This weekend was rainy both days and I stayed inside and studied. The clouds finally cleared and Monday I ran up to Upper Upper for a quick session on a project I found last year. Justin Jaeger and I had been roaming around the talus last fall and had found a number of worthy projects. I thought most of them would be buried until September, giving me time to sport climb, however the lack of snow this winter and the very warm weather in June left them open and ready to go.
One of the best projects was a steep overhang with a perfect rail slicing the middle of the wall. Jaeger dubbed it the Death Rail Project and it was one of the best we had found. I tried it a few days earlier this year and it seemed doable. But first a little back story…
Over the past few years it’s been moderately frustrating that I have made a big effort to hike around, clean and prepare a number of problems only to have a stronger climber (and typically one who has not previously or later gone on to establish other problems in Chaos) step in and snake the FA. Not being one to hide things, it’s not really a big deal, and I don’t hold it against any of the climbers that have done so, but the pattern has happened so many times that I do begin to lose a little motivation to look around and clean things off, especially when none of the climbers are sharing any of their projects with me. This happened on Blood Money, Wildcat, I Comb My Hair Like God and Pterodactyl, all of which I spent a lot of time cleaning and preparing, all of which I think are now classic Park problems, and all of which I have gone on to climb (often just after the FA). Now I don’t think that finding or cleaning a boulder gives me the right to the FA at all, but I do put in a lot of time, effort and work (because I like putting up new boulders), and it does get frustrating when another climber who hasn’t spent any time looking around, cleaning, or sharing steps in.
The Death Rail project was a good one and I really wanted a least a chance to try and do it first. It was the kind of problem I spend hours and hours looking for, and one I was incredibly psyched to stumble upon. When I showed it to Jaeger he seemed equally excited. I finally tried it one day this year and it felt excitingly doable. No one seemed interested in going up canyon and I thought I had time. The next day I went up I happened to run into Jimmy Webb. Jimmy is in incredibly good shape, fresh off an incredible trip to Font and his recent send of Warrior Up V14/15. He asked where we were going and I told him, up high in the canyon. Jimmy is a friend and I really enjoy getting out with him so I was happy to have him join us. I told him there were a number of amazing projects and he seemed psyched. Even more so when we reached the Death Rail Project. I had seen this before and cut it off before anything more could be done. After warming up by hiking the crux move, he shook my hand, agreeing not to do it first. It was a gracious and respectful gesture on his part, almost uncommon from the youth of today, and I thanked him profusely. I couldn’t quite put it together that day, but to ease his pain of having to wait I shared with him three of the best projects I knew of. He climbed two of them, The Shining and an amazing new V10 called Roundhouse, which was repeated by Ryan Silven and Collin Horvat, just up the hill from The Shining. The third remains. We walked around and cleaned off more projects together and had a great day in the mountains.
Monday I returned and climbed it, naming the line Lonely Mountain V10. Here is the uncut footage of the FA:
Thanks to everyone who has been going up there to check out the new boulders. It’s awesome to be part of such a motivated crew, and I’m sure there is more to come this summer!