Monday, 2 March 2015

Big Rock

Big Rock, Okotoks Alberta.

This erratic has been a longstanding bouldering area since the 60's? Think of the Lockwood route and others.
During the late 80's, the area got a lot of new school activity. Jeff Marshall had that place dialed, sending many obscure problems and all the standards. Of course you had the "others" from the era, one of their finest was Bill Stark, and he may have done the hardest problem back in the 80's, on the North East corner wall East rock (pretty sure it is 12a, as more of a route height) Barry Blanchard called him in his book "The Calling" a "Mercurial: climber ... seemed to me from knowing Stark that he was just as much a climber as "Bubba and Wally". So nods go to Bill Stark for being a kick ass climber, doing his own thing and being a climber. I am sure that Barry and Kevin Doyle hit the rock up lots, but they saw it just as a training place, not the way Stark saw it. I know this as I met Stark via Jason Holt, who I climbed with from 84 to 89, on a lot of trips with a lot of days.

The Stark route ... not sure if it has a name, but Holt and I had top roped it a lot and I managed to go for the solo of it back then and was super stoked ... and then Stark told me that he had sent a while back ... so no FA.

During the 80's Stark noticed a young guy ... Jason Holt ... who managed to become one of the best of his time, unfortunately cut short (his climbing life) by being Holt. Done and moved on in 1989 at the crag called Buoux, Provence/Luberon France. Holt sent many of the classics in flip flops ... remember no padding back then. He then set sights on the East Rock North, right of chasm on a problem he named the Resurrection ... V7, 1988. During his time, Holt manage one of the early ascents of Rude Boys, Smith Rocks and became known as a force. It was a pleasure and a torment to have those days with Holt, however it was and is one of the best times of my climbing life and actually turned me into becoming a climber. Holt's last route was J'irai Crache Sur Vos Tombes, back in 89 given 8a. Jerry Moffat did an onsight and downed it to 7c+ ... a very prolific thing to do back then with a longstanding tradition of hammering on your competitors.

The 90's came along and the "Rock" got another resurgence from LeBlanc, Todd Guyn and Richard Conover ... followed by/with Seth Mason, the Wilson twins (they repeated most or all the problems as well). The West Rock, NE side on the "Green" section ... the longstanding undone open piece of bouldering got sent (LeBlanc 92?) called the Torment of Evil V10/11. Then it got the usual added starts and finishes ... This actually got so ridiculous that "we" the aforementioned, started to take away finger usage to add to it no pinky ... silly competitive BOYS.

Then the "res" wall got more and more deviations/variations, low traverse, mid traverse, high traverse and into the existing problems ... thank Richard Conover for these ... that dude could lockoff for hours on end ... and a ridiculous ape index.

Then came likely the hardest boulder problem V12 what is now Jabba ... FA Seth Mason, '94/95? This was a LeBlanc project (so many attempts and yet so many failures) (I just saw a video of Josh Muller sending and his sequence was awesome ... and then Adam Curries' send which looks like the sequence I used) and of course with the competitive nature of that era Mason was out to send before ... and successful. I did manage to send after ... however I did not do any sit start, Mason may have, likely that he did. We as well did links into it later, from the low traverse, as this was our training area.

Mason also did Mon Col the roof project just to the South of the East rock NE corner ... V11 and saw repeats ... LeBlanc, Archimbault (Dan Amal), Simon Villeneuve ... likely others I am missing.

This rock was and is stellar and holds a huge spot in the climbing lives of most in the Alberta area.

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