Buttermilks and Zion

August 14, 2013


Highballing and trad climbing on America's finest rock.

A sudden cry from above tore apart the silence and a split second later Alex slammed into the crashpads in front of his dumbfounded spotters. It was a touchdown of the inconvenient kind. System check: everything seemed fine except for Alex´ middle finger which looked like it had made the acquaintance with a cheese grater. Well, Buttermilks' granite is razor-sharp and if you slip off it, you'll taste the pain. It's that simple. Thick red blood was oozing out of the chalk- covered fingertip and dripped into the desert sand. Damn it, why now? Just one moment shy of the sure victory.

It was the last day of our trip to the Californian boulder mecca Buttermilks and time was running out. The next day we had planned to hit Zion National Park for some first-class crack-climbing. But before that was going to happen Alex had to get to terms with some unfinished business. Because Alex had a dream – one that he had been carrying around for thousands of miles. It was the dream of an ascent of the infamous "Evilution to the Lip" (V10), a variant of the legendary test piece "Evilution", a boulder with triple B-rating: big, bad and beautiful.

"Evilution" is located at the Grandpa Peabody boulder, a block with the size of a single-family house and the shape of a billiard ball. Diehard highballers call it "one of the most beautiful boulder problems in the world". Beauty is a welcome feature but if you lose your head high up on "Evilution", you'll taste the bitter end. Falling off this boulder means a long flight with a nasty landing.