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artiklar [ Blacklung ]
av Ben Moon
 
[ Blacklung ]
 
Ben Moon describes the 1st ascent of a boulder problem in Joe's Valley, Utah, May 2000.

Blacklung is probably one of the best boulder problems I have seen anywhere and defines everything that is special about bouldering and why I choose to boulder. Its beautiful to look at, with a pure and independent line. It's the perfect height (about 4m high) and packed with difficulty that kicks in straight away. It took me three days.

On the drive down to Joe's Valley Boone Speed, our host and guide, had been telling us about this unclimbed project that local climber, Steven Jefferies, had been trying for the past 2 years. I knew Steven was no slouch because I had climbed with him already, and had also heard how he had driven over to the valley and done the crux move of The Dominator, but fallen on the last moves all in one day. I listened hard as Boone described this blunt slightly overhanging sandstone arete with these small slopey dishes which were really hard to hold, and tried to imagine what the problem was like, and why he seemed to think it was so hard, and whether it really could be that hard. I guess it was.

The day I climbed it was a pretty amazing day. The wind was whipping the desert dust all over the place, and short snow storms were coming down off the mountains and sprinkling the tops of the surrounding boulders and scrubs. I must have tried the problem for over 3 hours in between and even during the storms! I certainly couldn't complain about the friction. By about 7 o'clock it seemed like my chances of doing it were over, after one particularly heavy snow flurry had soaked the finishing holds. With everyone except myself and Ray waiting in the car I decided to call it a day. As we set off down the path the light suddenly became really good and Ray wanted to take a photo of me walking through the snow covered bushes. By the time he had finished, the sky had totally cleared and the wind had dropped to a whisper and Black Lung was almost dry. There was no way I could leave without one more try. It actually required two!

Move 1: English 7c.
Right hand is on this positive, first-joint pocket, which you kind of stack your fingers into and work really hard. It feels good. Left hands not so good. Four-finger, slopey layaway with a wide pinch for your thumb. Left foot on a small positive spike, right on nothing. Success on Black Lung is all about getting the first move right. The hold you're going for with your left hand is way the hell up there and very difficult to get right, which is crucial. It's a four-finger, first-joint, slopey pocket, that bites on the lip, with a pinch for your thumb. You really have to focus hard on the hold both before committing to the move, and whilst making the move. It is possible to readjust once you get the hold but the one time I did the problem I got the hold spot on and didn't need to. In fact when I got the hold right that one time, I knew I was going to do the problem.

Move 2: English 7b.
Once you've hit that first left hand pocket you've got to keep body tension, (my weakness Marius tells me). Switch feet on the little spike, drop the right knee and get as sideways as possible so that the left hand starts working. Then, when the moment feels right, you match with your right hand onto another slopey, four-finger pocket, which you end up crimping right on the edge. At this point your fingers and skin are starting to move and you squeeze even harder.

Move 3: English 7b.
Again, you've got to keep your body tension as you turn your shoulders through 90 degrees, step through with your left foot onto a small spike and get your right foot up into the right- hand pocket you started the problem from. The hard part here is getting stabilised in the locked-off position to reach for the final hold because as you come out of that sideways position the left-hand hold stops working, you start to spin and your feet are nowhere. The final slopey pocket is slightly incut on it's right-hand side and once your fingers tickle its back, you're home.

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