Alaska VII

Posted on 19. Aug, 2013 by in Alaska

I’ve forgotten to add a day in previously, so I will share some thoughts on that then continue to the end.
Our last day of filming was an awesome one. Most of the crew came out including Jared, Todd, Kynan, Kynan’s younger brother, David and Chris. Jared wanted to get some shots from Independence Mine, the next valley west from Archangel. We scoped the walls and boulders on the hike in and again the weather was gorgeous.

I warmed up by climbing several nice moderates in the area, including a classic V6, Captain Kaboom a few times for the video. Wendy climbed it quickly as well. Mostly I was interested in trying a problem I had looked at last year but not tried called The Nothing V11. At the time it was the hardest problem in Alaska, but that day it was raining. Today the sun was bright and there was a nice dry breeze in the air. I thought I might have a chance to flash the problem and I studied it for a while. So often I am developing at a new area, or I’ve already climbed the problem and I don’t feel like I get so many chances to flash hard established climbs, especially in Colorado. This one was really straight forward so I thought I would give it a good go. I quickly figured out a sequence that would work, then spent 15 minutes feeling holds, finding positions and ticking feet. It’s easy to get complacent about the upper part of a problem on a flash burn, and I’ve seen many hard flashes fall by the wayside when the climber failed to properly study the end. I was sure to get on top and feel the holds all the way. After I was content there was nothing more I could learn from the standing on the ground, I brushed the holds, sat down and gave it my all. Thankfully I entered the zone, and came out standing on top, psyched and happy to have achieved my goal. Chris got footage and I would expect it to appear in the movie. Everything seemed to come together when it needed to and there was no dreaded foot slip. This problem very much played to my strengths and after struggling to climb Sweet Home Alaska I think this felt a little easier. Perhaps other climbers with disagree. Either way, it is once again a testament to Todd’s vision as a climber and his motivation to climb hard. And Todd is fully capable of climbing hard. This winter he fell off well past the crux of The Mandala in Bishop and did the FA of a 12 year project at an area called Ptarmagin in Alaska which he called Mr. Universe V12.

Mr. Universe stands as the hardest boulder problem climbed in the state, FA Todd Helgeson

I ran around and found a couple really nice projects I would love to return to, and Todd and the crew developed some great moderates. It was an awesome week getting to know Jared, Todd, Chris, David, and Kynan. The Alaska crew is a motivated one and they were super fun to climb with. Ever humble, ever psyched and always ready to hike to and scrub new rock it was simply a pleasure filming and hanging out with them.

Our final few days were mostly spent alone. My first objective was to climb on the roof project and after trying the lower moves I realized it was probably in the V13 or V14 range. It was also a bit wet down low and so I put effort into a stand start, which begins matched on an underlying and powerfully slaps out the roof. It took some work but I made the FA of Jelly Belly V9. The lower start is something I would love to come back to and try some more, and is a great an obvious project for a visiting strong person. I’d be happy to provide specific directions if anyone is really interested.

IMG_4436 Working the project sit start to Jelly Belly.

As we walked down the hill, clouds began to gather and it was a sign of things to come. I struggled again on the arete and failed to send, although by now I had it down to two parts. It seemed that every day was closer and closer and now it was just a matter of whether or not I would have enough time to finish it. Having only three days left I tried to manage my time as well as possible.

We decided to take a rest day and head north towards Denali, this time paralleling the Alaska Range to the east on the mythical Denali Hwy. It was a spectacular day deep in the interior of Alaska and it really brought home how vast and underdeveloped the immense state truly is. It was also refreshing to leave the Denali/Anchorage corridor as these roads were far less traveled. We plowed into the murky evening and through a surreal scene of fog and Suess-like trees.


IMG_4470 The Denali Hwy

The final two days were spent in the Tunnel Vision Gully (I had been referring to it as the Fairangel Gully because Fairangel Creek flows through here).

IMG_4387 Wendy on a classic V2 in Tunnel Vision Gulley

Magnet V8

Wendy climbed her project Magnet V8 (although she thought it was a bit easier) and I tried to climb the arete but failed. I was agonizingly close, falling off the very last move to the lip on three occasions. I was desperate for another rest day but time had run out. It’s somewhat out of character for me not to pull it out at the end and it was a bit of a bummer not to finish the line, especially when it seemed so close, having climbed it in overlapping sections on multiple occasions. I can list a bunch of excuses, it was humid, warm, we didn’t have enough pads, my skin was ruined, but none of that really matters and the line remains a project.

While that is certainly frustrating, it’s important for me to keep the problem in perspective. I’ve climbed hundred of FAs and any number of problems that were for me absolutely classic (on par or better than this line). In the scope of the world scene of climbing an ascent of the arete means little, but in my personal quest to establish hard climbs in a remote area it would be significant. So it goes, and as always I am on to the next challenge.

I will unquestionably return to Alaska. I look forward to not having things as I want them, and return to the rain, return to the bears, return to the unclimbed projects, and return to the adventure that so motivates me. Alaska is a special place, one that is not for everyone. But I have heard the tenebrous call of its wild and lonely mountains and it is one I cannot ignore.

IMG_4108 Pond at the beginning of the trip.

IMG_4508 Pond at the end of the trip.

Of course any frustration upon leaving Alaska was easily tempered by the fact that just hours after landing in Denver, I hopped on a flight to a place which just so happens to be one of the best sandstone bouldering areas in the world, The Grampians.

PS I will post the trailer to Jared’s film as soon as it’s ready, and info on how you can download/order it when it is ready for public consumption. What I have seen so far I would whole heartedly endorse, it will give even more perspective on what it means to boulder in Alaska.

One Response to “Alaska VII”

  1. slabdyno

    27. Aug, 2013

    jaime i’m really worried that you haven’t climbed a v12 recently. please tell me that there is a v12 in that boulder field that you climbed, or that you will climb a v12 soon.

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