Daniel Woods - Warpath

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Trip Down the Warpath

By Daniel Woods

Warpath lies in Castle Rocks, Idaho beneath the infamous Comp Wall, which has many classic Tony Yaniro routes from back in the day. The scenery consists of big snow capped mountains in the background, with giant, egg-shaped, white granite boulders in the foreground. Surrounding these boulders is sand, pine trees, and cacti. This area resembles Bishop and Hueco all in one. There are only 2 main boulders that consist of quality rock. The rest of the area has amazing featured boulders, but most of it is kitty litter rock. The first is the “Taco” Cave where Warpath resides, and the other is the Green Wall, which has classics like The Bagpiper and Green in the Face. James Litz began working the “Taco” Cave project back in 2007, and after 10 days of work, he claimed the first ascent of Warpath. Litz did not grade the roof, but mentioned it was harder than Esperanza, which is benchmark for V14 in Hueco Tanks.  Ever since Litz put up this boulder, I wanted to make a trip out to Idaho to try it. Finally, on March 16th, my friend Jimmy Webb and I drove out from Boulder to check out this test piece.

After 9.5 hours of driving we finally arrived in Almo, Idaho. To our dismay, there was no sign of life to be found in this town of 100 people. We both left our tents and sleeping bags at home expecting there to be a motel somewhere in the area. The nearest city was Burly, ID, which was an hour away. Luckily, after driving all the way down “Main” street, we stumbled upon the Almo Inn. This was a western style inn consisting of three apartments and a couple of cabins. Since we arrived at midnight, the office was closed. We saw an open apartment with an older looking guy standing in front of the door. He asked where we were from and invited us into his place. We then asked if there were any extra rooms available, but he did not work for the Inn. Instead he was a worker for the oil rig down the road. There was no cell service to contact the Inn owner, so this oil miner said we could just stay in his place until the morning. He had to go to work anyway, and was not going to be back until noon the next day. We accepted, cautiously, but in the end this guy ended up being really friendly and cool. When you are out in a foreign place without phone service, your conscience kicks in telling you it could be a bad idea, but sometimes you have to just roll with it. Jimmy and I were psyched that we had a bed to sleep in and even more stoked that we got to finally climb on Warpath the next day.

The next morning was beautiful. We awoke to blue skies, crisp air, and plenty of psych. We immediately found directions to the Taco Cave and went up for our first session on Warpath. After a 30-minute hike we arrived at the roof and both of our jaws dropped. It was perfect; Hueco-like wave crimpers and bulletproof Bishop rock filled the cave. Warpath consists of 23 intense roof moves to a 5-move technical V7 rail exit. I got warmed up and went to work. I started by doing each individual section of Warpath. The boulder problem can basically be broken down into three V10 boulder problems. The first being the hardest and the last being the easiest, but having a lower percentage move. Next, it was time to make an overlapping link. I climbed the boulder to the ¾ mark and fell. I then started from the halfway mark and finished the problem. In my mind, I thought now it was time to try from the start. After about 30 minutes worth of rest, I tried from the start and fell on the last move (the same moves Litz fell on repeatedly). I decided to rest and give it one more final effort, since the last one was close. My next attempt was better. I managed to stick the low percentage move, got excited, and fell on the next move to the rail. My hands were purple and my stomach started to hurt from trying so hard and dealing with the pain of my tips. Overall, I felt disappointed that I collapsed on this move, but was psyched that I made it to here on my first day. Knowing that the weather was going to turn bad the next few days, I knew the next day was my last shot of reasonable weather for sending. The thing about this problem is that if it is too cold, your hands go numb at the 8 move mark. At that point, you still have 14 moves to do with numb fingers, and you have to have feeling on the last micro edge or you will just dry fire. I knew the next day was supposed to be 50 and cloudy and after that it was going to be 30F with 35 mph winds and chance of snow. Knowing this, I went to bed psyched to go and get the job done the next day.

I woke up the next day, tired from waiting up for Dave Graham to get in. I was still psyched to go up and climb on this amazing roof with a good crew of people.  We all got up there a little later than the previous day, hoping it was going to be warmer. I warmed up on each section and rested for a go from the start. I moved through each section precisely and arrived to the final crux with a minor pump and halfway numb fingers. I knew this was my chance to do the boulder. I did the low percentage big move and quickly moved up left hand to the sloping rail. During the move, my foot slipped off and I had to quickly slam it back into the wall to prevent a fall. I quickly composed myself, slowed my heart rate down, and moved my way through the technical finish. I had a sudden rush of endorphins kick in from trying so hard and felt relieved that I was able to accomplish the 2nd ascent of James Litz’s Warpath.  This roof is one of the best climbs I have ever done. The movement is perfect. Jimmy Webb is close to sending the boulder, having fallen off of the last low percentage move. It was a motivating experience to be able to climb on a hard boulder with such talented climbers. Watching Jimmy’s progression and Dave’s got me psyched to try hard. Bouldering is such a social sport, so having that extra positive energy around helps for trying hard.

It was nice to be able to obsess over a climb for so many years, visit it, and complete it. This is the beautiful process of climbing that I have experienced my whole life. I love to look at photos, watch videos, obsess over pieces of rock, train for them, and go to test out my ability on them. This process keeps me living as a climber. Now I am off to Europe for a month to try Christian Core’s Gioia, which remains unrepeated. I will also visit Switzerland. I am looking forward to start this process all over again.

You can look for the video of Warpath on Deadpointmag.com.

Photos copyright: Andrew Kornylak and Mike Mcclure

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