Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Return to Smith Rock

Picture: Deer grazing in a field on the way to the Smith Rock.

This post is about my return to Smith Rock. This will be my fourth trip to this climbing location but the first trip of significance in five years.

Tim and I left directly from work on the Friday and had tons of border time and stopped out first night north of Portland. Slept in the van at a 24 hours restaurant. Got up the next day at 8:30 and drove through a the Hood Mt pass with a bit of snow storm. After a minor epic putting on and taking off the chains, we headed straight to Smith Rock to open the climbing up. I was feeling pretty sore so didn't do much that was harder than Overboard which I got my first fall on.

We went to my friend Greg place and are now staying there instead of camping. The hospitality is very nice, since the nights a very cold and the WiFi is appreciated.

Greg was out for a night in the nearby town of Bend on the first night. Funny enough he was also hosting a couple other friends of his that night. We had run into them at the Zion area earlier in the day and helped then with the high first bolts so it was pretty funny to knock on the door and find them in Greg's place.

Picture: Tim and Naomi roping up to climb Wedding Day (10b) in the snow.

The second day was much colder than the first with snow showers and wind. We struggled to warm up on morning glory wall. Tim put up a few routes and I repeated my old nemesis route Cool Ranch Flavour but in the style I had always wanted to do it in. Then we moved over to the Dihedrals and I put in a couple burns on Heinous Cling. First go was a two rests, the second time I took too falls before pulling the draws.

Tim's hand was sore and I was feeling like taking it easy so we packed it in. We are basically doing half days and will plan to do four days in a row with no break so that our climbing days would be in synch with Rich and Tony.

The evening we spent handing out with Greg and his girlfriend Jenny as well as his roommate Jesse. They are good people and we spent the while night save going to dinner with some other climbers with them chatting and talking about life.

Today we plan to make another slow start and meet up with Rich and Tony at the crag sometime around noon. I hope it warms up because its super cold the last few days. Tony and Rich were brewing coffee in the parking lot at Smith when we pulled in.

We made out way up to warm ups and then headed over to Aggro Gully where Tim go on his project for the trip, a climbed called the Quickening, 12c. The first session was a good exploration. Tony and Rich showed up and promptly hopped on Toxic.

Picture: Rich Wheater on Toxic, 11b.

I got on a climb just up from Toxic called Up for Grabs, 11d. I climbed through the crux sequence of crimps, under-clings, and pockets to pulled up onto the upper face. I was pretty excited as this was my onsight attempt. I struggled with clipping the last bolt which seemed to break my focus. My technique started to break down as the pump in my forearms started building while getting the clip. My hands started to open so I rushed to get moving and hiked my right foot up too high and couldn't place it back into the pocket where it was formerly resting. Within seconds I found myself dangling at the end of the rope, so much for the onsight.

I hauled back up and found the sequence was pretty easy, I just missed a foot placement that would get me a bit higher so I could reach the next crimp. A series of 10 moves saw me reach the anchor.

The second time on, I was able to pull through the crux and move to the anchors for the ascent. This would be the hardest climb I've been able to do at Smith so far. Now I will have to work on the Quickening with Tim as there is nothing easier than 12c in Aggro gully that I haven't done.

Tim took another burn on the Quickening making good progress on the upper wall but missed the crux pocket pull because his fingers got stuck in the pocket. I won't be surprised if the he doesn't get it in the next couple attempts.

We finished the day down at morning glory wall with Rich and Tony. Rich and I did a climb called Tammy Baker's Face, 10c, to close out the day while the sun dropped. The finish to a good day on the rock.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Climbing highlights Descartes' Error.

I finally found a climb that suites my style, bits of slab to gentle overhanging with technical climbing with great rests and lost of technique; a rarity in the Red. After falling off of both warm up climbs yesterday I got on Swahili Slang at the Motherlode, a 5.12b/c. Pete onsited it with some difficulty.

Since I've been struggling with my confidence of late and wasn't sure if I could pull all the moves (I've only lead one 12c in my life), I decided to clean the route on top rope. I headed up with some difficulty falling off at ever second bolt.

Picture: Pete L taking a rest before the ramp on Swahili Slang, 12b/c.

Picture: Pete L climbing the ramp on Swahili Slang, 12b/c.

* Warning Skip the next two paragraphs if you aren't a climber...*

The moves were amazing, a boulder start, you hand jam side pull a big pocket, to make a long move to a crimp at the first bolt maybe 3' above. Then you high step left foot, adjust you right to get under you and then did a stretching move to a good pocket, some jug hauling for the next 10 ft leads to another big pull off an undercling to a rail where you get the 3rd bolt. A couple more moves onto slopers and you mantel up onto a slab ramp and a rest. You then climb the ramp for 3 moves and then clip around the arete to clip on the face below the ramp. You then fall out of the ramp back onto the over hanging face for another 4 moves and a wicked rock on to the ramp once more to make a long move to a ledge where you get to rest before having to pull the first of two mantel moves to establish on the left.

You get a shake on some crimps and then move left on side pulls and crimps to get to the next ledge which sets you up for the crux moves; a mantel into an undercling that you catch with you thumb. Though the crux move is done, its not over, you need to shuffle your feet left on the small ledge to set you left foot up at the edge. So you can reach up to a right hand gaston, go again to a pocket another foot to the left. If you are tall you can work you right foot to a sloping hold down and right of the hold, this is a really stretchy move and probably won't work for people under 5'9". You can come into the gaston with you right hand then make a coupe more moves right on a sloping rail then move you left foot to a high step and make another big move to a ledge. If you latch you have just one more long move to make the anchors.

* End of climber beta spray section *

Picture: Pete L back out on the face on Swahili Slang, 12b/c.

Needless to say, I fell all over it while cleaning. I didn't feel like any of the moves were show stoppers, I think I could do all of them in groups. As I walked over to the undertow wall I couldn't get the route out of my mind, the moves really suited me, and I know that the style suited me. I could get rests and get my heart rate down on the rests since it wasn't steep but was really intimidated by the grade and feeling fragile ego. I don't know if I could take committing to trying to do the route and having to deal with failure if I didn't get it. I recognized that I wasn't really committing to any route and because of this I wasn't having any success. My fear of failure was holding me back, it was giving me an excuse when I failed - I didn't really want to do the route, I wasn't committed to it.

Picture: Pete L giving a flex after onsiting Swahili Slang, 12b/c.

I walked back to the route to find two guys working on it so I changed my plan for the day. Instead of doing fitness on the steep 12a of the Undertow wall I would commit to doing Swahili Slang.

My first go showed I could makes the movies since I one hanged it after falling at the 3rd bolt trying to get into the ramp.

My second attempt is when I realized just how distracted I was climbing. I was focused on "getting the tick" and how "good" about myself I would feel if I did. The symbol of success instead of just enjoying the process. This pressure to succeed that i was putting on myself culminated in failure when I climbed to the top and then fell off the last hard move at getting to the last bolt. I wasn't tremendously tired. I hit the jug ledge I was going to with my left hand and could have latched the hold but I was so distracted by what it would mean if I did the climb, I didn't allow myself to latch the hold.

Tired and keenly aware of how the chatter in my head was causing my failure I walked over to belay James on his second attempt on Skin Boat which he did without too much apparent trouble. On the walk back I talked with Pete about how distracted I have been climbing. He mentioned that he could almost see me thinking about ticking my 8a score card while I was climbing. He was right, I knew it but I didn't realize how apparent it was in my climbing.

It seems that this lesson of not being focused on the goal but on the process is a lesson I'm going to have to learn over and over again since I remember the same process last year. Maybe that is a complement to climbing in the Red, it forces you to deal with grade chasing since the grades are all over the map. In the end the joy of climbing here should come from the routes not the glory of getting a route done or the grade associated with it.

So I practice a bit of meditation before starting up on the route and this my forth attempt of the day, third on lead I was very aware of my self talk and more importantly how catching myself when I started to focus on thoughts of completing the route or thinking about how my pump would affect me for the moves 4-5 moves ahead instead of the one I was trying to make. Sure enough, this time I made the ascent without difficulty. Seems that as with Burlier's Bane, I need to get in a meditative state in order to climb well. I can't be distracted with other thoughts. Its an example of just how powerful the mind and emotions are in the process of doing anything. I think in climbing its very easy to see the affects of the mind on performance.

It seems that I can take comfort in something I already knew; I can climb 12 when its to my strength by I need to find way to accept that the Red, in general, is not to my strength and I need to let go of getting ascents as my measure of success.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ups and downs; still trying to get some red endurance.

Just a little over a week in the Red and I though it was a worthy time to talk about how the trip is progressing and the emotional and physical ups and downs.

I've done my first 5.12a at the Undertow wall, Burlier's Bane. I should be happy since this matches my hardest climb ticked last year. I took little joy in it, feeling a bit guilty for having used a hueco rest on the right of the climb. It's a few moves off the primary line and it does setup well for continuing the route on exit but many people are not using it. Ethics are always open to debate but for me personally its more of a struggle with myself. I always find endurance a hard thing in climbing and I'm not performing the way I would like to in this area. I want to be able to climb these amazing routes and enjoy them more and so far, I haven't found a way to enjoy them fully when my forearms are pumping battery acid and my hand are opening.

In many ways this stance is just being negative towards myself. I, for whatever reason, have decided to be self deprecating instead of taking joy in my success. I minimize it, I find myself downplaying my success and making it feel illegitimate - self talk like "I took the rest on the right of Burlier's Bane so it doesn't sych with my idea of what the climbing ethic of the area is". I think this all is an underlying impatience with myself, I just wanted to climb some of these amazing routes here and I want to improve. I but a lot of time and energy into this effort leading into this trip and the expectations I built while doing this have caught up to me. Easy enough to understand, quite a bit harder to change.

Picture: Me on Magnum Opus

The last session out was a single day event where Evan and I went to the Solarium. We warmed up and then got hosed by a line up for Banshee and Abiyoyo. Instead of these we got on Magnum Opus, a fun and well suited 12a for my style of climb. After two burns on it, I moved over to Abiyoyo a good 12b with a boulder problem crux. Evan worked it out first and put up the draws. I made an attempted but got hosed by the crux which I found quite hard. My fingers couldn't quite keep me in on the small holds. I became frustrated and had to lower off without pulling the crux, a bruise to my ego.

Picture: Me on Magnum Opus

After that attempted I decided it was better to take a double rest day. Pete was also doing it and it would be a first double rest day cycle of the trip.

I'm writing this on rest day cycle two. I'm feeling better and despite a sore right knee, optimistic that the next day on will having me feeling a bit better. I'm also wondering how much of my emotional frustrations might be linked to the change. Once of my friends Paul and others have mentioned that I don't deal well with change. I'm wondering if maybe some of my feelings of disconnection aren't related to this. There is a lot of change and adapting that goes on when moving into a house for a climbing trip with 4 of your friends.

To extend this line of thinking, as we age we deal less well with change. Maybe the last couple years where I have been struggling is a result of not relaxing into the changes in my life and struggling to control what's coming at me. Seems a good explanation as any for my somewhat disconnected and/or ambivalence to life and where I'm going. If I think back to the most exciting and happiest moments of my life are when I was taking things as they came and choosing in the moment. Having to some degree a faith in the best outcome, now I seem to be projecting into the future that I can see from the behaviour of people around me and humanities activities at large. Once again, I take on too much, I can't be responsible for humanity only myself. Its easy to say, hard not to project or force it on others.

I look forward to being more in the moment. The fresh air of this second rest day creeping in from the open deck door is already reminding me to be here and now. The rest is yet to come.

The return to the Red.

The return to the red after a year away has so far been eventful. This year I didn't have swine flu and wasn't traveling for the three weeks prior to arriving so I should be in much better shape for being able to do well. With that comes the extra baggage of expectations. As much as I've tried to avoid creating them they have found their way into the side door. I hope i can manage them appropriately, since i know this place is one of the hardest climbing destinations to prepare for.

There have been a few hiccups so far. We got a crazy taxi driver from Jordan who pulled a classic move of "making a wrong turn then playing stupid to make sure our fare about another 10% more. It was a bit annoying and I hate to profile but I have seen these tricks before in my travels.

So we picked up the car then went over to the airport on Sunday to pick up Pete's bag which arrived at 11 AM. We then change and repacks some bags for climbing at the airport and met Luke, MF and James at Miguel's. I saw the horse race track in the trip and thought of you.

Picture: Leo and I keeping each other warm at the Undertow wall.

We met up then headed to the Drive-By crag with a cool cat named Matt from Portland whom I had met last year at Chek while working on Face the Music. Once at the crag, I found that I had forgotten my harness .... in my other pack and so it wasn't at the crag. So Evan, James and I spent the day trading off harnesses so that i could climb. I warmed up repeating a 10d, then an 11a and an 11c from last year. I finished up the day attempting a 12a called Prima Noctum. I'm feeling much stronger than last year but still realized that the steep climbs intimidate me. I was also pretty tired from the traveling so didn't push too hard. Evan managed to do the same routes I did but attempted the first 12a that I did then tried another one called Check Your Grip which I want to do.

Picture: Luke Zimmerman on Kaleidoscope

James made an attempt on Beer Belly, 13a and made good progress so it looks like we'll be going back there again soon.

Picture: James on Beer Belly, 13a.

Picture: Pete, Luke and James at Drive-By Crag.

I slept light, waking up to the sound of the showers several time and my weekday wake up call. The jet lag was a bit of pain as we are 3 hours ahead. I woke up feeling fairly good at 9 AM.

We all at and headed out to the Motherlode in two separate cars; James, Evan and I in one, MF and Pete in the other. On the drive I noticed that the air pressure low light was on so I checked the car when we arrived. The front left tire was a bit low. So I made a mental note to fill it up when we left. After warming up on a couple 11a and 11b's we went over to the Madness to cave to show Evan but decided that the holds were too humid and moist to climb there so we headed out the go to where MF and Pete had decided to go after coming to the same conclusion.

When we hiked back out we jump into the car and I drove over. After arriving at the parking lot for the new crag I rechecked the tire and found we could hear the air leaking from it and it was super low. I sent Evan and James on their way and drove out to deal with the tire. I filled it at a nearby gas station then drove back to the dirt road that goes into the the climbing area's. Finding a puddle i rolled the tire through the puddle and checked for bubble to find the leak. It seems we had driven over a screw. The leak didn't seem too fast so I drove back into and joined the guys at the new crag.

Evan and James had only managed one 12b in my absences so I was able to join back in with the circuit. I started with the STEEPEST 10d I have ever been on; the name, Girls Gone Wild, Wooo! I nearly pumped out a couple times but managed to pull through from shear stubbornness and some good technique to recover after I made a hard move or two. It was nice to get through an onsite this year which I'm sure I would have fallen off of last year.

I followed up with the steepest 11c I have ever been on. It was a lot of fun but I elected not to attempt to red point it and instead try another 11c in the area. After top roping the second 11c, I was done for the day. Evan was getting beaten up on pretty bad, having to hang dog his way up the 11c that I top roped. He finish the day by doing the 10d I put up initially. He was pretty bagged and so had to go bolt to bolt at the top.

At this crag we met a guy you and I saw in Red Rocks at xmas two years ago; Don Walsh. He is a fairly prominent climbing in his time. He put a famous 13c called Sissy Traverse at the Gallery in Red Rocks. It was fun to chat with him, he was a very humble fellow and offered some great advice.

We packed up and headed home. The car tire only a little bit less full than when I had returned. So we are leaving it over night and will fill it with air tomorrow an get it fixed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Frustrations and the Steep (Solarium, Midnight Surf, Military Wall and Left Flank)

As a change of pace we headed to the Muir Valley to check out the Solarium and Midnight surf. The day was looking a little colder so the morning in the Solarium enjoying the sun would be a great place to warm up.

The hike in was wonderful. A thanks is in order to Liz and Rick Weber who own the property on which Muir Valley sites. They generously provide access to this valley as a climbing spot and hiking area. I want to thank them for access and the facilities they put in place for the public. They have provided washrooms and a parking lot on the property for everyone to access.

The valley itself if beautiful you start by hiking down a gravel road for about 15-20 minutes at which point you arrive at the valley floor and cross a small river. The valley floor is grassy and we walk across it for a few minutes then start up a earthen path that tracks the valley floor for another 5 minutes before turning left up a path that wound its way up to a steeply overhanging cliff: The Solarium.

James and I warmed up on the five star 5.11a, I went first hoping to onsight. The first moves were nearly vertical. As I climbed higher the route progressively got steeper as you move up a series of horizontal breaks to a final roof that pulls out to a small ledge on a head wall above the roof. It was just below this edge that I finally pumped out trying to get over the final and fell off.

I finished the route then lowered and went up again to get the tick. Even the second time up I still pumped out at the last ramp and I had wrap both my arms over the final ledge to catch some rest so that I could de-pump. It work but I was till pretty gunned. I wait for my heart rate to drop before moving up to clip the anchor and clean it.

After I getting down I felt heavy and that I might have gotten a bit of flash pump so after James onsighted Banshee, an awesome five star overhanging 5.11c at the end of the crag. The belay position was a bit tricky as it was at the top of a ledge maybe 4 meters up. The belay was excellent as you had a pair of belay bolts and and directional bolt for belaying.

The route starts up a right trending diagonal arete to a break then up and right on jugs to a hueco in which you can climb into for a no hands rest. The next series moves out onto the face for about 4-5 meters of jug to a pair of huecos the first of which is small but the second is large enough to comfortably get into and sit down. I think someone put up a chalk drawing waiting around inside before moving through the final face climb moves to at he anchor. The journey takes you a full 35 meters of climbing.

On my attempt I fell of moving to the second big hueco because I misread the route going up instead of traversing across. I was frustrated because it was the second time that day that I felt I should have on-sighted but ended up coming off. I went down rested up for a while clearing my pump and tried to find a way to deal with my frustration. Luke suggested I throw a wobbler and just let it out. I didn't feel involving others in my frustrations that I have inside me with the world so I opted for trying to break down my expectations and detach from the out come. The change was significant though I would start experiencing it till a day later.

I got back on Banshee, climbing through the first crux, resting in the small hueco before setting out to the next hueco and the red point crux to pulling through the lower hueco which doesn't have the best holds up into the big hueco you can climb inside by pulling on a nice finger lock. I felt calm and collected and just enjoying the climbing instead of worrying about the out come. After resting I climbed on the most amazing hand jugs in breaks in the rock that would appear every 6 feet till you reach the anchors. I was happy with the it on the second go. Feling a bit physically drained I decide to not climb the rest of the day and save my energy for climbing at Military Wall and Left Flank. I would want to make a few good attempts at Wild Yet Tasty, the 12a I decided to project at the previous visit to this crag.

James, Luke and Pete continued climbing at Midnight surf. This crag was amazing and different, the wall starts vertical for the first 6-9 meters at which point it kicks back sharply getting progressively steeper as you move higher on the wall. The wall reaches an angle somewhere around 30-40 degrees till if backs off to near vertical at around 28-30 meters off the ground.

Pete dispatched Shiva, 13b. While Luke nailed Tapeworm, 12d. Both James and Luke started working the outrageously steep Cell Block Six, a five star 12c denied by the long, powerful reaches between jugs.

The day completed with everyone's fun card punched we make the hike up the steep gravel road to return to the car and home.

The sun was shining for our day at Military Wall and Left Flank. We started at Military to enjoy the morning sun as it was colder than previous days. James and I warmed up on the openning 10's. The only one of note was the so rated 5 star 10c called In The Light. The climb was short and stout with fairly hard moves off the ground and continuing on right ot the end. There is a ledge part way up that provides a bit of reprieve from the pump but only for a few moments. The real sting comes at the top where the clipping position is quite challenging and pumpy, the style seems to be come here. In either event, I missed the clip on the anchors first time then pumped out and grabbed the chains and clipped.

Thankfully, I was focused on trying to enjoy the climbing so mach as collect another climb and having to get the ascent. As a result, I didn't beat myself up for the rest of the day and as my next climb flashed the classic 11b (11d?), Fuzzy Undercling. The crux is right on you off the ground (read stick clip suggested) and through the move following the first bolt. They route the steers up and right up underclings and jug on a good position at the arete. I caught a knee bar (thank you James for the beta) and then finished up on the good jugs to pull over the last bulge to clip the anchors. Thanks to the beta and encouragement of Pete, Luke and James while on route I'm sure I wouldn't have made the onsight.

In short order we headed over to Left Flank, shortly after arriving we were joined by my friend Bryant. Bryant and I met in South Africa on my previous trip climbing trip but now lives in Cincinnati doing graduate studies in Environmental Engineering.

I spent the rest of the day throwing myself at Wild, Yet Tasty. Figuring out what techniques I could use on a cruxy long move after the last bolt on the route. I also found a few suggestions for how to clip the crux bolt and change how I would do the crux throw to a three finger pocket. I was enjoying he process and by end of day I had the climb down to a single hang and was able to climb from the crux move to the chains. I have my fingers crossed that I will get another chance but I'm okay with leaving this as an open project for the next time I get to come to the Red.

James and Luke both onsited the five star 12b, Sex Farm. Pete managed to pick up a project in Stunning the Hog, 12d. Bryant got on Wild, Yet Tasty and on possibly the best 12b in the Red, Mercy, the Huff.

Everyone seemed to be happy with the day and we retired while it was still light.

I'm going to publish this now but check back in a few days and I will have some pictures embedded as well.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Zimmerman is here bringing the Psych!

Our double rest day was mostly uneventful, trips into Stanton for food a little jogging. It did at times feel like we were waiting around for Luke to Show up. Friday night we drove into Lexington in the early evening to catch the Canucks game at one of the local sport bars. I would feel like I didn't really get to see Kentucky without a bit of mingling with the locals.

The sports bar we researched as the place to watch the game didn't have it but they made some phone calls for us to track down a bar that did. Soon we found ourselves at a sports bar that definitely looked like the local college hang out. Brightly lite, lots of LCD and TV screens, bar and lots of younger looking people milling around, horrendously greasy menu with items replete with meat. I usually make it a rule to avoid seafood in land-locked states and provinces but I made the exception as the alternative didn't look too good at this pub.

By the time the game was done we headed over to the Airport picked up Luke and headed back to our cabin at Lil' Abner's in Slade.

We used the same introduction technique as we had been given to the Red for look. First day was Drive-By crag. Pete and Luke warmed up together while James and I once again teamed up.

James and I warmed up repeating Make A Wish and Breakfast Burrito. Follows closely by on-sighting Yadda Yadda Yadda, a three and a half star 11b. This climb was awesome, fun moves up an arete to a fun barn door tension move to a great pocket then continued good holds on steep terrain on the arete to a finish. My only complaint about the route was that it was so much fun it was over too quick.

I decided to red point Spirit Fingers, 5.11c, which I had started working on the second day we climb at Drive-By. The previous attempts had me stumped on how to clip the second to last draw. I moved up through the on the nice plates and side-pull jugs. I felt much more comfortable on the steep terrain, almost like a climbing. This time I made it to my intended clipping positions but while I had ample strength available I was only able to get the clip into the bolt. I climbed up to the next set of holds hoping to get a better position to clip from but it was to no avail, I pumped out grabbed the draw and dumped the rope in.

While sitting on the rope I worked out that my stance I had for the first time attempt on the route was the correct place to clip. With this new beta I climbed to the crux clip, made it and moved quickly up through the rest of the crimpy crux to the romp up jugs at the top. An amazing route and my first 11c at the red. I was happy with the ascent as the style is definitely not my strong point.

I rounded the the day retrieving the draws from Hakuna Matata, 12a which James had ticked earlier that day.

Draws down we packed up and headed back to the cabin.

For Luke's second day out a the Red we introduced him to the Motherlode. We got up and out the door at our regular time getting us to the Warm Up wall at the Lode at around 9:30 AM.

Injured Reserve, the 5.11a warm up, had a group on it so Pete graciously offered to climb the adjacent 5.11c with the camera to take pictures of us climb from the top on this sunny morning. I still hadn't red pointed Injured Reserve, so I headed up first to hang the draws. I climbed up the crux feeling really heavy. I force myself not to think of the lactic acid building up in my forearms causing my hands to get weaker with each move. I kicked my right foot up high, weighted it, release my right hand and move to side pull pinch. Latching it but my strength failing I rocked my hips up and over my right foot and rolled my shoulder up underneath to the get my left hand on the jugs above. After several shakes and more jugs I clipped the anchor with only a minor flash pump.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A day at Left Flank and the Gallery

Our next outing on the rock was for a bit of new material. We headed over to Left Flank for a day of fun climbing with some different rock. It was MF's last day at the Red and she really only had a half day as she was flying out of Lexington in the afternoon.

We arrive at the base of the cliff around 9:45 AM. James and I split off and warmed up on a reachy 10a called To Defy the Laws of Tradition. While MF and Pete did Maypop, a three star 5.11a with a bouldery start to some vertical crimping and these really amazing tubes of what appears to be iron ore mixed in with the sandstone. James and I both did Maypop as our second warm up then headed over the the end of the crag where Pete was trying Table of Colors, 13a.

I was still feeling like I wanted to do some more on-sight climbing so I move to a nearby 11b four star slab climbed called Hen-ry. I managed the on-sight after a few attempts at different sequences at the crux. James followed making quick work of it.

I stopped for lunch and watched Pete and MF climb a little while longer working out the moves on Table of Colors. I was eyeing up Mercy, the Huff, but still didn't feel up to a Red 12b. I instead decided to do the four star 12a on the far right called Wild, Yet Tasty. I was glad as this proved to be the most fun 12a I had been on so far at the Red.

The crux was so fun, the opening sequence goes up a corner crack to a stem rest (though you don't need it too much) then you move out right on good holds to where the wall kicks back to a 20 degree overhand and you start up on good pockets to a side pull pinch in a Hueco. I set my feet up high then go high right to a crimp above the hueco, match my left then move out to a good pocket for the right hand, clip off a heal hook in the hueco. The crux sequence moves your left hand into a iron ore tube that eats your whole hand. Step on to a bulge, move to a reasonable crimp for your right. Reset the feet on the crimps rock up onto my left foot, look off my right hand and then make a HUGE reach to a good ledge. A few more big moves and the rest of the climb was hauling on jugs.

I tried this route three time that day but just didn't have the energy and on an earlier attempt manage to tear up my finger throwing to a pocked and falling short. James seemed to be having a harder time than me, he was climbing The Dinosaur a 12c with a really small crimp down low for the crux. He seem to have a frustrating time as he was able to pull through the crux sequence on his first go but couldn't repeat the move after.

The story for the day was Pete who pulled it together for a his fourth go of the day he made an ascent of Table of Colors, 13a. A truly inspiring experience.

Our next day we headed to a new climbing area called The Gallery, near the Sore Heal parking area. We started the day off with a route that was not in the guide book. After we all climbed it we figured a grade of 5.10a. It was a fun route with a few long moves and some fun pulls (see pictures below)

Picture: Chris Singer on first section of Unknown, 5.10a.

Picture: Chris Singer on first section of Unknown, 5.10a.

We followed up with a five star 11b called Random Precision. The route was worth ever star. It started with a technical problem with a few balancey moves to the first bolt. A few moves up to a ledge then a bigger move to a hueco. Edges and pockets get you to a great position on the arete to finish up with a great position. So much fun.

Picture: Belayer, Pete Lindgren; Climber, Chris Singer; on Random Precision, 5.11b

James then proceeded onsight Goldrush, a four star overhanging jug haul at 5.11d. James showed outstanding endurance ( though he denies it) working out the crux to finish up clipping the chain.

I followed up with an attempt on this amazing route but after the opening moves I was going to pump out fast, clearly I was still not on the Red endurance program. I managed to dog my way to the top. What an amazing route, pull out through a roof on great holds then out onto a steep face where you make move after move on huge holds. The crux comes at the top where the route kicks back at a major break in the rock then a couple crimps, high-step, rock up and lock off to the next ledge. I think the start is the only reason this doesn't get five stars. Great route that I'm definitely going to enjoy working on.

Picture: James Fillman on first section of Goldrush, 5.11d.

After the beating I took on Goldrush, I realized that I was running on empty. I caught myself spacing out on a rock a few times while James and Pete worked on Calm Like a Bomb, 13b and Break In The Scene, 12b. I decided to take a nap which didn't take too long to make happen despite the slightly lower temperatures for the day. I woke up a bit more refreshed but thankful that we were going into a rest day.

James got his ascent of Break In The Scene, on this third attempt. Pete provided comedy relief on his ascent of Calm Like a Bomb, writing in chalk "WEAK" at the no hands rest just before the final sequence. It was nice to see both of them get good ascents on the day. Tomorrow is our first double rest day which we are taking so that our climbing days align with the arrival of our last trip member: Luke Zimmerman.