For my first blog with Five Ten I thought I'd share a little bit of tragedy and triumph from the Fall and Winter.
I once had a teacher in middle school tell me that I was "always a day late and a dollar short" and, while that certainly was true in middle school, I'd like to think I've moved past this moniker. I mean, sure, I'm usually a little late to work (not an entire day thankfully), and rarely do I remember to pay rent on the first of the month, and I'm always rushing from place to place because I'm behind schedule, and so on and so forth, but in general I've got my shit together. Right? Well, sometimes things conspire against me and my whole competency as a human is compromised. Luckily, this was not one of those times... I was only rock climbing.
My goal after the Alpine season had drawn to a close was to find some new things to climb close to home. With this in mind I laced up my hiking shoes and began exploring some of the boulder-filled canyons of the Flatirons near Boulder. Now I personally love the Flatirons and think that they provide not only breathtaking lines to be climbed but also some of the best settings for bouldering. There are still places that feel wild and where you can't hear cars and sirens. These Flatirons also provide a constant refuge for a boulderer who's tired of doing the usual Front Range circuits. Anyways, I turned my focus to the Central and Northern areas of the Flatirons. Early in the Fall I found myself making the hike into Bear Canyon (which does live up to its name BTW) a few times as there are a handful of really good moderates. Also, there was a low start to one of these moderates that caught my eye. "Bear Necessities" was born. Two very tricky heelhooks and a dicey top out. Very reminiscent of a Font boulder.
After the "action" in Bear Canyon died-down due to massive amounts of snow I got my snow boots out and made the trudge into the lonely, forgotten, and somewhat ominous Skunk Canyon. What I found was exactly what I wanted to find: a tall, clean arete with holds and a good landing that had been left undone just around the corner from "The Corpse." I set to work. I spent a day cleaning moss and lichen off of the climb and working the bottom moves, a day to shovel snow from the top, a day to clear holds of ice and try the crux move and top section, a day to fuck up after the crux and figure out the middle (and bleed profusely), and a day to come back and crush it in good style. I called the devilishly sharp climb "Flesh and Blood" due in part to my blood loss on two separate days of attempts. I was very pleased with this first ascent for a number of reasons. It was something I had found on my own and it was beautiful. Also, this was the first time I had really gotten on a rope to clean a boulder and work moves and that was rewarding in itself. Most of my time in Skunk was spent by myself and it was always very quiet and meditative. My motivation never wavered though and these solitary missions are times I'll always remember.
After completing my primary objective in Skunk Canyon I was left with a decision: do I keep making the grueling 45 minute hike up there to try the next project? Or do I go searching for new boulders? Well, the answer was both. The problem was, after finding more potential boulders close to the Third Flatiron, I now had one too many projects on my mind and they were all located within the notorious Raptor Closure areas of the Flatirons. The clock was ticking. I had less than two weeks. Time management is not my strong suite. On one of the boulders, a tall, crimpy face, I figured out all the moves except one and was very psyched on doing the finishing sequence from the ground. That one move got the best of me though and I never came very close to doing the long deadpoint move. The other project I was losing sleep over was even more of a heartbreaker. This slightly off-vertical slab was intriguing because it was so unlike everything else around. It had a dynamic lurch to catch a gaston pinch in a mini-feature that I would then palm into to bring my feet up and flip to an undercling. After that I would stab to a pod/pinch, walk my feet through and lock off to a terrible little crimp, weight the left foot, grab a pebble crimp, bring left foot up again and cross big to a good edge rail and top out. I had my sequence down and was reaching to the pebble crimp from the start and POP, my foot blew up and down I crashed to the pads. Despite the possibility of using another foot my motivation (and confidence) was shot. I threw in the towel for the season on another project. Another one of life's deadlines had come and gone and I was a day late and a dollar short. Again. Oh well, there's always next Fall...