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Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Toughie Toughersons!!!

So, last night, Jay and I finally got down to doing something we've talked about for a while. We managed to put our collect brain power together (and believe it or not we can count fairly well when we need to) and figure out a pretty good estimate of how many established double digit lines can now be found in the Okanagan as well as how many V12+ projects are still awaiting ascents (that we know of, have attempted or have found- there are likely many more to come)!

Now some people might not give two poops about this and I completely understand. However, for some of you who read this, I'm hoping this serves as a bit of an invitation to head out this way and give some of these toughies a go. There are more than enough now throughout the Okanagan to keep most people busy for a while.

After careful, mind blowing calculations, we figure that there are now about 30-35 problems in the Okanagan Valley ranging from about V10-V11/12. Some of these will undoubtedly experience some grade correction (or maybe not much from what we've seen so far), but that's still a good chunk of double digit lines compared to just a few years back when I doubt the valley even had over 5-10? We've definitely been busy and with new double digit lines being added at a very quick pace and new rock being discovered daily, who knows where this number will be when the guidebook finally comes out?

Jay on the Nerf Roof Project. This one is tried, tested and true and it's hard to think it's easier than V13. Photo- Jess Zotto

Just as interesting to me is that fact that we also easily came up with a list of 15-20 projects that we figure will be at least V12 or above... and that's just the lines we've seen or tired (if you've been to the Boulderfields, you know how much rock is waiting to be found in there). Some of these lines are mega hard and will likely require an import to put them down... or maybe not if people wait too long to get here?

Me playing on the Ice Talons Low Project (This one has one ridiculously hard pull to start!)

All in all, that's at least 50 or so lines in the Okanagan right now that range from V10 to VSuper Duper Hard. I've been to a number of bouldering destinations where there aren't even close to that many hard testpieces to keep the crushers busy. I guess that means if you're looking for something new and tough, and maybe you want to throw down on some projects, you should give Okanagan bouldering a try?

If you'd like any info on these lines or any others in the Okanagan, please feel free to email me (Andy) at okbouldering@gmail.com

Lots of Newbies in the Fields

Lots of newbies doesn't refer to the amount of new climbers checking out the Fields lately, but more to the amount of new lines that have been put up again since the last post.
Lines are going up at a rate of 10-15 in total on some days and with the "discovery" of all the new rock past Serenity Amidst the Chaos, we won't even come close to tapping out that area of the Fields by the end of the season! Great rewards come to those who walk a little further!

Over the last few weeks, there have again been some terrific double digit lines added to the Fields. Last week, after 3 seasons of work, Jay managed to send both of his projects on the Lonesome Jubilee boulder. He started working these a couple years back and was quite happy to finally put them to rest. Both of these lines are super tough and they are made tougher by the fact that they are out past the Cereal Killer boulders and only dry up for a short part of the climbing season (maybe a month out of the year). Still, they are terrific lines and the right variation likely falls in the V11 range while the direct is probably V11+. Big props to Jay for adding these to the Fields. I guess that means that there are roughly 10 lines from V10 to VMega Project in a fairly short distance between the Scarface North and Cereal Killer/ Spinal Tap Boulders. Not to shabby!

Recently, Pat also added Intricate Simplicity to the mix in the Fields. This one is hard to find, but is east of The Desk and Double Decker areas, amongst a ton of untapped rock. With beautiful holds and a tricky first move, it's a fun toughie. This line saw some attempts over the last year, but Pat managed to fire it off and it's likely in the V10 range. Well worth a look!

I also want to give a shout out to Miles Adamson and crew for their recent trip back to the Fields. Miles was our Rock the Blocs winner this year and I think he's really enjoyed his time in the Fields. He has a knack for the high stuff and he knows that there is a lot of it totally untouched here. While they were here, the boys put up several lines of great quality, but the icing on the cake was Miles' highball ascent of the overhang on Pika Wall. This is the closest piece of rock you come to in the Fields and the fact that it hadn't been highballed before speaks to the amount of unclimbed lines left in there. Miles climbed the overhang straight up, moving out left to the arĂȘte and the established sport line only after all the business on his line. I was lucky enough to watch this go down and if he keeps bringing this type of game back to the Fields, look out for what's to come! He called this line Purgatory and at about V9, it'll be a must do on any highballers list.

Miles on Purgatory. It's spicy!

Personally, after finishing up a couple of my goal projects for the year on the Driven wall and Serenity boulder, I worked my way further east with a couple of the other fellas to find what looks like well over 100 problems just past Serenity. It's a beautiful spot with a lot of great lines to be plucked. I've been like a kid in a candy store for the last few weeks, scrubbing and climbing a bunch of full value lines.

One of these was a very cool, steep, cave line that essentially compresses between a lip on the left and a series of great sidepulls for the right. I really enjoyed the climbing on this, but unfortunately, there just isn't an exit out of the cave. I love topping lines out, but this line just can't do it, so on this one you just have to enjoy the movement without the top-out. If you like steep, powerful climbing, this one's well worth a look. I figured it's about V10/11 and I called it Tried, Measured and Found Wanting.

In total, my guess is that this new area has already had about 30 new lines added and there are tons more to go! There are some of the best easy lines I've ever put up in this zone in addition to at least a couple very difficult projects. Oh wait, doesn't it seem like we say that about a lot of areas in the Fields? There's also a bit of a ladder battle going on in that zone right now as Ryan has been doing a ton of work to add to the Dirt Burglar area. He scrubs a bunch of lines, I steal the ladder back to put up some more past Serenity, then he grabs the ladder to add to his lines and so on and so on. It's a pretty fun little game and oh man does that ladder help get lines up quicker (thanks again to everyone who donated at Rock the Blocs this year)!

I know that we continue to put up new lines in areas throughout the Fields each year, even the long and well-established areas. Still, moving further east has really taken us back to a time (not so long ago) when we were developing entire new zones. I think this is one of the big future development areas in there and I'm excited to see where it leads. If you enjoy scrubbing and haven't had a look, get down there and check it out!

Finally, I've been lucky enough recently to be part of a couple cool things. First, a little while back, I was asked to do an interview with Global Okanagan about bouldering and the Boulderfields. It was a really fun couple hours showing off our playground and the sport. I was excited because a few years back, this would have never happened. But, with more people getting involved, the sport becoming more popular and The Fields getting much more exposure, people are taking notice of what's going on in our backyard. Here's what Global came up with from the day.


Also, one evening while putting up a few new lines, Clayton took some time to snap a few pics of me on another beauty. A little while later and Gripped had one of the shots on their FB page. A huge thanks to Clayton for putting his skills out there to promote bouldering in the region and to Gripped for all their support of Okanagan bouldering over the years.

The pic Clayton took of me on I've Got 99 Problems, but a Pinch Ain't One that Gripped shared

On that note, we're going to be filming hot and heavy over the next bunch of weeks in anticipation of Clayton's Okanagan bouldering film which will hopefully drop early next season! Let's just say there are close to 30 lines being filmed in the Fields alone, not including other areas in the Okanagan. This film will blow the lid off what we've had here for a long time!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Another Busy Month in the Fields

I guess it's been about a month since any kind of update. That's largely due to getting back into the swing of things after Rock the Blocs and mainly just projecting like crazy. Still, it's been another busy development month in the Fields with new lines going up all over, and a good focus on a couple areas in particular.

To start things off, I figured I'd highlight a few of the recent tough FA's that we've managed over the last month or so. For a good chunk of that time, Jay was busy on the massive Distillery Boulder. This is a boulder in the Double Decker area with a large south face and it sits just west and below the classic Ripply Boulder. The south face that Jay put a ton of work into includes the previously climbed Newer and Stupider (V7) as well as a few other new beauties. One of these is a terrific compression style problem that climbs through some great holds and eventually tops out over the mini-roofs as for Newer and Stupider. It didn't take Jay long to put this one together and The Distillery (V10/11) was born. Not long after this, he also added another line on the same face, but slightly to the left. A little beta switch put this one to rest and I can't remember if Jay's named this line quite yet, but it comes in around V9/10. So, the south face of the Distillery Boulder went from having one lonely line over the years to having a bunch of awesome lines. Not to mention, there are still a number of link-ups and variations possible on that face.

At about the same time, I was getting busy on the Driven Wall, trying to put an old project to rest. For a couple years, we've been playing on the Driven Direct dyno off a small edge at the bottom of the wall. Being vertically and dyno challenged, I always found the move to be ridiculously hard. Then, at the beginning of the season, I realized that I could reach a sidepull out right and work into the line that way. Soon enough I was hooked and after a long battle with wet holds, skin tearing on the start edge, and overall difficulty, I finally managed to put it all together and add the direct to Driven Stand. The low moves felt very hard for me and adding them to the stand start of Driven makes for a tough finish. In the end I called it Livin' on the Edge and I'm not sure how hard this one is. I think it's the hardest line I've ever done and probably falls in the V11+ range (for the small person beta). I'm interested to see if someone taller or someone with better dyno skills will find the direct dyno beta easier or harder and be able to give a better idea of overall difficulty? Any takers?

After finally managing the send on Livin' on the Edge, I moved all my effort to the Serenity Boulder. The north face of this boulder is beautiful and littered with cool holds. Last year, Jay and Loic put up Heart of Darkness (V8) on the left side of the wall, while I put up Serenity Amidst the Chaos (V10/11) on the right side of the wall. All winter, I'd been wanting to get back to Serenity to see if a direct line would go, and if a connection between Heart of Darkness and Serenity would go. When I returned earlier this month, I quickly saw that both were possible. So, after a bit of work, I managed to send Chaos Amidst the Serenity (V9/10ish) last week. This one starts as for Serenity, but moves straight up the face through slots and edges to a tricky edge and sidepull below the lip.

Me on Chaos Amidst the Serenity (V9/10)
The big move to the very small edge on Chaos Amidst the Serenity

At the same time, I had been putting in a bit of work each day on the connection and earlier this week, I finally managed to put together the full line across the Serenity face. This one starts on Heart of Darkness and moves all the way across the boulder to finish as for Serenity Amidst the Chaos. This is a contender for the best problem I've ever climbed, let alone put up. I loved this thing! I called it Heart of Chaos and it's probably about V10/11. This line needs some action!

Setting up for the big move to the edge on Heart of Chaos
The terrific lock-off on Heart of Chaos

In addition to these great, new, tough lines a good amount of work has been happening all over the Fields. As I mentioned before, a couple areas in particular have seen some concentration. One is the Double Decker area. This is one of the spots already in the bouldering guide, but we sure didn't fill it up a ton when we started developing there. Jay recently added the Distillery lines, Braden and Jay added a beauty new V5 highball, I added a couple new easy lines and there is still a bunch more rock untouched in the Double Decker zone.

Another spot that's seen even more action is the Serenity area. This one's not in the book, but after even a quick look, you can tell this is the next BIG area in the Fields. When I walk around in there, I feel like I'm back 5 years ago when we ran around the Fields in any direction and could put up 20 lines a day! It's so great to see that we can still do that this many years later. Jay, Braden, Ryan, Bennett and I have all been busy out in the Serenity area and it shouldn't be tool long before it gets a bit concentrated.

I also wanted to give a huge shout out to the work the local gals are doing in the Fields this year! In particular Staci, Jess and Manuela. Between these 3 ladies, a bunch of solid lines have seen what I'm almost positive are their first female ascents. Lines such as Full Chub, Surf's Up, The Desk, Pinball Wizard and Peek a Poo have all seen an ascent or two from these lady crushers and I'm super excited to see how they can continue to push their limits in the Okanagan! I have no doubt that it won't be long before they start cranking off some of the solid V7 and V8 projects in the valley.

Staci on Surf's Up
I've also been busy spending all that lovely donation cash that people so generously provided at Rock the Blocs. So far, we now have a couple aluminum ladders in the Fields and Cougar Canyon, a bunch of new tools (shovels, pick axes, rake) to help with trail projects, a ton of scrub brushes and tools in the hands of prolific local developers, and I've been hard at work getting close to 50 new signs ready to help people get to some of the new bouldering zones not in the Boulderfields guidebook. Thanks again to everyone who helped support Okanagan bouldering development!

I apologize for the lack of photos/ video. I've been flying solo a lot lately and the camera is busy collecting dust. As always, if you need any info on Okanagan bouldering feel free to email me at okbouldering@gmail.com

A Couple Rock the Blocs Videos

It's again been a little while since a bit of an update, and soon enough a good Boulderfields update is on the way. In the meantime, here are a couple cool videos that came out of the Rock the Blocs festival this year.

The first is an all aerial edit put together by Ian Holmes. It provides a very unique perspective of the Fields. I thought it was great.

The second video is from Miles Adamson (Men's open winner at RTB) and shows him highballing a couple old trad/ sport lines in the Fields on day 2 of the fest. While he doesn't finish the beautiful second line (Pretty Face) on the video, he went back later that day to seal the deal.

2 New Highballs - Kelowna from Miles Adamson on Vimeo.

Thanks a ton to Ian and Miles for putting work into these. Enjoy!

Monday, 30 June 2014


 Before I get started, a big shout out to Caillum at Preserved Light Photography for all these images. Thanks buddy!

The big day has come and gone and we've managed to recover. All I can say is that Rock the Blocs 2014 was a MASSIVE success! It far surpassed last year's festival and left us itching for next year. The vibe and energy were electric and it was terrific to see so many new faces bouldering in the Okanagan!

A whole lot of peeps this year!

All in all, we had over 130 people attend Rock the Blocs on Saturday with about 100 of them being competitors. That pretty much doubled last year's attendance! Not only that, but there was a great mix of people out this year. We had multiple national team/ world cup competitors, last year's Tour de Bloc National Champion, Spenser and Vikki from The RV Project (all the way from California), as well as strong contingents from Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Squamish, Calgary, and of course, the Okanagan. The Okanagan has never seen such an influx of climbers specifically here to boulder. It was a treat!

Quentin on one of the several terrific Surf highballs

Saturday went very well with competitors heading out around 10am and returning around 5pm. It was amazing to see so many people enjoying lines from V0 to VReally Hard. The Nerf Roof even saw some serious action and proved that it is still VReally Hard! Seeing so many people bouldering and having fun in the Fields really makes us happy because it validates a lot of the work we've done over the years and we love sharing the amazingness of the Fields with a larger, yet still ethically/ environmentally conscious user group. Overall, it seemed like almost everyone was having a blast and some people even had a tough time leaving the Fields for the wrap-up/ prizes.

Nikita getting pogo on Axel Rose
Spenser crushing the overhang on Surf Arete
Ryan moving into the business on Surf Arete
Thanks to Loic, Greer and Co. a new drop in trail was also roughed in on Saturday. This new trail now starts just past the fence (on the way to the Bigglesworth Boulders) and will hopefully act as a more user-friendly alternative to the steep, at times slippery drop-in that leads to the Southeast Trail and F1/ Surf areas. With so many more people coming into the Fields now, we figured a bit easier access would be nice. A huge thanks to the fellas for putting the time in on this! Get on this trail if you get a chance and help pound it in.

One of the morning hot spots
Loic and Andrej on the seldom attempted No Guts, No Glory
When all was said and done, we finished up the day with a poop-load of prizes to hand out. Thanks to all our amazing sponsors, we had a ton of draw prizes, raffles, and of course, category winner prizes. On that note, the big crushers of the day in each category were...

Open- Miles Adamson
Intermediate- Joel White
Beginner- Edgar Klein

Open- Staci White
Intermediate- Jess Zotto
Beginner- Jaycee Janier

A huge congrats to the category winners and all competitors for getting after it!

Jess repping for the ladies on Dangleberries

Spenser pulling hard on Dangleau

Now, of special note is also the total amount raised from the raffle items and pig roast. In total, we managed to raise over $550 which all goes right back into bouldering development in the Okanagan. I want to say a big thanks to everyone who chipped in for the raffle and pig roast. This money will directly benefit the bouldering scene here.

I also want to say a MASSIVE thanks to Tim Duncan who provided us with the pig roast. I'm not sure if people realize this, but Tim donated absolutely everything for the pig roast so that we could raise money. This guy is a champ! The cost to Tim was more than what we were able to raise and he was just super psyched to be able to help us continue to develop the region. Then, within a day or so after the fest, Tim was ready with a bunch of wood to donate to us for projects. Tim is a perfect example of why I love the climbing community in the Okanagan. What a crew we have here! If you get a chance, give Tim a big hug and thank him for his help at the fest. You're the man, Tim!

Youngest competitor this year?

Calculating the scores

Prizes comin' in hot

Day 2 of Rock the Blocs looked similar to last year. We had grand plans of more trail projects and possible clinics, but on day 2, people just seem to want to climb... and I can't blame them. I figure there must have been at least 60 people still in the Fields on Sunday, and they were throwing down! That's almost as many people as last year's fest just on day 2!

I was able to get in on the action on Sunday, and what a day we had! It was a FA kinda day. By the time I finally got into the Fields, I managed to meet up with a bunch of yocals just in time to see Ryan Williams FA a beauty new line on the Venom wall just below Dominator. Not a bad start to the day, eh? Shortly after this, we made our way down to the wall formerly known as Aaron's Highball. Within a few minutes, Ryan and Andrej had sent the beautiful face on this boulder and Peek a Poo (V6) was born. This is an instant classic and well worth a look. Soon after, Manuela, Loic, and Spenser all found their way up this beauty.

Ryan on the new Venom wall line

While this was all happening, I made my way up to a boulder just north of the Venom wall. It had seen a few attempts a couple weeks prior and I thought I'd give the awesome face a rip. With a bit of tricky beta, I found my way to the top with Loic closely behind. The moves on this one are terrific and the rock is high quality. So, that was the birth of Masterbeta (V6/7), the third amazing FA of the day.

Shortly after this, Loic, Jay and Andrej all compressed their way up another new quality line just below the Ripply Boulder. This one starts with some great power/ compression climbing and has a highball finish over a couple tenuous mini-roofs, all while pulling on cool holds. That FA was number four for the day and was called Newer and Stupider (V7). After this, the rest of the crew continued crushing their way through the Fields while I headed home.

As I mentioned above, we were lucky enough to have The RV Project (Spenser and Vikki) here with us this year and they even did some filming of all this madness on Sunday. It was so amazing to have them visit what we think is some great bouldering here in the Okanagan, and in turn, they stoked the flame of the locals while they were here. If you get a chance, check them out at http://rvproj.com/#sthash.4ACen5Xg.dpbs and check out their blog about the Fields at http://rvproj.com/2014/06/25/kelowna-the-boulderfields/#sthash.fRQ635ib.dpbs. Also stay tuned for their video of day 2 at Rock the Blocs! They are doing awesome work! Thanks so much for joining us Spenser and Vikki!

Not a bad view on the way down from the Fields, eh?

In the end, I just want to say a big thanks to everyone who came out and made Rock the Blocs so much fun again this year. I'd also like to again thank our sponsors (True Outdoors, Beyond the Crux, Flashed, Grandwall Skin Repair, Gripped, Redpoint Holds, and FrE Clothing) for all their support. Finally, I'd like to thank Jay, Loic, Aaron, Bennett, Ryan, and anyone else I'm forgetting for all their help with the fest.

I can't wait to see everyone back at it next year! See you then.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014


Only 4 more sleeps until ROCK THE BLOCS at the Boulderfields, and we're getting super excited! Fingers crossed that weather is as good as they say it will be. With a ton of people registered, lots of prizes to hand out, a pig roast, a key trail project, and about 135 hand picked beauty problems from V0 to VProject, this fest is gonna be a hum dinger!

Here's some super key beta for everyone coming up...

1) PLEASE CARPOOL. While we've done some work on the parking lot at the Fields, we're still going to have to squeeze vehicles together pretty tight to get everyone in there... and still likely have to use parking up top. The more carpooling action we can manage, the more room we'll have!

2) Bring some dollar, dollar bills y'all... oh wait, I mean loonies or cash. We've got a raffle for a new Metolius Session crash pad with all proceeds going to local development as well as the pig roast being by donation with proceeds also going to local development. Please support these causes as they both help us do all the work we've been doing over the last number of years. There will also be a couple/ few of our sponsors at the fest and they will have some goods for purchase.

3) Please feel free to camp and park wherever you can on Friday night, but we'll be asking people to move their camps out of the parking lot and rearrange parking on Saturday morning to make sure we can fit everyone in. As things clear out on Sat. night, we'll open up extra space for camping (assuming it clears out a bit that night). There is also a great open space for camping just after the burnt trestle on the left side of the KVR road, about a couple minutes before the Boulderfields road. This spot will easily hold a bunch of people if you'd like a bit more space. This is in addition to all the other free camping spots you can find along the Gillard FSR. Also, don't forget that the Fields is up in the hills south of Kelowna, so a trip back into town takes a bit of time. If you're sticking around for the night, you might want to make sure you have all your food/ water, etc before heading up.

4) Don't forget to somehow get your hands on a Boulderfields Bouldering guide. Most of the problems in the comp are in the book. I'll have about 10 or so copies for sale at the fest if you need one. True Outdoors anywhere in the valley and Beyond the Crux Climbing Gym also carry them.

5) The comp meeting starts at 9:45am with rules and a rundown on the day. Competitors will head out at 10am. Volunteers interested in helping with trails will head out just after this. The comp ends at 5pm with prizes as soon as all competitors get back. The pig roast opens up around 6pm.

6) Come to the True Outdoors tent to check in/ register/ give me (Andy) a hug when you arrive.

7) Sunday is a much more laid-back day of trail projects, climbing, and possible clinics (if you're interested in these please let me know).

8) If you're coming to the fest and haven't registered for the competition, please email me to register (with your category- beginner, intermediate, open).

For any other info, feel free to email me at okbouldering@gmail.com

Can't wait to see you there!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Boulderfields Season in Full Effect

I know over the last while that people have been out bouldering all over the Okanagan. It's been a very busy spring in areas all over the valley. Still, it seems like as the weather is heating up, the action has almost fully shifted up to the Boulderfields. And why not? As we cruise around in there each year, I'm amazed at how incredible it is and how much rock is still untapped!

I'm not even going to pretend that I can keep up with the development happening in there already this season. My best guess is that there are already over 40-50 new lines this season and with many of these being full value and some being overlooked gems, located in the originally developed areas, this is looking like another wing dinger of a Fields season! I've been saying that for about 5 years now and there are no signs of it slowing down in there.

Cue the media dump...

Jess on the yet unnamed V6 on the Driven wall

Staci on the same line

Braden on the crux deadpoint of the same line

Me on the Driven Direct Project (likely in the V11+ range)

I can say that a good number of people have been in getting their hands dirty this season. Between Jay, Jess, Aaron, Braden, Ryan, Bennett, Caleb, Justin, Loic, Kay, Staci and myself (sorry if I forgot anyone), lines have gone up all over the Fields. A bunch of us have spent a good chunk of time searching new areas and Jay and Ryan found a new zone holding well over 100 lines while Braden re-discovered a zone holding at least 30-40. There are still a bunch of other areas just like these in the Fields waiting for someone to have a good look. We've also been re-visiting boulders and areas we've been climbing in for years. Jay and I love this process every year as we seem to get a bit stronger and find new gems in "old" spots. This year, in particular, we've found a ton of great, hard lines. My guess is that we have at least 15 double-digit or so lines in mind, with at least a few of these being in the V12+ to V14 range? Maybe someone can come and crush these to give the Okanagan the first lines at those grades?

Staci and Jess on the Diamond Boulder's V4/5

Jay on yet another cool, new V4 near the Scarface North area

Me on the FA of a new, still unnamed V4-ish line near the Surf Boulder

Staci on the FA of a new V0 near Dark Prince
In addition to all the familiar faces in the Fields this year, there have been tons of fresh, new faces as well (not to say that the familiar faces are rotten or unfresh- wait is that even a word)? Anyway, all the work to get the word out about the great bouldering in the Okanagan seems to be working as over the course of the last few weeks, we've met multiple groups from Squamish, Leavy, Vancouver, and Calgary in the Fields. And some of those groups were here even when the weather was nice in Squamish and Leavy! What?

Me working the moves on a great, thin project I was able to send later in the week (I Once Was Blind, But Now I See- V10-ish)

The FA of a cool overhang called Ice Talons- V3

Playing on the moves of the Ice Talons Low project which involves a heinously powerful first move and likely falls in the V13+ range?

So, as I said, all I can tell you right now is that a bunch of new lines are already up in the Fields and I'm hoping there are some big, new FA's to come! Come get a piece for yourself.

Oh yeah, please don't forget that the ROCK THE BLOCS BOULDERFEST is coming up on June 21/22 in the Boulderfields- only 1 week away. It's looking HUGE this year and we can't wait to see everyone there. Stay tuned for a bunch of info this week!