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California's Best by Isaac Caldiero
After a long heinous summer in Utah, the battling with crap conditions is finally over! Only 8 hours of driving delivered us to the higher elevated maze of rock and trees of Lake Tahoe, California. Located at the north eastern tip of the grand sierra mountains, lies endless fields of perfectly featured granite blocs hidden deep in the massive pine trees. Our goal is to search out the best problems in the area at all grades. We have been here 2 weeks now and just when you think you’ve seen all the best problems, another untapped valley of rock is mentioned by locals. Our good friends Jesse and Joe along with fellow traveler Ian have been gracious enough to give us the grand tour.
About one week ago the cold temps arrived along with the unleashing of the beast warrior within. Our first location to attack is known as the Erratica blocs. In just 2 days I was able to fire off most of the classics including 2 notorious problems first established by Jesse Bonin some years back. After personally seeing what all the hype was about I sent Party Animal originally graded 8b on my 2nd try and Balls to The Wall also graded 8b in a handful of tries. Both of which I felt where more 8a+ but regardless completely amazing lines with phenomenal movement in a pristine setting. Lately I’ve been into a huge flashing kick and am making that one of my biggest goals this trip. I thoroughly enjoy the first go feeling along with the mental preparation prior to the send.
So far I have a list of blocs that I have ticked with this technique ranging up to 8a, and the list keeps growing for potential ascents. A big day was planned in Tuolomne which is an area within Yosemite National Park. There are 2 very inspiring lines that I was focused on for the day, both 8a and both 5 stars. The first is called Old English, which is an amazingly tall and beautiful line with striking features ground up. After a quick beta spray down and watching my friend Noah make a proud ascent I quickly made the opening moves which leave you a bit pumped for the crux moves up high. I fired thru the crimpy overhanging moves with power and precision and before I knew it I had just completed the first flash ascent of a notorious California classic.
After a quick hop and a jump over to the next zone, we arrived at the next line of desire, Thunderbird! This one takes the cake even though the landing is a bit of a turd, the aesthetics and features up the gently overhanging wall are unparalleled. Unfortunately the temps were extremely schmarmy and not so bueno for me, I should have waited for more stickiness but I just couldn’t resist the temptations of the line. I gave a valiant flash attempt at this gem but after sticking the crux hold my right hand exploded off a sharp razor, shattering my dream of victory. After accepting my failure and thrashing away all my skin, I had no other choice but to stop climbing for the day. With so many areas sprawled out around the lake, its hard to stick with just one area. We will be heading back to Tuolomne and Yosemite soon enough but in the meantime we will be touring around all the amazing new areas.
Preparing for the Flash of Old English, 8a