Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Devon Sent: The Best Problem in Dartmoor?

I realize a post from England is long overdue as we've been here since March and while I've posted on Instagram I haven't put anything on the blog.  I've really got no excuses but until I put together something more substantial together this little video of two problems from my local area will have to do............

Before moving to England I saw a picture of Devon Sent and immediately knew there would be at least one problem in the area worth doing.  The line is striking as a pair of "veins" cut through the middle of a gently overhanging granite face and provide just enough holds to get to the top.  Finding a sequence proved the crux for me as the moves are technical and skin generally limits the number of attempts.  In the end I put a rope on to figure out the moves and later went back with my two kids in tow for the send.  It was well worth the effort and is still the best problem I've done in Dartmoor.

Now for those that find Devon Sent a little too much, Nether Edge is a sweet tick in it's own right as it tackles the prow on the same boulder.  It also serves as a nice consolation prize should you get bouted by Devon Sent.  Hope you enjoy the video.

The opening move of Devon Sent.  Wish there were more problems like this in Dartmoor

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Sunrise Boulder: Tuolumne's Best Boulder?

Of all the boulders I saw in Tuolumne the Sunrise Boulder was the one that really stood out.  This solitary boulder is circled with great problems of all grades and sits in a spectacular setting.  It doesn't need much selling and is not to be missed if visiting the area.

Blake on Solar Power, just one of the fine problems on this boulder. 

Deemsters was my favorite line on the boulder.  A pad stack or stone is required to reach the starting left hand, or you can add a couple levels of difficulty and start a bit lower.

Creg sticking the bad sloper on Deemsters.  This might not be the problem for a warm sunny day but Creg sent in miraculous fashion anyway.  

 The Sunrise Boulder.  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tuolumne Bouldering

While my trip to Tuolumne was primarily for Trad-climbing it is impossible to take me anywhere without the smaller rocks getting some attention.  Initially I was hoping to spend the latter part of most days bouldering but we were confronted with daily showers that threw a monkey-wrench in my plans.  Despite the weather I still managed a couple half-days of bouldering and one "dryish" evening.  With the sub-par conditions I stuck mostly to moderate "star-chasing" and tried to see as many areas as possible, never giving more than a few attempts per problem.  Here is my take on Tuolumne bouldering and a few pictures................

People have known about bouldering in Tuolumne since the days of the original stone-masters but it wasn't until recently that it started getting the attention it deserves.  For years the bouldering in Tuolumne had the reputation for consisting of mostly technical knob climbing and "pure boulderers" tended to snub the area.  Fortunately there was a small dedicated crew of folks that didn't buy the lies and spent their summers wandering around developing boulders.

Three of the primary developers happen to be friends (Creg Phares, Charlie Barrett, and Matt Arnold) and for years I've been hearing about a wonderland of granite boulders with little spray and no scenesters.  My friends practically had the boulders all to themselves but after years of development and sharing with friends people started to realize Tuolumne offered more than just granite domes and pulling on knobs.  With bouldering this good it was only a matter of time before the throngs of "dude-bros" that pummel the boulders of Yosemite Valley started to venture up to the cooler air of Tuolumne Meadows.

Now it is safe to say that the secret (not that it was ever a secret) is out as the publication of Charlie's new guidebook has brought more boulderers than ever to the Meadows.  There was a fair amount of deliberation about publishing the guide but even with the fresh influx Tuolumne remains a pretty laid-back place (especially when compared to the chaotic shit-show that can be Yosemite Valley).  It is surprising easy to escape the crowds as the bouldering consists mostly of small areas separated by short drives; just choose your location appropriately.  And for those seeking solitude you only have to wander a little further and not only will you be all alone but you'll find plenty of untouched granite boulders ripe for the taking.

Perhaps it was the roadside "Knobs" area that gave Tuolumne a bad rap but even if pulling on knobs isn't your thing The Scoop is not to be missed.  Do it on a warm sunny day to add a little extra spice.  Awesome problem and impressive to think it was put up before crashpads. 

A closer look at The Scoop.  Blake loves the knobs

Kitty Dome is one of the area you can walk to from the Tuolumne Meadows campground and offers a good array of problems, including another technical highball that is not to be missed (no knobs on this one).  Blake gets it done on Tombstone. 

Parker on another Kitty Dome classic, Golden Rastafarian. 

The Gunks is another old school area that gets a lot of traffic.  While not my favorite it did have a few gems.  Here Blake fires Cellulite Eliminator.

Blake on the best problem at the Gunks (my opinion), Mean Green.

The Giving Tree is a new school classic and one of the many problems put up by Charlie Barrett.

Reach for a Peach is an old test piece put up by Jon Bachar and not to be missed.  Fortunately it's roadside so you shouldn't have a problem finding it.

White Stuff is a nice Matt Arnold addition to Tuolumne and well worth the short hike.  Here Creg sticks the crux dyno. 

Creg on his problem Prince of Thieves.  Another new school classic. 

Creg jumping on Friar Huck

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Rocking some Domes: Climbing in Tuolumne

It has been a good number of years since I was in the USA during the summer as I generally opt to visit during the winter to escape the darkness of Scandinavia.  While the winter trips are great there are limitations to where I can climb so you can imagine my excitement when a short trip to the USA in late June fell in my lap.  I only got a week but it served as a perfect opportunity to explore the high Sierras and I arranged to meet my sister in Tuolumne Meadows for some trad-climbing and a bit of bouldering.  

Tuolumne is located in the eastern part of Yosemite National Park and offers a welcome respite from the crowds and the heat of Yosemite Valley during the summer months.  A seemingly endless granite playground, Tuolumne offers something for climbers of all abilities and disciplines.  While I'm generally a boulderer I decided this trip would be primarily for traditional-climbing on the plethora of granite domes in the area.  My sister has spent a couple seasons in Tuolumne and she served as my guide, lining up what routes we should do and providing the necessary equipment.  It was an awesome trip.

Here are a few pictures...

There is lots of granite in Tuolumne.  So much climbing, so little time.

Tools of the trade. 

Fairview is a fine example of the granite domes that draw climbers from around the world.  Unfortunately I didn't get around to climbing it on this trip.  Next time. 

Hiking toward Matthes Crest, which follows the sharp ridge on the horizon.

Matty on Matthes Crest.  The views are stunning.

Cathedral Peak is one of Tuolumne's most popular climbs and one my favorites from the trip.

The view from on top of Cathedral Peak

OZ is an amazing climb that tackles the beautiful dihedral for the 3rd pitch.  If you look closely you can see a couple climbers on the wall.

This trip would not have been possible without Prairie and Matty to show me the ropes.  Despite a week of bad weather (it rained every day) we still managed to get quite a bit done.  Here is an obligatory summit shot after climbing OZ.

Monday, June 22, 2015

North Wales: Llanbris and Ogwen Valley

When describing an area as a "destination" there are some considerations.  Yosemite and Fontainebleau are climbing destinations for climbers all over the world while Monster Island and Hönö might serve as a "weekend destination" (If you don't know where those are you probably don't live very close).  Well, one of the primary perks of the relocation to England is having an abundance of new weekend destinations to explore and a few weekends ago we decided to tick one off the list with a visit to North Wales.

North Wales is a large region with lots of rock and a rich climbing history.  One of the trickiest parts of planning the trip was filtering through the spray and deciding which areas to check out.  We opted for the Llanberis and Ogwen Valleys which are peppered with small areas, some of which are heavily trafficked.  So here is my take on what I saw.....

The mountainous region of Snowdonia National Park attracts over 6 million visitor annually and it seems that climbers make up a noticeable percentage as there were plenty around.  We of course went for the bouldering which is fairly extensive but pretty spread out.  To be honest I was expecting more as I'd have a hard time spending a whole day at even the largest areas and it seems you'd have to move around quite a bit to fill your days.  It seems to cater to cherry picking which is less than optimal when you're got two small kids.

The rock itself (rhyolite and/or a similar igneous rock) is very climbable and can lend itself to some steep climbing but in general it is sharp and ugly.  That said, there are some beautiful lines and some friendly rock if you know where to look and/or are willing to search.

While overall I was less-than-impressed with the bouldering I was only there 3 days and had kids in-tow.  North Wales might not be a bouldering mecca but if it's only a few hours away it's certainly worth a visit or two.  And despite my less than glowing review I am more than willing to go back for a long weekend for a bit more cherry picking.

Here are some photos

Lina bouldering at one of the largest and most popular area in Llanberis .  The amount of traffic probably has a lot to do with the 30 second approach as the rock here was sharp and ugly.  On the plus side it was pretty solid.

Jerry's Roof was the one problem everyone said I should try.  With a "no commitment" approach it is certainly worth checking out and while it might not be much to look at it climbs really well and the rock is pretty friendly on the skin.   

If you're not into the climbing you can always just appreciate the area for it's scenery. 

Are there any boulders down there?

A pretty sweet problem within eye-site of the road

Lina on a sweet problem on the backside of the Caseg boulder.  This lone boulder was my favorite of the trip as it had a nice setting, good rock and good lines all around it.  I wish there where more boulders like this one.

Chris fires The Gimp on the Caseg boulder.

The Sheep Pen in the Ogwen Valley had a few gems on good rock and was well worth the steep 15 minute hike.  The Pinch my favorite problem there and one of the the most photogenic I saw the entire trip.  Fun climbing and a nice setting.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

North Wales Bouldering Video

Here is a little video from one of our days in North Wales.  I'll post a little write-up from the trip in a couple days.  Until then.......

Ogwen Valley Bouldering: North Wales from Walker Kearney on Vimeo.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Glendalough Video

Here's a little video of the bouldering I did in Ireland.  I spent a few hours running around in the sun trying to tick as many classics as I could.  These are the ones that I took footage of.  Hope you enjoy.

Ireland Bouldering: A Sunny Afternoon in Glendalough from Walker Kearney on Vimeo.