Thursday, August 23, 2012

An Epic in Index: Part/Pitch Two

After surviving the depths of Mordor (see previous post), Russ was all racked up to start the second pitch. As far as multi-pitches go, this first pitch hadn't been so bad. 

A little mis-communication, minimal blood lost, a quick glimpse into Hade's humble abode. 
Things were going great.


Russ begins the overhung section of the climb, which the guidebook labels "an awkward move for the grade" and places several pieces of gear purely for directional purposes (to guide the rope so it doesn't drag over sharp rock...((more on the sharp rock later))...and another). The second pitch takes Russ a little longer, and our communication is still shoddy because of the frequent train passing, but I finally hear him call 'off belay'. I tie in and Russell automatically pulls me tight (once again, I'm a newby wuss, so Russ usually keeps the rope tight when he can't see me while I second a climb). 

Unfortunately, the pieces of gear he left in to guide the rope are now pulling me off the little belay ledge I had perched myself on and are now pulling me towards what would turn out to be a nasty pendulum swing into an impressively menacing out-cropping of jagged rocks. Fun!

As I begin to call for more slack in the rope, a train barrels past, blaring its horn at the several road crossings. Russ can't hear me. I'm shaking from holding on to the rock in attempts to keep myself from swinging into the group of stone tomahawks, and of course this train is especially long and Russell is still (as would be beneficial in most other cases when I have followed on a climb) pulling the rope tight. So, I decide to myself I just have to climb this part faster than he can pull the rope super tight. He can't hear me, and I can't just cling to this rock forever. So, off I go. I remove the gear pulling me to the right and into the rocks, only to find myself in a tensioned position with no further hand holds. 

Still under the overhang and out of Russell's sight and earshot, I do the only thing I can think of doing. I cut the rope. 

What? Just kidding. How dumb do you think I am? C'mon kids, cut me some slack (get it? No? psh)

I cried. 

So there I am, stuck under this overhang, bawling my little eyes out trying to call out to Russ who can only hear me in short bursts, and I know that I have to keep climbing (that sounds so pathetically dramatic, this case.. is pitifully accurate) I finally pull the roof and find myself face to face with a hold-less slab of rock. 

Psyched out, crying and tired I can finally see Russell who is looking at me like I'm some sort of pitiful wet kitten trying to escape a deep tub of shallow water. After shuffling back and forth on an inch wide ledge about three feet long, I finally figure out I can down climb to some holds and traverse over to the start of the crack. 

Once I get to the crack, I remember, I really, really suck at climbing cracks. I mean I'm not awesome at climbing in general (I crush 5.9s outside on a good day...a REALLY good day) but I completely fail at hand cracks. 

Getting a little better grip on myself, I've controlled the sobs to super pathetic wimpers and a touch of psycho babble. 
"you're ok, you're ok, you're ok, you're really high and you're going to die and here comes another train but you're ok."

I jam my fists and feet into the crack and begin climbing, only to slide back down the 5 feet I had come over the course granite slab surrounding the crack. This may have been the most melodramatic time of my entire life, but people, really, like honestly...I thought the end was nigh. So, I lay flat against the cliff and cry some more. Until I can hear Russell quietly repeating, "I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry. Please don't cry, you're ok. I'm so sorry. I'm going to try and come down." 

Then I just felt like a jerk. Here I am hanging out with the sweetest guy in the whole world, ruining a perfectly good climbing adventure on the first day of our road trip, 30 feet from the top of a climb, bawling like a baby. 

So I pulled up my big girl pants, tightened my shoes, sniffled my last sniffle and laybacked the crack (where you hold on to one side of the crack, one hand above the other, lay your weight against the pull of your hands and then push with your feet to create enough tension to shuffle your hands and feet up the crack, yes it is as hardcore as it sounds...for once) and got to Russell. 

Where he looked like someone suffering from the remorse of clubbing a baby seal, but also totally impressed with said baby seals...climbing....anyway.
We hung out at the top of the climb for a little while until my snot stopped running and my eyes stopped stinging. 

He gave me a big hug, we descended the climb, drove through some amazing wooded area and ended up sleeping in a Wal-Mart parking lot instead of by the hippies.


And this is why my mother worries about me traipsing about in the woods. 

On to Seattle!

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