Black Mountain

Black Mountain Bouldering

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Video featuring lots of hard new climbs from Black Mountain California, several first ascents including Vorpal Blade V13, a few old classics such as Morphic Resonance, a guest appearance from Sarah Palin, and even a highball or two. Hope you like it!

The Last Weekend

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We headed up to Black on Saturday to find out if we could drive up the mountain. Luckily the gate was wide open so we drove straight up to the Corral. There was still some snow on the ground from last week but the boulders were dry. It was 40 degrees when we arrived but the sun was out so the conditions were perfect! After warming up we worked on the mid-day lightning project which is just below the corral next to Dark Horse. This wall is amazing and it has features that beg to be climbed. Unfortunately it still feels hard! Not sure how this one will go but somebody needs to do it!!

Mid-day Lightning Project

Mid-day Lightning Project

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Expatriot

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Here’s an old clip of Ian McIntosh climbing Expatriot V11 at Black Mountain. Unfortunately he sent as the sun was going down so the footage is noisy.

Two Man Show

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It was a cold weekend at Black Mountain, with highs in the forties. I spent another Saturday at the Wild Things area of the mountain. This time it was me and Anthony on a mission to test out some new projects and finish up old business.

First up was the xeno proj. It’s hard to see in the picture below but there is a giant xeno in the middle of the face. The challenge is getting to it; all the holds between it and the start are small and slopey. I figured out some tricky beta involving a thumb undercling and techy/balancy moves to setup on poor holds to dyno for the xeno. I didn’t get anywhere near sticking the dyno, it’s going to be hard!

Alex Savage on a project

Alex Savage on the xeno project

Next we went down the hill to the Wild Things boulder where Anthony got really close to sending his project, the sit start to Where the Wild Things Are V11. He stuck the crux move several times but was having trouble with the next long move to the jug. Next he worked on Beware the Jabberwocky and got really close to sending! Next time!

Anthony Tarascio on Beware the Jabberwocky

Anthony Tarascio making the span on Beware the Jabberwocky

Anthony Tarascio on Beware the Jabberwocky

Anthony Tarascio on Beware the Jabberwocky

We worked on one more project at sunset and hiked out in the dark (short day!). We parked up at the gate to Boulder Basin and waited for our friends to return to their cars. Unfortunately the low 30 degree temps were too much for our friends to stay and camp so we were on our own again.

On Sunday we started off at the December Boulders where Anthony cleaned up on the classics, Blenny Run, Moondrops, and Megalomania. We finished the day filming Bang On.

I’m feeling a little under the weather at the moment but if I was to get outside this weekend, I’m debating between Yosemite and Bishop..
What do you think?

Vorpal Blade V13

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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 climbs Vorpal Blade.  Photo by Anthony Tarascio.

Alex Savage on the first move of Vorpal Blade. Photo by Anthony Tarascio.

Alex Savage on Vorpal Blade.  Photo by Ian McIntosh.

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.

Welcome to Winter

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It was another Black Mountain weekend. On Saturday I met up with Ian and Bridget at the boulders near group site 4/5. We had a good day climbing a lot of moderates, most have probably been done before but there may have been an FA mixed in. It’s hard to tell at Black Mountain since people have been climbing here for thirty plus years. We later climbed on the Dog boulder which has an awesome V2 arete on the right side and a rad V4 face in the middle. Next we hit up the Captain’s Junk boulder which is a huge bloc with a dozen problems on it from V0 to VHard project! Most of them are high quality and tall but not too scary. If you want directions to this beast (you should, it’s awesome), contact Ian.

The weather was perfect on Saturday, sunny with temps in the 50′s. That started to change around 6PM when the temps dropped ten degrees and the wind started to pick up. By the time we got to the campsite it was in the low 40′s with huge winds! In the morning it was even colder with 40 mph winds! On Sunday it didn’t go over 45 degrees all day and we were in clouds with constant wind. Good conditions for climbing but apparently not good conditions for smurfs (they turn purple when cold)!

We started off at the OK Corral since it’s usually a little warmer down there. After warming up we hopped on Cosmos which I still hadn’t finished. After a couple of tries falling on the last move again I managed to stay on and stick the final move on my third go of the day! This one is hard to rate, it took me quite a while to do it but it felt more technical and slippery than physically difficult so it may only be V9. After the Corral, Joe took us to the Fireman’s Hat area where he showed us some cool problems and projects to finish the day on (Thanks Joe!).

So what was the point of this post? To show you the picture below. My first diagonal split! I sliced it at some point on Saturday and it finally split open when I sent Cosmos.

Diagonal Split