2016 Season Bouldering Re-cap

It’s the season when Alaska’s boulderers dig deep and commit to writing a few words about the past year’s bouldering achievements and resolve to do a better job of writing and documenting the new year, before we then forget to write about the coming year. The lack of posts has not been due to a lack of bouldering development. Rest assured that new boulders were found, bold ascents were made, and loads of new problems were cleaned in new and old areas. So without overcompensating with too many words, here is the 2016 bouldering re-cap.

Creekside Boulders

screen-shot-2016-04-20-at-10-32-56-pmThe 2016 season began with the staggering discovery of the Creekside Boulders in the Fishhook Creek drainage. It was an unlikely location to find any boulders, much less one of the tallest, most glorious boulders in all of Hatcher Pass, and they likely would not have been found without scouring satellite images for the entire winter. After a couple of cleaning sessions, a crew was able to haul enough pads for Will Crowther to snag the First Ascent (FA) of Fright of the Bumblebee v8; at roughly 26 feet, it is the tallest problem in Hatcher Pass and  an amazing addition to the area.  Other notable problems at the Creekside Boulders include the spectacular Margin of Terror v2, Chicken Little v4, and The Dangler v3. There are 11 established problems and at least five projects left on these two boulders, they will likely all be hard or terrifying.

Will on the FA of Fright of the Bumblebee

Will on the FA of Fright of the Bumblebee

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The Dangler v3 at the Creekside Boulders

Margin of Terror v2

Margin of Terror v2

The Motherlode Boulder

Todd on the FA of MVP Gold v6

MVP Gold v6

Later in the season on a rest day, Todd went for a hike with friends and family above Gold Cord Lake near the Independence Mine. It was thought that the area was devoid of good boulders, but the rumors proved to be unfounded. Several good blocks were found next to the lake, but the real gem was a 60-foot monster hiding behind the lake, at the base of the Microdot slide path. Each face revealed a multitude of tall problems with incredible features and fantastic movement. Of the 12 problems that were climbed on the boulder, we estimate that they are all four or five star quality. This list includes problems like MVP Gold v6,

The C-Section v4,

C-Section v4

What’s In a Kiss v8/9,

What’s in a Kiss v8/9

and Pistol Whipping v9.

The Todd on the FA of Pistol Whipping v9. A stellar line.

Will sticking the dyno on Pistol Whipping

It is possibly the single best boulder in Hatcher Pass (if you are a seasoned boulderer), but it is necessary to gather up a lot of pads and friends before venturing up here. Two more projects remain, but they will be very hard.

Super Bowl Development

The Hatcher Pants Boulder (Luke on Soggy Bottom v2 in foreground)

The Hatcher Pants Boulder (Luke on Soggy Bottom v2 in foreground)

The development of the Super Bowl area by Ian and Britta continued strong into 2016. The area now boasts more than 100 problems and still holds potential for more in the coming years. It is one of the most densely developed areas in Archangel Valley, with lowballs and highballs ranging from v0 to v10. A lot of work has been done to flatten landings this past year, which allowed many of the largest and proudest features in the area to be climbed. The most notable sends include the intimidating Bermuda Triangle v7 and Gunakedit v7 on the Quacken Boulder, Destroying My Master v9 (FA Hunter) and Destroying My Apprentice v10? (FA Todd) in the Pit of Despair,

Destroying My Master v9

Destroying My Master v9

and Will Crowther’s Honeymoon v6 and Doses and Mimosas v9,

Todd working the low start to the fantastic Honeymoon v6.

David attempting to piece together Doses and Mimosas v9. Super technical climbing.

and Sling for the Money v8.  

Sling for the Money v8

Will eyeing the lip of Sling for the Money. Patent pending tongue-out beta.

The Sheriff

Another shout out to Will Crowther for making the second ascent of The Sheriff v12 in Tunnel Vision Gully. It is one of the few +v10 test pieces in Alaska and a must do for those claiming to climb hard. As described by Will, “It stopped raining just long enough for the send.” A few days later he went back and did the intimidating, direct finish to the problem calling it the Sheriff of Rottingham v12.

An older picture of Will working the Sheriff v12. Sadly, Will was solo for the FA and his “footage” (cell phone in shoe, (pun intended)) did not capture the send.

(Re)development in the Diamond

The Diamond area in Archangel got a lot of attention this year, partially as a challenge to Ian’s claim that the Super Bowl had a better density of problems.

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Reidun working on the arete of Sadistic Land Dolphins.

Over 30 problems were added to the area in 2016 (in addition to +80 other new problems since the guidebook was written) and a lot of landing work has taken place, making the Diamond an easier place for new boulderers to learn to climb.

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The fuel and the tool for some late night landing work. Rocks don’t move themselves.

Most of the problems that were cleaned are in the v0-v5 range. Some of the best finds in the area include problems like the Diamond in the Muff v3,

The Diamond in the Muff, v3. Big edges in a dihedral!

The Diamond in the Muff, v3. Big edges in a dihedral!

Sadistic Land Dolphins v5 (pictured above), Sobriety Test v1, Swimming in the Ocean v5, and Liquid Courage v1.

David on Liquid Courage v1, a the tall slab on the Captain Jack Boulder.

David on Liquid Courage v1, a the tall slab on the Captain Jack Boulder.

Worth revisiting with the bouldering guidebook as starting point: keep your eyes peeled for cleaned problems that are not in the book!

Cliff Clevenger enjoying a fun v3 in the Diamond, Bearmitzvah.

Cliff Clevenger enjoying a fun v3 in the Diamond, Bearmitzvah.

Other Development in Southcentral AK

Aside from the most notable sends (in my opinion), many more problems were done this year that are worth acknowledging, but not worth elaborating.

  • A few boulders with flat mossy landings were re-climbed near Independence Mine on the Gold Cord Lake Trail, such as the Lynch Boulder, the Joy of Climbing Boulder, and The Troll Boulder. Very little information currently, but they are easy to find and worth exploring with one or two crash pads.
The Lynch Boulder on the approach to Gold Cord Lake

The Lynch Boulder on the approach to Gold Cord Lake

  • Early in the season, Todd visited the Land Before Todd Boulder (near the Cold Toes Boulder) and laid waste to most of the remaining projects. One or two remain, but a snow landing is necessary to send.
  • A fun, short boulder was recleaned on the approach to Indian Head Arete, which will be a perfect block for new boulderers.
A short boulder on the approach to the Indian Head arete. A perfect place for a new boulderer to start!

A short boulder on the approach to the Indian Head arete. A perfect place for a new boulderer to start!

  • Scattered development occurred in the Snowbird Talus, up Reed Lakes, including the second ascent of The Oral Beast v10.
  • Some development was done at base of the Monolith. At the end of 2015 the landing beneath the 3 Star Throw was levelled, making it possible for the first ascent of the south arete, the Todd Complex v8.
Todd Complex v8. Perfect conditions and friction made the send possible.

David getting a bit of a Todd Complex, v8. Perfect conditions and friction made the send possible.

  • Although Byron is pretty much tapped out, a few problems were added to the area including a two move v7 that is short and funky.
Luke working on a Byron classic, Ningenuity v5. It's not a new problem, it was just a really good day that I wanted to share!

Luke working on a Byron classic, Ningenuity v5. It’s not a new problem, it was just a really good day that I wanted to share!

  • A few more blocks were climbed along the Seward Highway including some near Pivot Point.

    Ultimate Frogger v5, near Pivot Point

    Ultimate Frogger v5, near Pivot Point

Honorable Mention: Seward Bouldering

The word on the street is that there is rock in the Seward area. I got to climb a few of the blocks this past summer and have seen pictures of the other blocks that are out there! It is a bit adventurous right now and it may take a while for the area’s lone developer to dig up everything he can, but it’s exciting that Southcentral AK may have a new bouldering area (or two) some day. No information is available at this time, but here are a few pictures to salivate over.

Sam Johnson on a yet nameless slab problem near seward.

Sam Johnson on a yet nameless slab problem near seward.

Another, yet unnamed problem near Seward.

Another, yet unnamed problem near Seward.

Time to train hard, enjoy the snow,  and get psyched for the coming summer.  We can hardly wait. Cheers!

Kelsey finding a killer hold on a project in Hatcher!

Kelsey finding a killer hold on a project in Hatcher!