Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Casa Diablo: The Mega-Boulder

Casa Diablo is certainly more than just a one-trick pony as there are multitudes of amazing problems scattered around.  That said, there is one particular boulder that stands out and has received more of my attention than any other in the area.  I've dubbed it the "Mega-Boulder" due to it's quality/size and, as I said before, it alone is worth a trip.

The steep face that I'm so enamored has yielded two world-class problems (yes, they would be classic anywhere in the world) and the 2 or 3 projects remaining on the boulder are worthy problems as well.  Here are a few pictures and commentary

The Mega-Boulder.  Tom is standing under Midnight Roses with the stunning arete to the right and the rope hanging down over a project we never got around to trying.  Far to the left and obscured by a tree is another project we brushed up that will be a nice addition.  

Noah laying eyes on the boulder for the first time.  The boulder is massive but since the top-out is low angle it makes for perfect bouldering. 

While Midnight Roses was the first problem we did, it was the arete that I originally took a shine to.  It's one of those lines that you know is doable but the difficulty is hard to assess and the fact that it is highball with a tiered landing means overcoming fear will also be a major obstacle.  Last winter's ground-up attempts proved terrifying but this year we cracked the beta on rope and then tried to dial in the crux sequence before going cordless.

Even though working the arete on rope eliminated a degree of uncertainty it was still unnerving to climb without a grip of pads.  Since neither Tom nor myself are famous enough to attract a posse to contribute pads Tom decided to set up his circus net (seen in the photo to the right).  That's right, Tom has a circus net for just such occasions and the fact he busted it out speaks to the quality of this problem as it is no easy task to set it up. In the end I think Tom would say it was worth it as the effort culminated with him safely on top of the Mega-Boulder.  I wasn't so fortunate and while I have lots of excuses for my failure I'm kicking myself for not taking full advantage of the cushy landing.  I can't remember what Tom called this one but it is awesome.

Midnight Roses was the first problem we establish but it didn't go down easy either.  We resorted to working this problem on rope (Lisa doing just that in the photo) and the beta took some refining before we put it all together.

Midnight Roses is actually fairly sustained but the first move proved to be the physical crux.  The "standard" beta involves a big right-hand move to a sloper but there is also alternative beta that better suites those of shorter stature.  Lisa and Noah demonstrate the different options.   

This problem definitely goes on my list of favorite first ascents* and it is an amazing addition to a region that is already renowned for its climbing.
*technically Tom did it first but we sent in rapid succession and the process certainly was a team effort. All depends on how you look at it

Another angle of Midnight Roses that helps you get the idea of how steep the boulder is at the start.  It ain't really over until you're standing on the holds above the lip.

One final photo of Tom on Midnight Roses.  

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