Monday, November 9, 2009

Las Problemas de la Hacienda

Last year John Stordahl dragged me across the river. And I don’t mean he had to convince me, I was already interested in the boulders across from the ‘Sleeping Lady’. I mean that I came pretty close to falling into the frigid waters of the Icicle and big Johnny grabbed my wrist, saving my day if not my life.

He had his eyes set on a line facing upriver that started in a nest of logs deposited during high water. After quite a bit of manual labor we were able to try the moves, only to find that they are ridiculously hard. Not impossible though, Johnny Goicochea recently put this project to rest, along with a host of other lines on this giant boulder.

Cole Allen slaps to the crimp on 'Wild Fire'

Interest in this bloc ebbs and flows along with the river. The season started early this year, however, when Joel Campbell brought along a sturdy ladder and turned the approach into something straight out of the Khumbu Icefall.

While everyone else threw themselves at Stordahl’s project Joel tossed a rope down the immense, downriver-facing slab and commenced scrubbing. A tenuous series of crimps revealed ‘La Hacienda’, the boulder’s namesake problem, a shallow-water solo with a commiting step across to gain the first holds.

The Monkeys relax by the river while Joel gets the slab ready for action

Johnny commits to the probable first ropeless ascent of 'La Hacienda Slab'

Joel high-steps to the top

A month later Johnny G. returned to the project and unlocked the sequence with a previously ignored micro-crimp. ‘Wild Fire’ is this boulders hardest and arguably most beautiful line, unfortunately, chances are pretty good that the future will deposit more driftwood into the start.

Adam takes a lap up 'The Sleeping Lady', one of my all-time favorites

On the backside, beyond ‘La Hacienda’, Stordahl and I had scoped another possible line that would somehow climb into and out of a juggy undercling crack. It looked improbable to start and frightening to finish. After some patient scrubbing Johnny and the boys established ‘Raised Wicked’.

Kyle O. adding a move to 'Raised Wicked'

Kyle on the heady topout

Like many “new” boulders in Leavenworth, there is little doubt that this massive and obvious chunk of stone has been explored in the past. However, I’d be surprised if yesterday’s hardmen, mostly interested in the boulders as a form of practice for their greater goals, managed (or even desired) to drag their way up many of the hardest problems being “put up” today.

Drew Schick going for the Hacienda challenge


Justin said...

nice work man. . .loved the pics. I have been hearing so much about these boulders and it is nice to finally have images to go with the stories. have a great winter.~michelle

James said...

La Hacienda looks sick. So the problem in Stordhal video got done? Rad