Could THIS be the End?

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.

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