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The Perfect Ratio, a High-Ball

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This is a huge free-standing boulder with an overhanging face.

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The rock is mega-sharp limestone.

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To date, it’s the largest free-standing boulder we’ve seen on the island of Oahu.

On this day, Justin Ridgely (Hawaii rock climber and owner of Volcanic Rock Gym) decided to boulder it. He would climb to the top without a safety rope. Bouldering routes (called “problems”) are typically only 10 to 20 feet tall. This one is a good 35-40 feet tall so it’s called a “high ball.” Climbers risk serious injury or death when they climb a high ball boulder problem, but I’m thinking that’s why they do it.

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Justin mentally prepares for the climb.

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He pulls himself up from the first solid hold he can reach.

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The holds are big but they are sharp and he has a long way to go.

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I’m down the hill watching and taking photos. Our friend Brian is next to me taking video. There is no one spotting Justin. Spotter or not, if he fell from this height, it would have been bad.

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As Justin gets higher up the boulder I think Brian and I were more nervous than he was.

Justin Ridgely, hawaii rock climber

Especially at this point where Justin seems to hesitate for a second to look for a place to put his foot.

Justin Ridgely, bouldering in Hawaii

He finds his footing and speeds his way to the top.

Hawaii rock climber, Justin Ridgely, bouldering in Hawaii

The top is where the rock gets crumbly so Justin has to be careful here.

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And finally the route has been completed. He get’s the FA, or “first ascent.”

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Coming down form the boulder is a bit easier. You just climb down the banyan tree growing out of the rock.

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With that rock being so sharp Justin ended up with some minor wounds.

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The route has been named “The Perfect Ratio.” That being the perfect ration between one fluid and another.

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Having seen all that, know this … climbers don’t typically walk up to a 40 foot rock and climb straight up it.

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There’s preparation involved.

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Rock climbers will typically climb the route in a harness and attached to a rope first. They test the holds they will use and clean them off.

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During this process, Brian climbed the route as well.

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This is Hawaii rock climber Brian Shaw.

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He had a nice scary fall from the top when the rock he was holding on to broke off. The rope saved him though and he got back on and completed the route.

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Then he lowered himself down. We were self-belaying this day.

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I gave it a go but found that it was too difficult to do with ultra-clenched buttchecks (it was scary).

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After Justin’s first ascent on The Perfect Ratio, the climbed this side of the rock as well.

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We then went to have a look around the area. This bouldering spot on Oahu has yet to be named.

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There appears to be some potential on this limestone for some boulder problems.

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And there’s this cave that a rock climber could potentially climb the roof of.

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Soon it was time to go though. Justin had gotten his adrenaline fix, Brian completed the route and I got some photos I was stoked on.

Video:

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This story was last modified on March 25, 2013. (Originally published in January 2013.)

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