Sunday, March 18, 2012

Round Two: Mill Creek. Team Rogue

The "Big Burger" at Phil's Frosty wasn't quite big enough... I mean, it did the job, I was fairly full, it tasted great, and I certainly didn't need any more food. However, I listen to what my body says, and after a long day of climbing hard, hauling pads, and scramblin' around at Mill Creek with Team Rogue, my body tells me to eat a big, fat, juicy, protein-packed, old fashioned hamburger. And, apparently, the kids felt the same way!

We were back at Mill Creek again, last weekend, for some more climbin' around. This time, Jen and I took some of the kids from Team Rogue (Cameron, Daisy, and Gabe), and, what can I say? They crushed it! 

First send of the day: Meeting at the gym. 

Once again, the forecast said rain. The trip was a "we'll see what the weather is like in the morning" type. Before we even met up and before I was even awake or had time to look out the window or google the weather, I got a text from, Daisy, asking about the weather and wondering if the trip is still on... and I thought I was dedicated! And then, Gabe... good ol' Gabe. Rode his bike from Ashland to the gym because his ride situation fell through. It made me smile to see him zip into the parking lot, sweating, totally out of breath. I asked him before he left if he really wanted to ride his bike, and his response was, "Anything for Mill Creek!" It's really cool to see the kids take initiative and be so psyched to be climbing outside. I guess that's one of the reasons I'm out there as well: keeping people psyched! 

Second send of the day: The Warm-Up Boulder

(Daisy, powering through the crux on T-Rail (V3) Photo by: Jen)

The warm up boulder is to the right of the main trail, just after descending the stairs to the Avenue of Giant Boulders. It holds several fun, tricky problems that require fairly specific footwork. This boulder is great for warming up because it offers moves that incorporate the entire body, all the holds are "open grip," and it has a nice, flat landing. There are several eliminate problems and some slightly contrived traverses which make the warm up boulder what it is: THE warm up boulder. Since it has been established, I don't think I've been there without climbing it first.  


(Gabe, working the moves of T-Rail (V3) Photo by: Jen)


(Just before Cameron locks off to her waist... so strong!)

Third send: The Soul Slab.

We wanted more. We passed the Heart Slab Boulder and made our way through the Beach Area and up toward the House Boulder and the Soul Slab Boulder. The last post about Mill Creek showcased the Soul Slab, which gives us Ghost Ride (V2) and Ghost Ride the Whip (V1). Flashing both, the girls made easy work of each problem:   

(Daisy, stretching for the top on Ghost Ride (V2) Photo by: Jen)

(Same move? Cameron, stretching for... not the top... yet.)
(Focused, even on the easy stuff. Cameron on Soul Slab (V0) Photo by: Joey)

The kids really got to work on all the new problems, but Jen and I can't let the kids have all the fun! So we threw on our shoes and joined in on the action. Jen climbed around on the Soul Slab, repeating the two, main classics.

(I think I'm standing on Jen's hand hold...)

I hopped on the un-repeated Pale Blue Dot (V10) a couple of times, but had no luck. I need to be more warmed up and I need more psych! The route involves some very steep roof climbing with a powerful heel hook to some even more powerful, bump moves. Very hard. Really classic. Here is a video of Jesse Firestone on the first ascent.... maybe it will get you psyched:

(Anybody try hard lately?)

Jesse gives us a perfect example of what it's like to really try hard (I could add another "really" or two before try hard... if you can't tell from the video). And I want to point out that this problem was climbed the day after the Moksha concert at the Rogue Rock gym. In other words, we had a less-than-ideal amount of sleep (3-4 hours), we were fairly dehydrated (apparently, not all liquids are hydrating...), and we were both dealing with lingering injuries (back and shoulder problems for Jesse and knee and heel problems for me). Beer and injuries... that's what makes us boulderers!

Now, I'm not bringing this up to make the ascent of Pale Blue Dot more "amazing" or more "bad ass." I want to point out that with adverse condition (whether they are natural or self-inflicted) some of the most amazing sends can be made, and some truly inspiring feats can be accomplished. Often, adversity increases the potential for setting personal records and climbing harder than ever before. I believe adversity can create the "underdog" effect. In other words, perfect conditions (a sunny, 50 degree day, 9 hours of sleep, no humidity, no injuries, and a bowl of Wheaties for breakfast) can cause people to climb nervous, because it's a rare opportunity and a climber might feel like he/she needs to take advantage of the "perfect" sending conditions. Whereas, if it's a little warmer than you'd like, your finger is bothering you, you need to take a dump, or things aren't exactly as you imagined, the pressures off! No worries! You're not "supposed" to send anyway... and when there is no pressure, you can really cut loose, climb relaxed, and possibly send harder than you've ever sent before!

(Cameron, relaxed and focused while sending Mr. Macho Man (V4) photo by: Jen)

Moments like that usually creep up, without notice, and fly by. Obviously, we can't know that we're climbing our best until the climb is over. And the moment you think you're climbing your best is the moment you will lose focus, drift out of "the zone," and take a fall. So I guess what matters most is to try hard, every route, all the time, because you never know what will happen. You might surprise yourself...
(Gabe, trying hard and sending on Low-Low Stand-Start (V5) Photo by: Jen )

We had a few suprises of our own after we moved down to the Beach Area and hopped on the Low-Low boulder. Gabe re-climbed one of his favorite routes: Low-Low Stand-Start (V5), which happens to be one of the first and one of the best problems at Mill Creek. It starts on two good crimps (which happen to be the last good holds on the problem as well), where a high foot and a mantle-ish move lead to a small, half-pad mono on a slab, which requires a lot of trusty footwork to a commiting finish above a flat, sandy landing. So good!

(Daisy, working the start moves of Low-Low)

(Getting brave off the deck! Photo by: Jen)

The cool thing about the Low-Low boulder is all the different starts. There is a sit start, with the right hand high and the left hand really low, which goes at around (V7). There is also a low-low start to Low-Low which start with both hands matched on the starting foot-jug from the stand start (Does that makes sense to anyone?), which goes at V7-V8+ (I have no idea, really). Well, here's a video so you can see for yourself!  
(Cool problem... Thanks for the encouragement, Gabe!)

The next project on that boulder is to go straight up, skip the stand start, and go up the hold-less slab!

(Crimp on the new project.. hhmmm, I have wrinkly knuckles...)

Final send of the day: Phil's Frosty Big Burger!

Sitting at Phil's Frosty, hangin out with the kids and Jen was pretty rewarding. You can't beat a summer day in March. It was nice to spend a day with Jen and some of the team kids, outside, gettin' dirty! We worked hard, had fun, and got a little better at climbing things. Which is kind of funny to me... "climbing things." But, you know, some people golf, some people play basketball, some people watch TV, and some people don't do a whole lot of anything... We climb stuff. And I think it's the best thing in the world.

See you out there.

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