How the Season Ended

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.

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