Devo's Climbs

Monday, June 05, 2006

Rock Climb: flail-fest on Castle

Went to L-worth today with Tom H. - idea was to try some crack climbs on the infamous Midnight Rock. We hiked up to Logger's Ledge on Castle where some fellow climbers told us that Midnight was closed due to bird nesting - dang. So we decided to try some of the more challenging climbs on Castle instead, starting with The Nose (5.10d) on Jello Tower. Tom was on the sharp end of course (I don't lead 5.10d!) and to my surprise (and his too), he struggled mightily. He ended up hangdogging several times, eventually working his way up the difficult crack. Made me wonder how I was going to manage. My question was answered rather quickly: when I reached the crack proper it was blatantly clear I was out of my league. That, along with the fact that I would have to retrieve Tom's gear - several pieces of which he had hung on repeatedly, convinced me to break out my aiding skills. I made two atriers with some slings, snapped a biner on my belay loop as a fifi hook and began the slow (but easier) process of aiding my way upwards utilizing the cams and nuts Tom had placed. Since I was on toprope I knew I was secure from any major fall. It was actually quite enjoyable - I haven't done much aid on real gear. I figured it was about C2 overall. Once I was over the overhang it eased up considerably and I free climbed to the anchors. After such a spanking, Tom and I rapped back to Logger's and ate lunch, hoping the sustenance would give us a boost.

We decided to try something easier after lunch: Angel Crack - 20 feet of thin, polished 5.10a crack which eases off to 5.7 the rest of the way to the summit. We had more success this time, but it still wasn't easy. Tom tried the start twice and then worked pretty hard to get up the crack. Though I was on top rope, I didn't fare any better - I took two falls while trying to jam the butter-smooth crack with my hands and smear dime-sized edges on the face. I actually got some good jams in near the top of the crack - I could hang my entire weight off them, but when I moved up my hands slipped out without a warning. By the time I made the first anchor I was physically and mentally spent. But it was my lead and it was "only" 5.7 from there on. What ensued was the worst lead in my climbing career. I felt weak and jittery. I was freaked and tentative. I moved so slow that some climbers who topped out on Angel after us decided not to wait and rapped off to climb another route nearby. In an effort to circumnavigate around some downsloping ledges that I didn't want any piece of, I zig-zagged around on some easier ground and built up an inordinate amount of rope drag - so much that I had to lower down to remove a piece and straighten the rope out. Then I had to climb straight back up those downsloping ledges (but now on toprope) to my last piece. What a bugger I was making of this climb... When I got to a decent belay position, I slowly created an anchor and Tom climbed up. At this point we had only made it about 100 feet in two pitches - I could look straight across to the top of Jello Tower now. I told Tom how I was feeling and that this obviously wasn't my day. He took over the sharp end from there and climbed to a belay ledge about 30 feet below the summit. My final lead was quick and easy (about 5.5); Tom joined me shortly after. We decided to bail on any more climbs - at this point burgers and beer was more up our alley. We were beat. It had been a day, that's all we could say.

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