Friday we returned to Rocktown and enjoyed 50 degree weather. It was a relief to soak up the sun, to let our muscles slowly relax from the cold hibernation of the last few weeks. Alas, what is good for the soul is not necessarily good for sending boulders. Drexel and Andrew had some valiant goes on their respective projects, Golden Harvest (v10) and Iron Claw Sit (v10), but the rock just wasn’t sticky enough to sustain so many powerful moves with ever-greasier fingertips. Another factor was the snow that had begun to melt. With some builders, we were racing against time as the drips turned into rivers that ran down the face of every rock, our feeble attempts to dam the flow with chalk socks proving unsuccessful and ugly. I tried the Tao (v8) a couple times while Drexel stood up top, fighting to hold back the water, but soon enough the start-hold underclings were completely soaked and water was dripping on my head.
Something I probably should mention, just for the safety of anyone else driving to Rocktown in the winter – be careful of icy roads!!! Thursday night, after a warm-ish day, the snow on the ground must have melted, and then refrozen, to create a delicious blend of slush plus pure slick ice. Our rear-wheel-drive minivan just didn’t know how to handle it. We turned the corner and almost made it through an icy uphill patch, before losing momentum/traction and slipping backwards. Luckily, we weren’t high up the mountain, so we just fell into a ditch instead of off the mountain, and Drexel kept his wits about him in order to crank his way out of the muddy red clay. There were lots of factors that helped the situation, and plenty that hurt, but I’m just glad we made it out with our bodies fully in tact, and the minivan only a little muddied/scratched. But everyone PLEASE BE CAREFUL. Life is short, but please be patient and don’t ever put yourself at risk to make it any shorter.
After our warm day of climbing, the ice had completely melted on the road, and our minivan made it to the upper campground, where Brennen and Hailey met us for a quick weekend of something new.
We woke up Saturday to an asphalt grey sky. Not quite blue skies, but if it didn’t rain, we wouldn’t complain. It’s always fun to show-and-tell Rocktown to first-timers. We started in the Hueco area and showed them the ropes of some fun classic warm-ups (Hueco Simulator, Ripple, Belly Button, Super Mario, etc). And then we hiked up and over the rocks to a spot inaccessible by the ground, and got on the high quality “Best Of”s Grape Ape (v4) and Jabber Jaw (v5). The top-out of Grape Ape felt sketchy, but it really wasn’t, and Hailey flashed.
On our downclimby hike back to the Hueco, Drexel did a big no-no! He dropped a shoe and it fell deep down into a wet mossy 20′ crevasse. I thought it was gone forever. We tried to squeeze through and both of us became powerfully claustrophobic and I got stuck for a moment. Our hero of the story, Brennen Bull, climbed up and around and through the snowy sketchy tight corridor and retrieved the shoe. It was quite a sight. Drexel rewarded him with a big ole man-hug. It was beautiful.
After flashing Sherman Photo Roof, Brennen and the rest of the boys left us to do man things. Hailey and I had a ton of fun at the Comet Boulder as it began to drizzle on-and-off. The holds were pretty manky, but we managed to mix up all the climbs and FA a new climb, Hailey’s Comet (v2). Okay, it’s probably not an FA at all. We looked at the guidebook and then I did Contrail (v5) the right way.
It was drizzling pretty bad. When we headed to Idiot Roof and Helicopter, hoping for dry overhangs, it seems every else on the boulder field had the same idea. Including the boys, who returned to us with their tails between their legs, begging for us to let them climb with us again. It was fun to climb with a bunch of new people, laughing at the moist rock as one at a time, we slipped and fell to the ground. I don’t think anyone sent, but it was a blast. I filmed a bunch of golden footage of Andrew falling and making funny faces, which will hopefully be up soon (along with some other stuff!). Olivia ran up to us, huffing and puffing, but with a huge smile on her face. She drove down from Knoxville just to get wet, it seems…
The moment we gave up on climbing for the day, the drizzle stopped and the sun came out. It was like a completely new day. While all the rock was now soaking wet, psyche was high and Brennen decided to climb a boulder!
There was an intense bet going on about Brennen onsighting Soap on a Rope (v4), but with the rock as slick as a baby eel, there really isn’t much to report. The lack of actual climbing made Drexel antsy and he started to train really hardcore by using only one finger at a time to scale wet rock faces.
P.S. Apologies for the poorer photo quality, but I’ve been downsizing them to speed up the blogging process over a slow internet…