Saturday, May, Crane: Bugs, Bums, Buds, and Bruises

Another busy Saturday on Crane: not only were there 3 intrepid climbers already ensconsed on the mountain, more were coming. I wasn’t exactly sure how many would show up, but no matter, it would be enough to have a lot of fun.

Ben on Yodellaybackloon
Ben on Yodellaybackloon

It started early, too. Before 7am, I was on the trail, ferrying  a warm little insulated satchel of breakfast sandwiches for the campers near the Measles Walls. While none of us felt particularly energetic, we didn’t tarry a long time at the campsite. Soon, we were all four of us heading toward the Long Play Wall for some established cragging. As we walked the last bit toward our destination, Ben and I broke off to take a quick run up Valerie’s new route, Yodellaybackloon. This is certainly one of the better additions to Crane’s retinue, a fun, moderate route that makes a good introduction to laybacking.

Garth tops out on Moe-hammed, Larry, & Curly.

It didn’t take us long, and before you knew it, we were watching Garth head up Moehammed, Larry, & Curly. This route just keeps getting better – and more popular. It has its warts, to be sure, but the constant challenge and wealth of techniques required makes it a Crane must-do.

Mike gave following the route a go, but a poor night’s sleep coupled with the exertions of the evening before had taken their toll. He headed down to rest, Ben and I headed up to clean the pitch.

Mike takes his shot at MLC

Soon, the rope was tumbling down the face of Long Play itself. The three of us rappelled down, just as Lukasz Czyz, then Tom Lane, came tramping up the trail. I was a surprised to see Tom; he injured himself Thursday evening on a project at the BAW, and while I knew it wasn’t a serious injury, it was bad enough to warrant a long rest period. Yet here he was, not two days later, back on the mountain looking for a rope to tie into. Well, we had a big crew, we could probably carry him out if need be…

Headless on Long Play
Yet another headless climber gropes his way up Long Play.

People began tagging turns on Long Play. Mike and Tom both opted for wiser climbing, choosing to take advantage of the rope hanging on Yodellaybackloon while we ran our route. Garth, Ben, Lukasz, and I each took a run, and I finally was able to repeat the upper crux without falling. I had chores to do up at the belay ledge, so dropped one rope (we had tied two together) and went to work, while the rest headed for more climbs.

Lukasz on his turn

Soon, I rappelled down to see Lukasz leading Muckraker. No longer the ugly duckling of the mountain, this route is becoming a popular one as well. To be sure, it isn’t as spectacular as its neighbors to port, but if it is dry, it’s one that should be done. Tom lined up for this one, and although there was much moaning and groaning, there was no weeping and gnashing of teeth to go with it: he did himself no additional harm.

Garth and Mike had to end the day early, so we said good-bye, and those of us who remained moved on to the Isobuttress for the day’s finale. Lukasz was eager to lead Adirondack Rehab, I was equally enthusiastic about piecing together one last newish route here. I thought it would be nice to get Ben involved in a new line, so I grabbed him for the belay and headed up, while Tom manned belay duties for Lukasz. I didn’t think the ramifications of that arrangement, but thankfully, nothing came of it: Tom didn’t hurt himself, much, following that 5.10a overhang route…

I started up Intensive Care’s tricky opening moves, stepped over to Recuperation Boulevard, climbed that route to the horizontal rail above the alcove, did the 5.8 traverse right at that point, then stepped up and over right to belay at the oak tree at the top of Lane Change. Lukasz beat me here, which tells you something about his ability in this, still well shy of his first full year of climbing.

Ben followed, with a bit of difficulty, then we set out on the newer portion of the line: straight up the huge right-facing corner and on still straight on through the headwall above. I struggled with this lead. It was dirty, having never been cleaned nor trodden as far as I know, so I had to do some scraping and scrounging along the way to find holds. A few blocks that looked desperately loose proved favorably wedged in, I could not free them, nor did I particularly want to, what with three bosom buddies below me.

At the top of the steep corner, an overhang barred the way. I groped for holds left, above, and right, but could find nothing reassuringly plausible. Finally, underclinging with my left, I was able to reach far enough right to grab a good horn. Far enough that, in order to use it, I would have to cut loose and commit to it alone. The face below my hand was overhanging and featureless, nowhere for my feet. I would have to swing, hold on, then hope for some reasonable means of getting high enough to find footing later.

The move went, I spent an uneasy few minutes digging dirt enough out of cracks to hold on, before finally getting out of difficulty. From there, I could easily have walked up and right to the point where Post Op tops out, but instead continued excavating holds up and leftward, traversing eventually all the way to the anchors at the top of E-Stim, where by now I knew, Tom and Lukasz were heading.

What I didn’t know was that Tom was on lead for the second pitch of it! Those who are familiar with the route know that upper crux: it’s a long leg stretch, nearly a split, to shift left at the notch. Given that Tom’s injury occurred in the vicinity of his legs (get the gist?), I didn’t think that a wise undertaking. Somehow, though, he managed it without rendering himself helpless. We didn’t have to carry him out.

Nor did we have to carry Ben out: he followed the send with only a few scrapes, bumps, and smudges to show for it. I dubbed the line Outpatient, in keeping, more or less, with the Isobuttress’ theme. 

A bit dirty…

…and a bit torn.

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