I managed to get the Santa Fe crew - finally released from their unhealthy summertime sport and gym climbing habits - out to Ortega. I had three objectives in mind, actually four 4 star FAs on three boulders. After getting lost quite spectacularly, we finally got to the B4 boulder in about 30-40 mins from the car. The weather was typically New Mexican - highly changeable, almost alpine - but B4, with its south/west aspect heated up pretty quick. We lapped the established 4 star line Foxy Boxing (V3) to warm up, and finished stabilizing the landing for the highball face. Attempts on the very reachy 4 star project to the right quickly evaporated into futility as we started to feel the sun beat down. Time to move on. Those 4 star FAs on B4 will have to wait.
The Centerfold boulder has sat untouched for no good reason whatsoever. Located next to the Homo boulder, it has a beautiful, slightly overhanging scooped north face dotted with immaculate edges and slopers and capped with a small roof. In the center lies a perfect, ergonomic sloper pinch that looks and feels like it was certainly designed with us climbing monkeys in mind, instead of just being randomly spat out by the mindless mechanics of geologic forces. It's almost enough to make me quit science.. intelligent design FTW. And the bible does say "seek and you shall find". Damn, right about that.
Centerfold holds - exquisite!
Even more gratifyingly, not only did Centerfold look stunning, it climbed incredibly well too. The stand was established by Kendo at V5/6, essentially a series of pinches with a big move in the middle followed by multiple balancey, tensioney small moves that turn out to be the crux. HarSimran raised the bar by adding a sit start, with 5 traversey moves off a toe hook that takes you into the stand V7/8. Ok, we had our first 4 star FA of the day!
HarSimran on the big pinch-to-pinch move on Centerfold
Toehooks for a traversey sit start
So, the final spot of the day involved a bit of a hike into the uncharted realms of the east face of the mountain. I had found this roof - dubbed Happy Hardcore - a while back with Eric Brayden, and it looked spectacular, and hard. The crew wanted steep so steep is what I delivered.
Happy Hardcore roof
Disappointingly, the roof failed to deliver. The angle, height and rock quality were all there, but sadly all the edges were parallel to each other, giving desperate barn door movement, which when coupled with the big start block underneath for feet, just made it feel silly. Perhaps the best line was to the right, on large ledgey features unfortunately the landing sucked and it wasn't exactly the king project line we salivated for.
C'est la vie! The king boulder still waits to be discovered out at Ortega. Given the vast vast amount of quartzite out there that we havent yet seen, Im confident of finding it.
As a footnote, last weekend me and Jamie were out at Posos, and I was cleaning a new line that looked like it would become the hardest line on the blocky roof boulder. There was a small plate that seemed hollow, and I tried to pull it off for the sake of safety... only to watch to my horror as the entire face started moving, not just the plate! With worrying ease I pulled off a 150 lb piece of quartzite the size of my crash pad. Luckily it left a very clean face that improved the problem no end. Another reminder to be careful out there.
Enjoy the season everyone! (and be safe...)
Luckily there are no Miuras poking out under the edge of this...