Problem Of the Week #18: Shang-High Knight (V6)

14 Jun
Crazy "Shanghai Knights (2003)" movie poster!

I can’t promise that when climbing this problem you will look as cool as Jackie Chan or Owen Wilson in the above “Shanghai Knights (2003)” movie poster. Close for sure, but not quite.

The problem “Shang-High Knight” (V6) is a classic, both for the grade and for Grayson Highlands Bouldering in general. The Shang-High Boulder is a tall-ish, dark, steep boulder along the Listening Rock Trail (LRT) below the SLS Boulder. This line involves steep compression climbing leading to a fun crux dyno halfway up the face. Following the dyno are comfortable, deep holds that lead up to a standard mantle over the high lip above a flat landing.

Shang-High’s steep compression climbing is somewhat unique to many other compression climbs in that your left hand must slot with precision into specific sections of

Matze Bär on Shang-High Knight (V6)

Matze Bär on Shang-High Knight (V6)

a diagonal crack. Some portions of the crack, when accurately hit, are quite deep and juggy. If the nice sections are missed, it can be difficult to continue  on with the sequence. On the opposite, right side of the compression line you climb past smooth open handed slopers and pinches to the high hold (another sloper with a thin

Derek Samples on Shang-High Knight

Derek Samples on Shang-High Knight

crimp thumb-catch). At this point, the classic beta is to huck to the high jug rail and hold the dyno’s swing. This original beta, still my favorite, is what gave the grade its v6 points years ago. Many other beta sequences have materialized since the First Ascent including hard heel-hooks and the use of the higher, tiny, left

Nick Love (right hand with the thin thumb-catch) on Shang-High.

Nick Love (right hand with the thin thumb-catch) on Shang-High.

crimp. This beta more-or-less avoids the core intensive dynamic move to the rail. While avoiding the dyno,  the newer beta sequence is still quite difficult (Jackie Chan would still be proud) and consensus agrees that the beta still earns a V6 grade.

A particular descriptive phrase in the GHSP Bouldering Guidebook illustrates one aspect of the boulder problem, and I would like to share the background of that description here (Steven Lovelace I hope you don’t mind). Several years ago one of my best friends Steve Lovelace was projecting Shang-High Knight. Steve, a meticulously technical climber with fingers strong and thin enough to make most any section of the left crack feel comfortable, had the entire sequence memorized to the point of effortlessness. Steve could smoothly execute the

Steve Lovelace dyno-ing for a flapper on Shang-High Knight (V6).

Steve Lovelace dyno-ing for a flapper on Shang-High Knight (V6).

line up to the dyno crux with ease. He could likewise pull onto the sequence at the point of the dyno, jump for it, and finish the problem on command. The downside was that when attempting the line from the sit-start he had developed an unconscious habit of stepping his foot down to the pad when launching for the jug. While compiling the Bouldering guidebook, Dan Brayack, myself, Steve, and several others went to the Shang-High Boulder while Dan shot topo photos. Steve jumped at the chance to send his project while Danno was capturing guidebook shots. Steve breezed through the low section, set up for the pounce, and landed it with feet swinging out free from the pads. The swing however, resulted in one of the nastiest, bloody flappers you can imagine. This flapper precipitated to the guidebook description, “will leave your hands looking like a baloney sandwich got into it with a belt sander.” This  injury isn’t the norm however, but as with any dyno to a rail-like hold the chance for flappers isn’t out of the question!

Be sure to stop by Shang-High Knight and the rest of the fun problems on the Shang-High Boulder on your next visit to the LRT in Grayson Highlands State Park. For more info on bouldering at the Shang-High Boulder, check out pages 128-129 in the Grayson Highlands Bouldering Guidebook, and Mountain Project:

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