Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Five Fun

There is nothing more perfect than starting vacation on a wild and crazy rock climb. It's really not that wild and crazy, except for the fact that I haven't climbed La Roche consistently in a very long time...but it's all what you make of it, and I'm going with wild and crazy.  Finally, Old Todd Ringelberg and I were able to hook up for a day at the crag.  The last time I think we hung out was on the icy walls of Frankenstein Cliff for some Ice ascending.  That boy has been so damn busy with his new abode, family and life in general, it was nice he took a day for himself and let freedom ring his bell.  Freedom of the hills, or cliffs in this case.

We discussed our plan for the day, Fun House 5.7, The Second Pitch of Pooh, 5.6 and the three Upper Refuse pitches, 5.3, 5.6 and 5.5, all of which he'd never climbed before.  To those who know nothing about the numbers I've just listed after the names of the climbs, it's the grading system used for rock climbing, range of 5.0 up to 5.15 or is it 5.16 they're at now?  Anyway, on that scale, we were on some pretty moderate and rather easy climbing, or Five Fun, I like to say!  

Rope, flaked out and ready for the tie in.

Well, I had not been to the base of the Fun House route in almost seven or eight years, so we wandered around in the woods, up and down pine needle filled steep climber trails trying to find it for about an hour, Todd wearing flip flops, seems he was trying to go light, but not very fast.  Eventually we found the route and I attempted to get him on the first pitch, mainly so I could sit back and laugh while he struggled, but he was more than happy to allow me the honors, which I did, with very little style or any grace at all.  I muscled my way up the right facing corner, clipped the old pin, and belly flopped on the ledge after hanging out way too long with the protection at my's one of those climbing moves (like most) you've just got to make and not hang out.  I though back to my previous endeavors up this fine slice of granite and I know for sure I've been much more efficient and graceful.  Arriving at the belay tree, I anchored off and brought the old man up.  He was looking strong and climbing quickly, a smile from ear to ear, happy to be crimping fingers and smearing toes on stone.  Motivated to tackle the second pitch, he racked our 60 pounds (slight exaggeration) of gear onto his harness and gave a valiant effort on the Pooh pitch cracks.  Humbled and tail between his legs, he passed the torch to moi.  So, I clumsily again, muscled my way up to easier ground and that Five Fun climbing I was talking about.  Before long we were on the tree ledge mid-cliff on Cathedral Ledge.

 Sparky climbs the first pitch of Upper Refuse

Arriving at the base of Upper Refuse, we had to wait for a little bit to allow the train of guides with clients above us to climb through, which was fine by me, we ate a snack and I gave Todd the two second tour of other climbs in the general area.  Black Lung, The Book of Solemnity, all climbs I've done in my "hardcore" (not really) days of climbing.  We hung out for about a half hour and then started up.  I took the beautifully aesthetic first pitch.  It's got great protection, it's easy and is just SDF (so damn fun!). 

Sparky at the belay ledge after pitch one.

Todd ran up it like a madman and took the lead on pitch two.  Fully in tune with his skills, he lead up the 5.6 variation with fluidity and great confidence.
TR1 on lead 9/4/10

Yet again, it was my turn on the sharp end.  I proceeded to climb with that lack of style and muscled my way off the ledge, grabbing a tree in the process and defending my tree aid by declaring "It's mountaineering" then I continued up.  Again, I've done this route more times than fingers on both hands, but yet I got the tunnel vision that lead me into the right facing corner instead of being out on the face closer to the edge of the world on the arete.  After much cussing, I climbed through, toes squealing in pain and sweat brewing off my brow.  I may have even said "I'll never do this again" to myself, but really I meant never climb in that "manky" (official climber term) corner.

Just before that mountaineering move on the last pitch of Upper Refuse

Topping out at the fence that keeps the tourist from taking the plunge, I was bombarded with questions of how this whole climbing thing works...I answered a few questions and then just tried to shrug the questions off so I could get Todd up to the top.  We celebrated with what little water we had left on our bottles and hiked down the auto road.  Yet another day closer to life shared with a great friend.  Thanks Todd!

Da Boyz, pre-ascent


JRM said...

Awesome blog man. Makes me want to get outside!

Loved the owl rehabilitation post too.

Steve said...

Thanks for reading JRM. I appreciate the kind words.