Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Midnight Lightning + More!

Fall has arrived and the temperatures are starting to drop. That means it's bouldering season! Or are we going to skip Fall again this year and go straight from Summer to Winter?
Recent storm that dumped over a foot of snow in the Sierras.
So I took a couple trips to Yosemite Valley earlier this month to do some bouldering. Much of my time was spent in Camp 4 projecting Midnight Lightning.
Me sticking the lightning bolt hold on Midnight Lightning.
Midnight Lightning is probably the most famous boulder problem in the world. It sits in the heart of Camp 4 on the northeast face of the Columbia Boulder. You can easily recognize it by the distinct lightning bolt symbol drawn out with climbing chalk. This is where it all began. The first ascent was made in 1978 by Ron Kauk and the first female ascent was in 1998 by Lynn Hill.
Midnight Lightning on the Columbia Boulder in Camp 4.
Closer view of the lightning bolt. Also notice the black lightning bolt feature towards the top right corner.
I've been told that this was what prompted naming the problem Midnight Lightning.
Although I've also heard that it was the Lightning Bolt Hold that led to its name.
I started working on Midnight Lightning in 04/2009 and have since had about 4-5 short sessions on it throughout the years. During these short sessions, I have gotten no further than when I first started trying it, which is throwing for the lightning bolt hold and never sticking it. It wasn't until earlier this month when I actually stuck the lightning bolt hold. Unfortunately, after sticking it, I forgot the beta and didn't know what to do for the match. Afterwards, I became too tired to try it again and decided to come back later when I'm fresh and ready.

I came back a week later and surprisingly sent it first-go. It was quite amazing as after sticking the lightning bolt and making the match, I was in completely new territory. I didn't know what the next holds were going to feel like and I've never done the moves either. After constantly hearing that the notorious mantel move is the crux for many climbers, it was both intimating and exciting to finally be in that position. I knew exactly what to do for the mantel as I've watched the move done many times before, but it was still awkward to put myself in that position for the first time. I struggled briefly, but finally got myself in the correct position and it was easy after that. Here's the video:


The crux for me on this problem was definitely sticking the lightning bolt. It will likely be easier to make this move if you're tall, but then the mantel move may be harder if you're tall. I'm about 5' 7" and I seem to fit into the position needed to make the mantel move fairly easily. Longer legs and arms may just make it even more awkward.

In addition to Midnight Lightning, I managed to make a surprise ascent of Cocaine Corner (V5) while warming up. I also first tried this problem in 04/2009 and it felt impossible, scary, and did I mention impossible? I never thought I would be able to do this problem, but I guess attempting it in cooler temps during the morning and having plenty of crash pads makes all the difference. Anyway, here I am on it. Notice that I was about to fall off towards the top, but somehow managed to stay on and finish:


I also sent The Diamond Left (V6) in Candyland, but couldn't get the V8 variation due to the last few moves being extremely difficult in the heat. Oh well, next time!