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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

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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Hueco Life

The last time I was in Hueco was in February and that trip was a pretty short one, 5 days. This time I’m down here for 11 days which means 8 or 9 days of actual climbing. My first day was on the 10 and since I had signed us all up for a volunteer tour, we went to East mountain. Currently in our crew is Jamie Chong, Simon party and Sonnie Trotter. We warmed up at the warm up roof and I played around on a V13 called Liane. After that Jamie and Simon wanted to head to a problem that they were both really close on. It was a V10 called Full Service. I wanted to try it and I also try a link up that started on Full Service and joined up with another problem just left. The link up is called Full Throttle and is given V13. Since these problems were in a cave and there was a breeze that day, it was really cold down there. Jamie and Simon both showed me their individual beta and I thought that Jamie’s beta was better suited for me. After a few minutes of warming up Jamie decided to give it a re warm up burn. He pulled on and fired the problem first go! After seeing the beta first hand, I put my shoes on and gave it a burn. Thanks to Jamie’s beta, I flashed it! To finish up our sesh, Simon disbatched the problem a few tries later. I also played around on the link up Full Throttle, but the big span move in the middle was shutting me down. I could do the span but getting my heel hook over my right hand was too hard because I was so spanned. After that we decided to head over and try the ultra classic “Slashface”. I really wanted to give a good flash burn on this problem but I may have picked a bad day to do it on. After trying Liane, and then Full Throttle, i was pretty tired. Over the past couple of years, i’ve seen lots of clips of people trying it and doing it. I’ve also asked a few people to give me some beta on it but they didn’t tell me about the beginning. It turns out there’s a pretty cryptic heel hook that took me a bunch of tries to figure out. When I finally figured it out and stuck the gaston, my fingers locked awkwardly and my pointer finger started to bleed from under the nail. I thought the hard moves would start once i hit the gaston on the face but i was wrong, every move on that problem is pretty hard. I tried of a few more times then called it a day. Even though my flash attempt was terrible, I still want to come back and try this problem again. Today I ended up trying 3 different V13’s but I think after a bit of work I could send them all. On our second day, I had another volunteer tour booked so we decided to go East Spur. I was still tired from my long first day but there was this highball called Rules of Chaos that looked cool. I warmed up on easy problems then went over to the problem and set up the pads with Simon. We each took turns trying it and in a couple of tries each we were at the crux move which was 15 feet up and just below the lip. Taking a closer look, we found an undercling out right and I decided on my next attempt I would go that direction. It felt good, so I committed myself for the seam below the lip. I said in my head I wasn’t going to fall but the holds had a different opinion. I missed the hold by a fraction of an inch and came spiralling down. It was scary, but Simon caught caught me and I landed safely on the pads. The next time I got up there I was confident that I just had to go a tiny bit further to hit the good seam. Once again I comitted myself to the move but this time I hit it. Once I hit the hold I thought disaster! The hold was way worse than I thought but I past the point of jumping down. I threw in a hard backflag and threw for the lip. I hit the lip, my feet swung out but i was too high to think about faling and I held on. I took my time topping out but at least the send was in the bag. Comparing the problem to other V10’s in the park, it felt much harder so I decided to go with V11 for the grade. Since the problem hasn’t been climbed much, the rock was super gritty and my skin hurt so much after that problem that I didnt climb for the rest of the day. Since it was still pretty early, Jamie wanted to hike over to Full Monty and Simon wanted to try another V10 called Focus. Simon dispatched Focus in 3-4 tries but Jamie was unsucceful on Full Monty. After that, we walked over to Donkey Show to let some of our fellow tour members try Mr. Serious. While we were over there, Jamie threw on his shoes and flashed Mr. Serious, then flashed the low link up connecting into it. Today, we’ve been resting in a cafe called Kristoph’s. At 9pm tonight, we’re going back to the Airport to pick up Vikki Weldon and my brother Jason McColl. We have two more volunteer tours booked for the next two days so we’ll probably head to East or West again.

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