"Not all those who wander are lost"

Archive for July, 2011

Red River Gorge

I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, then it is beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped.

-Frederick Perls

 

The drive to the red was swelteringly hot but quite unspectacular.  I pulled into Miguel’s Pizza & Rock Climbing Shop well after the last lights had been shut off so I wandered off through the ruckus of prepubescent climbers to find the quietest place to pitch my tent.

I woke at 7am to the sounds of frogs and grasshoppers.  Only a couple people up had roused compared to the dozens still wandering around at midnight when I went to sleep.  After some oatmeal I sat at a picnic table reading with a sign in front of me reading “Need Climbing Partners.”  It paid off.  I got through two pages of my book before a guy asked if I wanted to join their party of three so before I knew it I was off to Muir Valley with my new acquaintances.

We bounced from crag to crag chasing the shade and ended up climbing several 10s, a pumpy 11, and an amazing 5.12c called Cell Block 6 at the Midnight Surf wall.  Cell Block 6 is a series of big flat ledges with huge moves between them including one all-points-off dyno on a steeply overhanging wall (for non-climbers picture being on an overhanging ladder and trying to jump and grab 6 rungs above).  Needless to say I crushed it.  By that I mean I hangdogged and didn’t even finish it, but it was still a fun time.  At the end of the day the climbing lived up to the criticism I heard that it’s overhanging and tiring but not technically difficult.

(Cell Block 6)

 

Tuesday started in the same way with my book and sign fishing for partners.  This time I didn’t have any bites.  I walked up to the gravel parking lot to my car and noticed a couple guys getting ready to climb.  I took my opportunity and ended up meeting them at The Motherlode.  If the previousday had lived up to the criticism of the red that it’s overhanging and tiring but not technically difficult then this was just a kick in the face.  The grades in the area ranged from 5.11d to 5.ridiculous (14b or c I think).  The air, as hot and sticky as honey, made the climbing more difficult.  I attempted a couple of the easier routes with more than ample resting between, but spent most of the day watching the other people work their routes.  It was impressive to watch some guys climbing the hard routes, but simply stunning to see an 11 year old climbing a 120ft 5.12d.

(The Motherlode)

 

(Turtle on the path)

 

If my first two days affirmed the one-dimensional climbing of the red than Wednesday unraveled the criticism.  Per usual I headed off to climb with strangers.  This time it was Ben, John, and Pat whom I had met the night before.  We piled into Pat’s dust covered gold Subaru and followed the winding road north to Long Wall.  The approach hike was not long, but we discovered it was quite treacherous trying to scramble up the steep trail slicked with mud.

The first pair of climbs were two aesthetic trad routes.  We paired up and climbed the routes.  Although I didn’t lead, it was nice to be back on a trad route and see that I still knew the ropes after doing so much sport climbing over the last 6 months.

(Great crack that we climbed)

Ben and I continued along the cliff to another climb that would further break down the stereotype of the red.  It was a 120ft tall climb named Game Boy (5.11c) that was nearly dead vertical but had some slab sections with nearly no holds and a couple small roofs.  Unlike most popular routes, there was no white chalk marking the holds to use on the climb.  Each time I reached my arm up to grab what I thought might be a hold was a surprise whether it was any good.  The “excitement” grew even more at the very top when instead of clean rock it was covered in lichen making the gently rounded features almost impossible to hold without slipping off.  It was a great route: challenging, exciting, and unknown.

With the day slowing down (or maybe that was just my body) I decided to do one last climb.  Of course, it was the hardest yet.  The Gift (5.12a) is a great looking route that appears to start very easy before a few difficult moves on a bit of an overhang.  That’s not completely true.  There really is no easy part as I quickly discovered.  Most of the chalked holds at the beginning that looked so good turned out to be terribly sloped.  The overhanging wall above was relatively straight forward, but had such great and committing moves that by the time I finished the section I clipped the next bolt quickly and had to rest for a minute to calm the adrenaline pumping through my body.  I don’t often get adrenaline from climbing anymore so this rush was a welcome surprise.

Back at Miguel’s I sat working on my computer in the dimly lit basement.  A few other people occupied other tables playing chess on the boards painted on each of the tables or using their computers.  A grey streak flashed across the far end of the room.  For a minute I didn’t know if I had actually seen something or just thought I had, but then it emerged from the other side of the old upright piano against the far wall.  The mouse skirted the perimeter of the room passing inches away from several feet including my own.  It made four laps, occasionally stopping in a dark corner or behind the piano for a rest from his marathon.  I wondered if the marathon mouse was the one who had crept into my car the past two nights to chew up tissues and steal my bread.  That little cur.  Ah, but he was still entertaining.  He made a few more laps, now stopping in the doorway, but unable to get up the 10in rise of the three cement stairs leading out of the basement.  Poor little mouse, he’s caught running the same pointless circle that so many people do, unable to make the jump to get out and be free.  I focused back on my computer, but occasionally noticed him taking another lap.  When I packed up and headed to my tent he was still trying to find a way out to no avail.

 

Thursday Ben and decided to go for a quest.  Literally, The Quest.  It’s a three pitch trad route that he was excited to do and I’m always to search for the grail.  We loaded our gear and rope into his Subaru (how do all the dirtbags have fairly new Subaru’s?) and headed north again.  I was uncertain about finding the climb after Ben told me the story of he and Pat hiking all over a few days before trying to find a climb.  It was a challenge finding the “trail” that lead to the climb, which turned out to be no more than a deer path at the beginning and faded to nothing in the middle.  By the time we emerged from the woods at the base of the cliff we had cobwebs in our faces and hair, but were no worse for the wear.

(The Quest)

The climb started off to be just as much of an adventure as finding it.  The sandstone crags of the red are generally solid, but this spot was filled with loose rocks and sand as well.  In the middle of the first pitch was a good alcove to get a rest, but to climb up the roof and out of it proved to be the crux.  I struggled for a few minutes before turning back to sport climbing methods by using a jug to skip a fist jam in the roof, but to my dismay when I did it I heard a pop from my left shoulder and felt a twinge of pain.  The next pitch was good, but very straight forward hand crack up to the bottom of a huge roof for a hanging belay just beneath a city of spider webs.  I hung in my harness belaying as Ben moved out to the right, his curly hair collecting most of the cobwebs as he climbed.  When he began to move up into the final offwidth section the rope began getting pinched where it route turned.  I moved to free the rope but when I pressed down on my left leg nothing happened.  A moment of fear washed over me as I realized that my leg was completely useless, just a flopping piece of meat that I had to move with my hands.  Even without the help of my leg I was able to swing the rope free and kept enough slack to it didn’t get stuck again.  I shifted my position, rubbed the lifeless limb, and shook it around to get circulation back.  I began getting feeling and control back just as been yelled down “On belay” for me to start climbing.  While I started taking care of the anchor the rope got stuck again.  As a result I cleaned the anchor and climbed the traverse with so much slack if I had fallen I would have gone sliding 40+ feet down the rough sandstone face.  I climbed through the remaining cobwebs and got the rope free of the notch and wriggled my way up the remaining offwidth crack to the top where Ben was waiting.  We congratulated each other and rappelled the 200ft to the ground.

 

I made the same oatmeal that I had ever morning for the previous three weeks and headed to Phantasia with Ben and Pat.  We parked on a narrow dirt pullout next to the tree covered road and walked up the steep slope to the crag.  It was a grey overcast day, but for the time being the rain was holding off.  Enjoying the cool weather we climbed a pair of fun but quite easy 5.9’s before getting on a couple harder routes.  They were both challenging overhanging routes, but provided good entertainment until it began to rain.  At that point we still had gear on one route so I hurried up it, managing to get our gear down before the rain picked up.  As I threw my pack into my car and headed for Nashville I decided, even though we only had part of the day I felt like it was a good way to end at the red.


New 2

Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.

-Unknown

 

Tuesday (7/5) Daryl and I headed to Fern Point of Endless wall.  We warmed up on a 10b that proved to be quite tricky then continued on to the main attraction: S’more Energy (5.11c).  It had been suggested and was highly rated in the guide book.  It turned out to be a great climb that included all kinds of climbing.  I started out up a small arête to a difficult reachy section that lead into a small crack with some layback moves that ended in a full arm span reach to a jug.  After a hands free rest on a bicycle seat, pulling a roof without seeing any of the holds, and a traverse using a wobbly loose chalkstone I made it to the slab face that was the crux.  It proved awkward and provided no holds at the crux.  After barely missing a good hold that would have given me the onsight I figured out the proper move: Use a quarter-pad crimp with the left hand and a one finger half pad gaston with the right to stand up on a high foot and grab the good sloper.  Once I had figured out the sequence I red-pointed it without any problem my second time.

We headed down the wall to find another good climb that had been suggested but before we got there spotted the Idol Point Arete (5.12b).  Especially considering I was trying to get a 12, it was just too good looking to pass up.  I made it through most of the climb no problem but got completely shut down by the crux.  After several tries I figured out what I needed to do but just didn’t have the energy anymore so I lowered off and Daryl gave it a shot.  He didn’t have any better luck.  My second try I got up to the same spot but still had trouble with the crux.  After several tries I finally got the moves to work:  I slotted my left hand into a small crack (extremely painful one for my pinky), got a high left foot and bumped my hand up the sloped edge of the crack above until I could move my left hand up more, grab a good hold with my right, and rock over onto my left foot.  The crux alone was enough to exhaust me without the rest of the climb or the beating sun but I was determined not to leave my gear on the route.  Of course, with my amazing skills and luck I reached up into a good crack to rest after the crux and my fingers met a familiar buzz.  I pulled my hand out as fast as I could and it was immediately followed my two wasps.  “Watch me” I called out in the usual way if I were doing a hard section where I might fall, “I might jump.”  I’m sure it confused Daryl, but I wasn’t too interested in getting stung by the swarming wasps.  Luckily they didn’t sting me although they did fly up and down my route for a minute as if to tell me it’s theirs.  I finished out the climb on some fairly difficult moves (or maybe I was just so pumped) on an overhanging face.  Tired and beaten we headed back to Roger’s.

(The trail back)

 

After the all the thrashing my body had taken over the last couple days I finally decided to take a real rest day not just climb easier.  It was a difficult thing for me to do but I managed to keep myself from climbing for the entire day.  I spent the day getting groceries, writing, and all those fun things that needed to be done.

 

Thursday I headed to the lake with a big group of Roger’s regulars.  It was back to normal, but after my rest day I seemed to be climbing worse than before.  After some warm ups we headed to the Coliseum where the routes are hard 12’s and 13’s.  I tried the “easiest” route there which was a 12b.  I just didn’t have the energy to pull through all of the good jugs on the overhang and couldn’t even get the crux.  My second burn on it didn’t go much better.  Since everyone else had been trying it I got on Apollo Reed (5.13a) too and good only a hand full of bolts before not being able to continue (even after hangdogging).

(Alex on Apollo)

 

It rained Thursday night so Friday was a slow morning waiting for the crags to dry.  Eventually Evelyne, Sophie, and I headed down to Kaymoor to try our luck.  After greasy rock on the warm up Sophie decided it was a good time to take a rest day and headed back.  Unwilling to give in despite the rain drops that begun to come down Evelyne and I headed over to try Thunderstruck (5.12b) which should be out of the rain.  By the time we got there it was pouring so we hung out under an overhang until it eased up and we could climb.  As predicted the climb was out of the rain, but the belay definitely wasn’t.  We alternated burns on the climb while it wasn’t raining with hanging out under the crag and singing along to 80’s and 90’s songs on my ipod when it rained.  A few burns later our luck ran out though and the rain didn’t stop.  Giving up we headed out and each climbed it once more in the rain, collected my gear, and bailed back to Roger’s soaking wet, but happy with the day.

 

Saturday (7/9) I headed to the Honeymooner’s section of Endless wall with the Canadians and Chris, another Roger’s seasonal.  We warmed up on a pair of fun 5.11s then moved over to a pair of 5.12b’s that were highly rated in the guide book.  What the guide book didn’t mention was that one of them is severely sandbagged so it’s more like 5.12b/13a.  Chris wasn’t too interested in the 12s and headed out, but over the next couple hour two more joined up with us.  One of the 12’s was close to being do-able for me, but the crux…so basically I couldn’t do it at all.  The crux required popping from a rail to a really high and not very good side-pull crimp; it was just more than I could do.  We burned ourselves out on the routes before headed home for the night.

 

Sadly the time had come for me to depart from the New River Gorge.  I had been telling myself and everyone else that I was leaving Sunday and I knew if I didn’t stick to it then I would never leave.  Of course, I wasn’t about to give up a day of climbing, so I headed off for one more day with Sophie and Evelyne.  Our destination was the Seven 11 wall of Kaymoor, named for the number of 5.11 climbs, but of course the ratings were fixed leaving only 6 now.  We warmed up on a fun 5.10d and made our way to what we really came for: three side by side 11c’s.  The first was a tall arête climb named Scenic Adult.

I started on a tall block and reached over to a detached flake on the wall.  It was an “in your face” climb immediately with some hard moves over a small overhang and up a slab face.  Half way up the climb came the technical crux.  With holds becoming worse I traversed around the arête.  I broken crack system lie above me.  I read what I needed to do and tried it, but had spent so much time figuring it out that I didn’t have the energy.  My second attempt proved more successful.  I reached up to a insecure not quite two finger finger-lock and reached high to a crimp.  The crux was hardly over though.  It was several more moves to get my left hand to a side-pull, my right to an insecure hand jam, and finally throw up big to a rail before I could clip and finish the crux.  Unfortunately, although it wasn’t as technically hard, the next moves proved troublesome traversing the good holds with no more energy.  Although it has been 11 days since the climb, I still remember every move through the crux as vividly as if I were just finishing the climb.  Best yet, after the traverse was a full mantel.  From there it was relatively easy slab and a bit more pumping through overhanging jugs to the anchor.  It was one of the best and most diverse climbs I have ever done.  Sadly my second burn proved better, but the pump got to me after I made it through the crux and I didn’t get the redpoint.

Next was Tony the Tiger.  Both the guide book and other climbers had given it high praise so I was eager to try it.  It was a fun climb, but was far too inconsistent for me to really love it.  The beginning had a tricky slab traverse that was not so tricky with the right beta.  After that it was easy going all the way to the very top which held one very hard move to get into the insecure clipping position for the anchor.  Good, but Scenic Adult already stole my heart.  I looked at my watch.  It was already an hour after I had hoped to leave.  I sadly said my goodbyes to Sophie and Evelyne and jogged back to Roger’s and my packed car waiting to take off.

 

After New England and West Virginia top climbs are:

  1. Scenic Adult (5.11c), Seven-11 Wall, Kaymoor, New River Gorge.  A beautiful line with a great variety of climbing styles, consistently hard, with fun airy moves.  Requires a combination of strength, endurance, technique, and accepting insecurity.  Climbing community at the New is awesome and I couldn’t ask for better people to climb with than the two awesome French-Canadians.
  2. Out of the Bag (5.11d), Rico Suave Buttress, Kaymoor, New River Gorge.  Bold line up the center of the buttress.  100% my style using crimps, slab, and long reaches.  Fun times and people and the New.

4th of July

There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea and the music in its roar;
I love not man the less, but Nature more.

-Lord Byron

 

Wednesday (6/29) morning was the usual sitting on the porch hanging out and waiting to see how the day plays out.  I was all set to go and still nobody to climb with so I decided to work on whittling a spoon.  I’m sure you all have more foresight than I did.  Naturally after a while my hand slipped and I sliced my thumb.  Instantly it started gushing blood.

With my thumb sealed up with krazy glue and athletic tape I headed off to Summersville lake with Mark, a friend I met in Yosemite last fall, and Matt whom I had just met at Roger’s.  We warmed up on some really fun 5.10s at the Orange Oswald wall before moving on to do some harder climbs.  The only problem was that my krazy glue had already broken and my thumb had begun to bleed into the tape when I used it.  After a new round of glue I jumped on Satisfaction Guaranteed.  After getting making my way though the bouldery moves to get off the ground, a technical and difficult slab, and pulling through a roof my thumb began to stream blood.  Pumped from the roof and unable to grip through the blood I quickly fell off.  Once I had wiped all the excess blood off onto the rock and re-taped my thumb (I had to get the tape thrown up to me) I managed to finish the route.

Before we headed out we jumped in the lake to cool down and of course, to try to deep water solo.  I found on great boulder problem starting in the water with a few big moves that Mark and I took turns trying to finish.  Every time we ended up with full body extension into a sloped side pull and not being able to move our feet.  Despite not being able to finish the problem it was certainly a great one and very fun.

 

Thursday I joined up with the two French Canadians, Evelyne and Sophie, as well as a couple of the guys, Scurvy and Ken, who live at Roger’s for a trip out to Meadow River.  Seven miles of wavy dirt roads, sketchy bridges, massive pot holes, and a stream crossing later we made it to the crag.  The day was spent on some 11s and attempting a couple 12s, belaying, and hanging out.  Again, the krazy glue holding my thumb together split and I bled on another route.  Life at the New had begun to be normal and I loved it.  Every day was spent climbing with some hanging out on the porch in the morning and evening.

(Sophie on Depth Charge, 5.12b)

 

While I was in Morgantown I had ordered a crash pad online and managed to convince Ian to drive down to the New for the weekend to deliver it and hang out.  I met Ian and his friend Jess at Summersville lake to do some climbing and deep water soloing.  Both were eager learners and I was happy to see that Ian was getting better since the beginning of our trip in New England.  Unfortunately, despite my checking, when he got to the top of the route, he was lost on how to clean the route.  I had explained the process when we were in New Hampshire, but all of the anchors at Rumney had been quick clips so he never had to actually clean.  Before I could yell instructions up to him the girl on the next route over helped explain since she was right next to him.  Crisis averted we headed back to the parking area to meet up with a two more of Ian’s friends, Mac and Kristine.  Once we got everyone together we headed to Whippoorwill, a crag that has sport climbing when the lake drains in the winter but is deep water soloing during the summer.  Armed with noodles Ian brought we swam, climbed, jumped and played around.  I even got lots of the climbing on video with my GoPro (equipped with a nalgine for flotation) including underwater climbing.  When we got back to Roger’s I was stunned; the number of tents tripled while I was gone for the day.  The advantage of the fourth of July crowd was that someone finally got around to making a fire which all the regulars hadn’t bothered to do since I arrived.

(Ian climbing at the lake)

(Kristine, Jess, Ian, Me, and Mac at the lake)

 

Saturday morning Jess and Mac headed out early.  Ian and Kristine on the other hand couldn’t be motivated to do much besides taking a nap for most of the morning.  After a while I got them going and we headed to the Bridge area.  We got down underneath the bridge and stopped for some pictures, but before we could go any further ambulances, cops, and park rangers passed by and stopped just down the road, closing it off to traffic.  Someone had been hurt at the crag, but it wasn’t until later that I found out what happened.  Apparently a guy was drunk by noon and thought it a good idea to free solo some routes.  He did one, but fell off the second from almost at the top and somehow managed to survive.  He was in the ICU for a while, but last I heard he was getting better.  Another sobering reminder to know your limits.  Since the road was blocked off we went back to the one area we could get to and since I didn’t have my trad gear I set up some top ropes for Kristine to climb.  When we finished climbing the road had been opened for a while so we headed to the car to go swim at the river.  The local swim spot on the river is right before some rapids so we got great views of boaters while we played in the water.  We got dinner and free local beer (from a coupon left on our car at the bridge) before Ian and Kristine headed back to Morgantown.  With them gone I went back to the usual hanging out on the porch until some of us went to a free bluegrass show.

(4th craziness at Roger’s)

 

Sunday was another lake day.  I hated to keep going to the same place so many times when there were so many placed that I hadn’t been at all, but then again, the water was great.  I hung out most of the day with a couple people from Roger’s but I found out once I got there that none were going back to Roger’s.  I managed to find a potential ride with some other people I knew were staying at Roger’s too so continued to climb and swim.  Looking for a climb to deep water solo I climbed starting from a low horizontal crack.  After a few moves the holds disappeared and I fell back into the water with a splash.  I began to swim to a similar horizontal crack about 10 feet away before I noticed a snake sitting in the crack.  Once I noticed the snake I remembered hearing someone mention a copperhead a couple hours before.  I gave the snake a wide berth and went to another spot where I could easily climb.  I got 15 feet up the climb when a wasp stung me and continued to buzz around me.  I called it quits and swam back giving the copperhead a wide berth again.  My ride back proved interesting.  First thing as we were leaving the parking lot he asked which way to turn.  The ride back was filled with similar questions and comments, most prevalently was asking if every road we drove past was the turn to Fayetteville.

 

Fourth of July!  As usual I hung out on the porch until I found someone to climb with.  This time it was Daryl guy up from Ashville for a few days.  We headed down to the Rico Suave area of Kaymoor.  After a warm up I got on Out of the Bag (5.11d).  I climbed up the face of the buttress on big moves to an insecure crux with no good feet or hands, but ended up getting to tired figuring it out to onsight the route.  On my second attempt I made it through the first part of the crux but messed up the next moves on tiny crimps.  My third try I finally got it; moving up through the crux into a section of tiny crimps and some more awkward technical moves up to the anchors.  It was my hardest red point since getting back on my ankle and I was happy to get it.  In my search for the perfect climb it was certainly coming in towards the top and definitely my favorite climb I had done at the New so far.  Clouds had been rolling in while we climbed and now we heard thunder getting closer.  For some that would be time to bail, but as Roger is quoted in the guide book say “Rico’s dry” we decided to keep climbing.  The Rico (the route) is four star 5.10 so we got on it.  By the time Daryl and I finished it was a full downpour but we were (mostly) dry under an overhang.  We chilled out of the rain with three other people, Weston, Chiara, and Doug, who had been climbing next to us.  I spent most of the time giving advice about New Zealand to Chiara who is moving there soon.  The rain eased up a bit and we hiked back to Roger’s.  Unable to climb for the rest of the day I headed to Class VI to sneak a free shower.  Clean and clean shaved I returned to camp just in time to pile into a minivan with 12 other people to ride into town for the fireworks.  It may be a small town, but Fayetteville went all out for the holiday with a fair, rides, and 45 minutes of fireworks.

(On Out of the Bag, 5.11d)


New River Gorge

Pain is temporary, pride is forever

-Unknown

 

I’m off!

I finally got everything together and headed to Morgantown and then the New River Gorge.  Over 13 hours of driving later I made it to Ian’s and went to bed.  My plan to be at the New River Gorge by noon the next day was shot when I woke up after 11am (it’s almost a 3 hour drive).  With the chances of finding someone to climb with dwindling and the chance of rain increasing I decided to stay at Ian’s for another day.

My second attempt to get to the New went a little better.  I was up at a reasonable hour, got some groceries, and was off.  Unfortunately the audio book I was listening to was so enthralling that I missed my turn and ended up taking the long way around.  By the time I had found my way to Roger’s Rocky Top Retreat, the climber campground on the edge of the park, there was nobody around to climb with.  Instead I loaded up my pack and hiked the length of one of the crags hoping to find a group climbing, but instead just spent lots of time staring up at the splendid cliffs.

h(This is the path I came from while hiking along the crag)

(View of the New River from Kaymoor crag)

Hot and sweaty from the hike I ventured down to the river to go for a swim.  Without knowing where I was going I ventured down a dirt road and made it to the rafting take-out just as all the boats were being loaded.  To avoid the crowd I drove a few hundred yards down an overgrown 4-wheel drive road and cut through the woods to the rocky banks of the New River.  The water was perfect.  By that I mean, it was indeed water and jumping into it was like a refreshing burst of Arctic snow.  I got out and as I hopped across the rocks back towards my car noticed some raspberries growing on the bank.  As I began picking and eating them I saw the bushes kept going across the bank.  I ran back to my car and before I knew it had picked a large container or fresh wild raspberries almost half that much.  I would be feasting on raspberries for the rest of the week.  Back at Roger’s I quickly adapted to the usual routine of hanging out on the deck in the evenings and mornings until I found someone or a group to climb with.

 

 

It rained my first night at Roger’s so the morning was slow.  Everyone hung out until early afternoon then went the Cirque in hopes of dry rock.  On my drive there I discovered that my guide book was, to put it nicely, terrible.  In this instance it was the complete lack of description of how to get to the climbing area combined with the inconsistency and just regular old false statements.  The guide book referenced the parking area as two different names in the description and the map, and then in reality it isn’t called either of them.  I was annoyed, but found my way eventually and hiked to the crag.  Of course being a dry, and therefore overhanging, crag also meant that the Cirque was mostly hard routes.  Other than a couple 5.11’s the routes were predominantly 12’s and 13’s with a few 14’s.

(The Cirque)

As a result I jumped on Finders Keepers, a 5.12c, to warm up.  I did a good portion of the route, but the overhang was just too much for my lack of endurance.  The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging out and doing the first half of a couple 12’s and 13’s.  I went to check out the easiest route (11a) on one end of the crag.  While I was looking at the climb I heard a sickening thud and immediately knew what had happened.  I ran back over to see one of the guys I had been hanging out with all day, Landon, lying on his side with everyone standing around him.  He had been trying a route and when he wasn’t going to be able to clip the second bolt began to down climb.  He ended up falling from only five feet above the bolt but on impact the locking carabineer broke and he fell the entire 20 feet to the ground.  He put on a brave face even though we all knew he probably had a broken arm and worse yet, he wouldn’t be able to climb for probably a month or more.  After the slow process of getting him from lying down to sitting to standing, splinting and slinging his arm, and supporting his back we headed out.  Over the next couple days of doctor’s appointments we found out he had some kind of issues with disks in his back, a sprained wrist, and had broken the tip of his elbow which required surgery to fix.  Unfortunately Landon got very unlucky and is one of the few people to have a biner break and I know I speak for everyone who knows him saying I hope he gets better soon.

(The locking biner that broke)