I recently visited the Black Mountain area called The Republic with Matt Birch and Jill. Matt’s down here (or I guess over here… from the UK) to work on shoe development with me at Evolv. Unfortunately, the crag was fairly wet with dew, but we mustered on and sent a few lines. In the process, we climbed the line Forms, differently.
So those that have either bought the new Black Mountain “guide” book or have heard about it not having V ratings, may have an option to participate in a project that a friend has started called Climbwise.net. The creator, Les Van Exel, has created a site that allows those registered and logged in to create profiles for any boulder problems at any crag of any state that he includes in the directory. Black Mountain currently is the primary crag he’s listed problem to test it out–that number’s about 22 the last time I checked.
He admits it’s in beta stage and is a bit glitchy, but it seems to be in the right direction in my opinion when it concerns ratings. This is because he uses an average or mean (I don’t know which) and is similar to the old Bleau.info* or a gritstone website (that I can’t locate now) that creates percentages for each grade given, or spread of ratings, for any specific problem. More climbers that rate it the more accurate it gets.
Van Exel’s site can load a bit slow since it’s on his home server, and any time he reboots the server the site loses its cached pages but are created once the page is loaded again. Check it out and offer feedback to Les. It can become a great complement to the guidebook and actually make the book more worth buying. Right now? It doesn’t seem worth it.
On the grades issue, I think it’s a shame not to have ratings. The personal nature of ratings makes second-guessing what another person might rate it or how hard it might be irrelevant. So the only grades that matter are those that ascenders offer. Grades are just a personal assessment tool for guiding that when it includes more inputs becomes a more precise reference for determining choice. Add more information like height and reach, and the number as tool becomes even more useful. It’s all very pragmatic and not absolute. We humans do well with such generalizations and opinions. And guidebooks are supposed to guide us to what we want to do. Perfection is not applicable.
On the topic of BM guidebooks’ color scheme, all I have to say is that the difficulty range for each color can be up to 7 grades (it’s unclear since the color point on the graphic disappears as it reaches its outlier numbers). 7 grades. I can warm up and power out all within one color, and I don’t want to hike all over the hills to do what the guide should do: direct me to things not too hard.
At the core of each color, one can say it covers 3 grades–ignoring any color overlap. Yet I personally experienced grading problems among varied climber sizes relatively easily distilled down to either one of 2 grades. I digress…. I’ll leave a ratings rant for another post.
* bleau.info recently underwent an ownership change and is now totally different, but on some problems there are ratings by users with the same percentage spread of given grades.
Sunday, I repeated the toprope line Mr. Freeze ground up. It was originally rated 12a or v4 as a toprope, but John Weinberg, who rehearsed it on TR then climbed it without a rope
last year in December 2013, called it a 5, maybe harder. I felt it was probably a v5, sent on my second try. The crux is the first move, getting off the ground and going to the high left crimp, but the mental crux is the move back to the crack at about 15 feet. The line climbs the face directly right of Butterfly crack at Quail Springs turnout, or Trashcan rock.
Here is a new tall line at Marion Mountain, unknown difficulty, put up by Trevor Elste. It’s called Liquidation of Anachronism at what he calls the Little Marion area. Video is worth seeing to get a better scale and idea of the climbing. Fall is not ideal.
On Saturday, Anthony Tarascio sent his project Shadow of the Colossus, v10, an impressive line up a massive boulder, about an hours’ hike up the main trail. A video of his send can be seen here. He explained the topout involves exiting over and around an offwidth crack too large for fists. If you’re into offwidths you’ll be psyched to do the exit moves on this awesome line! If not, he said he grabbed a sloping crimp, pasted a high foot and kept bumping up until he got a decent hold before getting his body over onto the slab.
Congratulations on establishing a 5 star line!
Here is a video that you may have not seen before called American Life Style: Josua Tree [sic]. It features Romain Desgranges and Fred Rouhling climbing the lines Bobcat Blood (gB name: Frenchie) and Scatterbrain & Co. (gB name: Scatterbrain Sit), among others.
The video also shows them trying two problems at the Ryan Mountain Trailhead parking area (on the right just before Sheeps Pass heading towards GTR). One of the problems, as far as I know, is off limits because of archeological evidence:
Here is the other problem at the Trailhead parking area:
I’d seen the video before but forgot about it until Noel brought it to my attention via a Facebook response he got from Romain in 2011:
“For scatterbrain i think perhaps v13 but if you are taller it’S fit sûr easyer… And we call it satterbrain & co
For the second one we call it bobcat’s blood for a small v11 !”
The gB rates Bobcat’s Blood v8 and Scatterbrain sit v11. Here are two screen grabs of Bobcat’s Blood. The first shows that the start is a jump and the second shows him working the move to the horizontal sloper before the upper crux sequence:
Thanks goes to Noel for this additional information from Romain: “Nice to speak with you about the best climb place in the world joshua [sic].” Can’t agree more! ;)
Prior to the new guidebook being published, I had climbed a short and low problem called One Trick Toey, but for unknown reasons, it was never included in the gB. Since that time, the key “trick toey” move changed because part of the slot feature broke off. Luckily, it probably won’t break any more, but unfortunately, it changed the difficulty of the first move considerably. That “trick toe” move is now much harder to perform. I actually only use the toe slot now for the match move on the sloper lip. The original line went right after the sit start move then topped out (you can also top it out straight from the slopers), but this new line goes left all the way to the 5.9 mantel called Dreaming of the Mantel.