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Hopes and Expectations

This summer I'll be bouldering in Rocklands, South Africa. I've been to Hueco Tanks and Fontainebleau in the past and Rocklands is measured at this same standard. In 2011, before I travelled to Fontainebleau I had some thoughts to share about my dreams of that magical forest and what I expected from my time there. Looking back, time having eroded things, I feel that my experience there was not what I had hoped it to be.

In 7 weeks I'll be departing for South Africa. How many and what expectations do I have? What do I want this trip to be like? The answer: I don't know.

Before my trip to Fontainebleau I was fully prepared and ready. I would look through the guidebook at night and imagine my body moving across the rocks. I would imagine the French villages and the beach sand stuck to my climbing shoes. I arrived and absorbed everything, comparing things to my expectations and constantly awakening.

Before my trip to Rocklands I am also fully prepared - prepared physically and logistically. I have a copy of the guidebook, I have my clothes ready, reservations made, and time booked. Physically I'm prepared as much as I'm going to be. I competed all season, trained with the team all season, and challenged myself as much as I could.

However, I am not prepared mentally and I don't know why.

I'll keep comparing this Rocklands trip to my Fontainebleau trip. It wasn't until about 2010 when I wanted to go to Fontainebleau. For six years before that I had no desire. The climbing style was as foreign as the location and I wasn't attracted. Maybe in the end I just needed to grow more, or at least grow into it (Fontainebleau). It eventually happened and I was so happy for that. The memories of that trip are wonderful.

Have I grown into desiring the Rocklands? I think so, but not at the same level. Is it simply because it's no longer my first trip over the atlantic to a major desination, or have I just not watched enough Rocklands videos online? Is it simply because there's no magic in Rocklands? There's no footage of Ben Moon sending Karma, or Ty Landman crushing Khéops. You can't ignore the fact that there's just fewer magical moments to expect from Rocklands.

Or is there? Let's be honest, I didn't climb well in Fontainebleau. I don't know how much of it was due to the weather but in five weeks I climbed only one V11 and two V10. The week before in Albarracin I did three V11 and one V10 in one week.

However, with a doubt, the magical things I can expect from Rocklands are great climbing moments. I will climb better in Rocklands. I will climb harder, I'm sure. I'm good at the style of climbing in Rocklands and I will enjoy it.

I just have to get mentally prepared for it. That's the missing piece. I need to know the climbs more, read about the place more, dream about it more. I need to have expectations. Magical or not, achieveable or not, inflated or not. Perhaps once I have those expectations I can then begin to let them go, replacing them with hopes and then I can succeed.

Escape the Wet

The weather in the greater Reno/ Tahoe area has been less than ideal lately.  Not enough good snow to justify breaking out the skis, but too much accumulated precipitation to return to the our mountainous projects.

We watch the weather report like hawks.  If its not precipitating and above freezing, or at least close, its game on.  When the weather gods decide to take pity on us, we seek refuge in the sandy, granite littered, hills of Doyle, CA.  The majority of the climbing in Doyle is had on decomposing granite egg boulders.  When the rock is solid, it yields bulletproof patina reminiscent of the Buttermilks.  When its not, the phrase "heaping pile" comes to mind.  Most of the climbs are on vertical or slabby faces in the V-B to V-6 range.  This is great for logging tons of millage, but can leave the "crush" muscles woefully unactivated.

But, with a bit of exploration and a willingness to climb on some funky features that you might otherwise walk right past, some good hard climbing has been developed over the past few years.  Here are two such climbs that we have developed:

This climb was established by my cohort Ty Fairbairn a few years back and I finally snagged the second ascent; [vimeo video_id="54567350" width="400" height="300" title="Yes" byline="Yes" portrait="Yes" autoplay="No" loop="No" color="00adef"]

The high this day was 23º F!  I managed to fight through numb fingers on my third attempt and snagged this FA;

http://youtu.be/SYC0yem6ZlQ

You may have noticed that I didn't propose grades for either climb.  Grading has become a seriously nebulous topic for me as of late.  But fret not!  I won't be launching into a self-righteous diatribe about the subjective nature of grades and the need for consensus.  For us it's a matter of not having others who have climbed in established areas recently to confirm proposed grades.  So, we end up either not grading problems at all (which is usually the case) or end up referenceing a climbs difficulty by how long the project took us to complete. For example, the Cave Problem took me three days of work to climb, whereas Cryin Shame took almost five.  If these climbs were down in Bishop, they would probably both be considered around the lower double digit realm.  But they are not, and none of us have been down to Bishop recently enough to gauge our strengths.  So, we are left comparing climbs that really can't be compared in order to arrive at a guesstimation of difficulty.  It tends to be a much cleaner business entirely when we simply leave off the grades and let people tell us how hard they think the climbs were (which people tend to readily exclaim with or with out our asking).  Besides, how do you put a grade on something that you onsighted in your approach shoes?  V-Fun, that's how!

Leaving the grading to those who really care about such things enables us to focus on the whole reason we came out to Doyle in the first place; to hang out in the sun, move on some stone, and escape the wet.

Back to Flaming Gorge

The Flaming Gorge is a great bouldering area about an hour south of I-80. There are about 10 or more sectors all near the Flaming Gorge Dam. I have been probably climbing/establishing things here since I was in middle school, about 14 years ago. It didn't see much attention until a friend of my Jesse Brown moved to Wyoming for school. It then went from probably 60 problems to somewhere around 300+. The rock is a metamorphosed sandstone and it is very solid and has a lot of friction. Its mainly bouldering, but there is some sport, trad, and deep water soloing. There are valleys and ridges full of unclimbed rock. There is so much potential down there. Back in the beginning of 2009 I went on a bouldering hiatus because of a wrist/tendon surgery. I spent the next couple years mainly sport climbing and I kind of forgot about the Gorge. Lately, I have been taking some new friends and people from the college climbing class down there to check it out. It has been great for me to rediscover the areas around the Gorge and see all the things that still need to be done. I hope to spend more time there climbing and exploring this and next year. Hopefully there will be a guidebook coming out the next few years so others can come and visit.[gallery]

The Sierra Buttes Boulderneering Chronicles

After way to many years and a whole lot of life happening, I have finally finished my first film on the Sierra Buttes.Enjoy! The Sierra Buttes Boulderneering Chronicles

[vimeo video_id="40201931" width="720" height="480" title="Yes" byline="Yes" portrait="No" autoplay="Yes" loop="No" color="00adef"]