In the Beginning:
As we were pulling into the upper east side, warm, tired, and happy from our last Gunks outing, Ivan, and I were excitedly talking. What were talking about? Projects.
Projects. Where? Right here in our home turf of Central Park. Lurking in the middle of the Ramble, there is a very large boulder just north of the pond. It has gone by many names, The Hepatitis Boulder, Indian Cave, Ramble Rock, and others. Ivan had gone to check the boulder out a few days earlier, and was impressed with his findings. He’d scoped the boulder out years earlier, but without a solid crew, and projects elsewhere it’d fallen to the wayside. Some years ago, Ben Moon, and Boone Speed were visiting New York. A friend of mine, Erik Lee, had taken them out to this boulder. The two strong men tried the imposing middle line, and snapped a key hold off the face. Ivan and I were psyched to see if it still went. Additionally, there is a very classic arete. Although it is relatively easy (only checking in at V2), is quite high, and climbs above a stone staircase , so falling is out of the question. We knew of a potential low start to this climb as well, so we were just bubbling with eagerness. The game was afoot, as a certain british fellow might say.
At this point, I’m sure you’re frothing to see the boulder and the projects.
Project 1, sample A:
Project 2, sample B:
We’d left for the boulder in two parties, Ivan and Pete went in Ivan’s car. Ben, Mark, Jeremy, and I all hopped on the train, picked up more pads from Marks apartment, then hopped back on the subway with three pads, and trundled into the park to go meet up with Pete and Ivan. It’d been a long time since I’d looked at the two projects, being there with friends, seeing the lines cleaned with chalk on the holds, pushed my energy over the top. We first tried the left line, the low start to the high ball arete. The lower start in fact is a stand start, but begins down on the ground below the staircase. When climbing the high start, you reach off the stairs to an obvious jug two thirds of the way up. This line is incredibly powerful, and unique in style for Central Parks. The climb begins with a large blunt undercling, and high smear for one foot. A single V10 move to an excellent sidepull, brings you into a brutal lesson in architectural body positioning, as you have to navigate a series of left facing rails, foot smears, toe hookery, and extreme tension. In short, it’s totes rad. It will unquestionably be the hardest line in NYC when it goes.
After thoroughly thrashing ourselves on this line, we moved over to the project that goes up the center of the face. You start standing, compressing between a jug, and good pinch just before the roof turns to face. The climb begins with long moves between positive side pulls, and culminates in a five foot move to the lip of the boulder. An uncontrolled fall could send you flying into the pond directly below the boulder.
Tired and with darkness falling, we had to call it a day and roll out, having only given the center line a few attempts. All in all, we were all very excited to have tried these new lines, and there was definitely the fire of motivation burning in us.
Our next day found Pete, Mark, Jeremy, and I meeting up with Ivan in Central Park at Rat Rock. Ivan had a film crew in tow, and had been recording for television since 7am that morning. As we began our warm up, we were joined by strong man Brian Kim, who tends to blow minds where ever he shows up. After he had warmed up for a while, he became interested in the local test piece Koma’s Roof. Koma’s Roof was established in the mid 1980’s by Koma, a local climber who was a companion of the legendary local Yuki Ikumori. The climb is lowball, slick, and super burly. One starts the climb, two hands matched in a wide, slopey, undercling. Getting off of the ground, and sticking a sloper at the lip is the crux. Watching people trying to get off the ground is abundantly amusing, as you know they’re squeezing so hard, and moving no where. But I digress. Brian crushed it, looking cool and casual. I believe this makes for what may be only the sixth or seventh ascent of this problem in the past 25 years. Brian Kim. Making history.
Ivan, and the camera crew took a break for lunch, and by the time they were finished eating, we were warmed up and ready to go. The crew wanted footage of us climbing on new terrain, which made us all psyched, because we wanted to go try the projects again. It was back up to the Cave Boulder.
We tried the left line some, but the greatest focus was on the direct line, straight up the center of the face of the boulder. It was great to be there with so many people, and pads. The landing zone was carpeted with foam, and several strong arms were available to snag earthbound human missiles. In just a few goes Brian had found himself coiled up, and making the enormous toss to the lip. With three fingers over the top, he blew off, landing on both feet, a mere foot from the pads. Brian had been keeping track of the time, pulling out his phone frequently, he had to get to class in Philly that evening. After he extended his train tickets, it was apparent that he was psyched on this climb. But time had been stretched as far as it could be, and he had to leave with the sun still up and no send.
Ivan, Jeremy, Mark, Pete and myself continued trying the project as the sun traced the end of it’s arc in the sky. The film crew eagerly recorded our attempts, and captured some scenic shots of the sunset over the pond. With a few closing words from Ivan to wrap up the day, we dispersed into the the night.
Last week the weather on Thursday turned out to be beautiful, Brian went out to the park and sent the center face project. It is now “Yo Yo Jimminny” V11, or somewhere there abouts. Hats off sir! It’s awesome to see this new addition to NYC’s bouldering repertoire. Hopefully we’ll be able to get a video of his send up in the near future. I know a few of us on the route setting staff will be gunning for the second, third, and fourth ascents.
~Garrett “Deep Thoughts” Koeppicus