I work at a bouldering gym so wouldn't you think that my primary focus be bouldering? Well, you couldn't be any more wrong. But last season while living in Vegas I took to bouldering pretty well and found myself in Kraft more often than I found myself in the Calico Hills. I follow most trends in climbing and likewise with bouldering; it's a winter thing. As the winter is slowly but surely coming so am I transitioning into bouldering. With bouldering I have aspirations and goals... I know that I'll never be as strong as Dave Graham, Daniel Woods or even some of my co-workers but I can still try hard, right? Some goals for the upcoming season (now until March-ish) are to boulder up to V9 (YDS equivalent would be 5.13b) and consistently climb up to V6/7 on any given day out. I think it's reasonable...
Earlier this week I had been planning on working some endurance by running around in the mountains. I had begun to prematurely shift my focus towards winter style alpine climbing (mixed, ice and snow) by planning an outing in the Mummy Range of Rocky Mountain National Park hoping to bag Fairchild and Hague's peak (13,502 and 13,560 respectively) in a day. The routes planned were nothing more than 4th class but with the new dusting of snow in the park, these simple routes have turned into more formidable solo challenges. But I threw the plans into the wind, borrowed a crash pad and the newly printed Front Range bouldering guide and hit the road north to Poudre Canyon.
The idea of bouldering is relatively simple in my mind and with this simplicity comes the aesthetics I appreciate about the idea of bouldering. Tall, free-standing, granite monoliths are my conceptual idea of what a boulder "should be." But this isn't always the case depending on where you climb. Fortunately for me and the zillion other climbers in the Front Range we have our choice of boulders. I chose the 420 Boulders in Poudre Canyon 40 miles west of Fort Collins. The boulders are simple, clean and elegant blocks of granite littered about stands of aspen and pine at the sub-alpine elevation. The Poudre river runs close by, mild temperatures grace the air and soft winds make for ideal bouldering conditions. It's all so elegant, really.
I'm a half ass boulderer; I borrowed a pad, borrowed a guidebook and brought minimal chalk in a standard chalk bag. I'm a slouch on the blocks. But I think it's because I operate on a different level mostly when it comes to climbing. When the climbing is stripped of all the superfluous additives and shiny equipment it becomes unrefined, simple... pure. I struggle in this realm of climbing because it's foreign. I shake in my arms and become weary of the ground beneath me only ten feet away. The goal today was to just climb. I went out into the woods solo armed with a pair of shoes, a chalk bag and a crash pad. My motivation was limited to the near successes and certain failures of the past and I journeyed to transform my notion of bouldering with a few hours alone in the woods accompanied by a slew of granite blocks.