Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Saddle Boulders - Part 2

Bouldering at the Saddles three days in a row tore us up. After a much needed rest day to let the fire in our fingertips cool off and our muscles rebuild we anxiously drove up the hill and through the tunnels for another session.

The first three days my focus had been spread thin over multiple problems. There is just too much quality to stay on one line for long. After warming up on the Black Wall Boulder we dragged the pads around to the shade, setting up to attempt the distinct crimp line Nazgul (V9, 10, or 11 depending where you begin).

This face is one that you might imagine smiling wryly to itself whenever anyone fondles its holds or falls off of it. There are four crimps spaced out evenly and symmetrically in a sea of sheer, featureless granite.

The most obvious starts are the stand start matched on the first horizontal seam and a split hand start beginning with a right hand on the horizontal and a left on a flat undercling.

For full value I had decided earlier in the week to try the split hand start (V10) and was only able to stick the first move once. The tension is powerful and subtle, the feet absolute shit. I had messed around with the stand as well, but was stopped by the lock-off-to-your-waist-and-then-lock-off-further move to the next set of crimps. Nazgul had its laugh that day.

Yesterday however I tried the same start and both the undercling and first crimp felt better, and before I realized how much the razors were digging into my fingers I was letting out a rebel yell for the ending jug, and topping out.

Lib working hard the stand. That next crimp is so damn far away!

After shooting a couple different angles and close-ups we headed over to the Saddle Boulder proper where a few other people were climbing including an old gym climbing partner from Vegas! Small world. The psych was high and before long I was putting on my shoes to try a lower start to Nietzsche Girls which weighs in at around V10, but probably feels easier to the taller folks due to a very stretched out move off a low foot.

Somehow I managed to hold the tension and finished off the problem. We'll definitely be getting some footage of this little classic as well due to a very unique use of a pinch that flips into an undercling. Great movement!

After getting shut down by (but getting closer on!) the tough opening moves of Wick's Problem V11 and Soul Train V10 I gave one end of the day burn on Hobo and managed to get over the flutter in my stomach and commit to a high step move with a lot of air under my feet. Luckily it stuck and I sent. Cheers to rest days!

In short, the Saddles have not disappointed. The secluded setting, the wind in the pines, and the sun filtering through the branches all make for a great atmosphere. If you're ever hesitant to check it out I can definitely say it's worth the atypical approach.



  1. Word! Did you guys check out the Sombrero traverse? It's on that boulder a little back in the woods from the warm up boulder. It starts on some little crimps and heads out right on some sick slopers.

  2. Nice write-up Max. Dustin seems to be onto something with his suggestion of the Sierra Buttes too:

  3. PS. are you operating on a loose "schedule" to plan what areas you hit when? What's the "plan" from Tahoe?

  4. The only obligation we have is my cousin's wedding in Mid August. We're planning to head to Vegas from Tahoe to set up a home base and take trips to Black Mountain/Priest Draw from there until it gets cooler in LV. What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

  5. Nice dude, sounds like a good loose plan. I'll be in LA until ... well until I know otherwise. Once it cools off a little bit you'll be way psyched on Black Mt, especially climbing as well as you are right now. SO many hard problems.