Making Lemonade…

…when life hands you lemons. Winter just won’t let go this year. It seems to be cold all day, every day, with frequent rain and snow. Still, we stout-hearted Adirondack climbers are making the best we can of the situation.

Todd Paris, the man, the myth, the… missile.

Todd Paris came up to climb Monday. It snowed overnight; Crane wore a thin white veil with fresh icicle trim. Flurries cavorted in the gusts as we walked obstinately out to the Height-of-Land Walls. Arriving at the 5.6 variation to Raindance Roof, a short bit of ice-coated rock at the start greeted us. Undaunted, we climbed the route anyway, tensioning across the glazed section before finishing the route in normal fashion.

At its top, we hauled our packs and struggled up the hillside to Blueberry Ledge. Everything was wet or icy or both here, so we moved left, around the base of the Eyebrow Overhang to the project Todd started working back in December. Hints of sunshine flickered once or twice as the wind tore the clouds away momentarily. Perhaps this was a good sign.

Todd roped up for an on-site attempt. I looked up the line: a nice crack led up to a slanting ledge, beyond that, a slab, several of those knobs Crane is famous for speckled along its length, led in fifteen feet to an obvious weakness. Above that, the angle appeared to ease. Getting onto the slab looked to be the crux. Except for a decrepit stump, I could see no pro for that move, nor any for the entire slab’s length. It looked dirty and damp, given last night’s weather, it certainly was.

No matter, Todd headed up, moving easily up the crack, placing one cam in it, to the ledge. Having nothing else, he slung that stump, which flexed visibly when he tested it. He toyed with the next moves for awhile before committing to the step up, moving flawlessly onto the slab. A hidden horizontal provided real gear, allowing him to gain a quick six feet more, but the going got tough again. The knobs diminished for a body length; Todd could stretch to reach a sloping one above his head, but his feet would have to use more subtle purchase, all of it dirty. He brushed and scrubbed those dimples as best he could, eyeing as he did the alluring safety of knobs galore just beyond his reach. A few false starts, and then he committed to the moves. He stepped firmly on the slab and moved up a bit more. He stood just out of reach of those big knobs, one move away, his last pro six feet below. Finally, Todd stepped up, smearing lichen-covered, sloping rock, straining to reach those holds.

Todd attempting his project in wet conditions. He made it about 6′ higher. 

Suddenly, he was off, sliding to the horizontal that held his pro, tumbling head over heels, and bouncing across the ledge system onto the slope below. I was yanked six feet upward, coming to a stop just a few feet lower than Todd did. In all, Todd had fallen twenty feet. His last piece held firm, and miraculously enough, the bounce had probably saved him injury from hitting that ledge.

We weren’t about to try that trick again, so we took the smart way, walked around, and spent awhile scrubbing wet crud off the route before taking turns TRing it for fun. It’ll be there for another day, and now it isn’t quite so mucky at the crux.

The hints of sunshine had passed, once again flurries were swirling in the air. A breeze kicked up, making those low-40s seem much colder. We both decided to head lower on the mountain. Those Measles Wall routes seemed like a good place to wrap up the day. We walked down the BAW path to the Upper Measles Wall, and I led Hydrophobia, then set a directional over Cat Scratch Fever. The flurries were quickly coalescing into real snowfall as I descended.

Todd sets out on Hydrophobia.

Todd cleaned Hydrophobia, then we took turns on Cat Scratch Fever. By the time Todd’s turn for the latter route came, snowmelt was beginning to slicken the rock – which makes 5.9 friction quite difficult.

Clawing his way up Cat Scratch Fever. Yeah, that’s snow, lots of it.

It had become ludicrous to continue. We deemed ourselves done for the day. Enough lemonade already, let’s get on with Spring!

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