Tuesday, September 11

the rhythm

After 3 weeks of bolting, exploring, cleaning, sussing and climbing at the Fins, I'm thankfully beginning to wrap things up as the end of this trip is just around the corner. I didn't at all plan to be here for this long, but I was quickly sucked in. This past weekend was a great culmination to a few weeks here in Idaho-- and a significant couple of days for the Fins.

The vast majority of my time at this cliff has been in pretty extreme solitude, or with a few friends. I was in awe to see a legitimate 'crowd' at the cliffs on Saturday and Sunday. In a way it was really cool. It's hard not to have a good time out here - the sparse landscape, the incredible routes, brilliant sunsets - and this weekend we all shared it. 

Pawel nabbing the second ascent of my route, 'Make it a Double' 13a 
I came into Saturday with a day of rest behind me, but my skin was still struggling. The Fins, and this rig specifically, have been taking a heinous beating on my tips. 3 Strings Media - my good buddies Andy Mann and Keith Ladzinski - showed up after a long drive on Friday, ready to capture some sports action knowing that this could be the weekend I sent. Earlier last week I put down one of my projects-- an amazing, technical and thrilling route I called, 'The Catalyst' ... it's the first 5.14 for the Fins. Long time coming. I suggested 14b for this wicked climb, and shortly after I made a breakthrough one-hang on the mega-route next door.

The Catalyst - and myself, pretty stoked after the send... 

With less than a week remaining, I was gung ho on the mega route, my main objective. The climb begins with a pumpy and cool 13a called 'Son of Discovery', before breaking dramatically right as the grips gradually decline to a sequential, powerful and very low percentage mid-height crux. One specific move in this crux thwarted me repeatedly. Pure difficulty was certainly an issue, but mainly it is characterized by an off balance, super accurate and long move. At best I was doing this move 1 of every 3 or 4 times from the hang. Linking it from the ground was going to be a heinous task. A few hard exit moves take you into easier terrain and the main rest. Above the rest, an ultra thin, beautiful headwall, 60 feet or more in length remains. The meat of this section is 2 well spaced bolts long, and requires finger strength, creative thinking and a surprising amount of power. The final bolt is crimpy 12+/13- terrain to the top... pulling up over 40 meters of rope to clip.

The crag felt very crowded on Saturday - especially after being out there so many days alone. Usually I'm not too stoked on crowds when I'm climbing, plus Andy and Keith were in position, dangling above me shooting video. Add to that my dwindling time - I felt pressure. I had climbed through the bottom so many times that by now it was essentially auto-pilot. I woke up when I surprisingly stuck the low crux... suddenly... 'Andy, Keith - dudes, get the f*ck out of my way!' I had no intentions of sticking this move, but now it was on. I knew that this had to be the send. I needed to do it - the bottom was so unpredictable for me that I honestly wasn't sure that I'd ever get through it. 

I had one-hung to the top before from the low crux but it wasn't easy, in-fact it was gnarly. I rested well at the mid-way point and launched into the upper crux with fire in my eyes. I could not fall. I think by the end I was screaming at every move - more nervous than tired - but definitely tired. I clipped the chains with swollen forearms and bleeding tips. 'Algorithm' 14d was born. Idaho's hardest pitch, and one of the proudest F.A.s of my career. Stoked... super stoked!!

It's really important to me that I mention how hospitable Idaho has been to me. Big thanks to all the developers and climbers in the area, who were stoked to show me around and support my vision. It's not always the case that locals want to share such a cool, low-key crag as bad ass as the Fins. I predict that this amazing area will continue to grow over the years, and if you do travel here please respect the place and show love to the locals as they have to me.

Keep your eyes open for a 3 Strings Media short film featuring the Fins and my send on Algorithm proudly released in the coming few weeks by my rope sponsor - Maxim Ropes !!!!

Now I'm off.. I've got 2 more incredible projects to try and wrap up in the next few days... wish me luck!