Surprisingly enough, Luke and I seem to be in similar places with our climbing right now. Neither of us is really climbing as hard as we could because we are limiting ourselves by what we think we can do and what we think is safe. Although it can be frustrating to be in this position, it’s good to recognize that our minds and fear are our main limiting factors because we can work on those problems.
This was one of the goals for our climbing last weekend. We headed to the Quarry on Saturday morning to meet up with Stein and Jake. Luke warmed up on Original Sin (5.11b, drilled pockets, which we’ve both sent already), I followed it, and we both toproped a neighboring 5.12, which I was able to get through except for pulling through one powerful move with the magical nylon jug…
Stein heads up Control Freak to put up the draws for Luke.
Then we headed over to Luke’s project, Control Freak (5.13a/b – his first 5.13 project!), which has a tricky mental crux followed by a difficult deadpoint crux that requires a lot of focus. While Luke was working on his project, I had the opportunity to try a potential project for me – Megalomania (5.12a, 12!! bolts) – which I was able to toprope twice in between Jake’s lead efforts on it.
This is the first 5.12 sport climb that I’ve ever considered projecting, which is a big step for me. I’ve already broken into this realm (although not sent anything yet) with several routes in Indian Creek and, of course, The Project itself, Equinox. Megalomania could definitely be a good project for me. It has two definite cruxes, one in the middle and one right at the anchor. The top crux especially is super powerful, involving a really long, powerful reach off an undercling to a sidepull that I really have to lean into to use. The middle of the route has some not as hard, but still interesting and pumpy, climbing on crimps and a no-hands rest that apparently you’re not supposed to use, but since it seems to me very contrived not to use it and chalk marks indicate that pretty much everyone does, I plan on using it. The main problem is that I can’t cheat through the lower crux, so in order to work the route I will have to figure out how to do this part.
Stein on Control Freak.
Meanwhile, Luke gave Control Freak several tries, but was repeatedly stopped by his mental crux, which was pretty frustrating for him. Stein tried Tattoo, which seemed harder than the 5.13a it’s given in the guidebook, perhaps since a large piece of rock that formed the 5.11 traverse, Feeding Frenzy, fell off the wall within the last year or two.
Sunday we planned on heading to Echo Cliffs to work on some old and new projects and get our pump on. We had a bit of a late start, so we were hiking out in the midday heat around noon, which was quite tiring.
Luke tried to warm up on Restrain This, a 5.11b that we’d never tried before. However, the route had a ridiculously long move that took him a couple tries to get. I followed the route, but was very frustrated by the extremely long move – it was literally longer than my armspan. There were some small, crappy holds that maybe could have allowed one to climb around the long move, but the holds were obviously not intended to be used – they were quite loose and scary. So I used the nylon jug again and sent the pumpy but not too hard climbing above. Not the ideal start to the day, plus I was still tired from approaching in the hotness.
Luke moved on to working on his old project on the Pink Wall, Meager and Weak (5.12c). He spent a while remembering and re-working the beta, then moved on to real redpoint burns. After a couple tries and mastering a mental crux, he finally sent, with much encouragement from his belayer! This was Luke’s first redpoint of the grade and I am SO proud of him! He kept going through the scary bits, even though he was still scared! Luke has been working hard recently, with help from Stein, to get past the plateau he has been experiencing recently and I think all this work is starting to pay off!
Afterwards, we headed back over to the Left Flank and Java Walls, which were in the critical late afternoon shade. I re-warmed up by onsighting a 5.10a on the Left Flank, which was not particularly exciting or hard (funny to think that this grade used to be difficult for me) but had rather spaced-out bolts. We had considered trying one of the many 5.11s on the Java Wall, which would all be good projects for me, but I felt too tired to onsight any of the easier ones, and Luke was too tired to do any of them. So we decided to call it a day and walk back out to the car (in the shade!) and drove to Wahoo’s Fish Taco in Santa Monica for dinner. Mmmmm shrimp taco… sooo good!
It maybe wasn’t the most successful weekend for me (especially compared to our last trip to Charleston), but it was still a great learning experience. Although Luke was disappointed about not sending his project at the Quarry, he did send Meager and Weak, which was still a great accomplishment. A weekend well spent!
Bonus photo #1: Me wearing a flying pig hat at the cute and eccentric Ajax Cafe in Port Hadlock, WA.
Bonus Photo #2: Maddy in her silly Ajax Cafe hat.