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Lisa Hathaway gives props to some Big Bend visionaries

 
Lisa Hathaway gives props to some Big Bend visionaries
Lisa Hathaway gives props to some Big Bend visionaries
Lisa Hathaway gives props to some Big Bend visionaries
Lisa Hathaway gives props to some Big Bend visionaries
Lisa Hathaway gives props to some Big Bend visionaries
Lisa Hathaway gives props to some Big Bend visionaries
 
November 29, 2010 -  Lisa Hathaway    
 

The Thanksgiving weekend was a fantastic one in MoabLandia! And for many reasons. Good weather, great friends, great conversations and of course best of all, great food … actually, best of all, GREAT bouldering!

There was somewhat of a "family reunion" at the Big Bend boulders, with the likes of my extended climbing family descending upon Moab—hailing from SLC, "The Bubble" (Boulder, Colorado that is), the western slope and RFV as well as pretty much every other area nearby. Our original plan was to continue to embrace the Indian Creek festivities of yore, but alas, a brisk forecast and the addition of many "young 'uns" to our posse made that option less palatable, so to the boulders it was.

 

Big Bend is a "funny" bouldering area. There it sits, right by the side of the road— inviting, user friendly, convenient and generally seeming like it should be a walk in the park. But the boulders have a different idea about all this. Unlike the sandstone boulders of the southeast or Font, wingate boulders feel no particular compunction to be burdened by texture. Oh, or holds, at least not in any quantity. So though the stunning red-stone blocs will tractor-beam in all but the most disgruntled, died-in-the-wool naysayer of "practice climbing" (practice climbing, uh huh, yah right, it's only the fastest way to make you better, stronger, faster, right?!), once out of the car and shoed-up, the BB smack down ensues.

The infamous Klem of the endless soundbites once said of Big Bend "You climb at Big Bend? Font will be nothing for you!" as well as "The only climbing for climbing hard at Big Bend is Big Bend." And that definitely seems true. Climbing well for oneself at other areas does not assure swift passage up similar grades at BB. (It works the other way as well—a hometown hero might easily get schooled on his or her first trip to, say, Hueco.) The "problem" a lot of people have with BB is that though consistent within itself, the style and the numbers assigned to any given problem may not cater to one's strengths, let alone, shall we say, one's 8a card.

Thus, BB has been the location of many the traveling climber temper-tantrum. I know I have a front-row seat to this as a local, but I think I have seen more "screw you guys, I'm goin' home" shoe throwing and hasty retreats than in any other area I've visited. Which is sad, because if one can disregard the arbitrary nature of a rating and feeling like you have to work harder for fewer points, the little crag on the side of the road actually has a lot to offer! Even if you find yourself with , say, a 10-year V5 proj—a grade at which you "normally" warm-up!

This holiday weekend was extra fun as we current locals, along with all the vacationing climbers, were treated to a "masters class" in big bend bouldering with the return to the crag of area developers Noah Bigwood and Eric Decaria. BB is their stomping ground and as far as ticking a volume of difficult problems on any given day is concerned, they still reign supreme. Their daily circuit is what most would consider a worthy lifetime achievement!

And though I've witnessed this prowess many many many times over the years, what was particularly nice about this day was that there were a few young strong boulderers (whom I might normally err to lumping into the category of the caring only "how hard is this problem" type of climber) who were stoked to meet and climb with (their words) "these sandstone legends." I was particularly impressed with one of the lads, who, in today's world of scorecards and streaming video posts, actually knew quite a bit of the history of our little road-side distraction and of Eric and Noah's contributions to this history—he was thrilled to "get to" climb with the old school posse.

I have often seen in the ebbs and flows of the climbing world, athletes like Noah and Eric, these people who find and develop the routes that the latest and greatest young guns come and dispatch with and more handily perhaps, somewhat overlooked for the up-and-comers. I have great love and respect for the latter, but every area of note in our insular little world has perhaps too many of the former—the local legend who might now be just an afterthought or footnote in the annals of climbing lore, but without whom, some rad area might not have come to fruition. And I for one love the history of any climbing area and really enjoy seeing any of these local visionaries getting their props from the youngsters! So it was cool to see my heroes and mentors getting theirs and I'll throw 'em a few extras. And to Tom Gilje as well. Thanks for making my little roadside boulder heap an area that has taught me and many others so many lessons in technique, patience, diligence and deference. Your skills and visions humble me!

Photos: 1.) Danny R fighting for the Helly Belly toe hook, 2.) The infamous ED throwing laps on the Hell Belly, 3.) The tots of BB, 4.) Lara on the Black Box Arête, 5.) Lisa on aducarraB, 6.) Lisa on the über classic Chaos

 

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