After a very brief discussion, weighing the pros and cons of various areas and harder undone lines we headed out to Bennett Peak. I regularly field questions about Saratoga Valley, more specifically Needle Peak, but have had only about three questions about Bennett Peak. It is the original bouldering area of the Saratoga Valley and has great potential. The drive is longer and the boulders are less developed and more spread out than Needle Peak. None the less, it is a premier bouldering area and a great place in the spring to pull some rock.
Bennett Peak, WyomingWe drove straight to the Corral Creek camp ground, home to Bennett Peak's oldest problems and went straight to an old undone line. We cleaned it and half way warmed up on the top out of the thing and then went straight to work on Bryan's "only hard problems" request. What looked like it could be V7 turned into a major fight of core tension and finger pain. A real classic! A small crimp/pinch in a 50 degree roof leads to a flat side pull and really bad smearing to maintain body tension. Lock it all down and fidget a digit into a mono, somehow get an undercling pinch thing and then stand up to chuck for the lip and the "warm up" top out. That's all there was to it and it shut us down hard. It is now the Last Dirty Hole Project and highly recommended!
Bryan getting started on the Last Dirty Hole Project
Bryan working the last move of the project, guns ablaze
and the mono...
After a two hour warm up on the mono, feeling warm and a deep pain in the finger that counts, we headed a couple hundred yards down hill to another hard, unclimbed line. This one was an old one from the very early days of Bennett Peak bouldering. My wife Marla found it years ago on a break from camp. She didn't remember it when I was so excited to talk about it this spring. It is a line however that has stuck in my memory. It was my goal for the day and a beautiful line for a spring day.
Marla on the day she found the boulder of mention. The second boulder of a Bennett Peak Story.
The line felt very hard at first and the logical sit start on a big flake was found to be impossible. Not to be let down, Bryan figured out a theoretical way to start the problem still using a hand on the logical start and simply hanging on for dear life with the other hand while you step off the ground. A two hour session on the move yeilded no results. Bryan even suggested that my bump hold was not a hold at all, rather a portion of wall that had nothing to do with the problem. He was very right. We took a lunch break after we figured out the next several hard moves and decided we would at least top it out from some hold.
The project as it looked as we left for a lunch break.
After lunch we returned with hope of sticking the first move and had several good failures. Reaching the end of our motivation and strength, Bryan adjusted a finger tip or two on the starting flake and somehow stuck the move. I can only describe it as a micro study on core tension and body position that somehow involves a point of zero where nothing moves except the gripping left hand. Naturally he panicked and went into overdrive, send the damn thing mode. Missing a key foot in all the excitement he jumped off and had that look of disbelief. The thing would actually go!
Bryan getting two fingers adjusted under the roof before going for it. The sloper he is going for is a poor one.
Moments before sticking it
Holly, what just happened, Shit!
Panic mode and the next move.
With a changed mind, I put on my shoes and adjusted my two fingers under the roof. I reached the zero point and stuck the move too. I went through the motions of the next moves, barely sticking the second crux and not really thinking until I reached the top out. The top out was a pumped pile of sloping crap a good bit off the deck. I could tell Bryan was worried about the whole thing in the way he spouted encouragement. Like encouraging the first guy out of the trench. Saying "way to go", but thinking thank god it's not me. I spent a while adjusting various pumped out portions of my body until I numbly rolled over the top. Bryan gave it several good goes after that, always sticking the first zero point move crux, but not quite getting the second crux lock off. It was a really impressive effort to watch him do the crux move over and over!
I named the problem The Zero Point and we thought it might be V8. It is a V8 that is harder than all others we have done, but a V8 none the less. We wouldn't want things to get soft around here, so we're sticking with solid grades. It was a great day to go to something I had always wanted to do and to finish it in good style (except the top out).