Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Cobra – Initial Attempts

I have been in Squamish for three weeks now with my main goal for this summer being the famous Cobra Crack 5.14. I have only had four days consisting of a total of 5 long top rope shots on the route so far due to the painful nature of the jamming required as well as a finger injury obtained while bouldering.
Warm up mono's in a block of wood that lives at the base of Cobra Crack.
It has the names of everyone who has managed to climb the route so far.
The finger injury isn’t bad, just a jarred joint from stabbing it into a wall. It still hurts but I can climb on it. Other than my four days off from the injury I have done some amazing sport climbing and bouldering, which I hope I will keep me strong as I project the crack during the summer.
On the bouldering front I climbed a soft V10 quite quickly called No Troublems. This is not any kind of amazing achievement although I had never actually bouldered this grade before. I am pretty sure I have done much harder boulders on routes but I’ve never put the time in to go bouldering outdoors and project hard problems.
Warming up in the boulders.
Back to the Cobra. The start is easy, a technical 5.11 chimney leading to a hands free rest will probably become a bit of an annoyance when I have done it for the trillionth time approaching the real business above. After the hands free rest a short technical thin crack that would be the crux of a 5.12 leads to a jug right where the wall kicks back. Even though it’s a jug you don’t want to hang around too long as you’re still on your arms. A couple of jams above the jug and I was surprised by the difficulty of one of the lower moves which marks the beginning of ‘the business’ section. It took me a long time to work out, as the beta on the videos of other people climbing this section doesn’t suit me at all. I’m pretty sure the others are all close to a foot taller than me as they do some massive reaches between the good jams.
Working on the lower hard move.
After the initial hard move it stays exceptionally physical in good jams but incredibly poor feet. I’ll need to be able to cruise this section eventually to have energy for the crux above. The crux begins with a reach up to an undercling mono, which is painful and hard to commit to. When I do commit though I found I could do the next move almost static. Because I can’t reach through to the good jam I get a bad jam and do the hardest move of the route to the better jam above. This beta is the same as Didier was doing on the film ‘First Ascent’.
Do I commit to pulling on this or not?
I am sure if I eventually get to here on lead I’ll be very tired but there is the exit boulder to do before you can stand on your feet again. So far the easiest way I have found to do this is to go up a slopey rail the same as Sonny Trotter did on the first ascent of the route. This is mainly due to my hand position in the jams after the main crux section.
Sharing beta in the local park with local Ben Harnden, who is currently very close to the send.

I feel like my progress so far has been good except for that one crux move. Hopefully it isn’t a showstopper and I can do it more regularly during my working sessions. I’ll need to be doing it easily off the rope to be able to pull it on link. No matter what happens this summer I am psyched I am even able to try and do the moves on this route. September, when I have to leave, is still a ways off so anything is possible at the moment.

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