delRo and I went to Bishop over Thanksgiving and we fucked shit up. He fucked his gall-bladder up and had to have emergency surgery at the hospital in Bishop on Tday (delro, blog post coming?), and I fucked up the start to one of the best (albeit chossy) problems in the world: the Mandala. I was working on it with some friends Max, Randy, and Natasha, and all of us lads had decided upon the beta incorrectly labeled “new-school”* – you reach up from the undercling/side pull with your left hand (see pics above). I say “incorrectly labeled”, because it is actually the way that the first ascentionist Sharma did it – who knows why everyone seems to think it is the newer way of trying it. (Also, see Wills comment below about the way that one should start the problem: with left hand on a low, terrible crimp; right hand on higher, good crimp; no pad stack or boost. The increasingly common start – starting with a hand in the crimp and undercling from stacked pads actually skips a move or two). The alternative beta used by Dave Graham for the second ascent is to reach up with the right hand to a small crimp with the left hand on the undercling below. Lots of people have told me that this method is the “OG” way to do the problem, but as Wills pointed out, that is just not true.
So anyway, using Sharma’s beta, I would reach up left hand (right hand on the undercling), and then bring my right foot up (Sharma used different foot beta) and then skip the right-hand crimp used by Dave Graham (some people still use this crimp when using Sharma’s beta) and go up to another crimp and then jump to the better crimp. At this point, you are past the crux – yet somehow both Max and I managed to mess it up a few times. The feet are not obvious and I kept getting burned off before making the last real move out to the jug. I was bummed after my last real try (see pics above) because I knew I was too beat to send that day and that I would have to wait for my next trip out to Bishop. At that point, my friend Mike came over and scolded me for not figuring out the top moves first (which, if I would have done so, I would have sent), and offered me a boost past the crux to figure out the moves. Taking him up, I got pushed a couple moves in, and then easily made it up to the top. Unfortunately, on the way up, I also managed to break the right hand crimp of Dave’s beta with my left foot (the hold that I don’t ever touch with my hands). Natasha handed the piece to me when I got back down and Cuz labeled me a “hold breaker!” seeming to find the break slightly comical having just finished the sit. Natasha thinks that Dave’s beta may still go – I primarily broke the good spot for the right index finger (see pics above) – but it definitely should be more difficult that way. The original beta will go just as easily as before for me – the break really screws people too short to do it that way (and folks used to coming into the hold when doing Sharma’s beta may have to try something new) – sorry, folks. With that bad ending to a good climbing day, I headed down the hill and met up with delro. We rolled out of town southwards, avoiding a building storm, him without a gall bladder, and me a new ignoble member of the cast of characters who have broken the Mandala.
I am back in Bishop now, but the Mandala is under snow. I just hope that I can get back on it and send before someone breaks a hold that I use.
*note – posted edited to reflect information relayed by Wills Young – See comment.