The vast majority of my climbing days were spent at Frank Slide in southern Alberta, an area which features an ever-increasing number of boulder problems (now 817!) in a vast expanse of limestone blocks. Over the years, Frank Slide has grown into one of Canada's largest bouldering areas, and is certainly Canada's most expansive limestone bouldering area. While it lacks the comfortable landings and 'scene' of other more well-established areas, it provides a wide variety of fun technical problems on interesting rock.
I turned 45 in January this year, which would seem to be a milestone (It's my Oldest! Age! Ever!), but I seem to keep plugging along. My knees have taken a beating over the years, and it takes absolutely forever to warm up, but I'm still having a lot of fun. In fact, I had one of my best single days of climbing ever this year, so I certainly can't complain!
Since this is a review article, it seems appropriate to hash out the year that has passed in the form of a list. So, in no particular order, here are the TOP SEVEN happenings in Trent Hoover's Bouldering Universe in 2015! (Why seven? Not ten? Tradition, I suppose - it's how things roll here at the Climbing Life!)
1) Being witness to the ongoing rampage of Josh Bylsma! In terms of resetting the benchmarks for difficulty in Alberta Bouldering, Josh has likely done more than any other single person in the last decade. In 2015 he sent SWADF Extension (V11 FA), Derailed (V10 FA), The Renaissance (V9 FA), Morgan Dunnet's testpiece Cognitive Dissonance (V10) as well as a multitude of other hard lines that have thwarted almost all other attempts. Josh also sent the brutally powerful Chain Gang (V11, possibly for the first ascent), a line which is a candidate for the hardest in the province. When Josh sets his sights on something, it generally gets done; this dedication has transformed Frank Slide from a hard-ish area to one with a number of stout testpieces. Good luck this year to Josh as he works the Baby Jesus Sit project, which, when completed, will really raise the bar yet again.
Josh B. on the gold-streaked Frank Slide testpiece The Shield (V10).
3) The problems I almost did, but didn't go back to for one more session to finish... Two problems in particular fall into this category; Slippery Pete (V7/8 in the Heart of Frank Sector) and Telekinesis (V8 in Spiderweb). Both of these lines are really fun, but really morpho (or so I like to tell myself!). There's definitely a lesson to be learned here - an important lesson about perseverance and trying your hardest (and also a lesson about getting older and worrying you may never get back to working on your hard project again if you don't get back in shape!). With a little (lot of?) luck, I'll wrap these lines up in 2016.
4) Windigo (V5/6), Flexion (V5), and all the 'new school' problems I got on this year. Like other climbers, I love to pull on a line of holds that head straight up a tall proud rock face. However, I have a particular affinity for problems that are decidedly non-linear, which require additional problem-solving skills to navigate a line that links a sequence of features that - though weaving across a face in a less-than-obvious manner - permits a successful ascent. I got on some of these 'new school' problems this year in Frank and was excited by their quality. 'New-school' lines got sent by other climbers as well, including The Purest Line (V7) by Josh Bylsma, and Slippery Pete (V7/8) by Kyle Marco.
5) All the fantastic climbers I got to climb with in 2015! Climbing - especially bouldering - can be a very social activity, and a day of climbing is made that much better when you are with fun people. I climb more with Kyle Marco than anyone else; despite his overly-realistic ;) approach to climbing, he is an amazing guy to climb with, whether for an hour or a week. My thanks also go out to all the other climbers (new and old!) I climbed a lot with in 2015: Mark Derksen, Jonas Gagnon, Josh Bylsma, Morgan Dunnet, Dan Anhorn, and Mike Donnelly. The climbing world is a lot more interesting when filled with climbers like these!
6) The 2015 Tour de Frank! The TdF was a success again this year, with about 50 people coming out to enjoy a day of bouldering at Frank Slide (despite less than ideal weather). The event was held in the Healing / Riverside / Prow area, with the open categories won by Michelle Lee (Women's Open) and Dan Archambault / Mark Derksen (tie for Men's Open). Everyone seemed to have a great time, and we are planning on another event in fall 2016, this time moving to another sector (likely House / Railway / Frictionary). Read all about the 2015 TdF here!
Michelle Lee feeling stretched on the reachy Albatross (V5), a Frank Slide classic. Michelle went on to win the Women's Open in the 2015 TdF.
(Top Photo) Hanging out at the amazing Driven Wall at the Boulderfields with Andy White and climbers from across BC at the 2015 RtB, (Bottom photo) Me out of the cave but not yet at the lip on a Boulderfields project. Such an amazing place for steep climbing, rock with incredible features, seemingly made for climbing!
So that's it! Here's looking forward to another year of climbing! What will happen in The Bouldering Life Universe in 2016? I'm looking forward to at least two trips, including one to Red Rocks (in February), and one to the Boulderfields (in June, I hope). I'd love to go to the Spiral Tunnels Boulders this year as well, and to wrap up some of my projects in The Slide (The Renaissance? Slippery Pete? Deep Six? So many projects!).
I am also definitely looking forward to climbing with my family again this year; Rowan is enjoying climbing more and more each year, and it is exciting to see them experience climbing for the first time(s).