Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I guess I didn’t update on last weekend, so a full update is really in order. Last weekend, I drove up to the Dacks hoping to find some ice. I got to the bivy around 11 Friday night, and since Alex, with whom I was possibly going to climb, possibly going to board (depending on the weather and the ice) wasn’t there yet, I went to bed. In the AM, Joe was around and offered to climb with me if Alex was going to go boarding (which he did), so Joe and I set off around 8:30 to get me to lead Crystal Ice Tower (4-). It was really warm out, and the ice was really soft (though not particularly stepped out – melting and refreezing and all). Picking the easiest way up put me directly through a waterfall, with water running down my sleeve and through the top of my boot, but I did make it. Probably would not have in actual freezing conditions! Joe had some good tips on speeding up screw placements and improving my swing and footwork, but I guess those will have to wait until next winter. All the same, ending the winter leading a 4- in easy conditions was still great!

We ran back to the bivy to unload the wet ropes and change, and headed back to the spiders web area, getting there around 10:30AM. Ian Boyer was waiting at the top by the time we finally got Stella up the talus field, and we went and started off on Slim Pickens’ (5.9+). The Spider’s Web wall is all steep crack climbing, and Slim Pickens’ was just about the easiest climb there. I got up it with few problems, except for popping out of the crack once because it was wet. I was, however, totally shot after that, and although I did get to the tops of the next four climbs we did (in the 5.10-5.11 range), it was not at all pretty. Tommy Yandon showed up with a friend, as did Don Mellor, though, so I felt pretty cool to be climbing with all these folks! Plus, it was a beautiful sunny day, and it was awesome to be climbing ice in the morning and climbing rock in a tank top in the afternoon.

A bunch of folks from the bivy went over to the full moon party on Saturday night, which was a lot of beer and dancing, and I didn’t get up until around 12:30 on Sunday. I took Stella for a hike, took a nap, and headed home.

This past weekend, Joe was at the gunks because he was just starting a road trip down south, and called to see if I wanted to meet him there. Friday was of course St. Patty’s day, and somehow (go figure), I found myself at a friend’s house, totally loaded after too many irish car bombs. I was going to meet Brigid and Yves in New Paltz, but clearly that didn’t happen – instead, I met the couch around 3 AM. I was up, however, by 6 and on the road, and was only a minute late (8:01) at the deli meeting Joe. It was slightly chilly but not unbearably so, and quite sunny. We warmed up with me leading Horseman, then Joe did V-3, then I did Arrow (goal accomplished!) and then Joe did the second pitch of 3 Doves (although without the guidebook, he ended up pulling the exit move of Hawkeye, instead). I wasn’t able to power through it so I had a bit of an assist. Whilst belaying 3 Doves from the GT ledge, a pair of black vultures landed a few yards down from me and were preening each other. Hopefully they will not decide to nest there, because I’d hate to not be able to climb Limelight until September or whenever it is that they fledge their chicks…

Joe then led double Crack, which was a great climb. The rap station is a bunch of old, old webbing around a chockstone, and that was definitely the scariest part. We headed back towards the uberfall to find Brigid and Yves, who were aiding Ken’s Crack, and I decided to lead Boston (offwidths are interesting), and then we toproped Phoebe (which managed to spit Joe off).

Saturday night we stayed at Greg and Jens’, Greg being a fellow who stays at the bivy in the winter. We had an awesome dinner, I had an even more awesome shower, and was in bed wicked early because I was only working on a few hours of sleep to begin with. Mike was there, too, and offered to take photos of me climbing the next day, since I haven’t really got any really good pictures of me climbing.

We met at the deli at 8, and I made the mistake of having a mountain man – the hot sauce was gurgling in my stomach all day. We set off for High E, with Mike going up and around so he could take the photos. Joe led the first pitch, then I racked up and set off on the second. I got to “the move”, put in my first piece of gear (big green camalot and a 4 foot runner), and contemplated it for a (long) while. No whining, just thinking. Finally pulled it and was on the face. Put in another piece, made another three moves and then freaked out because it was steep and I couldn’t see my feet. Long story short, I clung on for a while while Mike talked me out of talking myself out of it, downclimbed, sat on the ledge, and made several false starts while I collected myself before just shooting up. No real problem after I convinced myself that I could get over the initial little bulge, until the very top – Mike was standing right there while I was scrambling to get the last few holds and cursing like a sailor out of embarrassment. Meanwhile, Greg and his brother Joe were climbing Modern Times, and they bailed off the tree. We all got down and headed down the cliffs to find me my 5.9 lead (I needed to redeem myself!), and something else for Greg and Joe.

Joe S. led Oblique Tweak, which Mike and I both TR’d afterwards, and all three of us climbed it a different way (I love when climbs are like that!), and then we headed down to Wasp, a slabby, delicate, facey kind of 5.9. Though I placed enough gear to aid up the thing, I led it with essentially no problems (yahoo!). We went back and I TR’d Ant’s Line while Joe led Groovy, and then Joe went and led Higher Stannard, which I cleaned. A few beers and some fish and chips at Bacchus while we waited for Ian to show up (he and Joe are headed down south for a bit of a road trip), a short drive home, and a fantastic weekend.

Mike did take some really awesome photos (and he says he’s got more coming), which are on his flickr site.