Friday, May 14

Bakin' n Snakin'

Smith Rock continues to impress and inspire us. The landscape is phenomenal, the climbing is fantastic and the locals are simply rad. At Smith Rock the local community is tight- everyone seems to know everyone, and you'll generally find the same smiling faces at the crag throughout the week. We've gotten to know many of them (definitely thanks to the Spring Thing crag clean up event last weekend) and Paige and I agree they are some of the most hospitable locals we've run into.

Paige LOVES snakes

Amid heinous tales of mid-May snow storms and sub-freezing weather back in Boulder, things have been unfortunately heating up here a bit. However, we did manage to get out and have some success since our last rainy rest day. On Tuesday, we sampled a few classic sunny warmups including a mega 2 pitch (single rope length) route called 'Magic Light' 12b- jugs for days followed by some technical crack/face climbing that's sure to warm even the toughest of hardfolk up. After Paige cranked an awesome one-hang effort on 'White Wedding' 13d, we quickly retreated to shade at a crag we had yet to visit, the Christian Brothers-home to the turbo-classic test-piece, 'Scarface' 14a. Our buddy Darren had been working this killer looking line for a few days, and when we arrived he was just tying in. I watched closely as he made a heartbreaking attempt, falling at the end of the business.

'Scarface' 14a takes the left edge of this beautiful wall
With him and local hardman Ian Caldwell both spraying me down, I jumped on this killer route and sussed out the huge lock-offs between pockets and cryptic body position necessities of the first 5.14 established by an American- way back in '87. I barely lowered off this monster pitch with a 70m rope, and couldn't wait to take another crack at it.. I took a quick rest, reviewed my beta and eagerly jumped back on. This route is 50 feet of burl- big moves between pretty good pockets, followed by a tricky exiting move involving a strange hip scum and then a huge finishing tech-slab that seems to never end. The finishing slab may only be 5.11, but until then there are no rests (at least that I could figure out). With beta fresh in my mind and my stoke level high, I managed to finish off Scarface on my 2nd attempt.

Shortly after, Darren jumped on and road the send train.. meanwhile I cranked an onsight of the neighboring classic, 'Rude Boys' 13b/c, a thuggish route with thin pockets, rose moves and dynamics- again finishing with a tech-slab. Awesome.

'Aggro Monkey' 13b
'Bad Man'

The next day we headed straight for the Aggro Gully to catch the best temps for Paige. With no hesitation, she warmed up and took down 'White Wedding'- showcasing her wicked finger strength and fitness. It was super inspiring to watch. We hung around in the heat for a bit before some locals recommended that I check out a bouldery route way up the gully called 'Burl Master' 13c. This shorter grunt fest features big, dynamic movement in and out of good and bad holds, which are unfortunately disappearing rapidly due to breakage. Despite it's down right poor rock quality, this route offers a much different style than most at Smith. I was stoked to succeed at an onsight of this thing- partially because a second effort might have fewer holds!

Paige Crushes. Nuff Said
Next we headed back to the Christian Brothers to check out a recommended Scott Milton (yeah boy!) route, 'Chemical Ali' 14a. This climb ascends a very different rock type than what we were used to at Smith.. few pockets, poor, undefined edges and big features. The climbing would have been unique at any crag, but was especially so at Smith. My first burn proved to be a bit ambitious given the rock still held heat from the early sun, but I was able to figure out beta and get a feel for it. We hung out for a while, looking over the park as the sun fell closer to the horizon (this place kicks ass). After the route had a chance to cool off a little, I fired to the chains! Stoked. Back to the campsite for some box wine, burritos and well deserved sleep.

Ben Moon special edition funny whipper shots!
Yesterday we hauled big packs around to the back side of Smith in anticipation for a warm day. We'd been told that the backside was the place to be in the heat. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of not checking the aspect of the face I was stoked on, and we found it baking in the sun when we arrived early in the morning. Dang. None-the-less, the Monkey Face is seriously impressive- a really special feature. Seeing 'Just Do It' 14b/c for the first time is something of a dream- this mythical route has no doubt fascinated the likes of many for nearly 20 years.. and remains a test-piece to this day. Too stoked to just sit around, I tied in and took to the brutally hot climb with quickdraws in hand, sans warm up (mistake #1 and #2). It was HOT and the bottom is legit (read: difficult). So I made my way up, thrashing my skin but remaining stoked.. until I got too hot and desperately fled back to earth and into shade. After an hour or so the climb finally peeled into the shade and I gave another effort, finding the route considerably nicer, although still quite warm. I did get to the chains and was able to do all the moves. However, I will admit that while it may have been the hot conditions, this route felt super super hard. A lateral span move towards the top is at the limit of my reach and the long lock-offs before and after it require me to use poor foot options. Regardless, I'm stoked, my draws are hanging and I'm adamant to give it some serious effort.. as soon as the temps cool off.

Looking onto the Three Sisters from the summit
Thankfully we've got plenty of time and our new friends Jeanne Young and Steve House have generously offered up their nearby place for us to crash- definitely an upgrade! With some cooler temps in our near future and a plethora of remaining psych, we're both ambitious to get some stuff done in our last week at Smith!

Bring props to BEN MOON for hooking up some sweet photos.