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Hangin’ Wit Da Boyz. December 9, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Action/Adventure, climbing.
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So this past week I spent a couple of days hangin’ wit da boyz.

Literally.

Pete C and Pete W let me know that they were going back to Farley ledge to continue working on “Afterburner”,  a climb which had only seen two ascents to date. I went there a day ahead of time to do some tree work; a giant hemlock teased the route with a spray of dead branches, complicating both the climbing and the photography (though more so the latter.)

I spent four hours in the tree with a bow saw, and another hour cleaning up my cuttings, opening up the space of the climb to psychic simplicity and visual clarity, then came back to shoot when conditions were right for the climbers.

On the day of the Big Effort, I showed up a couple of hours ahead of time and hiked to the top of the cliff. Then I rappelled down, leaving a rope hanging. I got a rope up into the hemlock, and climbed said tree while attached to the rope hanging from the cliff. This allowed me to suspend myself between the rock and the tree and adjust both my height off the ground and my distance from the rock face.

The Petes showed up on schedule, and the action commenced.

I was suspended well above it:

_MG_5472

…and positioned to get the shots I’d envisioned.

Unfortunately, it was about the same time of day as my previous effort to document the proceedings, and the light was similarly harsh.  I worked it hard in Photoshop, and got these suboptimal results.

Pete Ward snagging the third ascent of “Afterburner:”

_MG_5482

_MG_5483

This was a wicked cool effort. It was a bone-chilling day, and everyone’s fingertips were insensate. Imagine doing something this physically near your limit while you can’t feel your hands!

Anyway, congratulations, Pete, on a spectacular effort.

The day ended with a visit to the Spring Boulders, where Pete C was working out the subtleties on what will be a benchmark New England boulder problem. It’s left of the classic Speed of Life,  and somewhat harder and much more consequential if one falls, so Pete was checking it out on top-rope. Pete W threatened to step on my face for photographing it, but hey, I just shoot what I see:

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Around the corner, Jonah Meyer sent “Party Wolf:”

Jonah on Party Wolf

This is a committing problem requiring buttloads of body tension, a posse of attentive spotters and a number of pads to be done safely.

Jonah had all of that, and made it look pretty reasonable.

Yeah, right.  😉

Nice job, man.  I sweated just watching from a distance!

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Workin’ It. November 30, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Action/Adventure.
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Pete Ward working a sport route in Western Massachusetts:

…on a bitchin’ cold day. Pete W and Pete C got shut down by thin moves and frigid fingers, but will be back on a warmer day to have their way with it.

With a day of prep work, I’ll have a better angle on this action, and pictures to prove it. 😉

This post may get expanded as I process more of the photos from yesterday’s shoot.

A Wild Climb In Erving! October 6, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Action/Adventure.
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I had an opportunity this past Friday to “hang out” with a couple of strong Western Massachusetts climbers who were working on a hard route at Farley Ledge in Erving.

Their project was Blood Meridian,  a “hard 13b.” I put the grade in parentheses because in my world, all  13b’s are hard!  😆

Anyway, I spent FOREVER wrestling two packs up a steep, slimy gully, one pack of ropes and gear and one filled with my camera stuff, then rappelled down into position only to find my friend Josh already hanging out below the crux, or hardest section of the route.

Dang!  I’d missed two thirds of his effort, and wasn’t situated properly to capture the rest of it! And to make matters worse, I hadn’t found my box of proper ascending gear and was working with a totally jury-rigged system, which frankly sucked, so I was stuck where I was for the time being.

“Life is hard,” they say, “but it’s harder when you’re stupid.”

So I busted out my kit and began shooting, paying for my lack of preparation with some serious physical discomfort and a lot of unnecessary work.

Josh was milking a knee-bar for a no-hands rest, greatly appreciated after the stiff challenge of the route’s start:

I think this clowning around may have been just what was needed to break the tension surrounding this attempt – the route has only seen two “lead” ascents since it was established a few years back, despite many attempts by strong climbers, and many attempts by Josh himself. And conditions were sub-optimal, a bit damp after the previous night’s rain, so I’m not sure these guys had real high expectations.

But as these things are wont to go, something clicked on this day, and after a good rest Josh launched into The Business – thin face climbing through the overhanging bulge above:

This was a spectacular bit of climbing, involving throwing a foot way  overhead and rocking onto it using crappy handholds. I wasn’t positioned properly to really get the shots I wanted, but at least I got something:

Another clipped bolt and a couple more moves ended in an amazed  whoop! as Josh Surette sent the third ascent of Blood Meridian!

A smiling Josh lowered off, a little bit wide-eyed at what had just happened, and planning his celebration even before he hit the ground.

I boxed my camera and began the gut-wrenching contortions of ascending my rope with my half-assed system of crappy ascenders and short slings, swearing at myself and vowing to find that damned box of gear I was missing. I wanted to be slightly higher and closer in for Pete’s go at this beautiful climb.

After pulling the rope and swapping ends, Pete smoothed the difficult starting sequence, a super-pumpy mix of crack and face climbing up overhanging rock:

…then floated up the steep corner above:

…and after a rest, which may not have been long enough, threw himself into the crux sequence – the heel-hook:

…the rock-over:

…and then suddenly he was airborne, a victim of the tiny holds and a vicious pump still lingering from the moves below.

It was a great effort, though, with pics to prove it.

The day ended with plans for a return bout, and I have no doubt Pete’s future efforts will be rewarded.

Meanwhile, Congrats, Josh!  🙂

A Few Climbing Shots. August 18, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in climbing.
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From last weekend, at Farley Ledge in Erving, MA.

Matt smoothing the steep rock at the left end of the sport wall:

…and Zach throwing the moves on a taller piece of rock right of that:

I hadn’t come prepared for this shoot with quite the right lens; the whole forest is grown in with invasive vines, and my line of sight was reduced so as to make Gizmo almost useless. These shots really need context to evoke any emotion, and it was all I could do to get a whole person in the frame!

Anyway, they’re a bit of documentation of what’s happening in my world, and here they are.