Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Just Because Fred. Because Grapes. Because V16.

"Amandala, in my mind, is the hardest boulder problem in the world. Fred says it contains the hardest move he has ever done. One which took him many years to complete. Forget about all other problems you think may be world standards. Amandala is way better.

As Raether and I took off into the Rocklands to find new problems we decided to walk through a marsh in the fading light, scramble up a few tiers of rock and take a look into the unknown. With the car running and waiting for us, I could hear the honking from over a mile away! "Just around one more corner, just one more" we'd say every time we saw a nice block. Then it appeared. A concentration of boulders called "The Roadcrew." Most boulders were overhung and over 50 feet tall. You wouldn't believe me if you saw them. Right smack in the middle there was a clearing. In that clearing was a steep marbled face 20 feet tall. No way, I said, as the light completely faded, and we sprinted back in the dark to our impatient friends. We were soaked to our knees from the marsh. (In hind sight was surely filled with Cobras and Mambas).

At first light we went back to the boulder and touched the holds of Amandala in crisp winter air. DAMN I SAY!!!! DAMMMMM!!! I wish I could climb this thing. If I knew that I could climb it, even some day, I would dedicate my life to the second ascent of this boulder. There is a lot of ground to cover on the rock though and oddly are only 4 tiny slopey crimps and no feet. Compared to even the other v15 or v16 boulder problems I have seen, all of which have holds, this line looks impossible. The crux is sticking the sloper hold on the lip like 6 feet from the worst crimp you have ever seen. Locals say to even mantle off this hold (which one must do) is solid v11. A fucking 8a mantle! Twenty feet off the deck! Word is the only time he was able to stick the crux, both his feet cut and he swung way out, and Fred pressed the mantle first try.

Forget even doing these 2 moves in a row. To even get to the crux was way more than even a fresh Daniel Woods could master. Whose even motivated knowing a v11 mantle awaits the next sucker to stick the hardest move in the world.

When I first met Fred Nicole, I arrived at his house on accident while looking for a local farmer needing permission to climb on his land. We pulled into a wine farm and drove up to a farm house in the middle of a large vineyard. It was ten in the morning and the grapes were out of season, empty vines wrapping like viens through the fences and onto the sides of the cottage. Out walks Fred Nicole in only his boxer shorts, with a cup of coffee. Rolled up under his armpit was a sudoku game-book with just enough showing that i could see he had mastered the numerical puzzle. He was followed by two farm dogs, and sat down to roll his morning smoke. He gave us the beta we needed to find the Alpha-Farmer and where to go once we did. Fred asked me if I had been able to find the Roadcrew or if I tried Amandala yet. I said, "not yet," leaving my strength, for now, to his imagination.

Or until we actually went climbing.

Which we did.

Which I looked weak.

photo: David De Siebenthal


sock said...

andy mann's ascent of minki still eclipses this sixteener, however, as fred didn't send in the face of impending swarming doom.

significance is in the eye of the internet lurker.

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