Dennis, with two crash pads strapped on his back, pushes through California grass to get to the rock wall.
He hits the first move from the sit start on this overhanging rock wall. If you’ve never tried this type of thing, it’s almost impossible to explain how difficult it is to hold this position. But, believe me, it’s really really hard.
Bouldering and rock climbing at OZ, with Dennis Shaffer and Justin Ridgely. Oahu, Hawaii.
Justin, owner of Volcanic Rock Gym, put up some FAs (FA = first ascent. If you get an FA, that means you were the first person to complete a bouldering problem or route.)
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Last weekend I met up with the guys at this newly discovered bouldering spot called OZ. When looking for rock to climb, the most desirable feature boulderers look for is an overhang. (That’s why The Arch is so awesome.) You want to be able to start low and climb out from under the overhanging rock and then up the face. OZ has this. There’s a great overhang and the face of the rock goes up anywhere from 15 to 30 feet.
This place is for experienced climbers only though. The problems are hard and you need to be willing to risk having chunks of rock break off and fall on you as you climb. Climb here at your own risk.
The great thing about OZ is that it’s really easy to get to. We walked up to the rock in slippers. There aren’t too many boulders in Hawaii where you can do this.
You can see this is a big strip of rock embedded into the side of a hill.
Justin and Dennis inspect the high-ball boulder problem. This one will have to be inspected while harnessed up and connected to a top-rope.
We spent the day working this section of the rocks.
Dennis starts off the session.
This problem goes straight up the face of the overhanging boulder. If you’re from Hawaii or have been in Oahu for a long time, you’ll probably be able to figure out where this is.
At this high up the hand-holds are harder to find. The top of this rock face has a strip of choss (choss = crumbly rock) that you have to pick through. There are a few solid holds up there but you have to find them in a sea of choss.
After figuring out which holds wouldn’t break, Dennis tops out the problem.
Justin gets on a boulder problem that starts deep under the overhanging rock.
The first move is a stretch out to a small hold that he has to catch with just his finger tips.
The left leg crosses through.
The right foot follows and pushes against the right side wall. Then the left hand bumps up to catch the ledge above his head.
Now, the feet cut and the knees get pulled in. He’s hanging off his left hand mostly. The right foot pushes against the roof for balance.
The next move is all core muscles. The legs are forced out to a high foot hold on the face of the rock wall. The right hand bumps up to a hold on the face of the rock as well.
He does a pull and sit up at the same time to reach a higher left hand-hold.
He pushes off the right hand and rotates his body towards the rock face to reach even further left.
From this angle you can see it better. The left foot cuts and swings out as he comes out from under the cave.
He stiffens his entire body to fight the swing and bring the foot back in.
With a solid left foot hold and hanging from this ledge, he prepares for the next move.
The right leg drops and he rotates his body toward the rock to reach the high and far left hand hold.
Standing tall, he reaches a left hand side-pull.
The feet come up higher and pushing off them, Justin tops out the problem and gets a first ascent.
Matt and Nick showed up and pointed at stuff.
Matt jumps on the problem and repeats it.
If you look at where his right hand is you can see that he’s having to support the majority of his weight on just his fingertips.
The left leg crosses through.
Coming out of the cave, he slaps the ledge of a protruding rock.
Matt approaches the top out.
He tops out the boulder problem with some amazing Hawaii clouds in the background.
Nick jumps on next to get a feel for the difficulty level of this new bouldering spot in Hawaii.
I give it go, and my verdict is: this problem is hard. And I need to do more outdoor rock climbing.
This is the start of a new project the guys are working on. Notice how small the right hand hold is. And also, notice Dennis’s well executed photobomb.
The idea behind this project is to come up this face of the rock using the super tiny cracks and ledges.
Higher up on this problem, it becomes much harder to hang on to those tiny holds with your right hand.
Between climbing attempts the guys also cleared out a few bushes and stumps that would be super dangerous to land on.
And then it was time to hit the dusty trail.
I was out there on Saturday and already, the guys have been back to OZ and have completed some new problems. As they keep on developing this new Hawaii bouldering spot, more info will be released.