On Saturday I completed the first ascent of a project at Black Mountain, CA I’ve been working on for a few weeks. It is the sit start to Beware the Jabberwocky V10 which is a rad climb that Ian McIntosh put up a few months back. It is one of the longest boulder problems I have ever worked on. It starts sitting on the left side of the boulder under the roof and climbs up and right via 20+ hard moves of steep climbing to the lip. The physical crux is within the first sequence of climbing to the stand start. The first move of the stand start is a long and precise throw to a slot sidepull. From here there is a long rail that leads up to the finale, a tenuous match on a small crimp and pinch 20 feet off the ground which sets you up to bust to the perfect jug at the end of the rail. A long reach from the jug to a good edge on the slab leads to easy climbing to the top of this 40 foot boulder.
Prior to Saturday I had never topped out the boulder even though I had worked on both Beware the Jabberwocky and Where the Wild Things Are V8. I had climbed to the last move many times and never wanted to commit to the move for fear of another bad fall on the rock below. After climbing through the difficult sit start moves, sticking the Jabberwocky move, and arriving to the same place at the end of the climb, I finally committed to the insecure move and grabbed the jug!
The name Vorpal Blade comes from the poem Beware the Jabberwocky, which is definitely worth a read if you haven’t seen it before. As for the grade, it’s always difficult to rate a climb, especially a first ascent. It felt as hard as Crown of Aragorn V13. When I sent Crown, I thought it was long and the redpoint crux for me was the end of the climb which is V9. Crown has 11 hard moves to the jug whereas Vorpal Blade has 22. I think Vorpal is harder than the two other So-Cal test pieces I have done, Bang On V12 and Somewhere in Time V12.
I have video of the ascent which I hope to post soon. Here are a couple photos from different sessions on the climb.
Alex Savage on the first move of Vorpal Blade. Photo by Anthony Tarascio.
Alex Savage on Vorpal Blade. Photo by Ian McIntosh.
Right after climbing Vorpal Blade I sent the other two lines on this boulder, the sit start to Where the Wild Things Are V11 (2nd ascent), and Where the Sidewalk Ends V3 (a highball involving two mantels, the first at 20ft!).
On Sunday we made it out to the Chappies where I climbed a V10 on the Han Solo boulder that may have been done years ago by Dan Mills but we aren’t sure. Alan Moore pulled off the first known ropeless ascent of the Han Solo Arete which is a striking 30 foot bloc with delicate moves at the top.