CAL­I­FOR­NIA

Climbing - - FROZEN IN TIME -

In­hab­ited by Na­tive Amer­i­cans long be­fore the Gold Rush brought Euro­pean set­tlers, the Sierra Ne­vada and other Cal­i­for­nia ar­eas have been an in­te­gral part of Amer­i­can climb­ing his­tory. Cal­i­for­nia gran­ite, at its best, is bone-white or ash-gray, min­i­mally fea­tured, tall, and im­pres­sive.

THE MANDALA (V12), BUT­TER­MILKS, BISHOP, CAL­I­FOR­NIA

When Chris Sharma crimped up the over­hang­ing patina-edge prow of The Mandala in early 2000, he kick-started modern Amer­i­can boul­der­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Wills Young’s ex­cel­lent 2010 Bishop Boul­der­ing guide, the late John Bachar, in the late 1970s, told Ron Kauk that “per­haps, long into the fu­ture, John Gill’s great-grand­son might climb the line.” A tick de­mands a clear un­der­stand­ing of the start holds: a jump or stacked pads to be­gin on a right-hand in­cut and a left hand un­der­cling/ sidepull. You can also tack on a di­rect start and fin­ish to add two V-grades.

Nearby clas­sics: Saigon (V6), High Plains Drifter (V7)

SLASHFACE (V3), JOSHUA TREE NA­TIONAL PARK, CAL­I­FOR­NIA

Joshua Tree has long been a cen­ter of dif­fi­cult ro­pe­less climb­ing, es­pe­cially since the heady days of the 1970s when the Stone­mas­ters made it a win­ter hang. Stone­mas­ter John Bachar crimped his way up the gor­geous 25-foot face of Slashface, con­nect­ing thin di­ag­o­nal breaks and a com­pelling but mod­er­ate fin­ish­ing man­tel high above the Seussian desert land­scape.

Nearby clas­sics: Stem Gem (V4), Pinched Loaf (V6), All Washed Up (V6)

THRILLER (V10), YOSEMITE NA­TIONAL PARK

Seated in the ven­er­a­ble Camp 4, this prob­lem fea­tures a des­per­ate match, a hard move to the “snow­cone,” and sus­tained crimp­ing to the top. Shaded by an enor­mous oak tree, this 1984 Ron Kauk test­piece (climbed sans pads) is still sought af­ter to this day. Next door is the 1991 clas­sic The Force (orig­i­nally V11 but to­day done with a V9 start), a prob­lem that helped push Amer­i­can stan­dards but also re­flected con­tro­versy as glue-re­in­forced key holds at the crux were pried off af­ter the first as­cent.

Nearby clas­sics: Mid­night Light­ning (V8), Yabo Roof (V12), Dominator (V12)

SOUTH­WEST ARÊTE (V0) OF GRANDMA PE­ABODY, BUT­TER­MILKS, BISHOP CAL­I­FOR­NIA

Bishop boul­der­ing dates back at least to the Paiute peo­ple who called the Owens River Val­ley home and left rock art in the Vol­canic Table­lands. Though se­ri­ous boul­der­ing at the ‘Milks didn’t be­gin un­til the mid-1970s, the 50-foot South­west Arête of Grandma Pe­abody had al­ready been climbed—it’s too ob­vi­ous to ig­nore. It’s best con­sid­ered a 5.9 solo, with the crux 15 feet up and a dicey slab tran­si­tion higher.

Nearby clas­sics: Pope's Prow (V5), Green Wall Cen­ter (V6), Evi­lu­tion (V11)

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