Sunday, March 21, 2021

Buddha Days

*written Jan.29 2021

Given a forecasted high of -8, and my dashboard registering a far frostier -17 in the parking lot, it was with hope, but not optimism, that I tromped towards Powderface trail. Thankfully there was no wind, but it was still too dark to tell if cloud cover might cut out precious rays of warmth later on. The morning cold lent a particularly sharp ring to spikes biting into hardpacked snow.
Dawn broke with icy switchbacks leading me uphill, and thoughts drifted back to days and seasons long passed. From approximately 2011 through the winter of 2013/14 (a season when seemingly every weekend was spent there, usually with Dan A.), I slowly but surely unlocked more and more of the esoteric bouldering at White Buddha. Often hiking in and out in the dark, the winter days spent puzzling out steep roofs, funky moves, finnicky holds, and frictionless feet proved perfect for, among other things, learning to properly (or better, at least) project problems on rock. The eliminate, link-up, and drop-off style of Buddha had a way of dissipating the urgency that can accompany trying to send "real" boulders. It was more like playing on a rock spray wall, with nothing to do but add a harder start here, a harder finish there, ignore some more holds along the way, and get a bit better, a bit stronger, session by session.
After years away, the locked down gyms and opportune weather led to a spate of days at Buddha once again and, somehow, the lines continue revealing themselves. Today, I checked two problems off my list, yet finished the day with more projects than I had started it with, complete with some entirely new positions, new moves, and even a couple of holds I'd never used before.

Some might think it's silly and pointless to keep track of these things, but I'm always motivated when I see or find out about new ideas and variations. White Buddha may not have a lot to do with what the finest bouldering has to offer, but it has a whole lot to do with the heart of it. Besides, if you haven't swung around on the top half of "Troutfishing", desperately pinwheeling your feet until they stick to something, or questioned reality when the "Left Potato" jug gets farther away as you jump for it, or tried to figure out what the actual line of "Devolution" is, have you truly experienced all that Alberta bouldering has to offer?
Oh yeah . . . I ended up climbing in a t-shirt.