Monday, September 6, 2010

Black Cliffs

"Number Nine" at the Mids

We decided to try to get a couple pitches in at the Cliffs since the weather cooled off. We were wanting an early start, but there was shoe shopping to do. So we got up there about 1:30 and it was pretty warm. There were four others climbing on the Short Cliffs so we went to the Mid Cliffs. Last year, I started to try to climb the "obscure" routes out there. We climbed some cool routes, we climbed some routes that might not have been the right grade, we climbed routes with "good pro" and generally had fun! The Project Obscurity routes are mostly gear routes and sub 5.11 so they rarely get done these days.

"Prominent Crack" with bush

Today's selections were "Number Nine" (5.8) and Prominent Crack (5.9). Due to the heat and the poison ivy-like bush, we didn't attempt Prominent Crack. We almost didn't start up "Number Nine" because the rock is black and south facing. But I geared up and started up.

The route starts out easy on in-cut edges and flakes. The seam in the dihedral is micro small so there is no real opportunity for pro and I didn't want to place anything behind a flake. You could probably get a couple micro-nuts in the seam, but the climbing isn't too hard down low. I placed a cam horizontal in a flake that was wedged in the dihedral. After the edges and flakes, the pro is great! Plenty of constrictions in the crack for perfect nut placements. This is good because the climbing gets into the meat of the 5.8 about then. It's a really fun route because you do everything on it. Starting with easy, positive edges into a stance to place gear. Then a face section that takes some balance to another nice stance to put in another piece. A short finger/hand crack to a fist crack to Fixe anchors. Nice. I did have to do some gardening on the upper crack to get a cam in, but I won't complain!

Bonnie at the finger/hand crack

We climbed it three times. Highly recommended. As I've said before, if you climb gear routes at the Black Cliffs, you will rarely be around other climbers. And who cares if you are! We are all just there to have fun! Like the Bible says, "Love thy Neighbor as you love yourself". I personally like Anton LeVay's, "Do unto others, as they do unto you."

The first ascent of "Number Nine" was in 1973 by Charlie Crist and Barry Dewane. "Prominent Crack" was first climbed around 1975 by my friend Bob Jahn. The norms that were broken in the past should serve as a guiding light to us now. When I climb a route that is now obscure (not covered in chalk or bolts), I think about the mental fortitude these guys had to push harder. I try to push, but it is over known ground. Not nearly the same ground those before me covered. They serve as an inspiration to me. Thanks for shining the light...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Outdoor Climbing Gym

Everyone that lives in Boise knows where Table Rock is. Everyone that climbs here knows that there is some excellent bouldering and top-roping up there also. But, there is a side of Table Rock that is not as classic as the South side. It's called the Traverse Wall in Sandy's guidebook. Drive up past the gate and park at the first spot on your left after you level off. Don't park in front of the quarry gate or you can be Federally executed since they are protecting History and nature by blasting the shit out of it.

Walk around or climb down to the bottom of the cliff and there will be a nice shady wall that runs for a hundred or so feet. Start anywhere and traverse on jugs and pockets until your forearms quit. You don't really need climbing shoes since you are going for the forearm pump and there's not much finesse in footwork on this wall. Some footholds have been epoxied to prevent further erosion.

I like it because it's cool in the summer, the kids are safe, there's no techno music blaring, nobody is shouting beta, but best of all... it's outside!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Snow Pickets

Since it snowed a little while ago, it made me think that it's not that far around the corner until ski season and it made me excited! Also since I didn't do anything this week worth writing about, I thought I would blog about... Snow Pickets!

Namely, how to make them. I make a lot of stuff like sleeping quilts, packs, tarps, and clothes for the Alpine for myself. But, the only piece of climbing gear that my gremlin fingers will make (and I trust) is a snow picket.

If you want to read an EXCELLENT article by Don Bogie that explains pretty much everything about pickets and their placement (and their failures). Click here. It's PDF and 20 pages long.

DIY Picket

Now, on to the DIY picket. First you have to understand that you can have access to the same aircraft grade aluminum that commercial picket makers have. It's the same with fabrics for clothes, shelters, and sleeping bags. You CAN find the source! My source for metal/aluminum is here in Boise. Actually it's Garden City, but we'll let that slide. The owner supplies material for a lot of weird things. Here's the place:

Gem State Metals, LLC
5220 N. Sawyer Ave., Unit H.
Garden City, ID 83714

When you get there, you want to have them get you the 2"x2" angle 6061-T6. Figure how many pickets you want, and multiply 2 feet (optimal picket length) by that number. To make it easy on yourself, you can have them cut 2 foot sections at a time. It's free.

When you get your 2 foot sections home, break out the drill with a 1/2" bit and tape measure. The first holes will be centered on the 2" sides and in the center of the length (at 12" from either end). The next holes are 3" down from the ends and centered. The next holes are again centered on the 2" sides and are 7.5" from each end. This makes the holes symmetrical from the center hole.

You will want to use a round file to smooth out the holes. After all the holes are smooth enough to run a finger through with zero burrs, pick a side and thread a 12" long piece of 5/8" webbing through both of the top holes. Tie a water knot. Tighten the knot every time you rack your pickets.

DIY Picket and pack on Rainier

I use a lightweight wiregate 'biner to attach it to my pack. It's secure in a way that is easy to get out in the event of a crevasse rescue. If I am snow climbing and need to rack it, I slide it between my back and pack, then clip it on a shoulder strap. I usually have another picket in or on my pack for setting up a belay. I also take a large locker and 48" sling to T-slot the picket (read the above mentioned article if unsure). You can girth hitch the sling through the center hole.

Now the bottom line. How much do you save making your own? A commercial picket will be around $18-$20 + shipping. DIYs will be about $7 a picket. Is it worth it? Only you can decide. I like making shit, so for me it is. Plus, if you are outfitting a group to go up Rainier and need 5 or more, you can really save some money!

One last thing... If you decide to make pickets, your life is in your selection of materials and craftsmanship. Remember that the 6th Satanic Sin is "Lack of Perspective". Your choices are yours alone. Become educated, own your decisions. AMFYOYO