Wednesday, October 29

rain and other things

It usually takes about 10 months for me to forget about how wet it is out East, and of course let my stoke build enough to make a trip out here. The climbing is really outstanding, but the last few weeks have been a pretty sound reminder of why I mostly hover around the West. More rainy days than not, it's been a bit of a struggle out here in New England. But damn, it certainly does make you appreciate the crisp moments...

Since I last wrote, I had primarily aimed my stoke towards trying 'Jaws II', a short and aggressive route on the left side of Waimea Wall. It's by all means my anti-style. Powerful and very short, it's difficulty is distilled into two brief boulder problems. The first one being extremely shoulder intensive, and essentially revolving around a foot move for me. Some 12+/13- climbing leads to a not super awesome rest and the upper boulder is my real nemesis - an enormous lurpy dynamic move between two decent holds, but subtlety and accuracy is very important here. I played with this move dozens and dozens of times. Finding little improvements slowly, but with my reach (and strength) this move is right on the verge of feeling possible. My best streak was doing the move 5 of 7 times from the hang.. which to me just means that I would need to dependably get to the move over and over until it could happen.

I was able to climb through the bottom boulder problem and up to the lurp move twice, in-between days of rain - the route has been wet now for 10 days. I got 4 days in working on Jaws but I think my campaign for this season is coming to a close. It seems like the dry days required for seepage to stop are increasing more and more, and I've just about exhausted the climbable, non seeping routes otherwise - which has been awesome. I love the climbing here, and I suppose moving on will just leave a thing or two for me to come back for.

Thankfully Boston is nearby, and has offered a welcome respite from the bad weather. Good eating, great gyms and a rad city to explore. Really I feel like I've been wandering Boston in the rain, and commuting to and from Brooklyn Boulders Sumerville more than I have been climbing at Rumney. I assume I'll be doing more of that, as it's predicted to snow up here this weekend.

When possible I climbed around on dry rock. Did routes like the awesome 'Barracuda' 13d, 'Dodge the Lemons' 13+ was a change of pace from brutal crimping, 'Muscle Beach' 13a/b and 'Shame on a Chippa' 13+ were two of my favorites from last week. After a very wet last week I came out for the weekend and just climbed straight through 4 days on - I'm reminded that out here you just climb when you can and you don't really ever try to 'plan' your days. I climbed some great routes.

This last Saturday was a beautiful day. Many things were wet from the rain but I made my way through a couple wet grips to do 'Steady Slobbin' 14b, the uber classic 'Predator' 13b and 'Tin Man' 13a. Sunday it was raining again but Main Cliff stayed dry so I went up and did the reachy and hard 'Thin Man' 13b and 'Rocket Man' 13d. Monday was again beautiful and we sessioned on the short and stout 'Super Nova' 14b which I happily took down. Yesterday my options were running thin but I did do the savage little 'Cyberblock' 13d.

many hours spent watching the rain and festering in the truck

Not sure what's next for me exactly. I'll be doing a presentation at Hampshire College out in Western Mass next Friday, the 7th. Until then, maybe I'll check out the Gunks? Maybe it will miraculously clear up? Or maybe I'll just eat well and climb plastic in Boston...

Saturday, October 11

New England.

South Dakota to Wisconsin, to Illinois, to Ontario, to Massachusetts to New Hampshire through a myriad of states. Toss in a quick flight to St Louis. I've been racking miles on the Tacoma and waking up in a new spot nearly every morning.

There was some climbing in-between. A few awesome days in Lions Head, Ontario, a handful of days in gyms from Adventure Rock, to Climb So iLL, to Brooklyn Boulders Sumerville. Now I've settled at my main destination; Rumney, New Hampshire. I love it here. New England is every bit as charming and beautiful as I imagined it to be. It seems I made it just in time too. The leaves are exploding with color and the sun has been shining everyday thus far. 

So damn New England. Beautiful evening.
I have wanted to make it up here for a long time, but my post on the US's very best 5.14s and seeing Rumney repeatedly named solidified my desire to make a trip. It's a ways out of the usual circuit for me, but after 4 climbing days here I'm so so glad that I make the trek, and I'm really looking forward to more and more climbing at one of America's raddest destinations. Not to mention just being in this part of the world- America is so diverse and every little piece of this enormous country has such a distinct flavor. It's cool, and different, to be here. 

Before I made it this far though, I linked up with a good buddy of mine, Mike Williams up on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario for a few days of climbing at Eastern Canada's prize crag, Lions Head. It was a rad little trip in and of itself. I wrote about it, and my experience of the tucked away spot on the Arcteryx Bird Blog which can be read here. Definitely click and read! 

Rumney reminds me so so much of a little off the road crag in Clear Creek, Colorado called the Primo Wall. The style, the rock, the length and the movement is very similar. Rumney is short and powerful. Routes are tricky, often times blocky features create cryptic movement with drop knees, knee bars, strange holds and compression. There is also plenty of straight forward hold grabbing and pulling. The rock is of the highest quality, and many lines truly stand out and inspire. Rumney is by all means my anti-style. I had and still have very few expectations at a venue like this. It suits a boulderer very well... I'm not much of a boulderer. But I stopped off in Boston for a few days of bouldering indoors and I think it really helped. 

I've been warming up to the area, in the hopes of tackling some of the gnarly hard stuff here before the season closes down. I've had some luck so far, most notably on 'Parallel Universe' 14a, 'Cold War' 14a and to my surprise 'Livin Astro' 14c. I tried this truly striking pitch once on Thursday in near perfect conditions. Each crux is pretty subtle, so I took my time figuring it out. Especially the finishing crux, which requires a full on wild Jackie Chan jump kick if you're not tall enough to keep your foot on. This was a strange one to suss out, but I found a method that worked pretty damn well. Next try I struggled to remember all of the beta as I made my way to the final crux and stuck the jump. It's hard for me to believe that this route is really 14c, but that seems to be the consensus after many repeats so I suppose I got lucky? I'm hoping this means I've got a shot at taking down it's neighbor... Mike Williams took video of the whole thing, which will be live on DPM here soon I imagine. 

The last couple days I've done some great 5.13s like Butt Bongo Fiesta, Coral Sea, Rhythm X, Concrete Jungle, Cote D'Azure and more. Rumney is a really fun crag to just move around sampling and climbing pitches because they tend to be short, relatively uninvolved and the density is huge. It's easy to get in 8-10 pitches a day here. But it also wears on you. My shoulders are wrecked!

"How they washed their hands back in the olden days..."