They had good luck and bad luck. Dave Mason tore off two fingertips, one when a rope slipped as he brushed a route on rappel, but both he and Mina Leslie-Wujastyk, who are just wrapping up their three-month U.S. road trip to Ibex, Joe’s Valley, Bishop, Yosemite and Moab, logged tons of mileage. They fly back to Sheffield, England, from Denver on Monday.For Leslie-Wujastyk, highlights included, within four days, sending three V11s and a V12—what she calls the “beautiful, beautiful”
Thigh sandstone face of Dark Matter in Huntington Canyon, Utah. The V11s were Jigsaw, Milkman Sit Start (V10/V11) and Man From the Past, all at Joe’s, where she also did the V11/12s Gentleman’s Project and Ghost of War. The above appear to be first female ascents, though other information may exist: If so, please note in comments field below.
She says, "This trip was a chance to go to new places, climb classic boulder problems and experience an American road trip—it satisfied on all counts! We had a blast from beginning to end."
In Yosemite Leslie-Wujastyk climbed Midnight Lightning third try (she slipped off the first move her first go, but reached the mantel second try); flashed the Yosemite highballs Flatline (V8) and Panic Room (V9); and sent Cindy (V10). Cindy had been established by her fellow Brit Sean Myles, though he toproped the tall line, having broken his leg not long beforehand. Last year, after a decade in which Cindy sat unrepeated, California's Randy Puro cleaned and climbed it.
Mina also did the UK climber Jerry Moffatt’s famous Thriller (V10), which she called a lifetime goal and “Great, brilliant,” and The Force (V10), another historic tick.
Various other women to boulder hard in Yosemite include (of course) Lynn Hill and Lisa Rands, with early ascents of Midnight Lightning and other problems, Natasha Barnes (first woman to climb The Force), Lyn Verinsky, Courtney Hemphill and Robyn Puro.
For Mason, one of the coaches of the British national team, a lowlight was coming heartbreakingly close to doing Black Lung, hitting the last hold many times on this famous Ben Moon (UK) V13 in Joe’s Valley. He did other V13s including the fourth ascent of the James Litz problem Wing Chun at Ibex, despite having tape on two fingertips.
He says, laughing, “If I go back there I won’t have to do anything but Black Lung!”
Leslie-Wujastyk will return to Vail in June for the annual Bouldering World Cup held there, and she and Mason intend their next real U.S. trip to be to Hueco and Chattannooga, in January-February of 2014. They are now to take the next few weeks rather easy, with some outdoor climbing on gritstone, prior to beginning training again in January.
Mason says, “Outdoor climbing is less intense,” meaning not as hard on the body.
As we turn the corner into real winter, Leslie-Wujastyk, though liking outdoor climbing best, is unperturbed to face gym days.
“I like training,” she says mildly. “I like trying hard. I get a kick out of seeing the improvement.”
So let that, unless you are the lucky ones at Hueco Tanks or in sunshine elsewhere, be your mantra.