Friday, February 25, 2011

...and projects completed

I went back to Eldorado Canyon yesterday with Brock, Paul and Josh S. to get in some more bouldering before the forecast takes a turn for the worse today. We had perfect weather for hard climbing and it was probably right around freezing with a very light breeze the whole time we were in the canyon. We warmed up at the Milton boulder and gave anywhere from a few (me) to a great many (Brock) tries on Milton (V4). Paul came soooo close on his flash go and even closer a few times later as well, Josh worked out some very impressive short person beta for the last move, but couldn't quite stick the lip and Brock ran laps on the problem, including sending it via a dyno from the start holds. As for me, this problem is basically the opposite of my style: a couple technical/balancy slab moves to a dyno (at least with my beta). I'd done it previously and I was happy to do it once today and then save my strength for Resonated.

Eldorado Canyon Bouldering from Doug Lipinski on Vimeo.
Video and Edit by Paul Evans, thanks Paul!

After the long hike back to the car (~10 feet), we parked by the Gill Boulder and walked down to the Water Rock to give Resonated some more tries. I had to try some slightly altered topout beta since my hamstring is still not great after my last encounter with this problem. After Brock and I each did the top section once to make sure we wouldn't blow it after the crux, we started giving some serious tries from the start. The holds felt good, friction was high and psych was even higher. On my second go I fell on the long move out right, the crux for me and the last move before the much easier top section. Brock had a bunch of goes where he fell on that same move or while trying to set up for it. I decided to change my beta slightly where I had fallen before and pulled on for my third go. I honestly don't really remember the specifics of that next try. I just know the holds felt great, I hit everything perfectly and felt super strong. The next thing I know, I was hanging from the jug after the crux, staring down the top section of the problem and telling myself to really focus and not mess this up. A couple moves later, pumped but feeling solid, I was on top of my first V9! I guess that's what it's like to be "in the zone". What a great feeling and one of my favorite problems ever!

Not to be outdone, Brock committed to some beta he hadn't been sold on before and one or two goes later, he sent too! First V9! I'd like to go ahead and take credit for Brock's send too, since I cranked up the motivation and adrenaline to the next level with my send. Just kidding, awesome job Brock!

This boulder problem is pretty close to perfection in my opinion. Plus is fits my style almost perfectly. There are mostly decent holds, but a couple very difficult moves. There is one right hand crimp that's quite bad (and sharp, my only complaint), but it's good enough to crank on if your fingers are strong. There's also a terrible sloping sidepull/undercling for the left hand, but it's manageable with a good foot in opposition and then some subtle body positioning. The bottom (hard) section is overhanging, but not too steep and the setting is ideal, overhanging South Boulder Creek in the middle of Eldorado Canyon. Go do it NOW!

Unfortunately, I didn't get any video of my send. Paul had his video camera running and it recorded me taking my jacket off for the send, then the batteries died. Isn't that just magical, 60s more would have been enough. I'm disappointed, but how could I really be upset after a send like that. Fortunately, we got Brock's send on another camera (albeit with worse quality) and you can see that in the video above. Also, Josh ripped a HUGE flapper open on the sharp crimp to end his day. I guess tropical vacations aren't too good for the calluses. Heal up soon!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Projects completed, projects begun

This winter has been very productive for me as far as finishing up some awesome bouldering projects around the front range. First up was Valhalla (V7) on Flagstaff. This is a very fun, very steep problem with a couple sharp crimps and a last move that spit me off time and again on link. I was able to do the high start (Valkyrie, V5) in one session, but the last move is just hard enough to be the redpoint crux for me. After falling there about 8-10 seperate times over multiple sessions, I went back on a crisp day in mid December with the goal of finally dispatching this problem. On my first go, I totally dominated it. Felt like V3. This was one session away from becoming a mind game and it felt fantastic to dispatch it with such authority. On to the next one...

The Turning Point, V8 from Doug Lipinski on Vimeo.

The Turning Point (V8) was my next objective. All in all, I think I spent around 6 sessions hiking up to the Satellite Boulders to work on this problem before it finally went down last month. The session before I sent, I fell on the last (not super hard) move multiple times because I was using some stupid beta. By the time I figured that out, I was too tired to send. No worries though, it went down first try the next time I was up there. It was cold enough that my fingers numbed out for the last several moves, but there was no way I was letting go. This is my hardest send to date and without a question one of the best problems I've done. The moves, the rock and the setting are all spectacular. Plus there's lots of beta to figure out with different options for almost every move. The video above shows me on the send.

Kahuna Roof, V6 from Doug Lipinski on Vimeo.
Video by Sarah Evans, Edit by Paul Evans

Finally, I went up to Carter Lake last weekend with a good crew to finish off Kahuna Roof and try some other stuff as well. I had been up there about a year ago when I was in poor climbing shape and failed to do the second move. It was a different story this trip and Kahuna Roof went down after the 3 or 4 tries it took to remember the first two moves. This is another of the best problems I've done, with good rock, a fun dyno, a perfect landing and an awesome view. It's listed as V5 on most sites, but there are various rumors of breakage and I'd say it's solidly in the V6 range. We did a few other very fun problems too. My favorites were The Seam (V2), Rocky Top (V4, flash), and Sunshine (V6) which I should have flashed except for my terrible foot beta on the first go. Unfortunately, a lot of the rock at Carter is very pebbly and unpleasant to climb on, but there are still some very good problems.

With no other projects and great weather last week, Brock, Paul and I decided to head down to Eldorado Canyon to try Resonated (V9). This is a relatively new problem put up by Paul Robinson a couple years ago and it's really a fantastic line. It's only climbable when the creek is low and it ascends a prow that overhangs the water using a couple very small, sharp crimps, a terrible sloping sidepull/undercling, lots of body tension and some heal hook trickery to a very long move. I had tried the problem once before and had not been able to do the long move out right, but Brock had done all the moves and thought it could potentially go down. After trying a bunch of different things, I finally worked out some beta that works for me and pulled the crux move! Unfortunately, the top half of the boulder involves cranking way up off a good heal hook and I managed to pull my hamstring pretty bad on the heel hook the first time I tried that move. It's still pretty sore 3 days later, but definitely improving. There were no sends of Resonated that day, but we'll be back soon with high hopes for success. There are two good videos of the problem here and here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Winter Bouldering Gear

A winter send of The Turning Point, V8 from Doug Lipinski on Vimeo.

I'm not usually a big fan of the cold, and before this winter I'd never spent much time bouldering in sub 50 degree temperatures. As it turns out, I was missing a lot. Even here in Boulder, where January temperatures can reach the mid 60s, 35-45 degrees truly means sending temperatures. The low humidity and cold temps mean no sweaty hands and great friction, but the cold brings other challenges. With that in mind, I present an outline of my winter bouldering gear.

Baselayer: I find this is the key to winter bouldering and it's worth buying some nice wicking long underwear and a thermal top. If it's colder than ~45 degrees I'm usually glad I wore long underwear pants, otherwise I may leave those at home. Wicking is super important, especially if you have anything more than a 5 minute approach. The best way to end up cold is to wear cotton and sweat up your clothes at the beginning of a session. I usually wear some Patagonia Capilene pants and a snug fitting Under Armour ColdGear top. Make sure the top is long enough to tuck into your pants and tight enough to hold itself down, overlapping your long underwear. This prevents any chilly drafts and seems to help a lot with warmth.

Pants: The pants you wear over your baselayer aren't as important in my opinion. I just wear whatever pants I'd usually wear while bouldering.

Top: I typically layer another wicking long sleeve shirt over my base layer. Again, Capilene is my usual choice, but take your pick. This layer should not be as snug as the base layer, but provides a bit of extra warmth while your not wearing a coat. Speaking of which...

Coat: Go warm here. Bouldering is an anaerobic activity that leaves you sitting around between attempts most of the time. A good jacket is key to staying warm while you're not climbing. I recommend a nice down or synthetic puffy jacket. The Mountain Hardwear Phantom Down is my jacket of choice. It weighs less than a pound and has nice fleece lined hand pockets. Typically you'll take your jacket off for a climb and then put it back on right away to stay warm between attempts. I also don't wear my jacket for the approach, you'll just overheat. If it's less than 65 degrees I'll bring the down. I've never once thought "If only this big pad I'm carrying didn't have that extra 15oz. from my down jacket I totally would have sent my project", but there have been several times I left the car in a tshirt only to end up shivering in my softshell and wishing I had brought the down.

Hat: Get a decent windproof hat. Even if your jacket has a hood (which is awesome), bring a hat too so you can keep it on while you're climbing.

Footwear: Socks and shoes should just be chosen according to the approach conditions. If you have to hike through snow dress accordingly. If it's dry I just wear my regular shoes. Obviously your climbing shoes have probably already been chosen. One tip, before you put them on (perhaps during the approach), put them under your shirt to warm up for 5 minutes or so. You can also exhale a few deep breaths into each shoe before pulling them on. It makes the whole business much less painful, trust me.

Misc: A rag or two is always a good idea for soaking up any seepage from melting snow. This can also be used to help brush off the top of a boulder. Also, one of my favorite pieces of gear is a nice big thermos. A thermos full of hot tea helps with hydration and can seriously warm you up. Just try not to burn your mouth! I always go with some green tea and honey, hot chocolate is just too rich and sugary to drink much. Several cups of tea is better for hydration and warmth than a cup cocoa. Also, I usually don't bother bringing gloves. You can't climb in them and my hands go in my jacket pockets between attempts.

Last tips: Warming up is super important. If the approach is at least 15 minutes, that's a great way to get the blood flowing. Also, warming up the fingers on easy problems doesn't quite do it for me. It's a good start, but the rock always just feels freezing until I start getting on some smaller holds. Don't be surprised if your fingers numb out the first try or two on your project, mine always do. Just wait a minute or so and, assuming you're dressed well and otherwise warm, you'll soon feel the burning warmth of some serious blood flow. Sending temps!

I know it's been a long time since I've posted so I'll have another post up soon on the projects which have gone down this winter (the video above is one) and others that have been started.