I hope everyone out there had/is having a great break and were able to both get outside and be with good people.
This year my Christmas present was waking up to a beautiful sunny morning, stretching, and looking out across the desert to the greatest bouldering destination in North America (biased? me?).
The day only got better as we were only subjected to a brief delay at the gate before getting on North Mountain. The contrast of the park was like nothing I had seen. In the sun the brown and red rock sat perfectly dry, with holds casting sturdy shadows as if boasting at their rigidity. In the slivers and cloaks of shade however were clumps of snow, black shining patches of wet rock, and a sharp drop in temperature.
After two forced rest days I had a bad case of tunnel vision, and after a few quick laps on Baby Martini V6 I army crawled through the hole toward Tequila Sunrise V11/12 for what I hoped would be the last time.
After two solid, but inadequate attempts however I started to get nervous, and felt the dreaded epic coming on. Sun had just began to beat on the sloping hueco, and I knew I had one or two more tries left before calling it a day. As if that wasn't enough the few people that had offered pads and watched my two failed attempts had moved on leaving us with two regular sized pads and a lone spot from Lib.
Pulling on for a third attempt I felt the right hand crimp settle perfectly and just tried to maintain until the crux throw to the hueco. I set up, threw, focused on reeling in the wild swing, and was amazed to find myself still off the ground. From there I was into the no punt zone all the way to the somewhat highball top out. Luckily I still had enough juice to death grip all the crimps and rocked over onto the loose top.
This line was a battle for me. Both the angle and the style of climbing are things I have been striving to get better at, and it felt great to send something at what felt like my absolute limit.
With most of the day left I decided to try a few things that were going to be really challenging to see if there was anything I could work as a long term project. First up was Diabolique V13. I was happy to meet some people working the boulder and it made for a good session, though I was getting a thorough beating trying to levitate on some serious non-holds.
With the sun falling I decided to try a few moves on Diaphanous Sea V11/12, but found that working Diabolique had taxed me past the point of no return, and only tried for a few minutes.
The next day on North I was determined to try Fred Nicole's classic testpiece Alma Blanca V13. After a long warm up in the sun at the top of the chains we met up with a group working the nearby Daily Dick Dose V7. Without much thought and zero expectations I tried and managed to complete all the moves but "the move" which I think is pretty standard. "The move" involves sitting on a high heel hook and locking off further than any human should to a sloper at the lip. After trying this move in isolation a few times I tagged the sloper just for a split second, but in the words of my buddy Stephen Meinhold, "If you can touch it you can stick it."
With a harsh, but inspiring taste of what the next level felt like I dialed it down and finished off the day by sending a couple Hueco classics that had escaped me two years prior: Babyface V7 and See Spot Run V6. These lines have been eternally photographed and written about so I'll keep it short and just say that they will absolutely live up the the hype in movement, commitment, and difficulty.
Waking up this morning I noticed that the cars and tents at the Ranch had over doubled. It looks like the winter break rush is upon us and I'm excited for the inevitable and residual psych of people sending and experiencing Hueco Tanks.
Look forward to seeing everyone down here!