Watch Alyssa Weber tick some of Canada's finest as she trades indoor comps for summertime bouldering...
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Most of my year is spent training for indoor competition climbing so for the past few summers I have spent as much time climbing outside as I can. I compete in both bouldering and lead climbing in the full competition season from October to May and being able to climb outdoors for a few months in the off season offers a welcome change.
This summer, I took a trip out to the Kelowna Boulderfields in early July. I had been there once before at last year's Rock the Blocs competition, but I didn't get to climb much due to weather. I was psyched to go back there this summer to try boulder problems in areas I hadn’t climbed at before. With no climbs in mind that I previously tried I was open to trying anything.
Watch Alyssa Weber climbing classics in the Kelowna Boulderfields and Squamish
Our first day there we went to the Serenity Boulder. With lots of horizontal slots that create small crimps, this boulder requires accuracy to hit them properly. One of the climbs I tried on this block, “Serenity Amidst Chaos” (V9; 00:10 in video) was tricky for me because the feet are quite slick and the moves are very extended. It took a while to come up with beta that worked, but once I did it was just a matter of linking the moves together. “Chaos Amidst the Serenity” (V10; 3:03 in video) shares the same start but continues straight up (instead of going right) to more slots and small crimps, and finishes with a committing move at the end. One of my strengths is crimping, so this problem suited me well. I tried “Chaos Amidst the Serenity” a few times the first day but I needed to wait for fresher skin, so I ended up coming back to it later in the trip and sending!
I also spent time working “Detour” (V10; 1:13 in video) on the Driven Boulder, which sits down in a pit and stays cold, making the temperatures good for climbing even when the other areas are too hot. As the name suggests, “Detour” is more like a route than a boulder problem because it first traverses left, then comes back around to the right and finally finishes on the far right side of the boulder. The beginning section is tedious and involves lots of bumping on small crimps. A big move out left follows the crimpy intro and then gets into some easier climbing until another crux with three small crimps in a row. These last moves were the hardest for me because 12 moves lead up to this crux. On our last morning, I woke up at 5am to give it a final effort and was able to send it at the last minute!
Following Kelowna, I spent a few weeks Squamish in August. Even though it was my third summer in a row returning to Squamish, I was still psyched to head back, find some new projects and check out new areas. I knew that I wanted to try “Black Hole” (V11; 6:33 in video) at Gibbs Cave. While I had never ticked a V11, the year before I was able to send the left exit to “Black Hole” (graded V10) so I was already familiar with some of the moves and I had looked at the right exit but never gotten a chance to try it. The two problems share the same start and a unique crossover move, but for the right exit, once past some hard right hand bumps, the climb moves right by a big move to a crimp instead of moving left onto better holds. During my first session trying “Black Hole” I spent some time relearning the beginning moves and remembering my beta for the start. I managed to do all the moves by the end of the session and knew I just needed to rest and come back fresh.
The next session I tried to make bigger links and even had a few good goes from the start but I was still failing on the last hard right hand bump move just before the big last move. I came back a third day and refined my beta for the last half of the problem. After a few days rest I felt ready to try it again. It felt much better than the times before and after a few attempts I had sent my first V11! I was so psyched to be standing on top of the boulder- it was my primary goal of the trip.
Another highlight was working “Resurrection” (V9; 5:06 in video), which the guidebook calls one of Squamish’s top highballs. I can get scared easily on tall boulders and was hesitant about this one. The beginning moves are the hardest with the difficulty easing up at the top, so I knew I would be more likely to fall lower down. Each try I would get a little further on the problem, until I got to the hard crux move, which involved a high right foot and a far right hand reach to a gaston crimp. While this part is roughly halfway up the boulder it’s still high enough that I would down climb a few moves before jumping off. The first time I stuck the right hand crimp I knew I wouldn’t be able to down climb anymore, so I had to finish the climb. Luckily all the holds after were better than I was expecting. It was a super fun climb but takes a bit to shake off the nerves.
Now that summer is coming to an end and my last year of university is starting, I will begin training for the upcoming competition season. My first competition will be in Montreal for the Bloc Shop Open in October. Stay tuned!
Preview Photo: ©Scott Eveleigh
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alyssa Weber is a member of the La Sportiva Climbing Team.
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