After a forced weekend off due to a Spring sinus infection, the psych was high. The plan for Saturday was Kaymoor. We wanted to get there early so we broke our pattern and went down on Friday evening, ready to wake up early and hit it. A long day was ahead of us, hopefully full of successful sends!
The Green Piece (10b) - I’ve done this one before, and it’s not too hard. I recently re-read 9 Out of 10 Climbers Make the Same Mistakes by Dave MacLeod, and what stuck out to me was the fear of falling chapter. I think a fear of falling may creep into my head when I’m pushing myself, and it holds me back. MacLeod suggest loads of practice falls, so that’s exactly what Gaelyn and I did on this one. Gaelyn hasn’t been leading much in the past year due to this fear, so we both took a few whippers. She made huge progress and the fear seemed to melt away as she took her first few couple falls. I just took one big one towards the top, and it’s amazing how any gitters you had just go away. Now I was ready to crank! Oh yea…about the route. It’s pretty much dead vertical with a slight crux in the middle. A bit of a pump builds towards the top, which is also the steepest. Nice route, and easier in my opinion than its neighbor, Low Voltage.
Chris with the onsight burn of Lost Souls
Chris made an onsight of Sancho Belige look easy, then moved on to Lost Souls (which he almost onsighted!), one of my long term projects. I didn’t think I had as good a chance to send Lost Souls as I did with some other routes, so I moved on.
Mo’ Betta’ Holds (11c) - The climb is my anti style. After a technical move at the second bolt, the third fixed draw is the start of a horizontal roof. A couple jugs enable a clip of the fourth fixed draw, then a sloping ledge, followed by an awesome trash can lid. Cut the feet, heel hook up right, then you have 3 more bolts of “easier” climbing. On my first burn, I went for the reach to the trash can lid, but didn’t grab it right. My core sagged and I fell into space. I jugged up and finished the route with one more hang towards the top. After a rest, the second go was feeling wired, but the dang trash can still eluded me. I got a good right hand, but I let my core drop again and fell off! Grrr…. The third burn felt great at the start. I made quick work of the techy crux at the second draw, then moved through the roof successfully. I grabbed the huge jug around the lip of the roof and had a solid heel hook. But, I could feel my fingers opening up as I clipped the first draw on the headwall. Nooo!!!! The pump was too much as I moved to a sloping dish above the jug. I made a desperate lunge with bad body position and blasted off. At this point I was frustrated. I made it through what I thought would be the hard part, then failed after the roof! This one was going to be a fight. Chris wisely offered me a piece of advice to let this one go for the day. He was right. If I got back on and fell again, I would have been irate. Three burns = no send.
Springer (10b) - I did this slab route between burns on Mo’ Betta’. Gaelyn was so focused on taking awesome falls that she forgot the beta at the top! This slab is a one move wonder at the last bolt. I decided to fire it and retrieve the draws. I’ve done this route many times and it serves as a nice warm up.
High point on Mo’ Betta’ before pitching off
Bimbo Shrine (11b) - We headed over to Seven Eleven Wall to find quite the crowd. A few people from our large party were climbing this one, but I wanted to wait. I got on this route about 3 years ago. I think I climbed it once a year or two ago but hadn’t sent it yet. The bolts are a bit spaced for my taste, and this route wanders a bit. I think the line was more of a mental challenge for me than a physical one as there isn’t really one or even a few hard moves. The difficulty is relatively consistent. If anything, the hardest moves are in the first two bolts. Once it was my turn, I made quick work of the first 3 bolts and up to the no hands rest ledge. I shook out from here, even though the pump was negligible. From here, it’s on till about the 7th bolt near the top. The hardest part for me is a clip in the middle, where delicate footwork and body position enable clipping of the bolt. If you muscle through it, you’ll be way too pumped! I was climbing well, and made it up to the second to last bolt, where there’s a huge jug rest. There are two mini roofs to negotiate and then it’s over. I didn’t want to blow it at the top so I rested for quite a while to scope out my game plan. The holds ended up being better than I could see, and before I knew it I was clippin’ the chains! Woohoo! Bimbo has been in my mind for a long time and I was thrilled to snag the redpoint.
Saturday night dinner was spent at Diogi’s, stuffing ourselves once again with some fantastic, sizzling fajitas. Man, the salsa was good that night! Seven other people were staying at Chris and Spencer’s that night, and we all packed the table at Diogi’s! The rest of the night included frozen margaritas, mandolin playing, lots of laughs, and some “dancing” instruction by one of Chris and Spencer’s friends.
Our original plan for Sunday was The Lake. But we heard a huge group at Seven Eleven Wall talking about going there. We thought it may be a popular spot so we changed our plans in favor of Beauty Mountain. We thought it would be less crowded…
Out of Mind (10a) - A boulder problem characterized by a roof start is what warrants the 10a rating on this route at the Brain Area. Once you make a few opening moves, the route is 5.7. Regardless, I need more practice placing gear so this was the perfect route for that. A few cams, and even the pink tricam led me to the top of this line. Lesson learned: extend the first piece always always always! I placed a red C3 and that sucker walked back and was completely tipped out when I came down. Fortunately, a red C4 was just a few feet above it.
Brain Teasers (10a) - This one starts out relatively easy with some nice hand jams and comfortable stances to place some gear. Above that is a wide crack, which I was able to squeeze myself into and rest, while placing more gear of course. I have mental issues with trad climbing right now, and I like to put a lot of gear in. I’m pretty new to trad climbing, but not new to placing gear. I’ve known how to place gear for many years, but would never climb anything over 5.7, which pretty much leaves nothing at the New. This year, I vowed to get better at trad! After the wide crack, you move into a dihedral, where I placed a cam, then began a quick traverse right into the neighboring dihedral, clipping a piton along the way. As I moved up, I had a panic moment as I tried to place a small cam in a crack, which would likely not have held anything. For some reason, my brain was saying “you’re on a trad climb, place gear you fool!”, instead of “there’s a piton at your hip, and two more for the remaining 15 feet; climb and quit pissing with cams”. In any case, I was able to keep moving, clipped the two remaining pitons, and make it to the anchors without freaking out too much.
Take me, Take me!!
Mensa (11d) - I got on this awesome line a couple weeks ago. There were two spots that gave me some trouble, one being the crux at the second bolt. This route is characterized by crimpy, reachy boulder problems separated by jugs. I knew if I could just make it to the double pocket jug hold and clip the last bolt, it was in the bag. At 50 feet, the bolts are spaced out and there is only four of them. But they are in just the right position to protect the route well. Some other folks were on the route earlier in the day, and after I came down from the previous gear line and rested, it was my turn. I didn’t want to lose my spot as it suddenly got really crowded! The first two bolts were over in a flash. I even surprised myself how quickly I climbed up and clipped the second bolt. Maybe that Adam Ondra guy is on to something by climbing quickly. A quick shake, and I set myself up for the crux. I’ve seen a couple people make the long move up to the slot crimper with their left hand, then use a two finger pocket with the right. This beta was crap for me, and I ended up making the move right hand first to the crimp, then matching with the left. I stuck the move and thought to myself that I had a chance to send! Next, a long move to another crimp with the left, then a tough match. I thought I might blow it here as I peeled my left index finger up, making room for my right. I managed to make another long move to a slot jug with my left hand. Whew!! Another move to a big hold and the third clip. From here, I moved left to more positive holds, which yields 11d. Going straight up makes Mensa 12a. A bump to a big horn, then the move to the double pocket jug hold! I stood up, clipped the last bolt, then made the lock off to the biggest bucket jug of your life. I hung out here for an eternity, shaking out and making sure I was fresh so I didn’t blow the remaining few moves. I couldn’t believe I made it this far and it didn’t feel that hard! After the long rest, raining chalk down on Chris, my belayer, I made the reach across to another jug with a high foot. A quick foot switch, two more holds and I clipped the chains! YAHOO!!!!! My first 11d and it was rad!!
This weekend was a huge advancement for me with a dash of frustration thrown in for good measure. I felt confident in my movement (on the bolted lines) and my head was on straight (on… the bolted lines….). I think the reason Mensa felt like such a proud tick was that it didn’t feel all that hard. I moved fast and accurately. I came down and was barely pumped. I’ve never had this feeling before when climbing at my limit. We walked on down the crag so I could jump on Disturbance, but all the classics had long lines of people waiting. We called it a day and headed to The Secret Sandwich Society for a burger and victory beer.
After some reflection, some other things in MacLeod’s book rang true. He wrote something along the lines that many pros said their best climbing years were filled with really good people, who all pushed each other. Camaraderie can never be overlooked, and I’ve always been one to perform when the psych is high. The gallery below Mensa cheered me on during the hard bits of my send. So far this year, I’ve been surrounded by good people, who all push each other regardless of the goal or grade. The last time this occurred for me was the Fall of 2010. This year, I will see a breakthrough… I can taste it.