Devo's Climbs

Friday, April 01, 2011

Road Trip: Smith Rock - March 21-25, 2011

After twenty weeks of training indoors on plastic, Chad and I - along with Kurt and Jose - went to Smith Rock for five days and put our hard work to the test. Our primary goal was an ascent of Monkey Face via Monkey Space (5.11b), but it was not to be as we battled cold, temperamental weather nearly every day. Despite this, Chad and I managed to climb all five days, the majority of it at 5.10 and above, so in that regard the trip was a success.

Monday, March 21
We'd arrived at Smith around 3 am, so we got up late and climbed in the afternoon at Picnic Lunch Wall. I led Honey Pot (5.9) and the first pitch of Teddy Bear's Picnic (5.10a), feeling strong and confident on both. These are both excellent climbs on steep knobby slab and a great way to acclimate oneself to Smith Rock tuff.




Tuesday, March 22
Tuesday was our best weather day, though we experienced some passing hail storms early on it was mostly sunny and warm for the remainder. Unfortunately my climbing ability had taken an abrupt turn for the worse. I blamed it on the two beers I'd quaffed the night before: I'd been on a beer diet during training and my body was consequently unable to cope with even that small amount. I was sluggish, physically and mentally, all day as a result. In hindsight Tuesday would've been our best chance to attempt Monkey Space, but even if we'd gone for it I doubt I would have been up to the task. :(

Climbing began around noon: Kurt and Jose in the Dihedrals, Chad and I the Overboard area. I first led Nine Gallon Buckets (5.10c) with a rest below the crux, then Chad and I both did a lap on TR. Next Chad led Overboard (5.11c), impressively climbing through the lie-back crux clean only to pump out near the finish. I made a futile attempt on TR, flailing incessantly at the crux, cursing those beers loudly. I was quite disheartened, and in an effort to reclaim some self-respect decided it was time to change tactics, say goodbye to bolted face climbing and lead Karate Crack (5.10a). On the way to Karate we hooked up with Kurt and Jose. Kurt led Cinnamon Slab (5.6), then I started up Karate Crack. Looking up at Karate from the ground, I surmised it would require several 1-2 inch cams and brought triples in those sizes. Halfway up the crack I realized 3-inch cams were necessary to protect the remaining twenty feet to the final hand traverse, but I'd already placed both my #3 Camalots below. I briefly contemplated running it out to the traverse, but in the end decided to lower off and retrieve my #3's instead. With my quiver replenished, I finished the crack and Chad followed. I didn't find the climbing so difficult, protecting it was more the challenge: Smith's cracks are not like the uniform fractures I climb at Index Town Wall.



Wednesday, March 23
The weather was mostly cloudy, breezy and very cool, so more sleeping in and climbing in the afternoon. We began with some "old man climbing" on Super Slab (5.6) at Red Wall. Chad led the choice pitches (1 & 3); I led the second; Jose followed; Kurt took the day off from climbing. After Super Slab Chad and I returned to Picnic Lunch Wall and climbed both pitches of Teddy Bear's Picnic.  I led the first (.10a), Chad the second (.10b). Pitch two was incredible - sweet edging on patina, traversing rightwards to an airy, exposed arête, with nothing but empty space below your feet. Only the finish - a short bit of brittle, rotten rock to a belay stance on a freaky detached pillar - detracted from the rush of the climb. Definitely worth repeating.

Thursday, March 24
Weather continued cold and breezy. We'd been holding back for a chance, but it was clear Monkey Face was not in the cards this trip. Chad & I headed to the Wooden Ship and climbed Phone Call From Satan (5.9 sport - Chad's lead) to Solar (5.9 trad - my lead). The year before I'd led Solar, exhausted from a marathon day of climbing and had to rest a few moves from the finish; this time I was fresh and sent it clean. Sweet climb!

It was rather breezy and we ambled over to Mesa Verde Wall on the west side to see if we could find some shelter from the wind. Shortly after crossing Asterisk Pass the temperature rose noticeably - yeah! MVW has some primo knobby sport routes in the 5.10 - .11 range and we were stoked to have some sun to climb in. First up: Cosmos (5.10a), then Screaming Yellow Zonkers (5.10b) and Moons of Pluto (5.10d). I led the first two clean and was on the same path on Moons when a flash hail storm hit just as I was negotiating the crux. I tried to wait it out, hoping it would pass quickly, then eventually rested on a quickdraw before finishing. After Chad led it, I climbed it again clean on TR. For a .10d at Smith it felt a bit soft - maybe more a reflection of the technique rather than the strength required to climb it. Still, it was my favorite route at MVW.





Chad finished the off the day with a lead of Bad Moon Rising (5.11a): a crimpy start, then a delicate slab, ending with some Herculean moves over a roof. Chad worked the roof crux a few times and finally sent it. I gave it a go on top-rope, taking a fall on the upper slab section and then below the roof. The roof moves felt much harder than .11a, and certainly not just a single grade harder than Moons of Pluto a few feet to the left.

Friday, March 25
Our week came to an end with a brief morning of cragging at Morning Glory Wall where I led Five Gallon Buckets (5.8), The Outsiders (5.9), cruised through the lower section of Gumby (5.10b) and then attempted Morning Sky (5.10c) where I was stymied by greasy crimps and a sudden fear of falling. Guess I was tired from five days of climbing, so I lowered off and Chad finished the lead. I then TR'd it clean, though Gumby felt harder the second time. Yep - definitely tired!



More photos: Smith Rock March 2011 photo set on Flickr »

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