Archive for November, 2010

How the Season Ended

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I don’t want to admit defeat. Part of me keeps hoping for a warm, dry spell. But snow that fell last Saturday still lies on the mountain, and any warm weather predicted comes with a hefty fistful of wind and rain, so the last couple days may well have been…the last days of the year for rock climbing here on Crane Mountain.

And I missed ’em.

Here’s how the  rock season on Crane played out.

I’m always out of town on Thanksgiving, spending a goodly while with relatives and friends. I never regret that: it’s a great, special time. And this year, we left home late enough that I was able to make an early morning mad-dash to the Measles Walls and climb a half dozen routes: Cracklosis, Measly Little Corner, Run for Rabies, Trickagnosis, Scared for Life, and Hydrophobia. It was cold, it was icy in spots, but for the most part it was decent rock climbing for a late November morning.

Saturday, I spent working my project on the Long Play Wall, while around me, a near-whiteout surrounded the mountain. It didn’t look good for any more rock climbing while I stood out there in that stuff. However, a quick perusal of the forecast back home portended a decent chance on Monday. I began calling friends and making plans. It would be a desperate act, and I figured numbers would help. Three hardy souls stepped forward for duty, so I thought we might have a chance of putting two last projects to bed before calling it a year. We would have to act quickly and courageously: scrub a few crucial holds, slap on the gear, and lead away, heedless of ice and snow.

Wedding Cake’s Steep Start

I hoped to go out and prepare for battle on Sunday, but one thing led to another and before I knew it, daylight was almost spent. With what little was left, I sped out past the Measles Walls, dropped a rope on Wedding Cake, and ushered in my Ice Climbing Season. Needless to say, this was a skinny piece of work: there wasn’t a lot of frosting to pick at in November. The first ice of the year is always terrifying, even on TR.

Wedding Cake from the Top

It was noticeably darker, so I moved back toward the trailhead, but decided to TR the left ice of the Upper Measles Wall before calling it quits. Other than an extremely ice-less top-out, this went well. I even had time to descend, change shoes, and TR both Full Moon Fever and Cat Scratch Fever. In a couple hours, I heralded the advent of one season and (unwittingly at the time) said good-bye to another.

Ice Season 10-11 Has Begun

I went back home, stared blissfully at the forecast, and began packing gear. Visions of this last project rushed through my mind: the tortuous little edges and flakes at the bottom, the gorgeous knobs and ridges through the middle stretch, and that final looming headwall. Tom’s project was nearly ready to roll, so we could end the season with a double-header, two new routes in one fell swoop. It was an exciting prospect, and with a firm forecast for sunshine and decent temperature still being posted, I went to bed like a kid on Christmas Eve.

My other line of work is usually empty the Monday after a holiday, but this time, despite big plans with my gang of climbing buddies, I got pulled away. At the last moment. Just when I began feeling assured of my freedom, it slipped away. A call came in, and I had to back out of the race, go out and make my share of filthy lucre. We won’t go in to my attitude about that particular turn of events.

Fortunately, the planning was not all for naught. Todd, Val, and Tom did make it in to the Long Play Wall. Todd found a new project to work on for next season, Tom and Val pulled off the extension for Moe-hammed, Larry, and Curly, making it one of the longer (and better) 5.8+ routes on Crane, so the day was a success. I rushed home from work too late to join their antics, but just in time to walk with them out the last ten minutes of BAW path leading to the trailhead. Maybe I couldn’t climb rock any more this year, but I could share the joy of climbing with these good friends one more time – before we get together, ice tools in hand…

Hardy Rockclimbers, All

Val, Tom, and Todd celebrate their successful last foray on Crane Rock for 2010.

Could THIS be the End?

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Yeah, I’ve said it a dozen times already, but if today’s glorious weather is followed by what is forecast for tomorrow night, things are going to get  tough for rock climbing on Crane. Ice is already forming, and despite the warm temps of yesterday, was still around in several spots today. A dusting of sneet lay on the ground as I walked in to the Long Play Wall for a day of projecting with Tom Lane.

 Sneet

 I was heavily-laden today, carrying a full rack, a 70-meter rope, lunch, extra clothes, and the camera. That latter I’ve been neglecting lately, but with today’s glorious weather (and tomorrow’s horrible harbingers), I decided to suck it up and bring it along. I love taking pictures, and I really like the results from a high-quality camera, but I also got accustomed to carrying a little point-and-shoot job, so several pounds of SLR aren’t normally welcome. I solved the problem partially, with a lot of rests along the way, using the camera as an excuse. I wasn’t tired, mind you, I just had to take pictures…

November Weed

 Fortunately, Tom caught up with me before very long and got me motivated back into motion. The weather was glorious, but we both knew it wouldn’t last, and the sun was tracking quickly away from the southeast slopes of Crane Mountain. We would have to make the most of the morning and early afternoon warmth in order to have a chance at sending anything.

 On the BAW Path

In no time, we were sorting gear, racking, scrambling up the steep gully on the Long Play Wall’s left edge, and Tom once more led out on Induhvidual. No problems here: each time we’ve climbed this route – the easiest way to the top of the LPW – we’ve cleaned a bit more, so now the holds are pretty obvious and secure. It probably goes at 5.6, not its originally-reported 5.7.

Tom Leads Induhvidual 

 In short order, we were at the top. For a late November day, it was incredible. Here, sheltered from the wind and in full sun, it felt almost too warm, despite the obvious surrounding overhangs and corners festooned with icicles. I spent some more time making use of that camera before we bent ourselves to the work.
 View from the LPW Ledge

Isobuttress in November

While Tom returned to his ongoing second pitch project, I scoped out another potential line near our ascent route. It’s good, will require mucho cleaning, and will have a hard overhang section. Hopes of sending it today onsight were dashed by the crud coating the top face and a bunch of loose rocks lying on a critical ledge under the roof, but hey, that’s what next year is all about.

Tom Scrubs Away

We would spend the rest of the day cleaning, and it would grow too cold for any hope of a real send. Crane’s own shadow gradually enveloped the Long Play Wall, making fingers woody and any inactivity uncomfortably cold. My puffy came out of the pack – no complaints about carrying that along – as I belayed Tom on a quick TR of his project. Then it was a hasty retreat, breaking down anchors, rappelling, packing, and lugging all that gear back out to the cars.

Perhaps we will get another opportunity to tackle these projects. Perhaps the ice will take over, and we’ll be forced to admit defeat for 2010. At least we got out and enjoyed a few warm, wonderful hours on the mountain today.

Waiting on the Weather

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

We’ve gone from the twilight of rock season to the Twilight Zone, it seems. I awoke this morning to a damp, chilly world, the mountain cloaked in fog. Too cold, too wet for rock; plenty of moisture but not the right form for ice climbing.

Despite all the gloom, it wasn’t raining at 8am, so away I went, all sorts of plans in mind. The skies made it obvious the schedule wouldn’t hold for long, so it would have to be rapid-fire stuff, but I kept hoping the crud would hold off longer than conditions indicated. Arriving at the Lower Measles Wall, I scooted up Cracklosis and down Measly Little Corner. Run for Rabies was sopping wet, definitely not an option, and I wasn’t about to tackle H1N1 at this temperature. It began to sprinkle as I jogged to the Upper Measles Wall, escalating to a light rain as I began working up Hydrophobia. How aptly named it was, this morning; the last bit a true goose-pimpler before grasping the top boulder with a gasp of relief.

Hmmm: El Muerte Rojo was a no-go, way too likely to be my eponymous epitaph if I tried it today. What then? The sky was falling and I had a bit more climbing to accomplish. Time for a scamper down to the Under the Measles Wall for one last-ditch effort. I slipped and slid on wet, icy leaves down and around to the base of this longest, lowest-angled, pockmarked precipice and climbed the sole route there, a 60′ 5.0. Which, given its sopping state and the same sort of holds it shares with the rest of the Measles Walls, was still quite engrossing.

All those miscellaneous plans melted with the falling rain. There would be no more climbing for me, but who would’ve thought my climbing day would be saved by a Social Disease?

Isobuttress Diagram

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Rainy Day, time to make up a diagram for something.
Today’s offering: the Isobuttress, which is the first part of the Black Arches Wall one comes to when hiking in along the BAW path.
Its name is a combination of “Isolated Buttress” indicating that this part of the cliff is distinct and separated from the rest of the Black Arches Wall, in this case by the wet cleft that comprises the winter ice route Crystal Breeze. It is also separated from other cliffs, particularly the group of South Corner Cliffs, by a large talus field on its left, and a steep, wooded ramp above it (the Diagonal Ramp).

Reading the Diagram

Circles with “B” are belay points, circles with “T” are fixed tree anchors, those with “XX” are bolt anchors. Note there is one off-route bolt on the face above Recuperation Boulevard’s line.

Climbing Routes on the Isobuttress

1. C&D Without 5.5 G 5.4 R 140′
This route circumvents the often-wet parts of P1 of Carpenter & Das, providing access to the enjoyable, and drier, climbing above. However, it is poorly protected friction climbing without any aesthetics to make it stand out on its own.
Start: at a small slab just left of the main drainage line (the ice route Isobuttress Left).
P1 5.4 R 55′: Climb the short slab to a tree slope. Walk up this to a point beside another short slab left of a spruce tree in a notch. Cross the drainage onto the slab and climb without pro to the belay area of Carpenter & Das.
P2 5.5 G 85′: Traverse right 10′ to a break in the overhang at a left-facing corner at midheight. Climb up and move back 10′ to the vertical crack of Carpenter & Das. Climb up this, step left up onto a stance. Follow ramps up right, then back left to the crack under the triangular overhang. Climb to the overhang and traverse right around it, then step back left to join the rest of Carpenter & Das.

2. Carpenter & Das 5.8 G 135′ **
The first route established after my shoulder surgery, this is named in regards to my physical therapist and surgeon. The first pitch dances up between wet spots, often requiring a few damp handholds, but the climbing is interesting and worthwhile. The second pitch has become a Crane Mtn. classic.
Start: On a 3′ tall rock behind a tree close to the base of the cliff, right of the main drainage area by 20′.
P1 5.7 50′: Climb up to a ledge and walk left, up a small, rounded ramp to reach a crack running up right. Follow it a short way, reach up left to another crack and up farther to a vertical crack heading up the steep face right of a cleft with a spruce tree in it. Climb the crack to its end, then make a tricky face move to reach the belay ledge.
P2 5.8 G 75′: (V1) Walk left 10′ and either climb the left crack alone (5.8+) or use the large flake to its left for assistance (5.7), to reach a good stance. Continue up the vertical crack, move left at its top to gain a ramp heading back up right. Climb the face above this ramp to a sloping ledge beneath a vertical crack leading to a triangular overhang. Climb the crack to the overhang and straight through it. Step left onto the prow and climb up to a large ledge. There is a two-bolt anchor on the face just below this ledge; two rappels reach the ground.
P3 5.6 PG 10′: Best ignored, one can climb the 10′ tall face behind the ledge to reach the top, then walk down the Diagonal Ramp.

V1 5.8 R: Walk left 14′, climb a short way up a scruffy corner, then hand-traverse right to regain the vertical crack above the bulge.

3. Recuperation Boulevard 5.7 PG 130′ **
The first pitch is excellent; the second is currently uninspiring. Note, there is an off-route bolt near the second pitch line.
Start: at the left side of the slab comprising the bottom center of the cliff.
P1 5.7 PG 45′: Climb up the slab, past two bolts, to a short, shallow crack in the slab leading to a steep face. Reach right, go up and back left to gain a bed-sized niche. Climb the crack running out the left side of the niche. Step left 4′ after two challenging moves and climb up and left to an anchor in a spruce tree.
P2 5.6 PG 85′: Step left and climb up onto a ledge just right of a rectangular block. Climb a thin vertical crack to its end at a horizontal crack, then traverse right to a brushy, block-filled corner. Climb up this to its end and move right to join the line of other routes in the area, or optionally, move left along a crack to join the Carpenter & Das area. In either case, reach the anchors and either rappel or finish by climbing the 10′ face above the ledge (see Carpenter & Das description).

4. Adirondack Rehab 5.10a G 5.7 R 130′ **
The first part of this route is well worth doing. A TR anchor is easy to establish in the horizontal crack near the large outside corner above the route.
Start: near the right side of the slab at the base of the cliff, below the rightmost set of two bolts on the slab, which are below another bolt just above the overhang.
P1: Climb the slab past the first bolt (5.7), then move left to the second bolt. Climb up to the overhang to clip the next bolt, then up to the vertical crack. Climb this to the ledge, step left and climb the steep face (5.7 R) to join the top of E-Stim’s second pitch.

5. Lane Change 5.9+ PG 35′ *
There goes the name theme. This is another good TR option. There is a short, strenuous run-out for leaders, and this is definitely more difficult for short people.
Start: at a tiny ramp going up right to meet a vertical crack.
P1: Ascend the ramp to the crack, go up a step or two then move right to gain a vertical crack which becomes a square-cut “trough” higher. At the point where the crack widens, make a long stab right, then move up and back left on face holds to a good stance. Hop up and left to an oak tree.
Shorter climbers may have to stay in the trough, which makes this a solid 5.10.

6. E-Stim 5.6 G 5.5 PG 140′ ***
One of the best routes on the Isobuttress; the unappealing offwidth is barely part of the equation.
Start: at hand crack that widens to wide offwidth before reaching the top of the steep, 30′ face.
P1 5.6 G 60′: Climb the crack to a stance, then go up, using holds on either side of the offwidth to reach a ledge above the steep section. Step left into a hand crack in the slab and follow it to a fixed anchor in a spruce tree.
P2 5.6 G 5.5 PG 80′: Traverse left to a large inside corner facing right. Go up this to just below its junction with a steep face. Traverse left along the higher of two notches leading around the corner. Follow a flake/crack up and left for a short ways, climb a short face to another crack, follow it left 6′, then up another short face section (5.5 PG) to a stance below another short face. Step right, go up and back left to the two-bolt anchor mentioned in the Carpenter & Das description.

7. Post Op 5.9 G 120′ *
The first pitch is OK, the second pitch is strenuous and tucked into a sheltered corner (so don’t bother with it if it’s cold).
Start: at the hint of a seam in the face 5′ right of E-Stim.
P1 5.7 G 60′: Make a bouldery move to gain a small ledge, then climb up the outside corner to a hand crack. Climb it to the end of the steep wall, and continue up a pair of cracks near the right edge of the slab. At their end, climb the short slab, over a large boulder, back onto the slab, and up to the fixed anchor on the spruce tree.
P2 5.9 G 60′: Continue up the twin cracks directly above the spruce tree, passing an outside corner onto a sloping rock ledge under a steep wall on its left and evergreen trees to its right. Climb the corner straight ahead to its top, then move onto the main cliff by stepping up left onto a slab. Go up onto a wooded ledge and belay.
Descent: Either scramble up the steep gully back in the woods and walk left to gain the Diagonal Ramp, or rappel off the large pine tree, down a wet, thick gully (part of the ice route Crystal Breeze) with a 70m rope to reach the bottom of the cliff on the left edge of the Amphitheatre area.

8. Full Recovery 5.6 G 140′ **
Originally climbed as a link-up between E-Stim and Carpenter & Das, this route is good enough to deserve an independent start. This change adds a challenging, well-protected crux of its own to the line. Nevertheless, I think starting out on E-Stim is still the finest way to climb this route.
Note: this route crosses every other route on the face. If others are climbing here, this line would be a rude choice to climb.
Start: At the righthand edge of the main face, at a crack just left of the rock steps.
P1 5.6 G 65′: Climb the hand crack and steps to a small ledge just below a large ledge leading into the woods right of the Isobuttress. Use a horizontal crack at head height to traverse left and up to a good ledge, crossing Post Op as you do. Follow a narrow ledge left, crossing E-Stim. Stem the Lane Change notch and step up onto the slab to its left. Climb along the slab, using the top edge for holds at first, then a good rail continuing left after the large outside corner. Where the footholds end, stem across the gap and continue left, past, then up and back right to the tree anchor of Recuperation Boulevard.
P2 5.5 G 75′: Traverse left 10′ to an easy step up to another ledge. Traverse another 10′ to the vertical crack of Carpenter & Das. Follow as for C&D Without to the top.

V1 5.6 G: The original line climbed the steep face of E-Stim, then walked left on the large ledge before stepping down to continue traversing. Starting on E-Stim is probably the finest way to begin this route, but staying on the face all the way along the traverse is certainly more interesting than taking the easy ledge.

Hints & Allegations

Most of these routes can be, and have been, linked in different ways, a few of which have become standards on their own (e.g. C&D Without, Full Recovery). It is possible to link E-Stim’s upper pitch with that of Carpenter & Das, for example, via a long horizontal crack traverse, meeting the latter route just above the triangular overhang.
If it has rained recently, much of the left hand routes will be wet on the bottom. The rock up high dries quickly, so the challenge lies in getting to that good rock. E-Stim catches most of the runoff coming down the face, so the rock to its right, including E-Stim itself, is generally dry enough to climb. Link up at will once past the dampness.

You may notice the lack of routes on the left side of the wall. This is in part because the leftmost wall is often wet, and between its base and top lies a wide, wet, and dirty slab, which is bounded on its right side by a dank, overhanging corner system (location of the ice route Isobuttress Left). It would not be surprising to see something break through this region in the future despite these detractions.

While this diagram will help with the upper section of the cliff, it isn’t terribly helpful finding the bottom of routes, since these are obscured by trees. Here’s a textual description that may help. After winding through a talus slope, the BAW path runs smack into the extreme left wall of the Isobuttress, then heads right, along the base of the cliff, past a wet spot, and up, around a bend before leveling off along the “main face”. This is where all the routes begin. There’s a small slab left of the main drainage, start of C&D Without, past the gully lies a dirty slab, on the right edge of which lies a 3′ tall rock against the cliff, start of Carpenter & Das. A tree stands directly beside the cliff, just right of this rock. There is a short length of rock face, followed by a large “apron” slab, where Recuperation Boulevard, Adirondack Rehab, and Lane Change begin. The slab grades into a steeper wall toward the right end of the face; with the unmistakeable E-Stim dominating this last area. If all else fails, find E-Stim and work your way from there.

Last Days on Rock: the Sequel

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

November has nudged in. Snow has fallen, has even stuck around awhile, but warmer temps and today’s sunshine have granted us another week’s reprieve. Yesterday, I ran out, ostensibly just to do some base cleaning and such, but when Tom Lane came wandering along, we couldn’t resist a peek at the Isobuttress. Everything we had walked by on the way in – the Measles Walls, the Heights of Land Walls, the TeePee Wall – was sodden wet, but we figured it was worth a bit more walking to see what might be done. Sure enough, E-Stim’s heroic capture of all the moisture draining off the wall made climbing the rock to its right plausible.

With only a tattered (as in core-shot) and short rope, we had to jury-rig a reasonable lead rig. The worst of the damage was on one half of the rope, so we doubled it up and climbed on it as a twin. Only problem was, I stood 8 feet from the belay anchor above Recuperation Boulevard and had no rope left. Tom had to snuggle with the rock face and add a long runner to the mix in order for me to go off belay. A bit comical, but we managed the feat; Tom even accomplishing it in his old-school hiking boots. They actually work better than climbing shoes for jamming that wide crack.

Two more pitches later – we had to add an extra belay to make the rope reach – we stood on top of the Isobuttress, having completed the original rendition of Full Recovery. Clouds and mist were moving in again, it was decidedly cold and windy. We walked off, down the Diagonal Ramp and back towards the TeePee Wall. There, we did a bit of that base work, then called it a day. It was early yet, but the time change swiped an hour of afternoon daylight from our antics, and by 4:00 pm, the chill of a setting sun makes rock climbing harder to bear.

Today, I was back out there, rope-soloing Stairway to Heaven’s two pitches, then scrubbing awhile on the second, when Todd Paris comes rambling along. My rope was tied off at the top (that suspect core display makes me want two independent ends), but he had a real one and a rack as well. So it was back up both pitches; no problem with redundancy for me, this route rocks. We found out a 70m rope can just barely manage the ground from the oak tree (climber’s) left of the second pitch top-out.

Away the two of us went, up and over to the Blueberry Ledge for a look-see. Todd immediately chose a project, while I turned my attention to cleaning a bit of Blueberry Tafone. Not sure it will ever be popular, but it’s worth doing again in my book. In less than two hours, the sun was getting low enough to notice the temperature drop. We were tuckered anyhow, so we packed up, slid down the mountainside, regained the BAW path, and headed home.

Tomorrow, Kevin and Val are coming up for a climbing day. Who knows how long this “Last-Days” stuff will last? The weather looks like it may hold through the weekend, which would be magnificent. Oh, I’ll enjoy ice climbing season, no doubt, but I have no urge to rush into it!

Hectic Last Days

Monday, November 1st, 2010

 baw01_nov01.jpg

Icicles drape the damp spots every day. Cracks are cold, only the faces full in the sun seem welcoming. Yet the season carries on; today was fine for a late morning stroll to the Black Arches Wall for some climbing, cleaning, and routehounding.

The deep overnight chill and overcast skies made an early start unwise. I relaxed at home until almost ten, then headed out. I had a few tasks to accomplish, one of course being to sneak a climb or two into the day. By the time I reached the Height of Land Walls, the sun was shining almost unhindered in a deep-blue sky. It would be nice enough for awhile, at least.

Continuing to the Isobuttress, I switched shoes and headed up Full Recovery. The rock was indeed warm where it faced the sun, the cracks cold, but at least all was dry. Midway along the traverse, I stopped to shoot a few pictures.

 baw02_nov01.jpg

View of the South Corner Cliffs from midway along the Full Recovery traverse.

 I continued climbing, moving along to the belay ledge and slightly higher, stopping once again for photos.

baw03_nov01.jpg 

 Looking at the South Corner Cliffs from the Isobuttress.

Once on top, I commenced one more bout of camera madness, this time at least on solid ground.

 baw04_nov01.jpg

Telephoto look at the Long Play Wall and the cliffs above it.

 It was time to move along. One tick on the list for the day, time to tackle another one. I wandered down a tricky notch below the usual descent route without mishap, slid down the Diagonal Ramp, then picked my way to the Pinnacle Overlook block. I scooted around the lower end of this and found: a lot of scat from a large, omnivorous animal, a cave of sorts, and a possible climbing route. There are actually two potential routes, but the righthand one is either a dead end or very, very hard. The lefthand one looks feasible, and in fact I played around a little on it, and believe with good shoes and a belay I could manage it.

 baw08_nov01.jpg

The Pinnacle Overlook block. Note the flap about halfway up; below this a flake system might provide access to the slab above.

 Without that belay, I opted to head back to the Height of Land Walls, though of course, I had to take a farewell shot of the Isobuttress before leaving.

 baw09_nov01.jpg

The Isobuttress, with the obvious triangular overhang of Carpenter & Das.

 I paused to scrub awhile on Oddy’s Crack of Horrors and Fool in the Forest, but I didn’t take long. There was one thing I did not want to put off past today. The HoLW #1 has an appealing, if short, right-facing corner. The corner is steep and leads to an overhang formed by a gigantic detached block. I wanted to test that block and then do some cleaning, maybe even TR the line. Suffice to say, the block is sound enough, though scary, the rock is still quite dirty, and the moves are hard 5.8. It was fun, but it’ll take some doing to make it go.

I rappelled, on a whim climbed To Do, the neighboring corner, which is much easier and a bit shorter, then for some odd reason continued walking uphill, toward the Blueberry Ledge. I reached the righthand edge of its base, where I found a crack cloaked in grass knots and crud. On a further whim, I clambered up a few steps, yanking myself handholds as I went. Under all the disguise, there was some good climbing to be had. I followed my initial crack until it joined another that was heading perpendicular to it, slanting up left. I followed this to a good ledge beneath a right-slanting flap about six feet tall. I stood below its lower right corner, to my left the flap turned and diminished, running straight across a steep face; to my right it rose up into an overhanging face itself. Not far to my left, a pockmark – a tafone (pl: tafoni), as Evelyn Green has informed me, about 6″ in diameter, lay in the surface of the steep face. Above it, closer to me, a huge pockmark hid under a shield flake. I could not quite reach that latter, and the former seemed frightfully exposed to what was now a lot of air. It took awhile to work out the reach to that secretive pockmark, but once I managed it, the difficulties were not over. I could easily put my entire forearm behind that flake within the tafone, probably could have put my whole arm in there, but was worried what might be living in it. My feet were pretty solid. My right hand found a good edge, small, but positive. Problem was getting up farther. I could see more knobs just out of reach, couldn’t tell if they were slopers or not. No solid footholds higher, I would have to smear some smaller ones. Should’ve brought the shoes! After a few false starts, I figured out an optimal step up and went for it. The knobs were not so good, but adequate, I just had to bring that left foot higher, and voila, I stood, my funky dirty approach shoes squeegied on a couple knobs, my hands on equally unpleasant prospects. A quick reach left and I had one bomber hold, step up and over, back and my right foot found a solid stance. My right hand continued to slack off, but the rest of my body made up for the lost work, clinging ever so sincerely to the slot behind a large flake and those knobs below me.

I had planned on running directly up this lower-angled face, but once ensconced upon it, thought better and continued moving left to a large, welcoming crack, almost a chimney, really; in any case, secure and homey. Woohoo! There was more to come, but it was all very manageable from there onward. In short order, I stood on familiar, blueberry-carpeted ledges. Add Blueberry Tafone to the list of new routes on Crane this year! I think it’ll go at 5.6, maybe PG, not sure of that last bit. It’s close to 180′ long, and deposits climbers at the high point of Blueberry Ledge, with good potential to break through the Vulture’s Nook above as a second pitch – and onward to the top of the South Corner Cliffs eventually.

The sun was nearing the shoulder of the mountain even here by this time. I slid on my backside down to the trail, recovered my gear (shoulda brought it along!), and headed out to home, where I would discover that the next two days I would be down in the Gunks, working. The forecast for Thursday and Friday is ugly, so this may well have been the farewell tour I’ve expected. If so, it was a fine way to say good-bye. To those who are coming up this Wednesday, have fun, be safe, and scrub a little!