Archangel’s Hardest Problem – The Sheriff

Driving up to Archangel on a clear fall morning.

Driving up to Archangel on a clear fall morning.

I took the day off on Friday and headed up to Archangel to get back on the Fairangel Arete Project.  The weather forecast was for cold weather and clear skies, so it was looking like conditions would be perfect.   I got up there and met Kris Klein around 9:00 and made the hike back in to the Arete. It had snowed Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and had been well below freezing overnight, but the skies were clear as I drove up, and the mountains were topped with termination dust. Termination dust is what we call the first bits of snow as they hit the peaks and work their way down, slowly terminating our Alaska summer.

Looking out over Fairangel Valley from Tunnel Vision Gap. This is taken from the base of the Arete.

Looking out over Fairangel Valley from Tunnel Vision Gap. This is taken from the base of the Arete.

We warmed up in the area, then I started working on the arete.  I re-climbed the top section and cleaned and chalked the holds.  Everything was mostly dry, but oddly damp from the snow and frost. The first couple of goes felt really off as I remembered how hard you have to pull with your heel to make the second move, and I continued to get fully warmed up.

The day was clear and cold, and fog slowly rolled in through the lower valley.  At one point it looked like we might get snowed on with clouds coming up the valley and over the mountain peaks, but thankfully, we stayed in a perfect little pocket on dry conditions.

On my third try, I managed to stick the big 4th move and continued through the match to the last hard move, but when I got there, I could barely hang on, much less make the huge reach off the sloper.  It’s amazing how a move can feel so easy in isolation, but after doing 7 moves to get there it feels impossible.

Kris and I hiked further up the valley to give ourselves a bit longer of a break.

Kris and I hiked further up the valley to give ourselves a bit longer of a break.

Meanwhile, Kris was working a v6/7 on a small boulder just left of the arete.   After working out the bottom moves, there’s a hard upper move to finish off the problem.  Kris was also able to do that move by itself and it felt easy, but by the time he got there, he just couldn’t pull quite hard enough.  We traded goes back and forth trying to make sure we were resting enough.  I managed to get to that same last move another 5 times, but only on one go did I really feel close to getting the last sloper.   At some point we decided to hike further up the valley to check it and give our fingers and bodies a break.  I was also hoping to check out Jamie’s new problem Jelly Belly v9/10, which is somewhere further up the valley, but I didn’t find it.  Maybe another day.  At about 2pm, the sun dropped and was no longer on the slopers on the arete project and I could tell the friction was a bit better, but my body was worked and I just had very little left.  Kris and I decided to pack up and head back as we were both done.  I decided to give it “one last go”.  I was tired, I had 4 holes in my right hand from the dyno, and I had no expectations of doing it.  I just wanted to get a little bit more muscle memory for next time.

Sticking the Dyno (4th move) on The Sheriff

Sticking the Dyno (4th move) on The Sheriff

I hit the first three moves perfect without having to adjust at all then hit the sloper wrong for the big dyno, but managed to adjust on the inswing and stick.  Feeling completely worked, I struggled through the match and got ready for the last big move.  For no reason I can think of, I changed my sequence just a bit.  Instead of just locking off for the big move to the sloper, I found myself knee scumming and bumping my right hand up the arete.  Next thing I knew I had stuck the high right hand sloper.  I took a deep breath and refocused.  A quick half match and a hop for the top, my feet swung out slowly, with my right hand slowly peeling off the sloper as I swung.  Then I stopped and started swinging back in.  My foot stabbed instinctively for the good foot.  A quick mantel and I was standing on the top.  I let out a scream and whooped with joy.

Hatcher Pass had it’s first v12 – The Sheriff, and I had finally achieved a lifetime goal – to boulder v12.  I did one problem last year that I believe is v12, but no one else has ever really tried it, so I have no way to know.  I had come close on the Mandala in the winter, but no luck.  This problem has been tried and worked extensively by a few other strong guys, and seems pretty definite at v12.

 

The big reach to the sloper.  I didn't stick it this go despite being within an inch of the hold.

The big reach to the sloper. I didn’t stick it this go despite being within an inch of the hold.