Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More progress on the Ethiopia Project

Last weekend, Wine for Water held its first major event in Paso Robles, CA. The event featured the short film I made about clean water in Ethiopia, and I just heard that over $23,000 was raised. I'm psyched to be a part of this organization and I hope to do more in the future to support it. Donating clean water is a form of aid that helps get people off aid. Clean water gives people the energy and extra time to better help themselves. Consider a donation to this effort today.

Wine For Water

Happy Wednesday.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Saturday at the Park

Had a great day at the park with Rich and Thomas. Put up a new problem (I believe) to the left of the Not Bacon wall. Starting the same as the V7 on the big sloping rail, but traversing right through powerful gaston moves to a big jug and a moderate top-out. I thought this problem was about 7 points. I had to breathe very hard to send, because this was my first visit to altitude since spending the summer at sea level in South Africa.

I did a lot of mileage on some great moderates, and finished the day with a quick send of Sunspot, a classic V11 just off the trail. It was the end of the day and I had just failed near the top and was ready to go home, but everyone was like 'just rest and give it one more try'... this was already about 10 hours since we left the car... but I rested for about ten minutes and sent next try.

Lesson: when your tired friends say to give it one more try, cause it looks like you're close... LISTEN TO THEM! THANKS THOMAS AND RICH!!

I dont have a picture of sunspot, but I googled it and found one:

I spoke too soon.

In the below post I mentioned the fantastic Air Star project at Roadside in Rocklands. As it turns out, Austria's world-cup crushing super-hero Kilian Fischhuber has managed to send the line on one of the last days of his trip. This season, I proposed that this line was climbable and was in fact the last great prize at Roadside. As far as I know, this line has been tried (or at least seen) by every single climber who has visited Rocklands. Congratulations to Kilian for having the power to send, and the guts to latch the crux hold and hang on for the ride. I cant wait to try this line in the future. The photo at left is from one of Kevin's attempts during his visit.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Searching for Serendipity

If I had to distill my experience in South Africa down to a single word that sums up the whole season, that word would be 'searching'.

So much searching, in fact, that my legs are still sore after a week of rest. This season I was excited to search out and discover something new and cool. I wanted to find and complete a boulder problem that was not only at my limit, but had some thing about it that I had never experienced before. Whether a crazy new move or a type of feature I had never climbed... I wanted to just keep searching until I found what I was looking for.

I was able to complete several new problems this season, including the first ascent of an absolute classic I named Spudd Webb in honor of the height-challenged NBA player who could still slam dunk. Despite the fact that it was an amazing, near perfect boulder problem, it was not at the limit of my ability. The 'slam dunk' move is one of the coolest moves I've ever done, but this didn't feel like the climax of my trip.

Spudd Webb, First Ascent.

There were several problems I tried this season that were too hard for me. The notorious project at the Roadside area (we were calling it the Air Star Project) has once again throttled another season of the worlds best boulderers. Had I been able to complete this amazing line, this would have surely fulfilled my vision, but after prolonged attempts and watching other great climbers attempt the line I'm pretty sure this problem is in the V14 - V16 range.

Sadly, the hardest climb I did all season was not of an extremely high quality. Vice President is a direct finish to an existing problem called The Vice, and though it's harder than The Vice, the two-move gut-wrenching power crux is not the graceful, fluid, gymnastic climbing I had fanticized about. Another hard climb I succeeded on was Green Mamba, given 8B or V13, and though I sent this climb relatively quickly it still felt unfulfilling. I was seeking something that I had to struggle with and really break through some barrier to overcome.

One day, myself, Nalle, Kevin, Sarah and I went out to explore a new zone called The Base Camp. These boulders looked great and there was one line that stood out among all the others. A group of motivated Germans were there, including Flo and Axel, who spent the whole season in Rocklands. As it happens, they had seen the same line as I did and were planning to try to climb it. They had already spent some time making the landing safe so I stood back and allowed them to work on the moves and try to send the problem first. After about an hour I checked back and none of them had topped it out, so I put on my shoes and helped them find the beta for the top of the climb, a difficult though very small move from a micro-crimp to the top of the boulder. A fall from this move could be dangerous so it was important to have all the pads and all the spotters ready in case you miss this powerful and balancy move.

In a group of motivated climbers, it's always exciting to see who will get the first ascent of a new problem. Since the Germans had put in most of the effort in making the landing safe, I let them take a few tries, and just as I was about to put my shoes on, Flo stepped up and with a massive scream he stuck the crux second move, powered through the middle section, and dug deep to latch the top of one of the best new problems of the season - Serendipity. The problem got its second ascent just minutes later, when on my first try from the start I also found my way to the top.

Serendipity, at the Base Camp Area.

To be honest, the second ascent of this problem was likely the experience of the trip for me. It came the closest to matching my vision of what I had set out for, and thinking back on it, there are few places in the world where this kind of boulder problem exists.

Shortly after climbing Serendipity, I heard my friend Nalle had managed to rediscover an area he had seen the previous season. Nalle's goals were similar to mine - he wanted to do something new, hard, and special. This line he found eventually became Livin' Large... which I blogged about previously.

Filming Rocklands with the Red One.

Though I continued looking for my own lines, I was happy to focus on filming Nalle on his project and supporting his efforts to succeed on his project. Though Nalle gets the credit for the athletic skill to ascend the problem, I was psyched to have the opportunity to capture the ascent in cinema-quality 4K video on my new video camera.

Another meaningful event during the season was our visit to the Elizabethfontaine Primary School, which is located right in the middle of Rocklands. This Spring we put on movie screenings of my last film, Pure, and we also did an event where Kevin Jorgeson gave an excellent slideshow. Kevin got to see the school for the first time on the trip and he was psyched to have participated in the fundraising. In addition to donating money to the school, we also had a couple hundred toothbrushes and some warm winter hats from Cloudveil that we gave to the teachers in order to distribute to the kids.

This season, we were able to donate even more than we did last year, and with the exchange rate of South African Rand being quite favorable, our donation of 12,000 Rand will help the school on their next project: building a kindergarten. Lots of the kids in the area would benefit from having a grade prior to first grade, where they can learn some basic skills and get up to speed before starting school.

As always, the school looked neat and well-kept. We were treated to a performance of a new dance routine from some of the older students, and they showed us a new garden they had planted recently to be able to grow vegetables to use in the school kitchen. Many of the children wanted to be able to have cabbage soup, but the school could not afford it, so now they have a small, productive cabbage patch that also helps teach the kids about basic farming practices.

Our efforts with the school have not gone unnoticed, and I'm happy to report that other climbers have started to get involved as well. One great idea that recently was implemented was the placement of a donation box in the campground, where departing climbers can leave their unwanted spare change instead of taking it home and forgetting about it. Guy Holwill was working on this project and it's really great for me to see the virus expanding.

This season there was a lot of talk about new access restrictions, permits, closures, impact, and all the other stuff that starts coming up just before an area starts getting shut down. Doing some positive things for the community is a great way to balance the negative impact climbers have on the environment, and ultimately I think my work with the school will be longer-lasting and more important than any first ascent I may accomplish.

Chuck Fryberger
August 20 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How much is 7000 Kwh?

The Enercon e-126 wind turbine.
I just read that the worlds largest wind turbine has been installed in Germany, and the estimated production of the generator is over 7000 Kwh. How much is that? I asked Sarah how many Kilowatt Hours the new climbing gym in Boulder uses, and she said it was designed to use about 14 Kwh.

This means that the Enercon turbine could, by itself, power 500 large commercial buildings... especially those that are designed to be effecient.

The turbine also has adjustable blades that better cope with varrying wind speeds, allowing it to operate efficiently in a variety of conditions. It was also designed to cause minimum harm to bird life, a over-hyped 'downside' of wind generation. Last time I checked, the Exxon Valdez caused a bit of harm to wildlife too.

The interior of Movement Climbing and Fitness in Boulder, CO - A city where I do not live.

I'm finally beginning to feel human again after a long season in Rocklands. I'll have some other posts from the bouldering mecca of the southern hemisphere in the coming days, including an update from the Elizabethfontaine Primary School, where we were able to make another donation this season.

Yesterday was my birthday and today I'm going to Red Rocks to watch Top Gun. Will I dress up like Maverick? AFFIRMATIVE.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Livin Large - Project Real Big Goes Down!

The Finnish wonder-kid Nalle Hukkataival has, after twelve long days of attempts, finished the amazing project we were calling Project Real Big. Naming it Livin Large and proposing a grade of 8C, this is Nalle's hardest problem to date and his hardest first ascent. The climb now ranks among the most difficult in Rocklands and the entire world.

Livin Large is the single most daunting boulder problem I've ever seen in my entire life.

Nalle Hukkataival

Spirits were low for a little while as we spent day after day gathering the needed pads and spotters and doing the hour-long hike to give the project a handfull of burns at dusk, right when conditions were perfect. Walking home every night empty handed was starting get pretty old, and our political capital was beginning to run pretty thin with everyone we were borrowing pads from. Thanks go out to everyone who contributed by carrying a pad, a tripod, or just their carcass to spot all the way up to the area. Special thanks to Team Norway who let us borrow all their pads on multiple days while Nalle was taking attempts.

Livin Large takes the prominent right arete.

Yesterday the conditions were perfect and after a few tries he managed to get through the powerful moves at the bottom of the problem and hang on all the way through the pumpy finish to complete the problem.

Nalle on Project Real Big during an unsuccessful attempt.

Unsuccess on Project Real Big.

I filmed the entire process of working the problem and the final send with the Red One and the footage is amazing. Nalle picked the best lighting possible for the send - the mark of a true professional. My next video is picking up momentum and I should be able to have a release together for next Spring. Nalle and I are now finishing up our development of the sector, dubbed the Champagne Sector. Today we added a couple new problems and maybe tomorrow some more will go in. The area is looking like it will be a good addition to rocklands and I'm psyched to make my contribution to the area by opening yet another great new sector.

Nalle starts the celebration after the big send. Livin Large!