San Antonio September

I was able to head down to San Antonio for work last week, getting in a few limestone sessions with some good friends. Joe is the "special child" on the right...

Joe is always hard at work finding new areas and developing relationships with landowners and climbers. Now Joe is one of those landowners with a sweet bluff on his property! I spent the week straining to get out of work early enough to spend time on his established and projected lines.

I've been really obedient so far on not posting anything from the area, at Joe's wise request - but I will say that it is AMAZING and has tons of potential. I can't wait to go back

Hoagies In Heaven

After our great friend, Ryan Sayers, died in 2003 we (Jeff Russell, Dan Russell, Brian Shelton and I) put together a list of the top three climbs that Ryan was working at the time and super-close to sending. Of course, all were unclimbed, hard and beautiful - and local. Ryan definitely poured his passion to the areas we had climbed for years and still found new challenges. The list was dubbed "The Hoagie Trifecta" and it was our job to send these routes/problems in Ryan's name.

The Hoagie Trifecta - in order of FA:
- An extension to Electric Kite in Castlewood Canyon. It climbs through amazing pods in a Ceuse-esque, perfectly overhanging wall, to a tall topout. Jeff sent this pretty quickly and named it Hoagies in Heaven (2003-2004?).
- The sit start to Commando in Ute Pass. After doing Commando with Dan, a single move, awesome dyno, Ryan and I went back and moved some serious rock to expose the gorgeous lower moves. The crux was getting between some slopey crimps up to the excellent incut seam and Ryan was almost latching it. Unfortunately, this problem succumbed to David Marquess, a super-strong local, who renamed it Green Lantern (2005?).
- Free climbing The Inferno, an old aid route at the Garden of the Gods. I wasn't as psyched on this one when the rest of the guys were working it because it involved a huge, low-percentage throw and some committing moves on lead. It wasn't until some local talent started showing interest in the line that I knew I had to give it a shot before it fell to another outside of our crew. So with motivation and rope-gunning from Brian and Jerad Friedrichs, I shockingly, made it to the top for the FFA, Ryan's Inferno (2008).

Now that they've all been climbed, it is simply a matter of repeats.

Last Monday (9/7/09) was a good day for the Hoagie Trifecta. A most triumphant day. Two carloads of family and friends (Kim, Brandon, Zoey, Ryan, Codi, Papa, Shailee, Simree, Trevor, Summer & I) rolled into Castlewood to do some toproping and playing in the creek. As the day neared an end, they all followed me up the steep and overgrown trail to the Electric Kite boulder. There were cactus encounters, big falls and a few tears, but everyone made it. At the boulder, mosquitoes were wailing on anyone that didn't have the smallest diameter dipped in DEET, but I had three pads and some chick power. I had planned ahead, since the last time I worked the problem it was overgrown and dirty, and brought some gear to rap down to clean up the line. (For some reason, whenever I think about this line, I see blue streaks through the pods, but they’re white every time…) I had failed on earlier sessions to use a toe-cam when matching in the main pod - but Jeff had reminded me that they'd dispatched that old beta a long time ago, and I needed to use some of the tiny feet under the pod. Those feet suck, and I quickly realized that if it was going to happen I'd have to campus through that section. After a few shots from the start, I worked the moves after the pod and was stoked to find out that I could stick the crimp without feet - now if I could only link it...

Here's the play-by-play:
Start right hand in a perfect 2-finger pocket about chest-high and left hand in a sloped pod at head-height. Low left foot and flagged right. Pull on and go to a funky crimp/pocket pinch with the left. Now spot the large pod and throw right to it, it's big. I ended up tacking a right toe far out right on a pocket in order to match in the pod, crossed with my left hand. Tighten up and cross the feet to the left and try to get something on before going right to the crimper - campus, otherwise. Adjust that left hand to a sidepull. Feet have a better shot of staying on as you continue bumping right - first to the sloper, and then again to the lip of the monster pod. I barely had the distance, but got solid as I matched and Kim’s Dad and Codi moved the pads back. I remember thinking about how tired I was already and how much I wanted to chalk up (could I wait here long enough for someone to pass me the chalk bag?) but I pushed the doubts aside and looked at how far away the next ledge looked... Dang that's far. I started moving up the huge pod and barely remembered to get my right foot up high to keep me on - and stabbed for a spot on the next ledge nowhere near my tick marks. Fortunately, at that angle, the whole ledge felt good and I could bring my right hand up to the better spot - then get my left in the sweet spot. The rest went really fast - I'd hoped this would happen after I looked at the final holds beforehand. Right hand cross to a nice pocket, left cross above to an even better pocket, right hand out to a fragile-looking edge, bring that right foot up to the ledge and lock off. Lots of good options in the upper seam, but stretch for the best.... GOT IT! I let out a yelp and pulled up with another of the sweet sweet jugs. I knew I was good for the last few moves out right and I was on top - where Zoey was waiting with Simree across the ridge to show me her sap-sticky hands. Ryan sent some gentle sprinkles of rain in approval after I got down and I reflected on how thuggy and Ryan-like my ascent was - must have had a little help from an old friend....

So now, I've got a singular objective, Commando Sit. With Fall and Winter coming, it might be soon!?
And now Jeff's got some motivation to come back to the Springs to tie up the score...