As far as I am aware, it is uncommon in our chosen sport to be a part of a community that is so young. Aggressive development of bouldering on the island of Oahu only started around 2010 with a small but talented group of climbers who saw potential here that no one had before. They were motivated to dig deep into the natural wonder of this place and carve out the opportunity to express themselves on its relatively young basalt stone.
I was not a part of that core group but I am grateful to each of them for their efforts – past and present.
That said, the work is not done and it is the stated goal of this site to share the story of its continuance. So, we begin at the mouth of a valley:
On the island’s west side is an area we have taken to calling, among other things, Lower Kong. So far only the lowest portion of the sometimes-flowing stream which defines the valley’s contours has been thoroughly explored – it is a treasure trove. The blocs there have been washed over by the stream’s water, weathering away the chossy skin which is characteristic of too many of Oahu’s boulders. Instead these rocks are like giant skipping stones, rounded and mercifully comfortable to touch.
As the stream is first approached there is a boulder, maybe 10’ tall, with a featured overhang on its lower half and mossy slab upper half sitting on its edge. Matt has already seen the first FA on this boulder during an exploratory outing about a week ago, dubbing the problem “Brushing Off the Babies” (V3).
Not 100’ further up the stream bed is a rock that I call the “Infested Egg” due to its shape and it being covered in small bugs spawning from the still water left behind when the stream is drying. The boulder is probably only 8’ tall but features powerful moves to interesting and tough holds. Both Justin Ridgely and Nick Testa have seen FAs on this small but imminently climbable boulder, likely the only two problems on the bloc. Nick's problem is called “Jerking Off a Smurf” (V5). Justin's problem, "Java Plum Wine", was put up nearly a year ago during one of his initial exploratory outings to the zone.
Further up the stream sit two adjacent boulders which, despite their proximity, could not be more dissimilar. One is smooth rounded rock that is almost completely blank of holds, especially feet. This first hunk of stone has seen one FA from Matt which he calls “No Country for Camo Pants,” owing to the fact that both he and I, on separate occasions, managed to tear the seams of our pants while scoping boulders in the valley. Only one of us, unfortunately, was wearing underwear during our discrete trouser mishaps.
The second boulder of the pair is composed of a steep overhang and big blocky features. Nick, Matt, and myself each saw FAs on this rock: Matt’s was a tough V6 he called “Camo Toe"; mine is a V3 I named “Papa Smurf’s Camo Pants,” because I lack originality; Nick’s is a crimpy V1 he dubbed “Crotch Breeze."
Further up but off of the stream is a beautiful monstrosity of tragically blank rock which towers over anything nearby at about 20’. Matt managed to find some holds along the bloc’s slopey arête and, after a couple days work, he laid down an impressive FA on the toughest problem I have touched in this zone so far; a V7/8 he is calling “Mothman."
Again, only a small portion of area around a short section of one stream has been searched for climbable rock. This valley is vast and it is one of many. We are, all of us, lucky to have the opportunity to interact with the magnificent landscape around us. We are luckier still to have the chance to explore in a true sense, to seek with intention and conviction. Not a lot of people get to have that.
I am very glad I get to be a part of it.