Back to Byron – An After Work Session

I had been contemplating the answer to the question all day: “Are you up for an after work trip outside?” I weighed the options. Yes, but it’s Monday. Yes, but I didn’t get any sleep last night. I waffled, but in the end I committed to going. Todd and I met and decide to go to Byron where the Portage webcam was showing blue skies. I was still skeptical as we picked up Nate and started driving into what appeared to be the heart of the cloud system, but we kept going.

The clouds descended upon on us as we reached the boulder. We had taken an adventurous “shortcut” straight through the dense alders and devil’s club and crawled a  few hundred feet in 10 minutes; I felt like a humpbacked bear prying my way through the brush with just a fraction of a bear’s strength and even less maneuverability. After all that we arrived at the base of the boulder under blue sky only to be engulfed in a thick cloud of mosquitos.

Find the Climber

Find the Climber

Droves. Schools. Flocks.  The flying armada of blood suckling nightmares met their end at my hands as I swatted, slapped, and even swallowed one into oblivion; futile attempts to end the siege. David the Destroyer, David the Merciless, David the Annoyed: as the body count mounted my alter egos abated to increasingly diminished personas.  Before David the Frantic could appear Todd the Ever-Prepared brought out bug dope. I pulled my hoody over my head. We ignored the hordes and began to climb.

When I had found the Bliss Boulder a few weeks ago I was ecstatic to do four great problems on the single boulder, all of them with fairly easy ( V2 -V4), but with exceptional moves. I watched as Nate and Todd started climbing and felt as if I was showing off my prize vegetables at the state fair.  We circuited the boulder, adding a V2 slab problem and a V6 sit start to the mix. I could tell Todd was having fun because he kept saying, “That’s so much fun!” at the top of each problem. Then we cleaned a new line I had not touched for fear of an awkward trench beneath an intimidating top. Todd went first and as far as vegetable metaphors go, he picked a blue ribbon zucchini. I followed and loved the natural, fluid movement from the massive undercling through the top ledges. Despite the intimidating top the problem was only V2 in difficulty.

Nate on an Incredible V2

Nate on an Incredible V2


Todd on "Chasing Bliss" V9

Todd on “Chasing Bliss” V9

The namesake of the boulder is a  V4 problem called, “Bliss,”  that works up the edge of smooth face on a featured arête. It is incredible. Eventually, we all made it up, despite Nate and I having some trouble with the delicate first moves. During that time Todd began to work on a problem up the middle of the face. It is essentially a slab problem except that the slab is overhanging 5 degrees and polished like tile. After some work Todd was able to link the thin holds into the top of the V4 creating a new V9, “Chasing Bliss.

It was 10:00 PM and we were pushing the threshold  of our session to the very brink. We headed to the Arkenstone and I showed them a line I had done and one that I wanted to try. Both of the problems come into a massive jug that is low on the boulder and branch out from there. The “Dragon’s Hide”V5 goes straight up from the jug and requires an interesting mantle to a palm press and from there it gets even more bizarre.  I was interested to see how Nate and Todd were going to get this, since both of them are considerably taller than I am. Todd was able to deadpoint off of his palm press to grab a good high edge. Nate, who is even taller than Todd was not able to get the palm press set as easily. For people, short or tall, the beta is crazy.

New Problem on the Arkenstone

The Unseen Stalker-v8 on the Arkenstone

Todd and I worked the second line not knowing how to link any of the moves together at the start. It was really fun to come up with the beta from scratch rather than knowing exactly how to climb something from the start. This aspect of bouldering is one that I rarely get when I climb with Todd. Usually he either knows the beta beforehand or powers through the problem in ways that I can’t. Here, we were both shutdown doing the exact same moves to the same place, until we discovered a hidden crimp rail that made all of the beta fall into place. Todd sent it on the next go, I was left with another great project to add to my growing list. We packed up at 11:30 PM and made it back to town by 1:00 AM. It was a glorious way to deprive myself of sleep.

Here’s a short video Todd put together: