Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Argentina Files-Part 2-Piedra Parada

So after leaving El Chalten I started quite the long bus journey to meet up with an international team of bolters in the Province of Chubut. We ended up in the town of Esquel where we were supposed to get picked up but in the confusion of no cell phones a new plan was hatched and thus we took yet another bus along a dirt road for another 4 hours. My travel companion and recently successful alpine first ascensionist in El Chalten was a Brazilian ex-pat by the name of Marcos Costa. We finally got dropped off with all of our gear on a lonely desert road and then hiked into where we were supposed to have our Base Camp. We arrived to find that the rest of the bolting team had not yet materialized due to their own bus journey calamity, and so we hiked into the extensive and long canyon of the Piedra Parada. The area is made up of 2 main features the first and namesake feature is the 100 meter tall free standing 'Piedra' and the other is the 6 kilometer canyon of volcanic rock that is a sheer 200 meter height on both sides. When we first walked in to the canyon we were absolutely stunned and amazed by the size and potential of the canyon and immediately began scoping lines (multi-pitch) that we were interest in bolting. The next day we found a crag that we wanted to bolt and we quickly learned the nature of the rock which is bi-polar to put mildly. The rock is volcanic and of similar nature to the Tablelands areas of Bishop, CA. So that means you can have some really appealing rock immediately next to the most unconsolidated mud rock that will never clean up. After 6 hours of bolting and cleaning and getting absolutely obliterated by the unrelenting Patagonian desert sun we were stumped. How are we going to make a climbing area out of this stone??? After this attempt I went to try some of the already established routes and climbed a couple 7a's and 7a+'s to see what the others had made of the area. Unsatisfied with my findings of the day and unwilling to waste another day on marginal rock I figured that I and we were better off looking for new quality rock. The canyon is just so big with so many little off shoots that it just had to be there so I grabbed my canteen and headlamp and went upon a vision quest. I spent hours and hours hiking up in slot canyons and bouncing from one side of the canyon to the other. I spent another 5 hours scouring the canyon for potential. By the end I felt much much better because I found 2 different canyons/crags that I was genuinely psyched on bolting and climbing. One was a black wall that never sees the sun(very important for me) that has very very iron saturated rock that grabs you as much as you grab it. For those rock specialists think of 'Black Mamba V10' in Hueco Tanks. The second place of interest was a beautiful ballooning cave of very huecoed, pocketed and highly streaked rock. The first wall is what I got started on right away the next day and after significantly less cleaning than the previous day I had bolted to amazing and independent lines 'There and Back Again 7a+/5.12a' and 'The Blacksmith 7c/5.12d'. The later of which was named because when I hammered at the rock I was shooting sparks everywhere as though I was striking an anvil. The climbing on the Blacksmith is so good that I had renewed faith and psyche in developing the sector. The Cueva(which is cave in Spanish)also yielded high quality routes and in such a wildly different style. I bolted the original line with my friend and bone crusher Jon Cardwell. Jon is super light and smaller guy so we decided to put him on the bottom of the route to aid it and add bolts and I went to the top and after a lot of hiking and bolting rappel stations I found where I wanted the two routes to end and got to work on bolting them. I took a bunch of work and finally I finished bolting an amazing 8b/5.13d and very difficult 8c/5.14b to start La Cueva with. After about a week of work in the Cueva I had bolted another couple routes 'Pan Blanco 8b+/5.14a' and 'Salty Peanuts 7c/5.12d'. I was also psyched because I was able to get some climbing in-between bolting sessions and as well as sending climbs that I had bolted I sent the amazing 'Dulce Duro 8a+/5.13c' which was bolted by Jon Cardwell and Marcos Costa. I had such an absolute blast with the bolting team. Most of them were from the south of France and made up of Petzl athletes and employees. 2 people I absolutely loved and really enjoyed working and laughing with was Nina Caprez and Michael Fuselier. They make a great team on there own and to be able to share routes with them and extensively make fun of each others cultures at night around the diner table will be and already is missed. I look so forward to climbing with these great people in the future. AR-staying psyched for the next adventure

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kill On-Sight V12 Video

Kill On-Sight V12 from Ander Rockstad on Vimeo.

Agrentina Files-Part 1

So the first objective upon arriving in Buenos Aires was to catch up on some much delayed connecting I had to do with some very special people. I also was hoping to rest but a very lively city and the previously mentioned back log of connecting took some energy away from pure recovery.
The first climbing related trip I took was to El Chalten which is of course the Mythic, Mega, and Amazing Arena for all the alpine climbers out there. I took the opportunity to show my lovely life partner about some facets of the climbing life such as waiting out weather, hiding under boulder problems to wait out weather, complain about skin issues on hard boulder problems and of course belaying.
The next stop for me was a bolting trip for the upcoming Petzl RocTrip in November here in Argentina so I thought it best to only boulder a little bit and instead put my attention towards sports climbing.
There is some nice sports climbing around Chalten but I found my interest was held most by the out of town crag known as El Calamar. This is a really special and strange crag because it is mostly rain protected and thus an extremely valuable asset for the weather temperamental region of Patagonia. The stone was kind of fractured and broken looking igneous rock with a thin layer of limestone running over it. It was very Rifle-esque in its climbing and choss level. But just as Rifle there were some very nice climbs to be done. I came agonizingly close to sending an amazing 8a+ called Crisis but broke a fairly crucial hold and had to settle for one hanging it several times, such is the existence of the very short climbing trip. But I was able to send some nice 7c+'s and 7c's in a couple tries so actually mission accomplished because I was able to get into the route climbing groove and get psyched for the climbing and more importantly bolting to come of Piedra Pirada.

The end of states-side time for a while at least

Bishop in just another beautiful sunset
Psyched for the project to be finished
Just as psyched as ever to working on my birthday at the trade show, this one is a little forced
The die hards packing up at the end of a day of baltic conditions

So after some brief climbing time in California that was revolving around work at the 2012 Outdoor Retailer trade show I traveled down to Argentina.
But before heading south I was able to manage a couple nice climbs that I was very psyched on. I climbed the 'Sharma Traverse V10' and the super beautiful 'Saigon Direct V9' in ground up style. I am very inspired by the beauty and the movement of the super direct version of the latter line and in the future will give it some effort. Meanwhile at the lower Bishop volcanic areas I got really psyched on a line that was in my style and blew me away. I say 'blew me away' because despite figuring out all of the moves (in my typical unique signature beta style) the first session on it, to falling from the last move around 20 times. Ironically for something that seemed easy enough I surely tested and built some power endurance for the future. Finally I was able to send 'Kill On-Sight V12' and wow did that feel good to see something through to the end and under a real time crunch. It was a funny journey because some people dont find it to be the hardest of problems but I had to step away from that side of the climbing experience and just finish a great rock climb accepting that the climb was a challenge for me and like I said it felt great to finally have the endurance and climb it in control.