We started out on Full Stop, where Balke may have earned to dubious honor of having the first bee sting of the year. After climbing Mouse's, I decided it was time to get on Thoroughfare, which I had top roped a few times in the past, so I was looking forward to leading it. On my first attempt I made it through the crux, but was too pumped to make it any higher. I sent next go, but not with ease. Taylor top roped it after that, and worked out all the moves rather quickly. She definitely could have sent it next try.

It was starting to get a little late at this point, and Blake and Taylor seemed content to lounge at the base in the sun. And really, who can blame them when it's 80 degrees in March? I decided to try and get in a few more pitches before we had to leave so I could get back to work. I did Big Deal and Mouse Tracks, and I also tried Mouse's Tail and Cross Town Traffic. Mouse's Tail is a bit of a squeeze job between Mouse Tracks and Vacillation, but it has some cool moves down low, and a tough slab section that I couldn't figure out.

Despite the late start, and time constraints, I was still able to take 7 more routes off the list for the year, and got outside for the 5th time in March, which is pretty much as good as it gets.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

East Rampart Challenge

For all you dedicated readers still with me (give yourselves a hand) looking for some more insightful and well read literary commentaries, I'm sorry to say you're out of luck. Ostensibly, this is going to chronicle my self-imposed challenge of climbing every named route (as named by a combination of The Climber's Guide to Devil's Lake, Mountain Project, and the panel of Dancing With The Stars) on the East Rampart of Devil's Lake. Maybe I'll toss in a few commentaries for old time's sake, and because really, who doesn't like a good analysis every now and then.

Anyways, on to the climbing. Climb every route on the East Rampart, from Hawk's Nest to D'Arcy's Buttress. Only 200+ routes or so. After doing some quick calculus, getting out once a week from now through November, equates to roughly 6 routes a day. Definitely do-able. I'm sure I won't be able to send all the routes, but I still want to at least try them all, and of course lead as many as possible. Depending on how things are going, I may make a few changes. If all goes well, I'll toss in as many other routes/areas as possible. If things aren't going so well, I may have to only get on routes I haven't tried before. Either way, I'm excited to see how it all pans out. Oh yeah, did I mention I also want to climb a lot of boulders? I don't really have any specific goals bouldering, but we'll see if I can strike a good balance and still be able to feel like I accomplished what I wanted to.

With this awesome weather, I was able to get out a few times the last two weeks. Sarah and I got out for the first day on the rocks that didn't include post-holing through talus on the south bluff. We cruised down to Hawk's Nest, and had intentions of climbing some of the "less traveled" climbs down at the end of the bluff like Land's End, and also mix in a few classics as well. Unfortunately(?) it rained the day before, so a few of the less quality lines were wet. We were still able to get on quite a few great pitches, including top ropes of Angina, Mother Fletcher's, Anomie, Yellow Pages, and Vivisection, as well as leads of Coronary, Scylla, Charybdis, and culminating in a flash of Alpha Centauri. On Alpha Centauri, we finished up and right on the top of Vivisection, instead of going up and left, and when done this way, is one of the best climbs that I've done at the lake. All in all, 9 pitches. Not a bad first day and a good start for the year.

The next week I caught a ride out to the lake with Blake (thanks again Blake), and after a warm hike up CCC trail we were back down at Hawk's Nest. I must say that while I had been going down to Hawk's Nest in order to just climb all the routes there, I really like that part of the bluff. I think the pine needle covered base and the fact that it feels somewhat more secluded since it's the last buttress on the bluff, really lends itself to an enjoyable day out at the crag. Anyways, Blake and I decided to get started on Bucket Brigade and a variant called Hallucination despite the fact that parts of them were quite wet. After climbing through the awkward "funnel" at the start of these climbs a few times, we hung a rope on Alpha C so that Blake could give that one a try, and so that I could climb the proper left hand finish to it. After working out the start, and dealing with some rope stretch, Blake quickly sent. I also was able to try Pie Plate and No Fruit Please from the top rope, but unfortunately a typically poor description for those two route left confused as to what exactly I had done. Ultimately I think the routes are basically just minor variations of each other, but I will say that I thought the climbing I did do was quite good. Fun and not too hard moves to perfect edges the whole way.

After climbing Balke dropped me off at the Quartzite campground, where I waited, and wished I had a Russian Army Surplus Blanket, a Finnish Army Surplus Shovel, and that I had a place to hang my sleeping bag so the down wouldn't get compressed. After a while Jim showed up with the beer and the wood, and we had a nice campfire...until we ran out of wood and beer. Oh well, a quick run to the Viking, and we were back in business.

The next morning we got up and needless to say the psych was absolutely BRIMMING. A brutal hike back up to Hawk's Nest, and we were ready to get going. A couple of climbs I had missed before were up first, Land's End, and Angina II. Land's End was not my best showing. Somewhat chossy and loose rock, the number of beers, and a much too close ledge all contributed to me hanging my way up it. After that we hung a TR on Angina II, which had about 3 cool squeeze moves, and a lot of just blah climbing. Then Jim thrutched his way through the infamous funnel, and led another variant of Bucket Brigade, called The Ramp. Despite there being a few other variations to do, we were both tired of having to climb through the funnel to get to them, so we moved on and hung a TR on Happy Hunting Grounds and Flakes Away. I tried Flakes Away first, and got thoroughly shut down at the crux. I was also a bit confused (as usual at the lake) how close I could get to HHG. After the crux, the climbing was pretty good though, and it was much more obvious where the line went. Jim then got on HHG and did a good job working out the moves. While HHG is definitely a good route with some cool layback moves, I think that Alpha C and Pie Plate were both a step above. It wasn't quite as productive as my first day out, but I was still able to cross 8 more routes off the list.

Tomorrow I'm headed out again with Blake and Taylor, but this time to Two Pines Buttress. With 3 ropes, hopefully I'll be able to set a new personal record for routes climbed in a day. Also, Blake, I think you should go for the OS Lead of Full Stop.