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The Triads Boulders


About a month ago I hiked through the forest with some Hawaii rock climbers.


We were in a pretty remote valley on Oahu. The ridges above were lined with crags of basalt. Over time, as the soft dirt erodes, chunks of that rock (i.e. boulders) roll down the mountain and collect in the valley.


Some of the boulders are massive. I wondered what it must sound like to hear something this large roll down the mountain and crash through the trees.


We were with a crew of rock climbers from Japan. Justin (@hiboulder), owner of Volcanic Rock Gym, was showing them this new spot and I got to tag along.

It’s a fairly new bouldering spot that Justin and J (zenjin808) found and have been developing. They call the place “Triads.”


After a short hike up the trail we came across the warm-up boulder. It has 3 or 4 routes on it.


Up the valley from the warm up boulder is something bigger.


We hiked into the valley for less than ten minutes and came across this block.


It’s rare to see free standing boulders this tall in Hawaii.

Toma at the Triads boulders - A rock climbing spot in Hawaii

The particular boulder is known for a route that involves a big dyno. On the rock pictured above is Toma (@tohma0926), an incredibly strong Japanese rock climber.


A “dyno” is a rock climbing move that involves throwing your body toward a hold that would be out of reach otherwise. Both your hands and feet leave the rock as you jump to reach the next hold. You can see here that Toma has flung him self up towards a small hold on the rock. He’s just a inches shy of it.


It’s a far reach for Toma and he just missed it.


Justin, being taller, was able to able to reach the hold more easily.


But after grabbing the hold, one must then hold on as your body swings out like crazy. This is where being taller is less of an advantage because he’s also heavier. That fat bastard.


This lead to several failed attempts.


But finally, a go went.

Justin Ridgely climbing a boulder at Triads on Oahu, Hawaii

Justin threw for the hold and grabbed it. His feet are not touching the rock at all here.


He held on tight as his heavy body swung out.


Justin then gathered himself as his feet returned to the boulder.


From there he had to find a way to top the boulder out. Notice how high he is up here and how he’s no longer above the pads. One foot slip and he would slide down the face of the boulder and on to a pile of rocks.


This boulder problem though, was sent.


Toma and the rest of the Japanese crew ended up having a great session climbing two other routes that go up the face of this boulder.


You can see the route by following the chalk marks up the face of the rock.


We then continued on along a trail to the best of the Triads boulders. Along the way, J and I checked out more rock formations in the area. In the photo above you can see two huge rocks randomly stacked on top of each other.


We also passed the largest boulder in this area.


This is a high-ball (i.e., a really tall boulder problem). Trying to figure out a way to climb this seemingly flat rock face would require a rope or a lot of pads and spotters.


We continued our hike down in to a forest of paper bark trees.


And then we came across this overhang boulder.


Justin showed Toma the various routes on this piece of rock.


The setting around this boulder is open yet shady. It’s a much different setting than other Hawaii rock climbing spots. The shade made for a nice comfortable bouldering session.


The crew warmed up on one of the easier (but still difficult) problems on the rock to get used to the height and get a feel for the rock.


There were plenty of pads laid out, but a fall here would still feel significant.


Then Toma jumped on a problem called Night Terrors. So far, it’s the main problem on the boulder.


The route follows the lip of the boulder.


Notice Toma’s left had here. That small hold is what’s preventing him from dropping some 10 feet to the pads below.


You can see how with your heel up on the rock like that, it makes a fall much more dramatic.


Toma crosses his right hand under his left arm.


Then he’s able to crank his body towards the rock to allow his left hard to reach higher up the rock.


And then the final step is to execute a very precarious top out over the lip.


Justin gave it a go as well. This would be a repeat for him as he got the first ascent of the route and named it Night Terrors.


Justin makes his way across the lip.


He crosses his right hand over his left.


Then he reaches for a solid hold.


He sets his heel high on the lip so he can put weight on that left leg and pull him self up to the top of the boulder.


We hung out at this boulder for a couple hours having a climbing session.


The brave folks gave Night Terrors a few more goes.


Toma jumped on a route made up of tiny holds.


He sent the route, but noted that it required “max power.” This dude is freakishly strong so I’m pretty sure you don’t hear him say that too often. I mean, the guy has veins popping out of his shoulders.


Chieko jumped on the boulder as well. From this angle you can really see how tall the face of the boulder is.


And then we found one of these.


Shortly after, by pure coincidence, we decided it was a good time to pack up and go.


See also:

This story was last modified on July 9, 2015. (Originally published in July 2015.)

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