Friday, April 23, 2010

Horse Pens 40

With a small general store, restaurant, showers and camping 100 feet from the crag, Horse Pens 40 is the bouldering equivalent of a 5 star resort. There are over 400 documented problems on quality sandstone, with nice landings, spread over a small, easily accessible area.

For all its awesomeness there is a price though. On your first encounter with the typical 'Horse Pens topout' or 'squeeze problem' you may be mistified by the grades, or even the possibility of a problem. There is always a period of adjustment, as you relearn how to climb, and give rarely used muscles a good workout. Even though we were both here last November it was only on day 4 that we finally started to feel comfortable with the rock again.

We were already nursing tender finger tips from Stone Fort and Rocktown, so day 1 was pretty harsh. Day 2 was our mileage day, with fully taped fingers we climbed over 30 easy-ish problems. Here's Kristal eating lunch.

Here are some clasic 'squeeze problems'. Me on Centerpede V4.

Kristal on Dope V2.

Me on Double Groove V3.

Even though the slopers outnumber the crimps, there is a bit of everything here. Here's Kristal at the top of Merlin V1, a nice high slab climb (the bottom half is hiding behind the Millipede boulder).

Me on Genesis V3.

Kristal on Earth Wind and Fire V3, an awesome trad style slabby groove problem.

Me on Hammerhead V5, one of the few roof problems with positive holds (and the typical HP topout of course).

The easy access to the boulders also makes for ideal night climbing. As the weather gets warmer during the day, it's pretty rare not to see headlights wandering throughout the boulders at night. Here is Kristal on Bum Boy V3, seeking out the better friction that comes with cooler night temps. Thanks to Wes and the other guys there for the awesome beta session on it. I don't think I've ever seen a problem with so many different ways to send.

The uniqueness of the rock, and the moves required to tame it, are oddly captivating. I'm already looking forward to the next visit.

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