Sunday, March 29, 2009


Friday we went up to the Black Cliffs after I got home from work.  We went to the Mids (section 1) to climb "Little Boots" since my wife hadn't gotten to climb it last week.  She climbed it, then we packed up and left for home because of the wind and cold.  The weather was supposed to be nice for Saturday, so why not come up then?  I did get to climb on my fresh resoles.  My La Sportivas are pretty old, but they fit perfectly.  I like resoling them rather than wasting money on new shoes that probably wouldn't fit as well.

The guy that you want to do your resole job is Fly'n Brian.  Not only does he do the best resole that I have ever seen, he is a bad-ass climber!  I was happy to get them back since I was climbing in my eVolvs and they are great for the gym, but not great for extended wear!

Saturday appeared to be shaping up when we left the house at noon.  We were going back up to the Mids, but this time we were going to be down at section 4 (ref. Sandy Epeldi's guidebook).  When we climbed "Nut'n a Sling" last week, I thought that it was cool to be on a route that wasn't covered in chalk.  That made me start thinking about the "obscure" routes at the Cliffs.  Friday night I went through Sandy's book and made a list.  First on the list was "Nikita".

Bonnie cleaning "Nikita"

"Nikita" is a thin seam with some very cool moves on it.  Unfortunately, it started to rain about half way up.  We had waited to see if the weather was going to get better.  I thought that it was, so I started up.  Five minutes later the sky opened up.  I got to a nice bucket and plugged in three pieces of gear and lowered off.  We hunkered down and ate graham crackers for half an hour.  Then the skies cleared and we were back in business.  I climbed back up to the bucket and started back up and was stopped by a blank face with only the seam and a side pull.  I was able to get a good finger lock in and friction on the face.  I could see a nice jug about two feet over my reach, but I had my right fingers in the seam and left hand side pulling.  I pulled up with my right and reached across with my left.  I was out of balance and on my way down.  Left finger lock, right hand reaches.  Much better.  The rest of the climb is nice.  I had to scoop dirt off of some of the holds where the angle eases.  There is also a giant rock at the top that teeters when you step on it.  I don't think that it will come off since it is on a big ledge below the chains.  I wish I knew who the first ascensionist was because I would like to move the chains to the face to the right of the current location.  The chains are different to clip.

The kids gave it a go.  They both made it to the ledge below the crux, and gave it their all to go higher, but couldn't work it out.  I try not to spew beta at people climbing (including family) unless someone asks, because I like to think that most people want to figure it out for themselves and if they want beta, they will ask.

We were going to try to cross another one off of the Project Obscurity list but the weather wasn't having it.  I'm glad it's not a long drive to the Cliffs.  "Nikita" is a very enjoyable climb.  It would be nice to get some more traffic on it to clean it up.  It's rated 5.8 and takes nothing bigger than a #4 Metolius TCU with the emphasis on sub #2 Metolius TCU sizes and small nuts.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More Black Cliffs

With the weather so good, I decided to take today off and take the better half up to the Cliffs to climb.  The night before, I had gone into The Benchmark to return some totally bitchin' 80's climbing films that I checked out and saw Seth.  He said he wouldn't mind coming out.  We were out there at around 11:30 and the temperature was great.  You can truly only enjoy the Cliffs on the North side of the river in the spring and fall.  The summer is just too hot.  I went back to "Nut'n a Sling".  Seth is getting a nice trad rack built up and wanted to observe gear placements.  I led it and he cleaned it.

Seth on "Nut'n a Sling"

After we top roped "Nut'n a Sling" a few times we went down to "Little Boots".  It has a thumb's up in the guidebook and it definitely deserves it!  It's a really fun climb.  Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time, so I led it and Seth cleaned it.  We then hurried home to meet the rototiller dude (with a detour to the coffee shop).

Starting "Little Boots"

Below the crux on "Little Boots"

We also got a Trango Cinch to belay with.  I really like using it on bolted routes and for top roping.  It's very easy to lead belay with.  Easier to use AND cheaper than a Gri Gri!

Cinch in action

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Black Cliffs

Taylor, the kids and myself went out to the Mids today.  The weather was a bit cold when we started, but it warmed up to a perfect climbing temperature.  I have never climbed "Nut'n a Sling" (5.8) so we went up to it.  We rock-paper-scissored for the lead and I won (or lost depending on view).  I started up the climb and found bolt holes.  I don't know who would bolt this climb because it takes gear very well.  The top section is very fun and makes you think.  I was having a hard time concentrating since our shower stopped producing hot water.  I was able to get the cartridge out of the faucet, but Lowe's didn't have the part.  Thankfully Grover's had it when I went in today.  So I was drifting to thinking about the impending repair.  As of this writing, the shower is producing hot water and I only lost a small amount of flesh!

Sierra on "Nut'n a Sling" (5.8)

After Taylor cleaned the route we put the kids on it.  The Little Man made it about half way, and Sierra made it about three quarters before crapping out.  We then moved down to a 10a named "In Vitro".  Taylor led up the climb very nicely.  I then worked my way up and was stopped by the bulge.  It has great moves through it, but my legs were noodles after running five laps on the 5.8.  I need to start a Rock training routine very soon.  I was frustrated to fall because of a lack of power.  I was able to finish the climb, but I was roasted!

Little Man on "Nut'n a Sling" (5.8)

It was a good day to be out.  There were hardly any other climbers out.  Nobody was at the Mids except for us.  Two guys walked by earlier in the day, but I don't know where they went.  Taylor said "Hi", but the guys didn't acknowledge him.  I don't know if they thought they were too hard to say "hi" or just a couple of pricks.  Maybe the geographical origins of the pair were South enough to affect their attitude.  Taylor's friend Dustin showed up with a few friends later in the day.  I hadn't seen Dustin in a year.  He is doing well and climbing a lot of ice.  I wish that I could make a pilgrimage down to Ouray with him.  As I always say, "There's always Alpine Ice!"

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Backcountry Ski Race

We got the family up at 4a.m. this morning to drive to Brundage to participate in a BC Ski race.  The weather was great and there was fresh pow everywhere!  The only problem is that I paid to participate in the race.  It was hard to ski the paltry 1200 vertical down in sick pow!  To top it off the course was a lot flatter than I was thinking it would be.  When you have an AT set-up as heavy as mine, you actually like the up.  Sounds funny, but for me it's true.  There was a mix of tele and AT skiers in the race.  Almost all the AT guys had Dynafit bindings and light skis.  A couple of them had a full-on randonee  race set-up.

A lot of the people shot out as soon as the race started.  I started to justify my last place as being "there for the experience" and other statements of weakdom.  In the end, I passed all but five of the lead pack.  I think that there were about 20 racers, maybe less, so 6th place really isn't much.

I was still a little depleted from climbing and skiing on Galena Peak a week ago.  I fueled on the drive up and maintained a disciplined fueling regimen during the race.  The course was well marked and kicked your ass right out of the gate with a 1600' skin up a groomer!  After that was a ridge traverse.  I couldn't resist dropping off the ridge and skiing the powder.  It was supremely delicious!  That of course dooky-chuted me to skin back up to the ridge.  It was worth it.  I know that two others did the same thing!  Then came a very slight 1200' or less Low Angle Geh Powder (TM Dylan Freed) run.  The next section was very flat and very long which led to another skin up a groomed snowmobile run, complete with exhausting snowmo-bile-s.  The last bit was on a groomed cat track all the way to the last 200 yards, where I had to put my skins on for the last time to make it up the groomer to the finish line.

The food was excellent!  Gourmet brats with grilled onions washed down with the lightest beer I have ever drank.  It was provided by Salmon River Brewery .  We had a good time, even though there was a loud-mouthed guy with a Class 5 Cali-jowl that wouldn't shut up about a community in Torre Utah.  I figured that he was just a disgruntled Californian that was looking for the next body part of the US to infect with the cancerous tumor of Californication.  He wasn't even there to race, only to talk.  

All in all, it was a good day.  I think that I will rest tomorrow and maybe climb on our wall.  It's almost spring and time for hitting the crag!

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Tim from Colorado had posted on looking for a partner to climb Galena.  We were going to climb it today (Sunday), but he has been ill for the last week and couldn't shake it.  So I decided to use the weather window on Saturday and go up.  Chris and I drove up Friday night and slept in the Galena lodge parking lot.  I decided to take the same route that splattski took last year.  Due to the snow that the area had received, I was not looking forward to the skin up the SW ridge.  As was expected, it was miserable!  The snow was 2 feet deep all the way to point 9824.

SW Ridge

The wind had scoured all the new snow off the mountain after this point.  The rock section had mini-cornices that needed to be negotiated.  We probably should've turned around and skied the sweet powder in the trees on the lower portion of the ridge, but we trudged on.  We made it to the convergence of the West and South West ridges and started towards the summit.  We started across a small windslab on a low angle, it settled.  There was a much larger windslab further up on steeper terrain.  I called it.  It sucked to stop 200 feet shy, but it wasn't worth the risk.  

West/SW Ridge Convergence

We booted down the West ridge since there wasn't enough snow to ski.  At around 10,000 feet I was able to finally put my skis on.  I stayed right on the ridge due to the instabilities of the snowpack.  Chris was on tele gear and booted further down to where the ridge widens.

SW Ridge Rock Section

I dropped down off the ridge through the trees and skied right up to the deposition zone of a recent avalanche.  I could see that it had come off of the NW aspect.  I turned my beacon over to "search", but luckily... nothing.

Deposition Zone

After a 9 hour up-and-over, we were at the truck, changed, and driving down to cheeseburger bliss in Hailey.