The first half of 2011 is coming together nicely in sunny Southern California. I've been fortunate enough to spend most of my weekends split between Bishop, Black Mountain, The Republic, or a few other spots trying to send everything I can get my hands on. It seems like I'm finally back to my pre-college fitness, ticking off at least a V10 each time I head out. I'm starting to feel much more aware of my body position and its minute effects on my climbing and I'm encouraged by the progress I've made on problems that are definitely not my style. My pinch and sloper strength have never been better, a result of all the nice granite littering the state. I also have a great group of friends to thank for my progress, always enlightening me to the many different ways to approach a problem.
Yesterday I had my first taste of Tramway, towering above Palm Springs. The first thing that struck me about this place was the natural beauty: densely forested, clean flowing water, crisp fresh air, it felt a little like back home in Central OR. Getting off the tram, it was clear Tramway has a couple attributes that make it stand out from other areas. First, it was a crispy mid 40s (a.k.a perfect climbing temps) despite the crippling heat in the valley below. Second, there are boulders EVERYWHERE. There was rock in every direction and all of it is bulletproof granite. Surely this must be summer climbing heaven. After the cursory warm-up, our guide Matus led us on a tour of some classic V-double digits. It seemed that the day was mine, making quick work of each in succession. By the end of the day I had ticked off five new V10s including Harry Pothead, Stretch Armstrong, Steep Sharma Arete, Soul Shine (V10/11), and Byron's Roof (V9/10). I don't know if it was something in the water or what but this was certainly one of my best days of climbing ever. The style seemed to suit me well and with the nice temps, sticking to tiny razor edges or open-hand slopers was almost casual. It was a true 5.(V)10 day at Tramway, an area that I'll definitely be revisiting in the coming months.
I've also had the opportunity to test out one of the newest shoes in the 5.10 arsenal, the Hornets. Not only is this a beautiful shoe, drawing attention from anyone within a 10 ft radius, but it's a killer on the rock. The nice soft last excels on tiny toe-points, offing a sensitivity on par with the Dragons. With a slightly more narrow toe box, this shoe destroys pockets and tiny nubbins and has become my all-around shoe of choice. While I still prefer the Teams for any intensive heel or toe-hookery, in my opinion the Hornets are more comfortable and I'm definitely a fan of its softness. If these came with a Team toe-cap you may just have the perfect shoe. Until then, these get my bid for the best all-around performer on boulders and plastic.