More Bishop Highball News - Ground Up

© Mick Ryan -
The evolution in style of how established highball boulder problems are climbed continues at Bishop's Peabody boulders in the Buttermilk Country.

Jason Kehl's Evilution V12, on the 50ft high Grandpa Peabody boulder is described as 'one of the best problems on earth' and its direct version by Tony Lamiche (Evilution Direct V11) is of a similar quality. Until recently many ascents of these hard superblocs or super highballs have involved rehearsal on a top rope before solo, as were the first ascents; with protection provided by a stacked mountain of bouldering pads on the compacted sand at the base.

Wills Young a co-author of the Bishop Bouldering has pondered that these problems to be around English E8. Wills adds to the descriptions, 'bring all the crash pads in Bishop, and a wheelchair.' However he has said that with lots of pads an E-grade is not appropriate for these particular problems.

Both the original and the direct Evilution have now been climbed without roped rehearsal, ground-up style.

Last November Carlo Traversi made the fourth ascent of Evilution ground-up (helped by running beta, chalked holds and lots of pads) and he has now been joined by his brother Giovanni "G" Traversi, who last Thursday repeated this feat.

The day before, Austrian Tobias Haller made the 6th ascent of Evilution Direct (v11), again ground-up style.

You can read the full gory details with photos at Wills'


American bouldering has quite a heritage of highball ascents. Forty-seven years ago in 1961, the father of modern bouldering, John Gill, established The Thimble in the Needles of the Black Hills of South Dakota. Gill bouldered out this 30ft granite needle ground-up without roped rehearsal and of course without bouldering pads; in fact there was a wooden guard rail at the base of this needle making any fall very spicey. It weighed in at a highball V4, and may have been the USA's first 5.12 (E4/5).

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10 Jan, 2009
Previous glaciation is my guess?
10 Jan, 2009
Quite near the explanation I think. I have photos of small cliff faces in the Buttermilk made up of giant orbs, cemented together...... Eastern Sierra Geology The granitic peaks of the Sierra Nevada, favored by Sierran climbers from John Muir to Peter Croft, formed from multiple mountain-building events. Part of the Sierra Nevada Batholith (a 400 mile long province of rock extending from Tehachapi to Mt. Lassen), these granitic rocks resulted when magma rose from great depths in the earth's crust, melting and shouldering aside overlying rock, but solidifying without ever reaching the surface. The magma cooled slowly, making larger crystals and a coarser less porous texture than volcanic rocks. The Sierra Batholith is made of hundreds of individual bodies of rock called plutons (after Pluto, Roman god of the underworld). Each originated as a separate magma body, and each has distinguishing mineralogical and textural characteristics: The feldspar knobs so characteristic of the rock in Whitney Portal are absent on the Third Pillar of Dana--they are in different plutons. As a pluton cools, water and other compounds that don't fit into the crystal lattices of the major granite-forming minerals (quartz and feldspars) are distilled into metal-rich melts that fill fractures in the mostly-solidified pluton. When these melts cool in the fractures, they form dikes, such as at the Dike Wall. About 120 to 85 million years old, the Sierran rocks are much older than the Long Valley volcanic rocks. The tectonic events of five million years ago that uplifted the Sierra Nevada to its current lofty height are much more recent than the granitic rocks themselves. The Sierra Nevada can be viewed as a giant slab of granite that has been tilted down on its west side and up on its east, resulting in the steep eastern escarpment that we see today. This tilting and lifting is related to regional stresses occurring throughout the mountainous Basin and Range tectonic province. The Sierra Nevada, at the western edge of the Basin and Range Province, is rising at a rate of about 4 centimeters per century. Geologists refer to Sierran rocks as "granitic" rather than "granite," because there are actually several types of rock, such as quartz monzonite and granodiorite, that, along with granite, make up the granitic family of rocks. With difficulty, these various rocks can be distinguished from one another by their ratios of quartz to various feldspars. Geologists notwithstanding, we loosely call them granite, because it doesn't make much difference to climbers whether the rocks they climb are granite or quartz monzonite. Of much greater importance for climbers are the weathering processes that modify the rock surfaces exposed to the atmosphere. The clean sweeping faces of the Third Pillar and Cardinal Pinnacle are the result of frost wedging, where the expansion of freezing water in cracks gradually cleaves the rock into broad clean slabs. In contrast, the intricately featured faces of the Peabody boulders are the result of mildly acidic water gradually decomposing the minerals--chemical weathering. Expose the rocks of the Buttermilk or the Alabama Hills to the climate of Mt. Whitney, and after tens of thousands of years they would have athe blocky angular appearance typical of high-country granite. Laurel Mountain (available as a free MiniGUIDE) has the only route composed neither of Long Valley volcanics nor Sierra granitics. It is composed of metamorphic rock, which originated on the seafloor 250 to 520 million years ago, prior to the intrusion of the Sierra Batholith. Highly deformed, subjected to prolonged heat and pressure by the plate collisions that generated the Sierra batholith, their fractured state and deformed layering attests to this tortuous history. © Bob Harrington and Rockfax guidebooks.
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