Shivering, Sweating, and Sending in Smith Rock

30 06 2009

It happened. We graduated and packed up the Rav to head down to Smith Rock out near Terrebonne, Oregon. I hadn’t been in almost 5 years (since the summer after my junior year in high school) and was stoked to go back and lead some of the routes that fired my initial love of rock climbing. We were there for 12 days and 11 nights, my longest climbing trip in quite a while.

Day 1

Maddy and I packed up the car in the morning and headed down to Oregon. With some stops for food and gas, we made it down to Smith Rock in about 7 hours. We pulled up to the campground, set up our tents, and headed down the trail to get a couple of routes in and start getting our Smith Rock faces on. We headed to the 5 Gallon Buckets area, but there were people (not surprisingly) on all the easier routes, so we continued up to the Peanut to start out our trip on Hop on Pop (5.8). We both lead the route, and I didn’t freak out too much about the knobs seeming to flex when I pulled on them. Then we headed back and both sent the 5.9 to the right of 5 Gallon Buckets before heading back to the campground for the day. Nothing too challenging, but it was good to get on the rock after a long drive.

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Checking out the guidebook cause WE’RE AT SMITH ROCK!!!

Day 2

When it wasn’t windy, it was pretty hot in the sun, so we decided to start out in the shade by heading over to the Mesa Verde Wall. We’d never been there before and knew there were a good number of classic knob routes. We warmed up on Cosmic (5.10a) – an onsight for Maddy and a flash for me. We wanted to get on the ultra classics Screaming Yellow Zonkers (5.10b) and Moons of Pluto (5.10d), but another party had just started Screaming Yellow Zonkers and we were not sure our rope was long enough for Moons of Pluto. Instead, we decided to go for Bad Moon Rising (5.11a). It was my turn to go first, so I got on the sharp end and went for the onsight. I made it past the tricky moves on crappy rock down low, the stellar 5.10 knob climbing in the middle of the pitch, and up to the last bolt, below the roof. I jumped right into the roof moves, since there wasn’t a good rest and I was already feeling pumped. I managed to get one of the knobs over the lip, popped my right foot out onto a knob, then struggled to get up onto the upper slab. There was another, better knob, but I couldn’t reach it. So I fell. It was a long, but safe fall and after resting and de-pumping for a second I easily pulled the roof by using some better footwork to gain the second, much juggy-er knob to pull over the roof. Instead of trying to redpoint the route, I had Maddy clean it after following on TR so we could try the other classics at the crag. We both sent Screaming Yellow Zonkers first try, but then the sun came before we could get on Moons of Pluto.

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Smith is so pretty.

We headed back to the front side to play on the 5 Gallon Buckets and Overboard walls a bit more. But they weren’t in the shade yet, so we stopped at the Dihedrals and climbed Wedding Day (5.10b) – an onsight for me and redpoint for Maddy. Then we headed over to tick 5 Gallon Buckets (5.8), both redpointing it. We were both interested in Magic Light (5.11a) and Overboard (5.11a/b), so we decided to try one of them (Magic Light) as the last route of the day. I got about 2 bolts up before I got awful hand cramps in both hands (simultaneously) and dropped my chalk ball on the ground. I decided it was Maddy’s turn to lead. She headed up and couldn’t figure out how to move left onto Magic Light, so continued straight up on Overboard instead. She took a couple falls at the crux, but finally figured it out (which was good, because I was pretty much out of commission for the day) and made it to the anchors. She cleaned the route and we headed back to the campground, deciding we definitely needed to bring more water the next day.

Day 3

This was our first gorge day. I remembered loving the basalt columns of the Gorge on my first trips to Smith and was excited to go back and lead many of the routes I had tried on toprope. We spent the whole day on the West Columns because it was somewhat cloudy and breezy all day, making the temps good even in the sun and rather chilly when we were in the shade. Maddy isn’t super into the trad leading thing, so I lead everything and she followed and cleaned. We warmed up on Badfinger (5.10b, redpoint), then climbed Rim Job (5.10b, onsight), Wildfire (5.10b, onsight), and Cruel Sister (5.10a, onsight), with many rests in between since I hadn’t slept well the night before. To finish up the day, we both toproped Crack-a-no-go (5.11b), which I wanted to eventually try on lead, but after toproping since the tricky gear placement is supposed to be the crux. I flashed it on toprope and started working out the gear beta. But we were pretty tired, so we hiked out, made dinner, and went to bed early, only to be woken up at 3am by some people noisily setting up their tents.

Day 4

We were glad this was a rest day – not only were we tired, but the campground was absolutely swamped with weekend people – mostly not climbers (or people paying to be guided for the day) who thought it was ok to leave their stoves, coolers, etc. set up at one (or two!) of the ~10 picnic tables for the whole day. Apparently the concept of shared space was not apparent to many of these people. We had a lazy morning, then headed to Bend to get some Chai before going to Portland to pick up Luke. We got some yummy baked goods from Great Harvest Bakery and shared a slice of pizza from the Bite of Bend food fair. We drove to Portland via Salem (since I’d never been that way and we had some time to kill), then after some furious phone calls by Maddy, found the only retailer in the greater Portland area with Miuras in Luke’s size, since he’d called to tell us he forgot to pack climbing shoes. Shoes in hand, we picked up Luke from the airport and headed back to Terrebonne. We had a very delicious dinner at the Terrebonne Depot, a relatively new restaurant near the train tracks on Smith Rock Way. The fish tacos were AMAZING.

Back at the campground, we met up with Kevin and Jon of Climbfind and chatted for a bit, making plans to meet up at Cocaine Gully the next day, before heading to the tent for the night.

Day 5

Luke and I scrambled up “the nostril” into Cocaine Gully, while Maddy headed over towards the Dihedrals to meet with some friends from the Vertical World team who’d moved to Bend. Our plan was to warm up on Chicken McNuggets (5.10b), which, like many classic 5.10s in Smith Rock, I’d done before on toprope. The beginning part was trickier than I remembered and my nerves contributed to my taking an accidental warm-up fall on the first bolt. Then, with the falling jitters mostly subdued, I proceeded to send the route. The huge nubbins on that last wall are wild! Luke lead the route also, before moving up-gully to Powder Up the Nose (5.10d). Luke lead the precarious tiny-nubbin-pulling and we decided that I would just toprope this one, which I did, since the crux pulls were an uncomfortable distance above the last bolt for the second route of the day. Then Luke went up to remember the moves and put the draws on Freebase (5.12a), which he’d tried on a previous trip to Smith. We were also joined by Kevin and Jon, who hopefully enjoyed TRing the routes we’d done and borrowing my rope to lead Chicken McNuggets. It was my turn next, so I got on Vomit Launch (5.11b), which I’d been told was really awesome. I decided not to go for the onsight, because I expected I would get super pumped trying to figure out the sequences. I took a couple of rests on my way up, but didn’t find any genuinely hard moves (just some delicate footwork-y ones, including a lockoff that allowed me to static the move to the big jug that is apparently a deadpoint for most). Then Luke sent Freebase! His first 5.12 of the trip!

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The Climbfind guys on Chicken McNuggets (5.10b)

While Luke onsighted Bloodshot (5.11c), I went to get Maddy, who I thought would enjoy Vomit Launch. She did very well, taking only two falls. This encouraged me, so I went for the send. I focused on moving efficiently so I could minimize the pump and in no time I was on the final crack jugs and clipping the anchors. That route is way fun and I would definitely recommend it for someone just breaking into the grade since there weren’t really any “hard” moves.

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Maddy attempting Vomit Launch (5.11b)

We finished the day with 9 Gallon Buckets (5.9) and then Luke lead Overboard (5.11a/b) so Maddy could work the crux on toprope. I abstained. I was beginning to realize I really wasn’t a fan of the ridiculously greasy and polished routes in the Morning Glory area – I like my footholds to be sticky! We finished the day with breakfast burritos for dinner and a bit of slacklining and hanging out with Kevin and Jon before they headed down to California.

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Lizzy sends Vomit Launch (5.11b)

Day 6

The morning arrived without a definite plan. We slept in a bit (Luke was so excited the first day that he was pretty tired, which is unusual πŸ˜€ ) and headed to the Dihedrals. Everything was in the sun already, but we found some routes to warm up onΒ  – Helium Woman (5.9) and Captain Xenolith (5.10a), which Luke onsighted and the rest of us flashed. When we finished, everything was still in the sun (we were still getting used to the whole sun/shade issue at this point, as our first several days had actually been fairly cool). Luke and Maddy worked on Latin Lover (5.12a) and Take a Powder (5.12a/b), which were in the shade (amazingly). Latin Lover worked well for Maddy’s small fingers, but not so well for Luke’s man fingers and Take a Powder had a very hard crux section (which I did not do, because I was reserving my energy for 5.11 projects, since I’m learning I don’t have as much energy to expend as Luke).

It was hot in the sun at Helium Woman and Captain Xenolith.

Finally, Moondance (5.11c) got in the shade, so I nervously roped up for an onsight attempt. I fell once in the runout section below the rest jug, having gotten myself too far to the right on bad holds. After resting, I sent the remainder of the route to the anchors. Maddy then flashed the route (her first lead of the grade), which kind of made me feel lame. But I made up for it by sending the route next try. Maddy and I were both tired, but Luke still had a little leftover energy, so we stopped by the 5 Gallon Buckets area for him to do a few jughaul cooldowns.

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Lizzy on the crimpy slab on the first half of Moondance (5.11c)

Day 7

We decided to take this as a half rest day, with a full rest day a couple days later. We thought that two full rest days might limit our climbing time too much, while only one rest day would just not suffice. We had a relaxing morning, then took a trip to the grocery store, followed by some reading time and a leisurely lunch at the campground. We headed down into the Gorge around 3pm, when we knew the West Columns would be in the shade. Since Pure Palm (5.11a) was one of the goals for the day, we warmed up on Cornercopia (5.10b). I lead it first (a redpoint, since I’d TRed it before), then Luke and Maddy followed it to warm up their stemming muscles.

Lizzy warming up on Cornercopia (5.10b).

Luke went first at Pure Palm, but couldn’t figure out and commit to a sequence at the first crux, which comes when your feet are at the 3rd bolt. I tried next, but fell while trying to make the move, so it was Maddy’s turn. She used some ridiculous beta involving taking both her feet off at the same time and doing a hand-foot match. She unfortunately fell near the upper crux or it would have been a very impressive flash. I decided to try the ridiculous beta on TR so I would be more comfortable on lead, climbing up to the rest ledge, then lowering to rest for my next go. In the mean time, Luke sent the route, but highstepping his right foot (whereas Maddy used the left). I ended up doing the same thing on my lead go, making it safely to the rest ledge and facing the unfamiliar territory to the anchors. The last couple moves were extremely thrutchy, since I couldn’t seem to get back in the stem, but I somehow managed to send and clip the anchors.

Lizzy palming and stemming up the beginning section of Pure Palm (5.11a)

Luke wanted to try Last Chance (5.10c), so he located it and onsighted it. Maddy followed it, since I wanted to save it for another day in the Gorge when there was time to lead it. Instead, I used the waning light to get on On the Road (5.11a), which I’d TRed a long time ago. I psyched myself up for the crux bit from the ground, but once I got up there the “crux” didn’t even seem hard. I reminded myself to stay focused and not mess up the send after floating up the “crux”. The hardest part was probably the section of off-fingers (purple camalots) before the crack went to thin hands and then hands. Even though the guidebook said to bring a “big hands piece” for the top, I only placed one yellow camalot and could easily have managed without it. This was an awesome send for me because it felt fairly easy in comparison with my struggle a the top of Pure Palm.

If there had been more light, I would have kept going, but it was getting dark, so Luke cleaned the route and we hiked out of the Gorge for a late dinner.

Day 8

Although our half rest day was awesome, it was not very restful and everyone was feeling a bit tired the next morning. After a somewhat slow start, we decided to start the day at the Northern Point and take it from there. Although Northern Point features many short, easy topropes, more recently there have been some pretty cool sport climbs added, too.

We arrived at the cliff only to find that we hadn’t slept in quite enough and the easiest route, a 5.10c/d, was still in the sun. So we decided to “warm up” on one of the 4 star 5.11s the cliff offered, because it was actually in the shade. Luke onsighted A Woman in the Meadow (5.11a) and Maddy flashed up to the awkward and powerful undercling crux. She took a fall that tweaked her ankle, so it was my turn. I flashed it, but got super pumped in the process. Then we moved on to Limbo (5.11a), which Luke also onsighted. I was still feeling pumped, so I just toproped this one and Maddy lead it with a fall or two. We also did Jungle Fever (5.11b), as well as a 5.12a (only Luke did this one, but he sent on his 2nd try), a 5.10d which may have been a bit harder due to a missing hold, and a 5.11c. I was having a crappy day, so I didn’t do all of them, but Luke and Maddy climbed well and we ended up having a full day of climbing at Northern Point.

I love this picture of Luke πŸ™‚

Day 9

This, finally, was to be our full rest day, although it was not devoted entirely to resting. Luke had wanted to try to do the highline out to the mouth cave on the Monkey, so we got up fairly early and hiked up Misery Ridge (it was quite hot). Then Luke and Maddy rapped down and climbed the Pioneer Route (5.7 A0) to the mouth cave. I helped them set up a tyrolean off the Monkey, then Luke went back across with his webbing to set up the slackline. It took us a while to set it up, but we were able to get it pretty tight and Luke and Maddy spent some time trying to get established on the slackline (I’m not very good at slacklining to start with and I knew the exposure wouldn’t help…). In the end, nobody really got far off the ledge, but setting it up was good practice and Luke realized that he needs to slackline more often to mentally prepare himself better for highlining.

Luke considers the exposure of the Monkey highline

It was after 1pm and we had dinner plans in Bend, so we hiked the hot trails back to the campground, piled in the car, and headed to a deliciously greasy Taco Time lunch (normally my stomach can’t handle fast food, but I’ve had Taco Time since I was little and it is my one guilty pleasure whenever I come back to Washington). We returned to the campground to shower and reorganize the car, then headed to Bend, where we picked up some more yummy baked goods and sourdough bread and killed some time at the local REI before heading to the home of Maddy’s friends for dinner and socializing.

Maddy on the tyrolean out of the mouth cave

We got back to camp a little late and went to bed right away in preparation for an early morning.

Day 10

We headed down to the Christian Brothers and hopped on Barbeque the Pope (5.10b) as a warm-up, even though it was already in the sun. I went first, barbequing my toes, and Luke and Maddy both lead it also. Then Luke racked up to redpoint Wartley’s Revenge (5.11b), a steep juggy crack line that he’d tried before. He sent, with plenty of worrying about gear in the questionable rock, and Maddy and I followed (I, at least, was into energy-conservation mode again in preparation for an attempt on my top goal, an onsight of Sunshine Dihedral (5.11d) later in the day).

Lizzy’s toes getting cooked in the heat on Barbeque the Pope (5.10b)

Maddy lead up Latin Lover (5.12a) with a couple falls, but afterwards everyone else’s project was still in the sun (as usual). Luke walked over to Aggro Gully and found that it was not only breezy, but also shady over there, so we headed there to climb and wait out more shade at the Dihedrals. Luke sent Toxic (5.11b) on his second try and Maddy wasn’t able to figure out the dyno, so she cheated a bit to the right and eventually got to the anchors. After letting Maddy and I take naps, Luke got on Up for Grabs (5.11d), which he lead with a couple of hangs.

Luke makes the clip on Toxic (5.11b)

It was getting a little cooler, so we figured we could head back to the Dihedrals. I re-warmed up on Moonshine Dihedral, which I’d onsighted 5 years ago, finding it a bit slipperier than I’d remembered, but good practice for placing lots of nuts. I traversed over to the first anchor on Heinous Cling (5.12a) and set up a toprope for Luke and Maddy to play on while I rested for Sunshine Dihedral.

Maddy eyes the faraway jug on Toxic (5.11b)

It didn’t take them long to toprope Heinous, so it was my turn again pretty soon. Full of nerves and doubts, I racked up – a double set of itty-bitty nuts (RPs and some other little nuts called “Stones” that Luke got me and I love), the smaller half of our normal set of nuts, purple C3, green C3, 2 blue Aliens, a blue Mastercam, 3 green Aliens, 2 yellow Aliens, and 2 grey Aliens. I was deeply intimidated by the route, since the crack looked thin and tricky to protect, but I kept repeating encouragment to myself – I’d done routes almost this hard (three 5.11c sport climbs, plus my 5.11 onsight in Indian Creek), plus I had already done some difficult stemming on Moondance and Pure Palm and Sunshine Dihedral is actually a lot less steep than Moonshine Dihedral. As I struggled to place my first piece, a #5 RP, I worried that I was not qualified for the route. But I continued pushing down my doubts and was making more progress. Before I knew it, the first bolt (there are 2 bolts and a fixed pin on the route) was in sight. The moves getting to the bolt were some of the trickiest on the route, but I had it clipped and moved on above, into the section I’d thought was the crux. The stemming and jamming were tricky, but never impossible. There were some strenuous moves below the pin, but before I knew it, I’d clipped that, too! Only a couple more moves and there was a big jug (not really that helpful since my legs, not my forearms, were pumped). Then I clipped the 2nd bolt and did a couple more strenuous moves to pass the little roof at the bolt. Above the roof, I could see the anchors and the climbing started to get slabbier. I tried not to think about the anchor yet and only focus on the moves in front of me. I placed a couple more pieces and then I was clipping the anchor before I knew it! I had onsighted Sunshine Dihedral, my hardest lead ever. I was so thrilled and had a rush of adrenaline and excited energy that lasted a good half an hour! (Then I started to feel tired and my legs realized that they were actually pumped from stemming continuously for 30m!)

Lizzy getting into the groove on Sunshine Dihedral (5.11d)

The gear had been tricky and not the most bomber (I placed some #2 and #3 RPs and Stones that made me nervous), but it was all there. I cleaned the route on my way down and Luke toproped it, struggling a little more since his larger fingers couldn’t fit in all the pods. As I was putting the gear back on the rack, some older dudes walked by and asked what route we were doing. Upon learning the grade and fact that I had just onsighted it, they were very impressed (yes, sometimes its nice for the chick to impress the dudes!).

We celebrated by heading to Redmond for pizza. I was thrilled and felt satisfied with my climbing trip, even if I didn’t climb anything else.

Day 11

This was Luke’s day for the Monkey, so we got up reasonably early, hiked over Asterisk Pass, and headed to the West Face of the Monkey. Luke wanted to try Astro Monkey (5.11d), which started with the crux 5.11d pebble-pinching and slab-climbing pitch, followed by some easier pitches, a 5.11a pitch, and finishing by climbing Monkey Space (5.11b) up to and out of the West Cave.

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It was pretty hot on Bohn Street…

The initial pitch turned out to be pretty hard and it didn’t seem like many people climbed the route at all. Luke ended up rapping off and we decided to just climb the West Face Variation at ~5.8 to Bohn Street, then do Monkey Space to the summit. With some simul-climbing, we made Bohn Street in one pitch from the ground, then Luke lead the first, wild, traversing pitch of Monkey Space (5.11a). Maddy and I both had some scary following to do, but we all made it safely to the West Cave.

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Luke leads off into space on the first pitch of Monkey Space (5.11a)

The last pitch pulls onto the roof of the cave and up out on steep jugs. Maddy and I struggled following it due to our shortness and our difficulty removing gear, compounded by the fact that we aren’t used to climbing hard multipitches with 3 people and the rope management proved tricky. After rapping on the Monkey, we hiked back to the campground (it was already ~5pm) and got some ice cream from the climbing store, which was nice after the hot hike. We made dinner and went to bed early again, hoping to get some early climbing in the next day before taking Luke to the airport and heading back to my parents’ house.

Day 12

Maddy makes the clip on Latin Lover (5.12a)

This last morning was the time for everyone to get some last sends in, but I was still feeling fulfilled and not particularly motivated after having sent Sunshine Dihedral, so I was happy to mostly just belay Luke and Maddy. We got up early and headed to the 5 Gallon Buckets wall, where Luke “completed the wall” by sending every route (that he hadn’t already done this trip) except Zebra Seam and one of the extensions. Maddy warmed up by following a couple routes. She had wanted to get back on Overboard, but some locals were hogging the Overboard wall, so we decided to head straight over to Latin Lover. Maddy racked up her draws and set off to put the draws on the route. However, she kept not falling and made it up onto the arete, clipping the anchors and sending her first 5.12a (I think her hardest previous route was Moondance (on this trip) at a soft 5.11c). She was pretty stoked and gained the same fulfilled feeling I’d gotten from Sunshine Dihedral.

Luke wanted to squeeze one or two more routes in, so we headed back to Morning Glory, where Lion’s Chair (5.11a R) was still in the shade. Luke decided to go to the first anchor (5.10c) and then decide if he wanted to continue up the full pitch. The climbing turned out to be weird and awkward, so he decided to call it a day at the first anchor. Maddy followed, rapped, and we were hiking back up to the campground to pack up the tents and the car.

We made good time to Portland and had an hour before we needed to drop Luke off, so we stopped by the Portland Patagonia store (I LOVE visiting Patagonia stores, even though it pains me that I can never afford to buy anything…). Then it was time to say goodbye to Luke (I won’t get to see him for almost 3 weeks!) and drive north back to Poulsbo.

Overall, I think it was a fantastic trip. Maddy and I both sent a lot of routes at the harder end of our difficulty range and though Luke didn’t end up doing as many 5.12s as he’d hoped, I think he learned a lot about mental space. If you’re interested in any of these routes and want more beta (I’ve tried to keep this post pretty beta light or it would be EVEN longer), comment and we’ll be happy to fill you in.

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Exploring Possibilities – Trying Harder Projects

26 08 2008

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.

Lizzy





Getting Psyched on Nevada Limestone

25 06 2008

With temperatures blazing in the 100s in the SoCal area last weekend, we headed out to Mt. Charleston, just north of Las Vegas, to beat the heat. Mt. Charleston rises above the glitz and garbage of the strip to over 10,000ft elevation – a tree-shaded, snow-covered (for part of the year) alpine oasis amid the southern Nevada desert.

This was our first extended experience sport climbing on limestone and we had some struggles with the many challenges presented by the rock – finding where the holds were, trusting the rock (especially when broken holds had not proven it particularly trustworthy), and (in some cases) dealing with the mental crux of distantly-spaced bolts.

By far the highlights of the trip for me were the campground we stayed at on Sunday night (Hilltop campground – absolutely beautiful) and the route I projected on Sunday, Los Banditos, 5.11c.


The campground was at fairly high elevation and our campsite was shaded by tons of somewhat stubby, twisted alpine trees – you could tell that they were covered in snow for part of the year. The views down into the desert, the sunset, and the sunrise were amazing. Quite a far cry from some of my less enjoyable campground experiences (Camp 4, I’m thinking of you here).


And then the rock climbing. On Saturday afternoon, after a morning at the Imagination Wall, we headed to Robbers Roost for a few more routes. After re-warming up, Luke onsighted Los Banditos (11c) and I headed up on toprope, climbing it clean first try and only feeling pumped after I’d been lowered to the ground, which was pretty sweet. The climb had a variety of fun moves over slightly overhanging rock that still allowed me to get several no-hands rests and a lot of balancey moves. This was a pleasant surprise since I worried from the ground about the route being a pure grunt-fest.

It was so much fun that I decided to go for the lead when we returned on Monday morning. At first I struggled with the crux clip, but on my second try, I overcame my fear and figured out a key heel hook to make the clip more doable, although I got stuck on the moves right afterwards and made it to the top after hanging once. I don’t know what it was (maybe the altitude), but before my second try, I was feeling pretty exhausted. But after laying in the sun for a couple minutes and feeling the adrenaline of the second lead, I wanted a third go.


I made the crux clip without much trouble, although with a different (but better) sequence and launched into the last moves on bad holds before the series of jugs that led to the anchor (these are the most amazing jugs I’ve ever experienced outside – huge and wonderful). But my tiredness kicked in and I slipped from the last bad crimp below the jug – so close! I was a little disappointed, but also proud of myself because I had fully committed to the sequence and was pushing hard for the jug, above my last bolt, and took a small whipper when I fell. For a girl who has a tendency to downclimb instead of committing, this, I felt, was progress. Even as my hands shook, I was totally committed to the route, not thinking of falling or downclimbing once.

Also, this was the first sport climb of the grade that I’ve attempted. I’ve lead several 11a’s and an 11b, but I’d never really felt confident enough to step up the grades, which is really something I need to start doing to progress in my climbing. It was great to feel motivated and excited enough to push my limits and bring some of the motivation of my Indian Creek crack climbing (where I attempted to lead my first 4 5.12s) into sport climbing. I’m hoping this will be a good sign as I start to push my limits harder and make some improvements.

In other news, tonight we’re picking up Gordon, one of Luke’s friends visiting us for a couple days, and heading out to the Needles! For the first time this season! I’m super excited and can’t wait to get on the sharp end on some of that beautiful granite.

Best,

Lizzy