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.