Monday, August 17, 2009

Jade, V15

Dead Point Magazine posted a video of me climbing Jade, V15 in R.M.N.P. The footage is from June, in some very interesting weather conditions. To read more about my ascent, check out my earlier blog post.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Livin' Large in South Africa

It's been a while since I last time updated my blog. The African internet connections can be unbelievably slow, if they even work. Anyway, once again Rocklands was amazing. I even found that really hard and perfect project I've been looking for. Last season I found this pretty small, but compact area while hiking around in the Kleinefontaine area. In the middle of the area stands a proud, tall, independent arete that looks a lot like a typical gritstone arête. Last year I didn't really get a change to climb in this new area, that we later dubbed the Champagne sector, but when I got to South Africa this year, the arête was the first thing in my mind.

The Champagne Sector

First time we decided to hike to the new area, we ended up wandering around for hours in the heat without finding there. Next day we hiked in from the same direction as I did last year and we actually found the area. First thing I went to check out the arête and it looked just as good as I remembered, maybe even better! To get things started I put a top-rope on it and started working on the moves. Normally I'm not a big fan of working boulders on top-rope. Infact, this is probably the first time I've ever done it, but for this arête, or 'Project Real Big' as we started calling it, there was just no other way. Before I put chalk on it, the starting hold and the top of the boulder were seemingly the only usable holds, and there is 8 meters distance in between them.

Project Real Big

After 4 or 5 days working it in top-rope, I had done all the individual moves: all 24 of them. And that's without including the super intensive foot beta. It was time to start trying it with pads. If it only would have been that easy! Talking people into hiking 45 minutes with their pads, to an area with only one really hard project so far, turned out to be hard, especially day after day. Still, everytime we went up we manged to get pads. Sometimes more, sometimes less. First days trying Project Real Big ground up were not very successfull, but everyday I was getting progressively a bit further. One time I got through the section I thought was the crux, but then fell 2/3 up. I was really dissappointed, because I honestly wasn't expecting to fall there anymore. Next time I fell from the VERY last move! I can't remember the last time I've been so dissapointed. I took a huge fall, but as I was falling I wasn't even thinking about the landing. All I could think was that I jut fell from the VERY last move of something really hard. Next time I fell there again. Turns out that the last move is actually the redpoint crux. That got me really syked again. I mean, how cool is that! You find a perfect, tall highball project just at your limit and the crux is the last move 8 meters off the deck! It doesn't really get any better than that!

One day we finally got really good conditions. Everything was perfect except that it was my second day on the project and i felt like I needed to rest, but the conditions were just too good not to take advantage of. Besides, I was starting to run out of days on my trip. Another problem was that we only had 4 not-so-good pads, which was very little compared to the more reasonable 10 pad we had a couple times before. However, at this point I was willing to take the risk if I got to the last move again, so I gave it a good burn and made it about 2/3 up before falling off. After a longer rest I tried again. I made it through the first crux again and the my foot popped. I surprised everyone, including myself, by somehow staying on. I got into the position to quickly chalk up the left hand, but my foot was sliding so i had to skip it. Every single move after that I felt like I was going to fall for sure, but somehow I found myself at the last move. Without hesitating a split second and trying my best not to think about the 4 small pads 8 meters below me I did the scary highstep and launched for the last sloper. Grabbing the hold instead of hitting the ground really hard felt unreal at that point. 12 days of hard work and mental torture paid off that moment.

After the send

I named it Livin' Large in the theme of the project name. Livin' Large is by far the hardest thing I've ever climbed and I feel confident saying that it's a proper 8C. Before this, I believe the most time I've invested into a single problem is 5 days. Another interesting thought that crossed my mind is that Livin' Large took me more days than Jade took me tries. That being said, the crux on Jade is a very powerful yet simple move, whereas the movement on Livin' Large is anything but simple. Apart from the difficulty, Livin' Large is pretty much a perfect boulder problem in my eyes and I hope the upcoming seasons other climbers will get as psyched to try it as I was.

My focus on this trip was pretty much fully on Livin' Large, but after I sent it, I was happy to be climbing on something easier. During the trip I repeated some classics, that I hadn't done last year, like Splash of Red V11 and Black Shadow V13. I also climbed some problems that I had d0ne before, but that are just so fun to climb on, like In Between Dreams V12, which I've probably done 10 times now, with Chuck yelling "Dance, monkey, dance!" from behind his camera. Chuck shot a lot of video with his new rig and just the raw-footage looks awesome. I can't wait to see it on a big screen.

Splash of Red

Most of my trip I spent at the developing the Champagne Sector together with Chuck. We put up about a dozen quality problems like Spudd Webb V8, Scorpion Slab V7, Mrs. Balls V12, Bob Saget Left V9 and there is still potential for more, if a 45-minute hike is not a problem.

Photos: Chuck Fryberger

FA of Leckerbraai at Death Jungle Area