High Heeled Sneakers

We recently bouldered at Cap Rock and Ryan Campground, enjoying, for myself, a return to problems past. At the time, I was confident I’d climbed High Heeled Sneakers, but the more I came closer to sending, I became less confident. The bottom is very memorable, but the top wasn’t. According Mountain Project, here, it was put up by Bachar in 1981. It’s rated v5. I’ll get to the rating in a bit. The line is very good; the stone, either solid or fractured. I say fractured because a few of the thin edges at the top appear friable, but weren’t. That, of course, doesn’t mean they aren’t, just that they “didn’t” when I climbed it, meaning break.

start of my beta. that left crimps is very small, and i when I used it first time, I went to the top

start of my beta. that left crimp is very small, but when I used it the first time, reluctantly, I went to the top

As I mentioned in the cutline, the first time I chose that beta, it worked. I tried finding something else maybe 4-5 times hoping to find another sequence to no avail.

this is the crux for me.... I'm about to reach a thin angled side pull up left at the edge of the light patina

this is the crux for me…. I’m about to reach a thin angled side pull up left at the edge of the light patina.

And here is the reachy part, but there is another good foot edge at my right knee:

that right hand sloping crimp is good, and when your foot is on it, you feel like you finished the problem, finally.

that right hand sloping crimp is good, and when your foot is on it, you feel like you finished the problem, finally.

The v3 to the right, just right of the right arete/skyline, is really good. It’s about the same height with a short slab section at the top.

So, regarding the rating of HHS, I felt it was solid for the grade. Harder?? Not sure. Regardless, if you put it into perspective with other v4’s, v5’s and v6’s, something doesn’t fit. Take for instance Newton’s Law. In the previous RTM guide it’s rated v4, something I agree with. In his second edition, it’s v5. HHS is easily one grade harder. Take Jerry’s Kids, v4, also at Planet X. It’s harder than Newton’s law, but it may not be as hard as this. I’d have to climb HHS again to better assess it. If you compared it with JBMFP or LHMFP, v5 and v4, respectively, HHS feels about right at v5. Compared to Planet X, at v6, I’d say PX is actually more comparable to JBMFP, just my sense. And compared to Kingpin/Iron Meteorite, v5, ditto. Now put it up against Alexandria, v6… Alexandria feels like a solid 4 if HHS is a 5. Last but not least is the line I did that’s right of Bittersweet, v9, Hidden Valley campground. I originally rated it v7 then Matt Birch climbed it and thought it was v4 for a UK route. Ouch!!! If it’s v5, v4 seems just too harsh, then HHS feels right at 5. I think the problem is with Alexandria and Newton’s Law.

I’ve added a link on the lower right (blog roll) to the socal section of the West Coast Bouldering forum. It’s a wonderful place to find solace and inner peace. You can talk to yourself, practice talking to others that aren’t really there, and occasionally talk to Mike Brady. He’s lonely, so head over and say something. Or not. 

Update: the 2nd edition of RTM’s guide says HHS is 14 feet. It also says the problem behind it (can’t remember the name but here is a picture) is 12 feet.

jill is 5' 4" so this seems like it's 12 feet tall.

jill is 5′ 4″ so this seems like it’s 12 feet tall.

jill hasn't shrunk yet, so at 5' 4", HHS seems taller than 14 feet. I call it 16 feet. It matters cause the fall at the top is possible.

jill hasn’t shrunk yet, so at 5′ 4″, HHS seems taller than 14 feet. I call it 16 feet and maybe an R rating cause you can fall into the right edge of that scrub oak. It matters, I think, cause the fall at the top is possible.



~ by r. mulligan on 2013/01/13.

4 Responses to “High Heeled Sneakers”

  1. Interesting your thoughts on all those grades. The new school problems are much easier than the old ones, I think. Miledi, thin Lizzie, etc, pretty easy. The old stuff is hard! Orange Julius, Planet X, lhmfp, I find very hard and haven’t sent yet. Also interesting you thought jbmfp and Planet X were similar. I flashed jbmfp pretty easily and still haven’t been able to get Planet X. Maybe it’s not my style? Nice blog anyway! I’m working on the v3 highball quinfecta, if you’re interested…


    • Thanks for your thoughts.

      Joshua Tree, in my opinion, tends to have real and distinct bouldery moves that exemplify success for technical mastery. To do many problems at a specific grade shows a strong and well-rounded skill-set.

      I still struggle at times on problems I’ve not done recently, but then do others well. But what I find tends, though not completely, to follow is that those that require more foot work tend to be seen as harder and those that tend to require more fitness and strength are easier for climbers that do a fair amount of climbing in a gym. I’m not putting anyone down, just that what we do most often directly affects how we try and interpret cruxes on outside stone.

      Back to your original statement, I’d agree to a certain point that new school seems a bit soft, but maybe it’s also partly in our heads. Thin Lizzy is a good short example of a power problem that is very much like gym climbing. If I practice moves like that 2-3 days a week but only tackle hard footwork when I go outside, I’ll probably feel more comfortable on TL. Imagine how much work a climber had to invest in their climbing to get the strength and fitness to pull the moves and crimp on those holds. Put that same amount of time into footwork and committing slab moves, and a person will begin to be solid on moves like LHMFP.

      If it helps any, I find Josh, gritstone and Font to be some of the more technical climbing styles around and where perceived inconsistencies in grades are actually more about internal limitations. Jill and I took 2 trips for 13 weeks each to Font, but it still took us about 4 weeks on the first trip to be more consistent for a given (easy) grade, and about 2 weeks on our second trip to do the same. Maybe first be clear about what your weaknesses are and then apply them to each problem. That may explain some of it then consider how your body type fits that problem or doesn’t. Third, question your mental commitment to do a move, especially if it’s higher up.

      Difficulty seems to be more about something you have to work towards and slowly build rather than just trickery to figure out. Gym climbing is something many of us invest a great deal of time. If you couldn’t hang the crimps on TL, or do the big dyno at the start, it would be impossible, so that type of “difficulty” has some justification. I originally rated it a 9, but 8 seems to be the new consensus. Should it be a 7? Sure can. 6? That starts to seem a bit burl. So maybe we can say 7 or 8? Again, factor in your trained based. LHMFP is about good conditions, committing footwork, and some height, but is it comparable to TL? The crux on LHMFP is more akin to hard 5.11 crux slab moves of which few of us ever climbed or have climbed recently.

      Take the idea of foot work for example: if my problem is just trusting my foot on what appears to be a worthless hold, that’s my psychological shortcoming, but not something that equates to difficulty. If after learning to trust my foot, I find that I simply don’t have the toe strength or leg power or posterior chain strength to perform the move, that’s more about difficulty. So with off vertical problems, often times the limitation is psychological because most of us have leg strength to stand up, just not the confidence to trust that foothold in question.

      I”m in the process of doing a blog post on grades, but in the mean time, consider this: grades are intended to help the climber first better understand themselves. Critiquing inwards advances the climber while scrutinizing outwards leads more often to excuses.

  2. Come on down to Woodson. HHS is solid for V5. Thin is in. See you at the gym or call me If its too windy at JT. 562-577-4063

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