*Original Post: Monday August 14, 2014
I am pleased to announce to you this will be the first of many blogs I will share here about the goings on in the ever eventful Tahoe bouldering scene. My name is Jon Thompson, I have the AMAZING PRIVILEGE of co-authoring the Tahoe Bouldering Guides series with my friend Dave Hatchett while we develop what seems to be a never ending stream of fresh boulder fields in and around the Lake Tahoe Basin. It has been such an overwhelmingly involved process wondering through the woods, seeing a sizable piece of Tahoe granite, running up to inspect it, discovering it has the features that make it possible to climb, cleaning it up, recording it, sussing the beta and ultimately ascending the problem. These blogs are an attempt to bring you along with me for a day in the life on impeccable Tahoe stone.
When my friend Dave Hatchett called me on April 28th and told me he had some friends coming into town the next evening, I didn't think it was anything out of the ordinary. Another group of shiny, happy folks eager to sample Tahoe granite I assumed. I got off work and rolled over to Bliss on the west shore to help capture some photos of Dave's friends in the evening light. I arrived before the group and began shooting sunset from atop Bliss since the entourage was running later than they anticipated. All of a sudden I heard voices approaching my vantage point from both sides. I was getting flanked on one side by Fred Nicole and his lady Mary while his brother Francois and his lovely family advanced on my left. We all made the proper introductions, enjoyed the sunset and retired the day. I was looking forward to climbing with "THE MAN" himself.
The first day out for me with Fred and Francois was at Sugar 1 in the Sugarpine zone. After warming up Fred said he liked the look of the "Crossfire Hurricane Project" so we tried it a bit even though it was hot. They both climbed into the hard move from the sit with ease and we began isolating the big maneuver. I tried Noah's original beta, showed Fred Paul's beta, he tried that, showed Francois Charlie's beta, and he tried that.
Fred ultimately came up with better feet and we started getting to the grip! But alas the sun was fully botching the scenario by now so we ran for shade. Over to "Red Bull" we went. This problem revolves around a single huge maneuver off of a decent sidepull and a bad slope to a razor sharp crimp. Fred and Francois invented a sweet drop knee backstep for the right foot that seemed to really lock them in for the move. But no send there either. Then it was back to the "Beast" block and the last project of the trip for Francois, he was leaving that day. Just left of "Focal Point" there was a project I had tried in seasons past. Francois started at the same start but linked into the "Focal Point" topout where he encountered blazing sun and sharp grips. He came off the top and was adamant about completing the line before he left, unfortunately their trip had coincided with the first heat wave we had this spring. On his last attempt, thin skinned, a hole in one finger, sun blasting his topout, sharp ass grips to grab and late to the airport Francois yelled his way up "European Vacation" for it's first ascent and headed for the trip home. We all were more than happy for his success on the line and wished he and his family well. He says he will return for more.
The next day out with Fred we went down towards some South Lake zones. We warmed up at Christmas Valley and took him over to the classic "Welcome to the Future" in Hope Valley. It was the worst conditions I have ever had on the rig and Fred actually commented, "It feels like soap, this hold." But nevertheless Fred, Tom Fern and I had a session anyway. It was amazing to watch Fred NOT use a heelhook on the opening moves or the move up to the slope towards the end of the problem. But the conditions were BAD and there was no send.
Feeling like I should have maybe taken him to a less condition dependent problem in the heat we went to "Fat Tire" on the way back just off Hwy 89. I had not been to this block before but Dave had told me it was a real nice line on perfect stone. We walk up to the boulder and it was perfect! I flashed, as did Fern and so did Fred. It was a stellar line. I then looked right at a sit start, attempted and fell with the wrong beta. Tom Fern attempted and fell as well, then Fred showed us how it was meant to be climbed with a flash of the problem. Fern and I finished up the line on our next attempts with Fred's beta and the day was done.
Afterwards I had the privilege of entertaining Fred and Mary by cooking us dinner afterwards and sharing a bottle of Syrah Fred picked out. I had befriended some awesome folks in Fred and Mary that I will not soon forget. It was a treat showing them around Tahoe and I am mega stoked to link with them in Switzerland some day!
Get out and get after it everyone!