More Development at Byron

Jo on a warm-up at Byron

I have to start off by giving David credit for the sheer volume of work he’s done to develop the bouldering at Byron Glacier.  I have no idea how many days and hours he has put in, but I’m sure over 75 problems have been cleaned, prepped and climbed.  Many of these have required hard physical work moving rocks and dirt to prep the landings and top-outs and the cleaning has exclusively been from the ground up with no ropes.

I’ve had two incredible days out at Byron now, with David giving me the tour of the classic problems.  In addition to showing me the classics, David has shown me many of the remaining projects and encouraged me to get on them.  This has been really generous of David as they have turned out to be some of the best in Alaska, and I’ve been really psyched to get on every project he’s shown me.  All I have to say is THANK YOU…

David Funatake on Shadow of Time-v4 at Byron Glacier

Last Friday, I headed out to meet David and Jo at Byron to explore the areas further back up toward the glacier.  I met them just past the Glacial Erotics Boulder and we warmed up at a couple of boulders David and Chris Barnett developed last year called the Ego and Eggo boulders.  These have about 10 or so really fun v1-v4 problems (although one of the boulders could use a little bit more work on the landings).

Next up was a problem called Shadow of Time – v4. This may be the best v4 I’ve ever done. And certainly one of the top ten problems in Alaska.  The climbing, the movement, the holds, and the setting are all simply incredible (see picture to the right and this video).  While Jo was working Shadow of Time, I took a few minutes to add a short hard problem on the backside of the boulder. Wasting Time – v7/8 starts on a low diagonal crimp in the short overhanging face and makes a couple of hard moves to an easy top-out.  Nate and Nik showed up while we were here, crushed Shadow of Time and then we all cruised up to The Allspark Boulders.

These are a clump of 4 boulders that sit way back up the valley on the right.  They are pretty obvious from the tall scary slabs that face down valley.  David was able to send a couple of these early in the season when the landings were still full of snowpack.  On Friday, the landings and starts were much gnarlier, and while David was game for trying them, I was not into it.   Instead, we got on a bunch of the steeper problems in the corridor between the boulders.

This corridor currently has 6 problems from v2 to v9 and all of them are very good.  As you approach the corridor from the North, the problems are (from left to right – the first three are on the boulder with the highball slabs, the next three are on the other side of the corridor):

  • The Allspark v2 – Start on two distinct “teeth” and head straight up to fun topout moves.  You can also start lower down at v4
  • Dark of the Moon v9 – Sit start low on a left hand sloper and right hand crimp in the middle of the face, climb straight up via body tension moves to the top.
  • Energon Booge v3 – Sit start on the block at the right edge of the face on good holds.
  • Feeding Frenzy v3 – Start on two high crimps and make a hard move to a good hold.  Follow good holds up and left to top out.  Very bad landing.
  • Predator v6/7 – Start on a head height rail and head left on bad holds before finishing straight up.
  • Carnivore v5 – Sit start on a crimp and sloper under a good rail, make a move to the rail, then either head straight up via thin crimps, or fire right to the arête. Either way is about the same grade.

While we were there, we also added a couple more new lines.  Bearclaw – v7-9 is a new problem with a crux that is extremely height dependent.  It climbs through a series of diagonal mini-dihedral features that look like a bear clawed its way through the boulder. A Stones Throw – v9/10 is a spectacular new line on the Goliath boulder (about 100 feet up valley from the Allspark boulder) that follows a steeply overhung sharp arête through a long series of cool compression moves.  Here’s a video of the new lines plus a couple of others:

In all, this cluster of boulders has about 21 problems and may have another 8-10 more to do with some additional cleaning and bravery as quite a few are serious highballs.