Last Days on Rock: the Sequel

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!

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