Black Mountain Bouldering


Video featuring lots of hard new climbs from Black Mountain California, several first ascents including Vorpal Blade V12, a few old classics such as Morphic Resonance, a guest appearance from Sarah Palin, and even a highball or two. Hope you like it!

The Last Weekend


We headed up to Black on Saturday to find out if we could drive up the mountain. Luckily the gate was wide open so we drove straight up to the Corral. There was still some snow on the ground from last week but the boulders were dry. It was 40 degrees when we arrived but the sun was out so the conditions were perfect! After warming up we worked on the mid-day lightning project which is just below the corral next to Dark Horse. This wall is amazing and it has features that beg to be climbed. Unfortunately it still feels hard! Not sure how this one will go but somebody needs to do it!!

Mid-day Lightning Project

Mid-day Lightning Project

Continue Reading…



Here’s an old clip of Ian McIntosh climbing Expatriot V11 at Black Mountain. Unfortunately he sent as the sun was going down so the footage is noisy.

The Best of So-Cal


I’m taking an idea from Max and applying it to So-Cal (It’s not a new idea but his post sparked the interest).  The idea is to develop a list of the best boulder problems by grade in Southern California.  First I want to create the list and then I want you to vote on the BEST boulder of each grade.  I need your help to determine whether the lines listed below are worthy and what unlisted problems are true classics.  Please be specific and give reasons why a problem is amazing.  Keep in mind good doesn’t cut it for this list, it has to be great!  Ideally I’d like to see at least two people vouch for a climb before adding it to the list.  Also if you feel any of the grades are off, let me know.

Some of the criteria are:

  • Quality of the line – tall beauty or lowball traverse?
  • Rock quality – crumbly choss or bullet hard granite?  nearly everything in So-Cal is sharp but some climbs (Morphic Resonance) get demerits for having razor blades disguised as holds.
  • Movement – does it flow or is it thrutchy & weird?
  • Obvious start – perfect jugs or laydown start on razor crimps?

The list, to be updated with your feedback:















Two Man Show


It was a cold weekend at Black Mountain, with highs in the forties. I spent another Saturday at the Wild Things area of the mountain. This time it was me and Anthony on a mission to test out some new projects and finish up old business.

First up was the xeno proj. It’s hard to see in the picture below but there is a giant xeno in the middle of the face. The challenge is getting to it; all the holds between it and the start are small and slopey. I figured out some tricky beta involving a thumb undercling and techy/balancy moves to setup on poor holds to dyno for the xeno. I didn’t get anywhere near sticking the dyno, it’s going to be hard!

Alex Savage on a project

Alex Savage on the xeno project

Next we went down the hill to the Wild Things boulder where Anthony got really close to sending his project, the sit start to Where the Wild Things Are V11. He stuck the crux move several times but was having trouble with the next long move to the jug. Next he worked on Beware the Jabberwocky and got really close to sending! Next time!

Anthony Tarascio on Beware the Jabberwocky

Anthony Tarascio making the span on Beware the Jabberwocky

Anthony Tarascio on Beware the Jabberwocky

Anthony Tarascio on Beware the Jabberwocky

We worked on one more project at sunset and hiked out in the dark (short day!). We parked up at the gate to Boulder Basin and waited for our friends to return to their cars. Unfortunately the low 30 degree temps were too much for our friends to stay and camp so we were on our own again.

On Sunday we started off at the December Boulders where Anthony cleaned up on the classics, Blenny Run, Moondrops, and Megalomania. We finished the day filming Bang On.

I’m feeling a little under the weather at the moment but if I was to get outside this weekend, I’m debating between Yosemite and Bishop..
What do you think?

Vorpal Blade V12


On Saturday I completed the first ascent of a project at Black Mountain, CA I’ve been working on for a few weeks. It is the sit start to Beware the Jabberwocky V10 which is a rad climb that Ian McIntosh put up a few months back. It is one of the longest boulder problems I have ever worked on. It starts sitting on the left side of the boulder under the roof and climbs up and right via 20+ hard moves of steep climbing to the lip. The physical crux is within the first sequence of climbing to the stand start. The first move of the stand start is a long and precise throw to a slot sidepull. From here there is a long rail that leads up to the finale, a tenuous match on a small crimp and pinch 20 feet off the ground which sets you up to bust to the perfect jug at the end of the rail. A long reach from the jug to a good edge on the slab leads to easy climbing to the top of this 40 foot boulder.

Prior to Saturday I had never topped out the boulder even though I had worked on both Beware the Jabberwocky and Where the Wild Things Are V8. I had climbed to the last move many times and never wanted to commit to the move for fear of another bad fall on the rock below. After climbing through the difficult sit start moves, sticking the Jabberwocky move, and arriving to the same place at the end of the climb, I finally committed to the insecure move and grabbed the jug!

The name Vorpal Blade comes from the poem Beware the Jabberwocky, which is definitely worth a read if you haven’t seen it before. As for the grade, it’s always difficult to rate a climb, especially a first ascent. It felt as hard as Crown of Aragorn V13. When I sent Crown, I thought it was long and the redpoint crux for me was the end of the climb which is V9. Crown has 11 hard moves to the jug whereas Vorpal Blade has 22. I think Vorpal is harder than the two other So-Cal test pieces I have done, Bang On V12 and Somewhere in Time V12.
Edit: On second thought, after watching the footage again, I’m going to call it V12. I had it pretty dialed in and feel like I can do harder moves so we’ll leave it at V12.

I have video of the ascent which I hope to post soon. Here are a couple photos from different sessions on the climb.

Alex Savage climbs Vorpal Blade.  Photo by Anthony Tarascio.

Alex Savage on the first move of Vorpal Blade. Photo by Anthony Tarascio.

Alex Savage on Vorpal Blade.  Photo by Ian McIntosh.

Alex Savage on Vorpal Blade. Photo by Ian McIntosh.

Right after climbing Vorpal Blade I sent the other two lines on this boulder, the sit start to Where the Wild Things Are V11 (2nd ascent), and Where the Sidewalk Ends V3 (a highball involving two mantels, the first at 20ft!).

On Sunday we made it out to the Chappies where I climbed a V10 on the Han Solo boulder that may have been done years ago by Dan Mills but we aren’t sure. Alan Moore pulled off the first known ropeless ascent of the Han Solo Arete which is a striking 30 foot bloc with delicate moves at the top.



Classic four star lines at the YMCA area of Black Mountain, CA.

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