Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bishop Bouldering: Milking it

I've been spending quite a bit of time in Bishop this winter.  To be honest there are lots of other places I'd rather be in terms of climbing but when rolling with the family Bishop has proved to be perfect.  The weather has been incredible (as long as you're not considering the serious drought) and with a multitude of bouldering close to the rig you can always squeeze in a climb between snacks, naps, changing diapers, combing hair, etc, etc....

There is lots of rock around Bishop but it is the granite of the Buttermilks that keeps me coming back.  Got to love this place as it's hard to beat the setting.  The view is best appreciated from the top of a giant boulder. 

The Buttermilks are know for amazing highballs and Suspended in Silence in the Pollen Grains is one of them.  This problem has actually broke recently making it a couple notches harder but difficulty is no obstacle for Brian as he shows how it's done.

Not all problems in the Milks are tall.  Chris on the grainy slopers of Brian's Problem.

One of my favorite problems in the Buttermilks is Lydia's Mouth, also at the Pollen Grains.  The unique moves out the giant mouth might reduce shorter climbers to tears.

Also at the Pollen Grains Sarah cranks on Cindy Swank.

Lina styles the Buttermilk Stem, a must do for any climber.

The Solitaire boulder is most known for the problem the boulder is named for but I find some of the other problems on the boulder to be better.  Another One climbs extremely well and comes recommended for anyone visiting the boulder.

Ryan on the slopey topout of Another One.

Judge Not is on the back side of the Solitaire Boulder and despite having no stars in the guidebook is my favorite problem on the boulder.  The crux isn't hitting the jug but matching with your left hand before you spin off.  Here Noah unsuccessfully tries the wet-noodle technique on the dyno.  

Checkerboard is one of my favorite problems ever.  A striking line on beautiful rock in an amazing setting.  4-start problems are extremely rare but this one is a very strong contender.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

New Year's Resolution, Instagraming and Malibu Bouldering

Every time I post after a long dry spell I talk about making a renewed effort to keep Kearney Journey up to date and relevant.  Needless to say these previous efforts proved minimally effective as life and appathy inevitably interfere with blogging.  Now once again I'm stating my intention to maintain some semblance of regularity on this blog and I even thought I'd try to make it a new year's resolution of sorts (despite waiting almost a full month to make said resolution).  So we'll see how it goes but I'm shooting for the very achievable goal of averaging one post a week for the rest of the year.

I'm also learning my way around Instagram (@kearneyjourney) where I'll be regularly posting photos of my adventures (see sidebar for feed).  For those without Instagram I'll be sharing those pictures on facebook as well, so if you like the Kearney Journey page you'll get them in your feed.

So until the next time, here are a few more photos of the bouldering at Malibu's Tunnel Boulders

I've actually been spending lots of time just hanging on the beach this trip but I do get out to the local bouldering from time to time.  Sure is nice to watch the sunset over the pacific after a bit of bouldering (or whenever really). 

I don't have much that I know of that I haven't done around Malibu so I've been trying a few of the more obscure problems.  One such problem at the Tunnel Boulders climbs a steep face and has a first move that was beyond my ability.  I guess Gato Cosmico will have to wait until I'm stronger 

My back-meat looked pretty good doing the upper moves of Gato Cosmico but failed me on the start.

Prairie on a sweet warm-up at the Tunnel Boulders

Matty contemplates using a mono.

One of the funner problems I did is a classic sloper problem called Leah.  The problem is essential lifting your butt off the ground and doing a couple hard bumps with your right hand before some easy moves on sweet slopers.  Even if the climbing isn't all that interesting it's a good line and some of the best rock around Malibu.  Got to love those slopers.

The fun thing about sandstone is it have be hard to judge difficulty.  Here Lina milks the slopers of a deceptively difficult problem.  

Terminator is one of my favorite problems at the Tunnel Boulders and I've added it to my circuit.  There is also an obvious sitstart I've spent a couple sessions on that adds considerable difficulty and may still be undone.  It's nice to have something to work on. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Getting Psyched for Bishop with some old footage.

Tomorrow we get back on the road and head to Bishop.  Psyched to be back there and circuit the old classics and maybe even manage some new problems.  Here are a couple older videos from previous years.  I should make some more of these.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Castle Valley: I want to climb that.

"Because it's there" was George Mallory's famous reply to the question of why he wanted to climb Everest.  The question itself might seem a bit preposterous to some climbers as it can be hard to understand how someone can see a towering peak, jutting pillar or any similar formation and not want to be on top.  That seeming innate desire had me scrambling up buildings, trees and rocks as a small boy and when I grew older it transitioned to hiking up mountains just to be rewarded with a grand view.  So when I eventually found climbing it would seem that it would take me to new heights, but instead that initial desire to simply reach the highest point quickly morphed to include finding the most striking and/or difficult line and over time I was standing on fewer and fewer summits until eventually I reached the point where I'd exert days of effort to crawl out of some 10 foot hole covered in graffiti.  It's an interesting place to end up.  

Now don't get me wrong, I love bouldering and have no intention of forsaking my beloved pebbles but there is a yearning when visiting certain places that makes me want to put aside the pad and tie in to a rope.  There are features that are so impressive in scope, contrast, ascetics and/or magnitude that they beckon like sirens, appealing to that fledgling climber that like Mallory felt the need to climb it simply because it's there.  I'd know the big walls of Yosemite or perhaps the peaks of the Sierra Nevadas might come to mind for many but if you're not willing to commit the time/effort or lack the expertise necessary there are some dessert towers that will appeal to the "Mallory" in us.

Though lacking the commitment of El Cap and on a much smaller scale Castleton Tower in Utah's Castle Valley just begs to be climbed.  There are plenty of towers in the area but this one stands out as it stands imposingly, demanding your attention.  The first time I drove through the valley I was captivated by Castleton and felt the urge to stand on top of it.  Of course having dedicated myself to bouldering all these years I had to recruit someone capable of helping me to the top and luckily for me my sister Prairie has become an excellent trad-climber.  So it was with great excitement that I joined my sister to bag a tower for what has been a highlight of my 15 years of climbing.

It's easy to see why Castleton is a "must do" for climbers visiting the region.  And while I can't help but want to stand on top of such formations this desire is not shared by all.  When asked, my sister Heather replied with no hesitation that she had zero desire to see the view from the top of Castleton.  I'll share my pictures with her though just in case. 

The hike to the base was fairly casual and took roughly 40 minutes.  Prairie had done Castleton a couple years earlier and said the trail was much better now.  Even if you got off the trail you'd have to be dumb or blind to actually get lost.  "Does anyone know how to find the massive tower?"

At the base of Castleton.  A note to those going for a winter assent of pretty much anything in the northern hemisphere, if the high temperature for the day is going to be just just a few degrees above freezing it is best to avoid routes with the word "north" in their name.  As I mentioned earlier Prairie had done Castleton a couple years earlier via the classic Kor-Ingals route.  Wanting to take an alternative route to the top she opted for 5.8 on the other side of the tower and I foolishly followed....  The first pitch of the North Gully is superb climbing in an ascetically pleasing dihedral but I couldn't appreciate any of it as my hands were so cold I had to fight the urge to vomit while I wondered how long it takes for frostbite to set in.  Seriously though, my hands have never been colder and I really felt like vomiting.  When I finally joined my sister at the anchor after climbing the first pitch we chuckled about how miserable we were and how we had never thought it possible to have to try so hard on a 5.8.  When the blood flowed back into my hands along with the feeling best described as the "screaming barfys" (you want to both scream and barf simultaneously) we decided it was best to just rappel down and go around to the sunny side and do Kor-Ingals.  I must say that while I was jamming my numb meat-hooks into the freezing crack I couldn't help but be impressed with my sister.  Not only did she lead with absolutely no feeling in her hands but she belayed me up the first pitch thinking we'd continue climbing through icy hell.  Or maybe she just wanted me to expericne the same suffering she just went through.  Either way I was happy to have had that miserable experience and even happier that we bailed and went to climb in the sun. 

Prairie racking up.  Needless to say, things went great once with got in the sun.  We danced up Kor-Ingals wondering how we could have been so dumb.  Live and learn.

The mandatory summit photo. 

The view on top for my sister Heather (just in case).  And there are some more towers I'd like to stand on.  

The beauty of climbing like this is the gratification you get when you get to a remote place.  It might not require great strength but even an easy climb can be an adventure and give a sense of fulfillment much greater than sending a V-hard boulder problem.  Maybe the reason I explore and develop so much is that it is a way to instill that sense of adventure that is generally lacking in bouldering.

Castleton casting a shadow.  Clearly this tower was happy to see me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Malibu Bouldering Video: Malibu Creek and Tunnel Boulders

We are still in Malibu waiting for a spell of bad weather to pass and I used my time to throw together a little video.  The footage is from various years (you might notice the haircut) and highlights a couple problems that are worth doing it in the area.

One of the problems is located in Malibu Creek State Park which is known primarily for it's sport climbing on steep volcanic tuff but has a bit of bouldering.  Chubbs (aka the Malibu Roof) is hands down the best problem there and is a saut after test piece for Los Angeles Climbers.

The other problems in the video are from the Tunnel Boulders that sit just north of the tunnel in Malibu Canyon.  Unlike Malibu Creek this area is a soft sandstone and while some of boulders are super solid most of the climbing is on friable rock and the problems are "evolving" as the area gets more traffic.  Regardless, there are some good climbs to be done.

Hope you enjoy the video.  And for those that don't pick up the quote at the start, drop everything and go watch The Big Lebowski  right now.

Malibu Bouldering: Malibu Creek and the Tunnel Boulders from Walker Kearney on Vimeo.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Life's a Beach: Hanging and Bouldering in the 'Bu

Since leaving Moab about a week ago we've been hanging at my Grandmother's place in Malibu.  There is a fair amount of climbing in the area but we spent our time mostly hanging with family and preparing for the impending celebration of gluttony that is Thanksgiving.  Now that we have eaten ourselves stupid it's time to hit the rocks and try to recover from the food coma.

We're still figuring out our plans for the next couple of weeks but as long as weather cooperates our options are wide open.  Yosemite? Bishop?  Black Mt?  Santa Barbara?  Hang in Malibu?  Until we make a decision we'll be hanging and climbing around Malibu.

Here are a few pictures of bouldering and beaching around the 'bu.  The bouldering photos are actually from last year and feature my friend Robert (everyone misses you.  Come back!).

 Sunrise at Malibu

 The view from Tutu's porch.  Life if good.

Prairie nearing the end of a sweet problem at the Tunnel Boulders in Malibu Canyon

Robert on Crocodile Rock, The Tunnel Boulders

Robert on Purple Prow at Purple Stone in Topanga Canyon

One of my favorite problems at Purple Stone.  Don't remember the name but it is awesome.

Robert finding a hold at Purple Stone.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Getting High on the Chaos Boulder

I had mentioned earlier that Big Bend has one of the better boulders I've climbed on in North America.  It's rare to find a boulder that packs such a punch as the Chaos Boulder boasts 5 problems that would be classic anywhere (Circus Trick, Hell Belly, Chaos, Phantom Fighter, Grim Reacher Left) and a number of bonus filler problems.  

Grim Reacher Left is one of the classic lines on the boulder but it doesn't seem to get much traffic as the height deters most suitors.  Fortunately for me my budy Kyle showed up so we got to try the problem with adequate foam.  

Christmas came early when Kyle rolled up to the boulders

Just high enough to play with your nerves.  I took a few tried to commit

Early move

Firing the crux deadpoint/dyno.

Kyle on the victory jug of a great problem.