Sunday, November 7

Pure Imagination

Yesterday morning we moped about the house as long as possible, waiting for the temperatures to rise from a frigid night. Hours passed as the whole house procrastinated entering the chill outside, but before long my psych got the best of me, thus Bret and I packed up and took off for the Chocolate Factory. I warmed up, as I have been, on the bottom couple bolts of 'The Honeycomb Project' which are no harder than 11+, and tried to prepare myself mentally for some hard redpoint effort. I had made very promising links up until this point, but had only invested one half-assed (fourth day on) true redpoint attempt.

After some easy initial climbing, the route fires directly into a very serious boulder problem on thin, very sharp edges, finishing with a wild, all-points-off sideways dyno to a resting jug. From here the route carries on with difficult lock-offs on crimps and pockets to surprisingly frequent, albeit worsening rests. Towards the top lies the a longest section of uninterrupted hard climbing that finishes with a reachy, shouldery lock-off (redpoint crux). There is a solid rest at the final bolt before you climb a series of pockets and long moves guarding the chains.
photo by Ethan Pringle
With all of this random beta swirling in my head I left the ground for my first try. After getting through the low crux, I switched modes from low expectation to 100% effort. When I made my way to the red point crux, just below the route's final bolt, my fingers were numbing and my confidence low..... I fell. But it was not a failure, in-fact I was STOKED to have made such a great from-the-ground link. I rested in the sun, contemplating my next attempt.

As I left the ground on my second try I was quite confident that I could climb this route. Unfortunately I made a stupid mistake exiting the easy lower section, and my immediate next effort ended with a violent dry-fire not too far above there... good thing - my nerves were racing and this kind of thing is perfect for chilling you out and removing expectations.

With that aside, I climbed onto the route. The lower crux felt great, the following sections went smoothly and I perfectly timed my rests. The redpoint crux arrived and I felt prepared and psyched. I powered (probably over-powered) the finish, determined to clip chains... and I did. This route exhibits some incredible movement, and a lot of hard climbing. It's very bouldery, sharp, and crimpy. I thoroughly enjoyed climbing on this route, and I'm honored to have done it's first ascent. (Adam Taylor, who had been trying the climb for a while before I arrived, is close to sending, and was open and encouraging to me trying the climb- I'm am super grateful. Thanks again Adam.)
After some deliberation about names, my buddies and I sat down and watched 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' for inspiration. I've settled on the name 'Pure Imagination' for the route - that being the classic song that Gene Wilder sings as the Willy Wonka tour enters the fantastical factory - and thus following the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme at this cliff. It was only recently that I could have even imagined being able to climb a route of such style and difficulty.. Pure Imagination seems very fitting.

As for a grade, which of course seems to be everyone's chief concern, I have decided to suggest 5.14d. I base this suggestion on A) the relative difficulty of this route compared to the 14b's and 14c's at the Red I've done and B) how much effort it took me in comparison to Kryptonite (about the same number of tries at 12-15 or so). As with basically all new routes, an initial suggestion is only that - a suggestion. It could very well be easier or harder.. I'll be very stoked to see it repeated!
we're GOOD at killing time
Today I was stoked to climb on something fresh, so we headed to the Gallery where I had my eye on James Litz' crimpy test-piece, 'The Shocker' 14b. This route was surprisingly rad.. featuring a mix of heinous crimps and pockets with a nice crux section of deadpoints and taxing movement on slim grips. I one-hung on my second attempt and finished it up on my third, as the sun set early and the crag suddenly got freezing. Bret put the amazing 'Zen and the Art of Masturbation' to rest as well. I'm stoked and undecided on what may come next.. just happy to be here and stoked on some 'Pure Imagination'!