Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sketching on the South Side

This week, Lindsay and I went out again to get in some climbing.  This time, we went to the south face of Looking Glass.  We go there often to guide because it has many single pitch moderate routes which are fairly easy to set up.  I had some of the 5.8 multipitch routes there.  If you go to this area, you have to do them.  They are very enjoyable and aren’t as scary as some other routes in the area, specifically the routes that we got on this past Monday.

Sunday evening Lindsay and I started looking at a guide book to plan our day of climbing on Monday.  I had been wanting to do Rat’s Ass and Windwalker.  Rat’s Ass is supposed to be one of the best 5.8’s of the ones on the south side and I have not done it yet.  Windwalker is just to the left and goes at 5.9.  I figured that would be easy.  She wanted to do one of the 5.10s on the far left side.  We decided to start on Ruby Tuesday then head over to Windwalker.  I figured that this would only take a little while given that they are both only 2 maybe 3 pitches max.  I greatly underestimated these routes.

We started off on Ruby Tuesday.  This is a 2 pitch route with both pitches going at 5.10.  I elected to take the first pitch.  After about 10-15 feet of climbing I found a small cam placement then had no idea where to go.  After probing into the moves multiple times, I finally committed to making the dicey moves and moved through that section.  After which I was able to get my first really good piece of gear.  Then some easy moves led to another cruxy section.  This involved making some more committing moves with gear that was less than comforting.  Finally, I made it to the belay after about 65 feet.  I then belayed up Lindsay.  She floated all the moves.  At my last piece she had to remark at how crappy the placement was.  It turns out, that the cam had rotated some and two lobes were not cammed at all.  But that was no longer a concern of mine since I was sitting semi-comfortably at the belay with a less than comfortable stance.

About the time that Lindsay was about to take off from the belay, we heard a voice in distance calling for Lindsay.  It was Sarah who was supposed to be joining us.  We had originally figured we would get this route done with then meet up with her but the first pitch took a lot longer than I had figured.  Now we were a party of three heading up this route.  Lindsay started to lead up the second pitch while Sarah chilled at the base.  Then once Lindsay felt she was on more comfortable ground, I brought up Sarah while lead belaying Lindsay.  Now I have top belayed multiple people many times but lead belaying and top belaying at the same time throws a curveball at you.  Luckily, everyone arrived at their desired goal without completely testing my belaying skills.  Lindsay did an amazing job on her lead.  The moves up the water groove on the second pitch are a bit dicey.  Eventually, we were all sitting at the top of the climb preparing for the rappel.  We made it back to the ground and headed over to Windwalker.

Once at the base of Windwalker, we checked the time and found out that it was 12:30 already.  We then ate some food and Lindsay took the lead up the first pitch of Windwalker.  She started into the main business and came back down to a nice ledge.  There she decided to have us come up and we would go up from there.  Once all three of us were on the ledge, she took off again into the water polished face.  She made it about 30 feet up and encountered a move above some gear that was questionable and decided that she had already been mentally taxed enough for the day.  She then came back to the belay.  Sarah then took the sharp end and busted out some sweet moves on these really slick holds.  It also helped that Sarah had done this route before.  Lindsay and I then followed up the route.  Once I got to where Lindsay had been I realized why she came back down.  The moves are sketchy.  I thought I was going to blow it while on top rope.  

Once at the belay, I was handed the rack for the second pitch.  It goes at 5.5 so I figured it would be a simple tromp up the face.  It too presented its own challenges but nothing like the first pitch.  I stretched the pitch all the way to the top since it looked like some rain was coming in.  At the top I belayed Lindsay and Sarah up the 200+ foot pitch wearing myself out fighting rope drag while belaying.  Once we were all at the top we headed back down to the ground.  I can’t speak for the ladies but I was done for the day.  Physically, I was fine but mentally I didn’t want to do any more climbing.

I have found it funny how when you get on a route that challenges you mentally, you become more worn out than when you are on a physically demanding route.  That happened to me that day.  It was good though.  I managed to push myself out of my comfort zone and commit to moves that felt like I was going to come off at any moment.  It is always funny to look back and see how much the mind affects the body’s ability to perform.  We had a good day still.  Now I eagerly await the next day we can get out on the rock to prepare for what awaits us in October.

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