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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Last Days in Hueco

My last couple of days were spend on the 19th and 20th in Hueco. The weather was incredible but maybe just a little bit hot. The temperature was upwards of 25 degrees Celcius in the sun. On the 19th, I really wanted to get on Esperanza. I had tried the crux moves a couple of days before and it felt definately doable. We warmed up just outside of the Martinin Roof and Simon Parton and Jason McColl played around on Black Mamba. I had done that problem 3-4 years ago and I heard someone chipped it? I sent it pretty easily in 2 goes and if anything felt easier, it was the left hand gaston for the second hold. We looked at it pretty closely and it definately looked like some sort of tool marks to make it bigger… After i finished warming up, i went into the Martini Roof and started working Esperanza. Because of our rest day the day before, I felt like i was really close to sticking the move. After numorous burns, I was still having trouble with the crux move and I had stuck it once and then had my foot blow off a second later. Since I was really close to sticking the crux move, I figured I should learn the other moves again. I climbed the moves easily to the crux move and almost stuck it on redpoint! After a bit of rest, I pulled on from the bone hold only to fall on the last move so I figured I had to learn the last move. After 10+ minutes of trying to figure out the last move, I found out I just can’t span it. I had Jamie Chong hold my body in as I tried to span from the jug down to the ear and I couldn’t reach it. I also tried just completely throwing for the jug but came still a couple of inches away. I tried a few more times but was unsuccessful. After the disappointment of Esperanza, I was feeling kind of unmotivated so i decided to get on another nemisis, Dean’s Journey. Afer just 2 goes, I sent the problem. A bit more relieved, I sat down and had a long Scrabble match against Jamie. When that was over, I felt a lot better and decided to climb again. I had always wanted to try Terre De Sienne, so when Jamie was working Luthor, I started warming up my fingers. Jamie came ridiculously close to sending Luthor and stuck the crux move of Chblanke before his foot slipped. I suggested he take a break so I could go try the epic crimp problem. In my head I wanted to flash it… I mean, it’s only 2 moves… right? I’ve been feeling the holds on that problem for a couple of years now and I figured it was time to try it. I pulled on, and fell on the first move… I stood up and just started laughing. I wanted to flash it, but I also knew that the probability of me actually pulling off was miniscule. On my second go, I felt like i was going to stick the move and my right hand dry fired off the first crimp and I went crashing down. Content that I had now tried the problem, I walked a few feet right and sent Diaphanous Sea second go. We walked back up to Luthor and on his first try after his break, Jamie fell going to the first hold of Sign of the Cross!! Jamie felt that he was getting too tired to try the problem so we walked over near the Asylum to look at a problem that Sonnie Trotter had found the previous day. Sonnie had found the problem and showed it to me in hopes that I could send it in a couple of days. When he first found he problem, he thought that the sit start would be V13 or 14. Jamie and I played around on the problem for about an hour but it was getting really dark so we packed it in. On the 20th, we were back on North, I had unfinished business on my new project and Jamie had Luthor. We warmed up and decided Jamie would try his project first, then we would go over mine. On another note, for the past 3 days I’ve been filming every attempt made by Jamie. My hopes it that I’ll get the send on camera and I can stitch together my first short climbing movie containing one problem… Jamie warmed up but felt a little bit tired from the last 3 days of trying it. His first go was not outstanding but not bad either, he easily gets to start of Chblanke but struggles on the moves to the pinch, then the crux move. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen him fall trying to stick the left hand pinch. His second try was even worse… falling going to the right hand pinch of Chblanke. Dissapointed, Jamie said he was too tired and decided to let it go… We went over to my project and it took my around 6 tries to do the sit. The reason I’m being so vague about the problem is because I got all the work and send on camera and I’m going to try and put together a little video. They say a picture says a thousand words, what about a 2 minute video? It’ll also make it easy to see where the problem is, and instead of decribing the beta, you can watch it. I’ll probably have the video up and together in the first couple of weeks of January. After a night in the El Paso airport with my brother Jason McColl, I flew home for the Christmas Holidays.

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Master of V11

It seems that this whole trip I can’t climb harder than V11. The closest problem I’ve been to sending is Ice Scream and I also think with a little more effort, I could do Li, Full Throttle and Slashface. The problem is that all the Volunteer tours are booked and Commercial tours just got jacked up to 30$ a person. Yesterday, we had reservations for North so we went straight to the top of the chains. After a 30 minute warm up in the Gymnasium, we threw our pads in front of See Spot Run. I ran up the highball V6 and was about to try Barefoot when another problem caught my eye. Just across from See Spot Run, there was this perfect left hand crimp and other holds to follow. Near the back of the roof, there was another perfect starting hold. There was only chalk on the start holds so I chalked and brushed the others and started working the problem.. After a handful of tries, I sent the problem. The problem starts on a low undercling and using the pedestal, you reach over the lip and get a double toe hook. From that position, you come into an undercling under the lip, bring your feet out of the toe hooks and deadpoint a couple of feet to a good edge. Sonnie Trotter and Jamie Chong also send the problem in the next half an hour. One of the funny things about this soon to be classic problem is that we all did the problem with different sequences. Originally I thought the problem was V10 but after some discussion with Jamie and Sonnie, we settled on V9. I’m also not quote sure if this is even an FA so if you know of anyone else who’s done this problem, please let me know. Either way, the problem is still there, it’s not sharp and it’s fun to play around on. If it is indeed a FA, we decided to call it G Spot Fun because its near See Spot Run but a little bit harder to find. Later in the day, we were up at Daily Dick Dose and I was trying a problem called Rogered in the Shower. When I was working on Alma Blanca, I’d try this problem a few times before giving up. After a few painful tries, I found the good undercling that you grab at the end of Alma Blanca. I decided to try and go that way next burn. First time trying to go to the undercling, I hesitated and went for the corner again. The second time, I sent it. What a relief! I look back on my previous 10+ tries and i shake my head when i realize i never once saw that undercling. When I got down from the problem, Jamie was interested in my new found beta, I sprayed him down move for move and he sent second go… Good job Jamie! After that, we went over to Martini Roof and played around until it got dark. Today, we warmed up at Warm Up boulder then went straight to Choir Boys. Jamie was close to doing Luthor and Jason McColl wanted to try Choir Boys. After fumbling with the first couple of moves, I repeated Luthor first go. Jamie tried it a bunch of times in the space of an hour but was unsuccessful. I ran over and did Power of Silence and then headed back to the Martini Roof. I wanted to get on a problem that I had seen on 8a.nu called Litz Problem. From what I understood, it started on Dirty Martini and finished in the jug of Esperanza. On my flash attempt, I fell on the hueco of Right Martini. I figured out the top sequence and sent the problem second go. It was getting late but I jumped on Esperanza anyways. I still haven’t stuck the crux move but today I got the closest that I’ve ever gotten. When I was too tired to give serious tries on the crux move, I ran through the beginning moves and called it a day. So far this trip, I haven’t sent anything harder than V11 (excluding repeat ascents). Hopefully I’ll have a couple good days on Esperanza… Tommorrow is Sonnie’s last day here so he’s going to climb on North Mountain while most of us take a rest day and just walk around. We’re also planning on hitting up an Outlet Mall about 45 minutes outside of El Paso.

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Best of the West

After picking up Vikki and my brother from the airport, our Canadian crew had now grown to 6. Since our old car was only a 5 seater, we had to upgrade to a minivan and Jamie took on the role of soccer mom. Our crew was now made up of Jamie Chong, Simon Parton, Sonnie Trotter, Vikki Weldon, Jason McColl and myself. Our 3rd day of climbing was on the 12th. We had a volunteer tour at 930 and we were really psyched to get on a problem on West mountain called “The Feather”. Since it’s the hardest problem to hike to at Hueco, we stopped at some other problems on the way. We started our day on a long problem called Long Dong. This problem was a 25 move V6 with no move harder than V4. We figured if it was a route, it would weigh in the mid 5.12 range. After everyone sent that one, I wanted to go down and check out a problem called Ice Scream. This problem has 3 variations which start at different points on the boulder. Last season I had done the V10 and V11 versions so I wanted to try the full boulder this time. After a bunch of tries trying to remember the finish moves, I sent the high version and then I started working the low. It was hard!! The first move is a full extension deadpoint to a 2 finger pocket then you have to do a massive high step and lock off to the start hold of the V11. Countless tries later I had done every move. After a long rest I got psyched up and climbed through the whole bottom only to fall on the last move of the stand!! After another rest I got to the same move again, falling inches from the top. After that my muscles were too tired from the physical moves of the start so we packed up and moved on. After a brief lunch break where Vikki, Simon and Sonnie played around on a stout V4, we started the hike up to The Feather. We didn’t realize it at first but after 45 minutes of rock hopping, tree fighting and slab climbing, we finally arrived in a the little cave that was home to The Feather. Before trying the problem, we all huddled around Jamie’s iPhone and watched Nate Gold work the moves from the movie “Best of the West”. On my flash burn, I made it all the way out on the roof but couldn’t figure out how to reach out left to a pinch. Jamie was struggling with the throw at the bottom but when I figured out a key toe hook to place before the move, we both could do the move a lot easier. After figuring out what to do with my feet for the top moves, I took a big rest and fired the problem. After a brief rest, Jamie figured out his feet and crushed the problem on his next go. Yesterday, we were pretty tired from the hike out West so we decided to get on a bunch of easier problems the whole day. We spent the whole day on East Spur and did a bunch of realy good V8’s and 9’s. One of the best problems of the day was a V8 called The Egg. This problem started in a knee bar and came around a bulge and up the arret on slopers. I also tried the moves on Coeur Du Leon, but I wasn’t strong enough to do a foot movement in the middle. At the end of the day, we were all really tired but we had easily climbed at least 10 boulders each. Today was another rest day spend at Kristophs’s. Before we came into town, we ran around North Mountain taking a look at the problems we wanted to get on. Tommorrow should be another hot day and hopefully I’ll be feeling strong.

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