Friday, November 14, 2014

Ortega ridge

Spent an enjoyable, albeit windy, day scrubbing new lines on the ortega ridgeline with the crew. Didn't get to climb - or even try - half of the inspiring looking things which we cleaned, but got a very fun V4 lip traverse done. Jamie came close on it, and will surely be standing proudly on top of it next time. Very much in the style of a squamish block, would be a classic if it were found there - big holds, heel hooks, slopers, pinches, a little bit of body tension. This boulder has a sick line on the overhung face which will be much harder, and quite bold - but with a crew of pads and burly spotters I'd be psyched to try it.

In a nutshell - had fun with friends, spent some time in beautiful nature, climbed a couple of rocks which was fun, tried to climb some others and failed but that was also fun, scrubbed some more rocks and speculated about how they would climb, stared pensively at other rocks, and without cleaning them, also speculated as to how they would climb, played with the dog, further pontificated about climbing rocks in general then called it a day and went home to tea and crumpets.

Photobombed by devil brows. 

Jamie on the new, as yet unnamed, V4. Photo: Josh Smith

Jamie on the new, as yet unnamed, V4. Photo: Gary Parker

The awesome start hold on the as yet unnamed, V4. Photo: Gary Parker

Will it go?? Stay tuned to find out

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Chopping Block & the Arch

Thanks to Gary for making these discoveries, some gems will no doubt come out of this rad new zone at Ortega. The gift keeps giving.

Lovin the quartzite, as always.

Cool crystals in rock

The Arch.

Bissell jug crux holds

Side view of the Arch, with the Chopping Block on left


Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Rocktober is here! Bouldering season here in New Mexico is most definitely underway... not that we ever stopped mind you. But Fall and Winter are my favourite times out here in the desert - temps that you can actually try hard in, invigorating, brisk mornings that demand coffee, and a kind of quiet - a pause in the cycle of nature - that seems to slow down the hectic rhythms of modern life.

I managed to get the Santa Fe crew - finally released from their unhealthy summertime sport and gym climbing habits - out to Ortega. I had three objectives in mind, actually four 4 star FAs on three boulders. After getting lost quite spectacularly, we finally got to the B4 boulder in about 30-40 mins from the car. The weather was typically New Mexican - highly changeable, almost alpine - but B4, with its south/west aspect heated up pretty quick. We lapped the established 4 star line Foxy Boxing (V3) to warm up, and finished stabilizing the landing for the highball face. Attempts on the very reachy 4 star project to the right quickly evaporated into futility as we started to feel the sun beat down. Time to move on. Those 4 star FAs on B4 will have to wait.

Centerfold boulder

The Centerfold boulder has sat untouched for no good reason whatsoever. Located next to the Homo boulder, it has a beautiful, slightly overhanging scooped north face dotted with immaculate edges and slopers and capped with a small roof. In the center lies a perfect, ergonomic sloper pinch that looks and feels like it was certainly designed with us climbing monkeys in mind, instead of just being randomly spat out by the mindless mechanics of geologic forces. It's almost enough to make me quit science.. intelligent design FTW. And the bible does say "seek and you shall find". Damn, right about that.

Centerfold holds - exquisite!

Even more gratifyingly, not only did Centerfold look stunning, it climbed incredibly well too. The stand was established by Kendo at V5/6, essentially a series of pinches with a big move in the middle followed by multiple balancey, tensioney small moves that turn out to be the crux. HarSimran raised the bar by adding a sit start, with 5 traversey moves off a toe hook that takes you into the stand V7/8. Ok, we had our first 4 star FA of the day!

HarSimran on the big pinch-to-pinch move on Centerfold

Toehooks for a traversey sit start

So, the final spot of the day involved a bit of a hike into the uncharted realms of the east face of the mountain. I had found this roof - dubbed Happy Hardcore - a while back with Eric Brayden, and it looked spectacular, and hard. The crew wanted steep so steep is what I delivered.

Happy Hardcore roof

Disappointingly, the roof failed to deliver. The angle, height and rock quality were all there, but sadly all the edges were parallel to each other, giving desperate barn door movement, which when coupled with the big start block underneath for feet, just made it feel silly. Perhaps the best line was to the right, on large ledgey features unfortunately the landing sucked and it wasn't exactly the king project line we salivated for.

C'est la vie! The king boulder still waits to be discovered out at Ortega. Given the vast vast amount of quartzite out there that we havent yet seen, Im confident of finding it.

As a footnote, last weekend me and Jamie were out at Posos, and I was cleaning a new line that looked like it would become the hardest line on the blocky roof boulder. There was a small plate that seemed hollow, and I tried to pull it off for the sake of safety... only to watch to my horror as the entire face started moving, not just the plate! With worrying ease I pulled off a 150 lb piece of quartzite the size of my crash pad. Luckily it left a very clean face that improved the problem no end. Another reminder to be careful out there.

Enjoy the season everyone! (and be safe...)


After. Eeek

Luckily there are no Miuras poking out under the edge of this...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ortega West Ridge

Just thought I'd put a quick update on Ortega following a fun and fairly successful day out on Saturday led by Peck, Gary and Josh. We had two out-of-state climbers visiting from AZ - Jay Bone and Jack Lester - who were psyched to join the development spree on the "God stone".

Gotta rush so I'll just throw up these two photos, but a good day was had by all and the West ridge now is starting to have its own circuit (and trails!) emerge.

Jack on his new compression problem, Eliminator V10 ***. Photo credit Jay Bone

William casually sending an awesome but as yet unnamed new highball below the Elysium patio. Photo credit Gary Parker. EDIT: "Cerberus V3/4"

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Posos highballs

Another day up at Posos, this time doing some scrubbing. Cleaned up an awesome highball block that turned out to climb very well. Did about 6 lines, another 4 or 5 to get back to do.

Drew on the best line - an as yet unnamed V4 - on the highball block