Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pot of Gold (V11)- Second Ascent

Somehow, someway this streak of good fortune that I have been experiencing on a handful of my personal Adirondack Bouldering projects is continuing onward.  Yesterday I was able to capitalize on the prime fall climbing conditions with a much anticipated send on a old Ken Murphy test piece that has gone unrepeated since it was established back in 2009.

In 2009, I decided to finally check out a cluster of boulders/rocks that were visible from the combined NYS RT29/10A in Caroga Lake, New York.  Upon initial inspection, the rock didn't seem all that promising until I made my way around the backside of the largest boulder.  It was on this side of the massive glacial erratic that got my attention very quickly.  This side was tall, slightly overhanging, had actual holds, and was impressive to look at.  Over the next couple of weeks I returned with friends Ken Murphy, Nyle Baker, Ryan Pooler, and Eric Pooler to start working on establishing some boulder problems.  In a short period of time, a handful of high quality problems were established with one really stellar traverse that started high on the right arete and finished on the left arete with some really cool movements and a big move high off of the ground.  Murph claimed the first ascent on the traverse and named it Luck of the Irish (V8).  I wasn't able to send the line on the day of the first ascent but returned in the same week to repeat the classic.

After putting up the stand start, Murphy began throwing himself on the difficult sit start moves and was eventually able to unlock a very stout sequence.  After a handful of sessions and countless attempts, he topped out the problem from the sit start and name it Pot of Gold (V11).  To my knowledge, his problem sat there unrepeated since his 2009 ascent.

In 2013, I began to invest some time in trying to unlock my own unique sit start beta because I could not even move off of the holds that Murphy had used.  After a couple of sessions, I was finally able to make some upward movement by utilizing a heinous pinkie-lock with my left hand in a very thin vertical seam.  The pinkie-lock was so brutal that I only got a few tries on it each session until the skin would tear off of my finger and the resulting blood would end any additional sit start attempts.  After weeks of battling the pinky-lock and the difficult moves that followed the sit start sequence just to get back into the high stand start, I was able to top the boulder out but I stayed on the right arete and got the first ascent of the sit start to Conjugal Visit (V10).  At that time, I was so psyched to get through the sit start and so uncertain as to whether or not I could do it again that I just wanted to finish something...and the complex traverse moves and big move finish on Pot of Gold (V11) seemed like it was way past my ability. 

Fast forward two years to two weeks ago.  After my successful sends on Overburdened (V11), Salamander Slayer (V11), and There Are no Salamanders in Hueco (V11), I decided that it was time again to focus on the elusive Pot of Gold problem.  On my first session back on the boulder in a very long time, I was able to do the painful sit start move and had some really good links up higher on the boulder.  I was even able to do the high stand start a handful of times as I rehearsed the moves to gain that all so important muscle memory.  I left after that first session confident that I could send the problem.  I returned the following week, on Tuesday November 10, 2015 to again test my luck on the climb.  After a couple of hours in that session, I had gotten all the way to the last difficult move three separate times from the sit start before the skin on my pinkie finally tore off.  That last difficult move shut me down each time due to a lack of endurance and strength so I spent the remainder of the session working on the big move with some newly refined beta and left that day confident that I could make the move even if I was fatigued with my new approach.

Yesterday I returned after over a week of taking a break from the painful pinkie-lock and was psyched to give the problem everything that I had to offer.  After a thorough warm-up, my confidence quickly hit a wall when I could not do the sit start move.  Attempt after attempt after attempt and I could not make the pinkie-lock stay.  This went on for quite a while and eventually the back of my finger was gushing with blood yet again.  I was forced to take an extended rest as I tried to stop the bleeding and think of a way to protect my pinkie.  The major problem was that it I wrapped my finger with even a single layer of tape, it would no longer fit in the crack.  So the solution that I came up with was a dab on super glue over the wound and then I applied a small square piece of tape over the wound and the glue that it would adhere to my skin.  The new technique worked and on my first attempt after the extended rest I found myself off of the ground and moving through the next series of very familiar moves.  Before long, I was right back at that final difficult big move, a decent height off of the ground and again feeling fatigued and pumped.  This time however, I was confident in my new beta and ended up sticking the hard move.  From there, it was a series of big moves on good holds which lead to the the top of my most memorable send to date!  Pot of Gold (V11)  had finally gotten its long awaited second ascent.  I know that Murphy wouldn't have wanted it any other way...

Media Update:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Salamander Slayer (V11) and There Are no Salamanders in Hueco (V11)

I was fortunate again with the opportunity to capitalize on the prime fall climbing conditions with multiple bouldering sessions at the Snowy Moutain Boulders in Indian Lake, New York.  Over the course of four (4) outdoor sessions on October 26, November 4, November 5, and finally on November 9th I was finally able to unlock and dispatch two of Snowy Mountains most difficult boulder problems; Matt Bosley's Salamander Slayer (V11) and Evan Race's recent variation addition, There Are no Salamanders in Hueco (V11).  

Back in 2014 I was able to finally pull off of the ground on the difficult sit start to these problems but struggled greatly on the big move out left to get established in the large hueco pockets on Never Been to Hueco (V7).  I only revisited these boulders twice since that initial progress on the sit starts moves and both times I never put any effort into trying the full boulder problem again.  In the end of October I again began focusing on Salamander Slayer again.  A recent repeat ascent by Canadian strongman Guillaume Raymond and then a quick first ascent on a variation finish by Evan Race reignited my psych on these boulder problems.

Each day that I worked on the problems, I made small improvements in my beta, body positions, endurance, and consistency with the powerful movements.  This past Monday, November 9, 2015 I had an excellent warm-up circuit with quick repeat sends on Coitus (V6), Con2 (V9), as well as a new personal send on a Coitus variation known as Trip Hoppin' (V8).  Riding on the positive energy from those sends, I ventured over to the Never Boulder to again try to dispatch my personal projects.  After trying the moves in isolation and having great success, I sat at the starting holds and tried to gather my composer...I was very confident that this was the day for the long awaited ascent.  One the first burn I fell on the last desperate moved to get established in the large hueco pockets on Never Been to Hueco.  After a brief water break and a short rest I gave it my second attempt for the day and somehow managed to keep everything together and was topping out the boulder problem before I realized what was happening.  I took a long pause on top of the boulder to reflect on what had just occured and then I got really psyched because I knew that if I could climb the bottom portion of the problem a smooth as I just had; that I could potentially complete There Are no Salamanders in Hueco (V11) as well.  When I got to the base of the boulder, I reorganized my Organic Crash Pads and tried the dyno move on Never Left Hueco (V8) to gain confidence on the last difficult move on Evan Race's new problem.  After sticking the move on the first try, I again took a short water break and a rest to regain some strength.  After 15 min. or so, I was back at the sit start moves ready to give it everything that I had.  Again, similar to the previous send, I was topping out the boulder problem before I had fully realized what had just happened...I had successfully send two V11 boulder problems; back to back.  This day turned out to be my biggest personal achievement as a boulderer to date.

So psyched...keep the great fall weather and sending coming!!!

I have also embedded a nice video edit from Taylor Treadgold which highlights Evan Race's first ascent of There Are no Salamanders in Hueco (V11) as well as a nice video from Tyler Kempney highlighting his send on Trip Hoppin (V8) because both videos and editors did an excellent job showing the detail on the climbing and the climbing holds.

Media Update:      

Saturday, October 24, 2015

2015 Project Sent Early !!! Overburdened (V11)

It gives me great joy to be able to write this blog post.

For the past couple of weeks I have been frequenting the boulders at Nine Corner Lake quite often to sneak in my bouldering sessions.  During these sessions, I have repeated a handful of the more difficult problems at Nine Corner Lake; however all of them were problems that I had already done in the past and were simply personal repeats.  As gratifying as those sends were...nothing gets me more psyched and stoked than sending a new problem.

This past Wednesday, after 3 projecting sessions in the same week I was able to successfully climb Overburdened (V11).  Back in April I realized that I could actually do the problem when I found out how to approach the crux sequence of holds.  I got to a point then where I thought I was close to sending the problem but unfortunately the temperatures and bugs forced me to abandon the problem until this fall.  Since September, each time that I would place my crash pads under the Wall Boulder to repeat Thorazine (V8), I would work on the crux sequence on Overburdened (V11) as well as do Lighter Burden of Priesthood (V8) which happens to be the finish to the sustained traverse problem.  Each repeat of the finishing moves kept my motivation high and each day I would gain more confidence on the crux sequence.

On Sunday October 18th, I hiked (4) Organic Crash Pads up to Nine Corner Lake and made a personal promise to myself that I would try as hard as I could on Overburdened (V11) for the next couple of days in an all out assault attempt to finally ascent this problem.  I struggled with the crux moves on Sunday as it was under 30 degrees and lightly snowing at times.  I tried to stay optimistic about the problem while I bouldered with friends Kenta Yamada and Bill Griffith, but the thought of an earlier than expected winter really scared me.  I returned the following afternoon, Monday October 19th  to warmer temperatures and drier conditions.  I found a very subtle modification to my beta which helped me set up for the crux gaston move and again my psych level was high.  I was able to hold the gaston hold and match a handful of times on Monday, which I think is the crux but a spilt fingertip ended my climbing session a bit early and without a send.  I again was forced to walk away from the problem but now I was confident that I could climb Overburdened (V11) if I returned fresh and with full skin.

After a full day of rest, stretching and recovery, I returned yet again to Nine Corner Lake on Wednesday October 21st to try again.  It had rained a bit that morning so I still had to deal with some damp holds on the problem but the sun and wind were helping to dry things quickly.  After a half dozen or so attempts, I made it past the crux matching sequence for the first time but unfortunately had my right foot pop off of the wall in a moment of lost focus.  I put on my hiking boots and walked down to the lake to enjoy the beautiful afternoon and to try and rest my nerves as I was convinced that a send was very possible.  I sat by the lake and stretched for about 30 min. before returning for my last attempt of the day.  Before I knew it, I was through the crux and crimping hard on the finishing holds that I knew so well and had rehearsed on Lighter Burden of Priesthood (V8).  In the weeks leading up to this moment, I had been religiously watching old videos of my close friend Ken Murphy (who claimed the second ascent of this problem) as he fell repeatedly on the last hard move to the arete.  As I kept climbing I tried to stay focused and in control so that I would not make the same pivotal and heartbreaking mistake.  And then, just like that...I fell on the same exact move.  A move that I had done dozens of times in preparation of working this project.  Instead of losing my cool and freaking out, I was actually filled with joy because that was the furthest that I had ever gotten on Overburdened (V11) and now I really knew that it was only a matter of time before I sent.

I brushed all of the chalk and tick marks off of the boulder and began packing up my gear to head home and stepped back away from the problem for a second to take in the beauty of this climb that has stumped me for so long.  I remember thinking, "man I am to going to sleep for a week until I can get back up here to try this problem again".  And then out of nowhere, all of the pain and fatigue that I was feeling for the days session disappeared...I was filled with energy and psych to give it that all too familiar "ONE MORE TRY"!  I brushed the holds again, put my climbing shoes back on and pressed record on my camera devices.  This time, as I moved through the crux sequence I felt much more stable on the holds.  I quickly found myself on that last hard move to the arete but this time I stuck the move and quickly sunk a heel hook in around the arete to get a short break.  From there it was a series of very familiar moves to the top of the boulder.

And just like that, I had topped out my project for 2015.  Sitting on top of the boulder was one of the best feelings that I have ever had in rock climbing.  I felt excited, relieved, anxious, happy, nervous and eager all at the same time.  Man, I love this sport/lifestyle/passion known as bouldering!  I hope you enjoy the video below which shows some of the struggle that I encountered while trying Overburdened (V11) on the day that I finally sent the climb.

Media Update:

Round Two for Guidebook Cover Votes

Thank you everyone for your positive feedback and comments.  I have attached the final (3) cover designs...all of which exclude the puzzle pieces.  Please let me know what you think.  For additional layout detail, the guidebook will have a green header on the top of each interior page (hence why I have included some options with the green across the top of the guidebook cover).

Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Which Guidebook Cover do you Prefer?

Looking for some help from my fellow climbers and blog readers.  Please comment on which of the two cover versions you like for the Adirondack Bouldering Guidebook.  Also, I finally secured my LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) title this week and can now move forward with the publishing process.  Anticipate a guidebook available in November for purchase!  I am super excited about this coming to life.

Thanks everyone!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Second Ascent- Whip Tide (V9)

In the midst of finalizing the Adirondack Bouldering Guidebook, Whip Tide (V9) at Nine Corner Lake has finally seen a second ascent.  I had the honor of being there to witness Andrew Cieply cruise through the lower crux moves and stick the last dyno move to claim the much anticipated second ascent back on Monday, October 5th.  A week prior to this ascent, Cieply, Greg Stone and John Sullivan all completed the stand start which up until then also had not been repeated since I established both the stand and sit start back in 2011.

I have been informed that Greg Stone has also ticked off Whip Tide (V9) upon returning to Nine Corner Lake shortly after the second ascent.  Stone's achievement marks the third known ascent on this problem and all ascentionists agree that it is one of the best problems at Nine Corner Lake.

The conditions have been favorable for sending and I hope that everyone has been able to sneak an outdoor climbing session or two into their daily lives.  Hope to see you out there crushing!!!

Media Update:  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

New Boulder Problem at the Green Lake Boulders

This problem came to life after a recent visit to the boulders to confirm some problem descriptions and grades.  It involves a traverse of the entire west-facing wall on the Rookie Boulder.  After the tricky sit start moves, there are an additional 20 or so hand movements on some small crimps and edges.  Not a bad addition to the existing problems and a great line to work on your climbing endurance.  I ended up naming it Green Mile (V6) because of the length of the climb.  If you get out there and try it, please let me know what you think!

Media Update:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Thorazine Video Edit

Just an area classic and an excellent boulder problem.  Sending this problem numerous times in the same day for the video compilation sparks an excitement level for the fall season that I cannot describe in words.  I am anxiously waiting for some time off of work in October and the completion of the Adirondack Bouldering Guidebook so I can focus 100% on some lingering personal projects that I have at the local boulder fields.

Will all of the summer training pay off?  Can I finally break into that elusive double-digit boulder problem realm?  Can I climb multiple days on outdoors at my maximum level and avoid injuries?  Will some of these projects finally see an ascent?

Only time will tell, and that time is quickly approaching.  I know that I am psyched, really psyched and I hope everyone else is as excited as I am!

Happy Climbing...

Media Update:

Monday, September 14, 2015

Whip Tide (V9)

I established Whip Tide (V9) back on September 10, 2011 when I hosted the first ever outdoor bouldering competition at Nine Corner Lake in Caroga Lake, New York.  Prior to the competition, I had been projecting the boulder problem for a couple of weeks; battling the late summer conditions and the intricacies of the movements which kept shutting me down on the send.

After getting the first ascent on the competition day, I returned the following weekend and was able to repeat Whip Tide (V9) on my first try of the day.  After 2011, the boulder problem sat there unrepeated.  I showed a handful of visiting climbers the line two years ago and they were all in agreement that it was one of the best problems that they tried at Nine Corner Lake.  There opinion meant a lot to me because I too had always thought that it was a very special problem, with nice holds, awesome movements, and difficult climbing overall.  

A couple of weeks ago, I began to rework the movements on Whip Tide (V9).  On each bouldering session on the Wave Boulder, I was able to send Whip Tide, Stand (V7) pretty easily and on my first try each day.  The full link from the sit start was however proving to be a difficult task!  On Friday September 11, 2015 I returned to Nine Corner Lake with my mind set on finally repeating this problem.  The temperatures had finally fallen into the 70's and on this particular day, the humidity was only at 40%.  After a long warm up routine, I made the short hike back to the Wave Boulder and was able to send Whip Tide cleanly from the sit start in only a half hour or so.  All of the holds felt better than they had in previous weeks and the lower sit start moves felt easier than ever.  What a difference good climbing conditions make in this game of bouldering.

I hope you enjoy the video.  Also, if you have done this problem please let me know what you think the difficulty level is.  I have seen numerous people on it but have yet to witness a repeat...even from the stand start.

Happy Climbing!

Media Update:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Nine Corner Bouldering: Lifeguard Training, Sit (V8), Whip Tide, Sit (V9)

The video below highlights two difficult boulder problems at Nine Corner Lake in the southern portion of New York's Adirondack State Park.  To my knowledge, Whip Tide, Sit has not seen a repeat ascent since I established it back in the fall of 2011 (if you have repeated it, please let me know and also let me know how difficult you think it is).  I also recently established the difficult sit start into Lifeguard Training (V5) and think that the sit start moves bump the problem into the V7/8 range.  It involves a really big and powerful move that shut me down for years...

I hope everyone is getting out there to climb on some rocks and I assure you that the Adirondack Bouldering Guidebook is nearing completion (anticipated printing date in late September, just in time for ROCK-tober here in the northeast)

Media Update: