Start Climbing!

Despite knee-deep snow, I’ve been heading up the mountain, wandering out the east side, over the last two days.

Yesterday, Todd P. and I hoped to FA a short crack in the amphitheatre of the Black Arches Wall. The snow was crusty, solid enough to stay on top of, mostly, all the way. It was gorgeous outside, full sunshine, earnestly deep blue sky; the sort of day when being inside is just criminal, and we felt blessed to escape that particular infraction.

At the BAW, we looked things over. Carpenter & Das was wet at the bottom (as usual; not much wetter than when we FA’d it last year), Recuperation Boulevard was climbable. Adirondack Rehab was possibe, though improbable. E-Stim looked good. Glancing through the screen of trees and bushes, we couldn’t divine the condition of our quarry without getting close. We struggled through deep snow, around scree and bush clumps, and came around the last corner before getting a clear view of the crack. It was dry, dry enough at least, to take a shot at it.

There was only one small problem. As we walked toward the crack, up high on the left, the ragged remains of a huge ice column stood questionably upon a sloping rock pedestal.
Suddenly, that sunshine didn’t look so good.

We eyeballed it awhile, trying to plumb its grip on that streaming perch. Was it going to stay there? It seemed quiescent. Perhaps we could play cat and mouse for an hour or so…

I racked up while Todd placed himself under the protection of an overhanging rock. Once set, I tied in and slid the rope bag down to Todd, then looked at my objective. Thin crack, couple of wide spots, several finger pockets, steep.

To my left, a shower of crushed ice cascaded to the ground, whirling behind my heels, sprinkling over Todd’s haven. Somewhere in the distance, a loud crash heralded a larger collapse. Hmmm.

We didn’t get our FA, at least not a free one. Too nervous to climb well, I aided the crack. Todd refused to go near it, opting instead to head for safety the moment I was off belay. I rapped, pulled gear, threw my stuff and myself willy-nilly away from the drop zone.

We went back along the path, TR’d Todd’s project on the South Corner cliff, then walked farther back, to the Measles Wall. H1N1 was dry enough to have a real go, and no death ice hanging above it. I led it, quite a bit more nervously than last year. It’s a tricky little climb, that. Todd followed, we TR’d the center line project, then headed home. Not a bad day, despite the short bout with sheer terror.

Today, I returned to the Measles Wall, having only a short while to do my thing. I TR’d I Am Lesion for the first time this year; finally it is dry enough for this. I managed it without a fall the first try, fell once getting off the ground, then climbed it clean once more. Not sure I could lead it again, yet.

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