Well, the initial leg of my trip is over. The house that Bob built (well, rented) is empty, and the gang from Portland has all gone their separate ways. It was a hell of a week, and I was sad to see everyone go, but I’m excited to really be out on my own now!
It was a heck of a week. Climbing-wise, I put down my old project Yaak Crack (11d) with surprisingly little effort. My beta-burn got me to the last bolt, and after watching twelve-year-old Max flash it with a busted foot, I was inspired and managed to redpoint my next go. Didn’t feel anywhere near as hard as it did in Thanksgiving. I also managed to put down Sweet Pain (11d) in two gos, as well as flashing several 11- climbs throughout the course of the trip, including Slave to the Grind, and 11b/c which is likely my hardest flash. Bob told me it was a 5.10. That lovely bastard!
Probably the highlight of the trip was Fear and Loathing, a 12a I’d played around on in Thanksgiving. Although I hadn’t reached the chains then, it seemed vaguely doable, and being the first 12a I ever laid hands on, it’s got some sentimental value. Amazingly, moves that seemed almost impossibly hard before went down fairly easily, and I was able to one-hang the route, falling near the end of the crux after running out of draws on my right side and having to awkwardly reach across my body. I don’t think I would have redpointed it anyway, but lesson learned!
Sadly, despite a few rest days, a combination of heat, fatigue, and wanting to get the kids on some multipitch meant I never managed to get back to F&L to seal the deal, but I’m still extremely happy about how the week went. I definitely had my lead head screwed on straight, and I was climbing extremely well. I’ll get back to F&L in May; in the meantime there are plenty of other climbing areas to visit and hard routes to send!
Climbing with the younger members of our group was a special treat. Max was the youngest at twelve, while Lila, in her first year of college, is the oldest. All of them are a blast: Lila climbs gracefully, Max is a bonecrusher with a great attitude, Kira is quiet and modest but pulled down every bit as hard as the rest of the crew, Taylor hasn’t been climbing as long as the rest but clearly has a lot of enthusiasm for the sport and stepped up to lead some things that were tough for her, and Andrew, at 14, is friendly and really gets through the typical teenage fogginess in order to focus and climb hard when on the rock. I normally feel a little awkward around folks who are much younger than me, but this was a great group–they all know each other well, have a fun time together, and were very welcoming to me, the one “new guy.” I think the tights probably helped break the ice.
The adults on the trip: Bob, Scott, Jenny and Kip, were awesome as well. It was super fun rope-gunning for the kids with Bob and Scott (even if the kids can all outclimb me any day of the week), Kip kept us all laughing, fed, and in good spirits, and Jenny made sure everything ran smoothly–not to mention kept Kip and I from getting too graphic around the kiddos.
On the last day we took the kids to the Lotta Balls wall for some old fashioned trad multipitch. For many of them it was their first time climbing more than one pitch up, and I was honored to take Taylor up her first multipitch, Black Magic, on her 16th birthday!
Anyway, everybody left and since the Red Rock Rendezvous was going on I wasn’t able to find space in the campground, so I decided to roll out here to St. George for the evening. I got totally hosed by a windstorm last night, and after spending 30 minutes wandering around an unfamiliar national forest in the dark in 70 MPH winds, I gave up on finding a spot sheltered enough to pitch a tent and found a hotel. I am a terrible dirtbag, but I’ve learned two good lessons: don’t arrive at unfamiliar camping after dark, and secure your campsites before the weekend onslaught.
Happily, it’s now Sunday, so I should be able to find a place to camp in Zion, and I can hang out there for a few days hiking and recuperating from all the hard climbing last week. Then I’ll head back towards boulder for the SCS nationals, family-time, and my first time climbing in Eldo and Boulder Canyons! Psyched!