posted by dpm on 09/09/2013
Jonathan Siegrist has just wrapped up a short trip to the Fins in Southern Idaho and established a number of hard new routes. He focused his efforts on the beautiful Discovery Wall, a 40-meter tall blank slate of vertical to gently-overhanging terrain. Until last year, the hardest routes on the wall topped out in the 5.13- range, all of them stopping at anchors midway up the cliff.
The Discovery Wall. Photo: DPM
Last September, Siegrist added the wall's hardest route, Algorithm (5.14d), an extension to the classic 5.13a Son of Discovery. He also added in Catalyst (5.14b), Make it a Double (5.13a) -which is the easiest full-length route to the top of the wall- and the immaculate trad route Enter the Dragon (5.14a). This year, he started off by opening two projects bolted by local climbers Marc Hanselman and Tom Smartt. Bare Knuckle Boxing (5.13b) continues past the anchor of Bushido (5.13a/b) for another full-length Discovery pitch. La Cabanita Especial (5.13c) is a sustained line of pockets that continues past the anchor of Hapacholo (5.13a), and Yellow Brick Road is a new independent 5.13d.
Most notable is the addition of three new 5.14's, the first being Vesper (5.14a) which continues to the top past the anchor of Martini (5.12a). Next up was The Manhattan Project, a 5.14a that parallels Vesper and features full span dynamics between pockets, a double-crossover crux section, and the potential for thirty-foot sideways whippers if you blow it. Siegrist considers The Manhattan Project to be the best 5.14a sport route on the wall.
His hardest new route of the season is Better Living Through Chemistry (5.14b/c), an unlikely-looking line up a faint yellow streak. Barely steeper than vertical, the crux section climbs past miniscule, but miraculously bullet-proof, mini flakes. The unique crux move is a foot jump that has to be timed perfectly while levitating between overhead gastons.
The Discovery Wall at the Fins is an anomaly. It's strictly a face-climbing venue with nothing steeper than about 15-degrees overhanging. Tucked away in a distant corner of one of the nation's least populated states, it wasn't discovered until long after face-climbing was out of vogue and route developers were seeking out the steep stone of areas like Maple Canyon and the Red River Gorge. Due to its late development, it was spared from the age of chipping allowing for a completely natural wall of face climbing possibilities unlike other face-climbing venues like Smith Rock and Shelf Road. The cliff is truly a gem in that sense.
Yet, it's unlikely that the cliff will be popular any time soon. The easiest routes are 5.11 with the majority in the 5.12 and 5.13 range. The wall is quite small, most of the new routes are 5.14, and they're of a style that few seem interested in tackling these days. Additionally, there might be five people in the country that possess both the ability and desire to climb them. For now, Siegrist's recent contributions at the Fins are anachronisms that stand as tributes to the lost art of face-climbing.
The following photos are sequential shots of Jonathan on his new route Better Living Through Chemistry (5.14b/c). All photos by DPM.
The route opens with a stretch of 5.13+ crimping.
Entering the crux section.
The dyno to a thumb-catch gaston. Setting up for the dynamic foot jump.
Thumb press to the pocket.
It's not over after the crux.
Crossover to the mono.
Not a bad view from the chains.