Friday, January 23, 2009

Second Ascent? Naw...First Ascent!

Today Jeremy and I went to Area 74 so he could continue to wreck shop in Arkansas. He did four problems in several hours and the easiest was his first FA at the location. After warming up we went across the street to the North face of the Ripple Effect boulder. I had brushed two sloper problems here on several different occasions over the past year. Although these problems are a mere eight feet tall, they are still great little problems on high quality sandstone. Unfortunately, it's facing North, so there's always moss and lichen growing and the stone is on the soft end which makes it sandy when it's not brushed often. After thirty minutes of serious brushing and rechalking, Jeremy finally managed to send the left problem and called it Messy Bear (v8). The problem begins on a sloper and is a one move wonder to a right hand pinch. I followed suit several minutes later, and was pleased as I have always wanted to climb this short face since brushing it.

Next it was back across the street to Shapeshifter Direct. I had established this direct start in the fall of '07 to the existing Shapeshifter, which is a traverse, and had suggested the grade of v10. While the traverse is a good problem in its own right, I felt the direct version to be the true line and the first of many difficult roof problems to come from 74. A descent flash attempt yielded another successful climb in a few more trys for Mr. JTW.

Two down, two to go. Next was the Battle of the Bulge project. When Scott Fitzgerald published the guidebook to Area 74 through, he believed this climb to be the most difficult, suggesting a possible grade of v12 even though no one had climbed it. The problem is an instant classic if you're able to pull off the ground, and it is some of the friendliest sandstone in the Ozarks. The bottom half is slightly overhung and trends right to left up a steep flake. This section is probably v1 to an undercling. From here the problem get progressively more technical and difficult including drop knees, flags, a half inch deep mono, a grossly thin sloping crimp, and a stab for the finish. I honestly doubt anyone repeats this line for a very long time, as it will take someone with some special and finely honed fortes and some serious determination. Jeremy decided to name it Double Live Gonzo (v11). Well done sir!

While Double Live Gonzo was the crowning moment, it would not be JTW's last tune of the day. In twilight we walked to the Eastern most end of 74 in hopes that Jeremy had one last climb in him. A month and a half ago I had opened the former Bad Girls project in the corridor, calling it The House of Magic (v10). With another second ascent looming, I gave the play-by-play in hopes that it would get flashed. A good effort was had, but no such luck. Not a mintue before complete darkness, Jeremy sent it next go. We gathered our belongings and lumbered to the car, excited about all that was accomplished but equally exhausted.

Tomorrow we are travelling to a nearby magical wonderland known as the Kingdom of Caring. We have both climbed several days in a row, but there is a streak to be kept alive and domination will most likely ensue.

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