Back to Archangel Again

I feel as though my life never has enough time.  I wonder sometimes: Is this feeling due to my insatiable desire to do more, experience more, live more? Is it some idea put in my head by others that what I have is not enough? Is it the way I was raised? Or if it is simply down to the constraints imposed by my life by family, work, etc.?


David hitting the jug on Humpty Dumpty-v4

Enough time wasted on philosophical thoughts, on to business.  Last weekend the sun came back out and I headed up to Archangel with David.  I had my sights on one thing – The Fairangel Arete Project.  But first we needed to warm up a bit, so we headed back into the wonderland talus to climb a few problems that we had previously cleaned.  We started off climbing a really good dihedral problem Jeff Cleason and I had climbed back in 2003-4 and called Humpty Dumpty.

David topping out on Humpty Dumpty-v4

David topping out on Humpty Dumpty-v4

Apparently we hadn’t cleaned it as well as we thought because Drew and Will re-found and re-cleaned it last year calling it Top Gun and being convinced it hadn’t been done.  We then headed over to a new line David cleaned in the rain about 3 weeks ago. on the back side of the Looking Glass cave, which ended up being a fairly nice v2.  We then headed over to a couple of other lines David had done a few weeks back including a really good new line David added called Rabbit Hole – v7.

A quick word about this little area.  So far I know of 25 problems from v0 to v11 that have been done  in the lower talus.  In amongst these 25 problems are an additional 25-35 more projects from v0 to vhard to be cleaned and climbed.  Some of these have been partially cleaned, but over the last month when we’ve been up there, everything has been pretty wet so we haven’t really been able to get alot of these cleaned and climbed.  Additionally some of the problems are of good height and the last thing you want at 15-18 feet is wet slimy holds.

Once we were done warming up it was off to the arete!!!!  I’ve been dreaming about this problem and have been itching to get a good day of work on it in reasonable conditions.  My first day on it last fall it was snowing on me, so I basically could only do the first two moves  before all the holds were wet.  They felt really hard, but everything was wet, so it was hard to gauge.  My second day on it earlier this summer with Jamie was an overcast but warm day and the holds felt pretty good.  I was able to quickly figure out the rest of the moves and was feeling psyched to start trying to send, but I felt like the right thing to hold off and give Jamie a chance to get the FA.  Jamie has spent a considerable amount of effort (probably between 6 and 10 days of work) over two different trips to Alaska trying this project, and hasn’t managed it yet.  His first trip he was hampered by really wet conditions, and this trip he fell off the very last move before the topout.   My third day out was a few days after Jamie left, and it was a scorcher.  It may have been in the low 80’s and the arete was baking in the sun all day.  Needless to say, but not exactly the best conditions for hard climbing, so I basically did the first move a few times and called it a day.  So far I had sort of three days on it, but none where I was really in the mode of work and send with good conditions.  Saturday was good though and I was excited to see how it went.

BETA warning:

The arete can be broken down into three sections.  It starts with a series of three short but powerful compression moves to get yourself set for a big move up the arete.  This section is probably in the v9/10 range.  For the second section, Jamie and I have slightly different beta: I make a big throw with my right hand for a good hold high on the arete, while Jamie make a big lockoff move to a small crimp below the good hold then bumps up to the good hold.  Then you have to piano match the good hold, and reach left to an undercling pinch on the right arete. The throw match and undercling is probably in the v9 range again This sets you up for the final section.  You make another big move up with you right hand to a good sloper (Jamie fell after sticking this), squeeze hard with your feet, match and then bump left to a sloper on the lip.  Match the lip on some rails, reach left to a good rail over the lip, then mantel and press out the finish.  The section to the lip is probably in the v8 range, but can feel really finicky if you get your body wrong.  Throughout all of these is a complex series of heel hooks, toe hooks, toe scums, and techy flagging with your feet and legs.

Jamie on the Opening moves of the Fairangel Project.

Jamie on the opening moves of the Fairangel Arete Project.

I started off working different sections and trying to make links to put it all together.  I was able to link from hitting the good hold on the arete, through the match and to the top, and I was able to link from the bottom to the throw, but never quite stuck it.  I worked through this quite few times before I realized I was getting something wrong on my body position for the throw.  After working out what was wrong, I had the throw dialed again, but was too spent to piece it together.  I was very happy with my progress though, and the conditions kept getting better and better as it cooled off.

The next morning we headed back up there and cleaned and climbed 4 new lines above the arete (all in the v1-v4 range and really really good – the kind you climb over and over because they’re such fun….), before I headed back down to try the arete again.  The sun was back out in all it’s glory, and the arete was baking again.  Between the hot holds, hot weather, and me being pretty tired from the day before, I didn’t do very well, but I did keep working the moves and feeling more and more solid in general. Hopefully I can get 1 or 2 more days of good conditions before the end of the season as I feel like I’m close to linking the pieces together.

David and Reidun spent the rest of the afternoon bouldering, while I headed back to town early to spend some time with my family.