It has been raining in the east Sierra for a month. Why do we say ‘East Sierra’? I don’t know anyone or anything about the regular Sierra. Either way, it has been raining a lot. I’ve been getting up there usually late Friday night or sometimes Sunday night depending on Moses’ Black Mountain Schedule/Yoga Teacher Training. I sleep up on Scenic Loop somewhere because I want to sleep high to acclimate, and what was the point of reading all these mountaineering stories if I don’t at least learn something applicable to bouldering? I get up Monday or Saturday morning early, before any of my friends are willing to rally because, as I said, it is raining and they’re over it, and hoof it.
For a while I was working on this great fun line at Way Lake called Shake and Bake. I was able to get some amazing choreography worked out, and even managed to desensitize myself to the really scary topout. But the last few times I went up there I couldnt’ find the darn boulder. Or even anything recognizable. It sucked so bad, wandering around in the rain with three crash pads, alone, trails everywhere and no idea where the freaking boulder is. I have shelved the project until someone can escort me out to it again.
So it is pouring rain and I’m not drinking coffee these days (5 weeks strong, saved $40!) so there was nothing to do in Bishop, so I decided to go look at some Buttermilks projects I have in mind for this winter, or leftovers from last winter. I get up there that first day and realize it is 66 freaking degrees! I packed my kit and went to the Buttermilker cave to circuit the moderates and maybe try Moonraker a little bit. It was gorgeous in there. Rain coming down outside but dry inside, super, super humid but kind of cold. The rock felt gooey and sharp at the same time, typical Buttermilks hell. I was able to reteach myself the moves for Moonraker, which was a really disappointing fail last winter. The cave is typically so crowded, it feels like some horrible club night at an LA rock gym, lots of onlookers, heinous teenagers, just no fun. But all alone in there, then with a strange group of people on a road trip from central Washington, I got the dance back and totally unexpectedly sent Moonraker! It was a real boost to the confidence for the summer, which has been slow in the sending and heavy on the training, and for the Buttermilks, which is always just a psychologically cruxy place to try hard climbs. Later I discovered that the new guidebooks call Moonraker v9, which was like a surprise cherry on top.
And therefor I have decided that my strategy for this rainy late summer is to go to the Buttermilks in the rain and try all my wintertime projects. Atmospheric video coming soon, but here are a few grabs from a very productive session on Center Direct, a longtime dream project that I’m inexplicably confident that I will do this September.
Now if you are still with me I have a concern about Center Direct I’d like to chat about. The other cruxy bit is the end. It’s a huge jump to a gastony jug with a pretty bad crimp for the right hand. I can make the jump and get my hand into the jug, but I have never reeled in the swing. Taller people (and, frankly, bros from California mostly) have been known to surf out far left to a big sloper, step through, swing up and grab the jug with the right hand. This beta is considered pretty lame, as the whole idea is that it goes up the center. Directly. It’s also considered off limits to small folks. BUT I CAN DO IT!!! And using that method, I’ve done the climb smooth but for the crux move in the center. Moses is like, if you feel good about it then you do it that way. And I don’t feel all that good about it. But I still think it is a radical line and can’t conceivably call it easier that way because you still have to do the crux-crux. So my hope is to send it that way, using the sloper jug, refer to it as ‘center indirect” same grade, then try really hard to send it the real way too.
For reference, this is the real-ish way (mute sound trust me) :
This is the other-ish way, and I am SO SORRY to Mr. Z Bouldering for using this video as an example of somewhat questionable beta. You look super strong back in 2010, and I’m totally doing it that way too. You are fine, so am I.