One Long Weekend

What a terrific weekend of climbing.

Friday grew into a beautiful day and I blasted out of town after work, intent on blowing some energy on new problems up at Hatchers. Hunter called me as I was passing Eagle River and committed to meeting me out there and so a few hours later he arrived as I finished cleaning a new arete on a small overhung boulder. I had already cleaned and climbed the easier arete which had possibly been done before and then forgotten, like so many other problems out here. We both failed on the new arete and moved on to another boulder with a one-move-wonder-huck that we both failed on as well, Hunter failing less than myself.

We then went to a boulder that I had cleaned the previous weekend and dubbed, “The Circus Boulder”, a large boulder with a fantastic wall full of short, fairly easy problems. We quickly repeated Dancing Bears V4 and then did a new line next to it, fighting the unexpected barn door that occurs when going to the lip of the problem. We called it Front Row Seat V3 after I swung out on the lip and Hunter got watch the expression on my face change from determination to disappointment in a flash: comedy for all. The main attraction on the boulder is a roof/arete feature that protrudes from the end of the wall. The natural starting point, a massive perch beneath the roof has three possible lines out of it, all of which seem as improbable as the next. The one that I am closest to requires a toe-hook layback, double palms, and a bizarre stemming move; it probably goes at V8. Hunter half tried the horizontal arete, but was too tired to really commit to the massive throws on what is likely to be a double digit problem. Neither of us tried the dyno. The session ended with us hopping around the boulder field, spying a few new problems that looked incredible.

The next morning I woke up with no energy and throbbing finger tips, apparently having not drunk enough whiskey the night before, or perhaps under estimating the how much effort I put in the day before. After a long, but pleasant breakfast in the calm morning, the clouds set in, I slammed a Red Bull, and sought out a problem that I had partially cleaned by the Niffleheim area. After another hefty round of scrubbing, the small cave revealed a great boulder problem, Biological Dark Matter V6, starting on big holds and ending on big slopers. I climbed another goofy new problem in the area and then wasted time cleaning and climbing what I thought would be a good problem. It turned out to be terrible and my energy which had been buoyed by caffeine, vanished like a frightened marmot. I drove home and spent the evening napping on my porch, bathed in sun.

The weekend was seized and clearly I was not going to climb on Sunday. I woke up late with a different adventure planned for the day. As that plan collapsed, I loaded everything into my car: mountain bike, frolf discs, beer, hiking gear, and running shoes; and then I started driving south to Girdwood. I think I subconsciously knew that I was not going to Girdwood to hike or bike. I blew passed the turn-off with a blatant indifference. It was 4:00 PM when I pulled into the Byron Glacier Parking lot.

A lot had changed in two weeks. At least 5 feet of snow had melted and the path all the way to the first moraine was completely clear. Instead of going beyond the moraine, I cut off the path and went to the last place in the valley I had not been to yet, an isolated group of boulders usually obscured by dense alders. I was not disappointed. Standing proud amid a few smaller boulders was a tall monolith with a striking, beautiful polished face. I was a little frightened to climb the boulder without a spotter, but the landings were decent and my desire to climb it. In the end I climbed 5 lines on it, including an incredible V4 on the right side of the polished face. I also climbed a small but steep wall above this boulder with a terrific hard problem that I could not quite send. I left the parking lot @ 10pm that night. It was a pretty good weekend.

Now for another one.