12/8/10 - Canadian Jean-Pierre "Peewee" Ouellet has climbed several of the United States' hardest trad routes during a six-week road trip this fall, and he's very close to redpointing a fourth.
The main goal of Ouellet's trip was to repeat Concepción, a rope-stretching, thin-crack testpiece (thought to be about 5.13+) outside of Moab, Utah. On his way to the desert from Montreal, Ouellet stopped in Boulder, Colorado, for a couple of days and sent Deadline (5.13d), a short roof line on the granite Castle Rock crag. "I had been on the route a couple years ago but had never returned to do it," he said in an email. "The route is really a V8 boulder problem. The moves are cool, but it's really short for a route."
In Moab, Ouellet set to work immediately on Concepción (Dean Potter, 2003), which begins with face moves and then follows a left-diagonaling crack that gradually widens from tips to offwidth. "I had tried the route in the spring and came painfully close to sending, but had to catch a flight before I could finish it," Ouellet said. This time, "I felt pretty good on the route, but on the second day I made a huge flapper and had to take a break. The start of the climb is so thin I can't climb it with tape on this part of my finger."
When bad weather arrived, Ouellet escaped to Zion National Park, where he repeated the wild, thin-hands roof line of Master Blaster (5.13c/d) in three tries over two days. "This route consists of a 5.11+/12- finger crack to a cool seven- or eight-foot bulge. My hand size definitely helped for this one because I could get a really, really tight thin-hand jam in the bulge, but I still had to ringlock and throw to the jug at the lip."
Back in Moab, Ouellet was kept away from Concepción by a police manhunt following a ranger shooting at a nearby mountain bike trailhead. "I almost gave up my hopes to do Concepción, but after a couple days in Indian Creek, where I did Pink Flamingo (5.13a), the cops reopened Potash Road and I could finish Concepción. This is definitely one of coolest lines in the desert."
This week, Ouellet is attempting No Way José (5.13) in North Wash, Utah. On December 7, he said, "I got so close today on No Way. It will probably go down in the next day or so."
Over the past few years, Ouellet has climbed many of the hardest crack routes in North America, including La Zébrée (5.14a) in Québec, Learning to Fly (5.13+) in Indian Creek, and Fiddler on the Roof (5.13d) in Fremont Canyon, Wyoming.
UPDATED 12/14/10: Ouellet did the likely third ascent of No Way José (5.13c) in North Wash, Utah, on Monday. "It's a perfect line, really one of the most aesthetic lines I've seen," he says on his blog. On his second day working the climb, Ouellet woke up with flu-like symptoms and didn't leave his bed for four days. On his last day in the desert, he managed the send, still feeling sick: "After a quick warm-up, I jumped on the route," he blogged. "The whole way I was feeling nervous and feverish... but I kept going. Little did I know I was screaming at the crux and sticking it, and then carefully made it to the anchor for the send."
Dates of Ascents: November-December 2010