Wind, Sun and Stars (M)

After three days of climbing, cold and rain, we’ve earned a solid rest day. And for once, Lafayette Library is open. (Hallelujah!)

Yesterday (Wednesday) started out chilly but soon became a warm day full of project sends. We were joined by the Wataugan High School crew for a short session, warming up in the Hueco area. At no point in my mind did I think that I wanted to climb the Hueco Simulator, a v2 that climbs up 25 feet of steep holds until everyone below you looks like dots. One fall and it’s an immediate death (not really). It just didn’t seem appealing.

And yet, the trembling of my heart whispered, “Do it. Do it or you’ll always give into your fear.” I couldn’t say no. So, ten crashpads deep and with the arms of my spotters held high, I crept up the crack, hit the “jug” everyone promised me was there (it’s not a jug, it’s a flat sloper), and finished. Sitting on top, breathing heavy, I looked down. Okay, maybe it’s not as high off the ground as I thought. Alexa went next, demonstrating grace and ease as she looked death in the face.

And thus began our day. There were some epic sends of Nose Candy by Henry, Trey, and Mark. I finally got Pythagorean Theorem (v4/5), using an extra crimp and heel hook. Super validating, highlight of the day. Olivia smashed it next, but we all knew she would. Then I joined Alexa and Julie Ann who were having fun on El Bano. Beautiful rock face, just like most of the problems here. I know Boone is pretty, and certainly home to plenty of amazing climbs, but it’s aesthetic quality just can’t match some of the colorful swirls, patches, and iron rails of Rock Town. It’s like the rock is playing with our eyes, and I don’t care, I love it.

Drexel spent most of the day working on his latest obsession, Iron Claw Sit. We went back to the front area and folks made progress on The Orb and Soap on a Rope. Tick tock. Sun down. Once the sun disappears, the cold hits, creeps inside your bones and makes itself at home. We sought solace in the pizza and pasta of Twins. Our rowdy party of 14 had a room all to ourselves! As you can see, we took full advantage of their two-for-one pizza special.

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Monday was one of those rare but glorious days of climbing where the psyche is consistently high all day from sun-up till sun-down. After two watery rest days, we were all itching to get back on some rock. The Orb area was getting rampaged by hordes of junior climbing teams, so we kept hiking, warming up on the same slabs we hit up on the first day. Matsumoto hit the lottery and stepped in doggie doo-doo in his pretty 5.10 climbing shoes. After that we returned to Little Bad. Drexel flashed it, Ian can run laps on it, but I just flail around. It’s relieving to hear that the famously strong (but short) Lisa Rands also struggled on this lowly v5/6. But she eventually got it, and so shall I.

Passing by Beauty Face (the v6 we did three days ago), a group of us tried the sit-start (v7), but to no avail. I don’t know if it was lack of skin or residual moisture from the last two days, but even the normal stand-start proved insurmountable. Poor Matsumoto made it to the crappy crimp multiple times, and flew off after wrapping half a pad on the jug. He stopped attempting after a wicked deep split in his finger tip, and we all decided to follow suit. Clearly, he was having an awesome day. Blood and poop. What a lucky guy.

We returned to the Orb, hoping it wouldn’t be so hectic, and were rewarded by an almost vacant spot. The boys went down and worked the incredibly tough yet beautiful Burst of Joy (v9). Drexel sent! Carson did too (my hero!). I finally grunted my way through the super-pumpy, hardest v4 of my life, Soap on a Rope. Julie Ann made a valiant effort and was two moves short of sending, but the great thing is that we will be here for another week, so anything that shuts us down today will probably get crushed soon enough. Soap on a Rope is super beta-intensive. I’ve never seen so many strong climbers get twisted up and flail awkwardly before blowing a heel off the top.

By the way, TOMMY IS AWESOME! He is my favorite person, and he makes some delicious vegan chorizo burritos. I’m not just saying that because he’s standing menacingly over my shoulder. But really, so many of our friends have traveled hours just to camp in the mud (which is only getting worse, since the drizzle has continued), it’s inspiring! It’s so nice to have a solid bunch of Booners to climb with and share a bottle of wine around the campfire.

The last area we hit of the day was the Asphalt Area. Despite the rough groddy name, this lovely boulder is home to five super pretty and fun problems (Loaf, Pulling Tubes, Papparazzi, Eewoker Traverse, and Asphant AKA Pythagorean Theorem), plus a couple others. The guidebook seems to just confuse everyone. Everyone quickly sent the Loaf (v5), although I straggled behind getting more and more frustrated at my diminutive arm span. Finally I/Drexel figured out a shorter-person beta that involved popping up right, bumping a left hand twice, swinging the left foot up super high, matching, and finally arriving at the same juggy top-out that a normal-sized person would have easily hopped to. Climbs like this are a bell curve in my head, with the increased frustrated causing increased psyche, but only up to a certain point, when the frustration results in super decreased psyche. Like so:

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Next was Eewoker Traverse (v6), which was definitely much more my style (shorter, more beefy moves). I figured out the shorter person beta on Pyth Theorem, but didn’t have enough skin/stamina to finish it until two days later. The day ended with everyone exhausted but satisfied, visions of their latest project dancing in their heads.

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Tuesday was cold. I had a nasty flapper and thin tips, so spent most of the day spotting Dawn while she made progress on Blue and Golden Showers, two super gorgeous classic problems. Cam sent everything he touched. Julie Ann made more progress on Soap on a Rope. We kept bumping into this awesome dude Matt, who has a Christmas sweater we were all envious of, and it reminded me of the joys of climbing outside your local crag, meeting new people, getting excited by their excitement.

Drexel and a huge crew went to Zahnd, but I’ll leave that blog entry to him. Overall, this has been one of the best few days of climbing in a long time. The combination of more friends, two rest days, completely new problems, and Drexel’s aunt’s cookies has set the bar high. Eight sends down, hundreds more to go.

xoxo, M

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