First of all, thank you so much for all the support, the great emails, the hello’s in the parking lots, and the comments on the blog.
I know today’s picture is a bit late for this year, but you must forgive me, I live in a van and I’m spending most of my days up on the sharp end on the most terrifying rock climb I’ve ever attempted. I mean, honestly, I can’t remember the last time I backed off a 5.13b. Sure, I’ve fallen off plenty of them, but never actually backed off, like crying for my mommy backed off. But that’s what has happened now, 3 times. I backed off the 4th 5.13a (E7) pitch once, and the 5th Screamer (E8) pitch twice. Below is a great Tom Evans photo from last year, Leo using double ropes on the best rock of the route so far, but still not perfect. Note: the climb is much steeper than this picture portrays.
I can justify this when people say, it takes courage to walk away. But then, at night wrapped up in my sleeping bag in the safety of my van, the route creeps inside my head, I think to myself, what was I so scared of really? Sure Jason fell and hit a ledge that broke his pelvis, sure the rock is fractured and there’s very little protection, sure Leo core shot his rope and sprained his ankles. but really, it’s not like anyone died or anything:) So, each morning I convince Willy to have one more try, which he’s always up for in the spirit of the Brits, and each time we do, we push our highpoint just a little further. We are only 40 feet and one bolt shy from the Screamer anchor now. Yesterday Willy accidentally pulled out the highest of 3 knifeblades on p4 with only his body weight. YIKES! That’s a 5.13a with a no fall situation if I’ve ever seen one. But, still, that’s behind us now, we have to focus on what’s ahead. I think I can work up enough nerve for one more solid attempt. After that, if we make no progress at all, then maybe we’ll find courage in coming down for the season. Until then, we’re still finding inspiration in going up.
I feel that Leo and Jason set a precedent here and I personally think that we have a responsibility to try and match their highpoint. If we rappelled in and pre-inspected the entire route from the very beginning, I think we could have done it by now. But, who cares. This ground up business is where we are having the most fun, the greatest education, the deeper connection. It’s been an enlightening challenge and one of the best months of climbing in my life.
After this weekend, the weather may hold until we absolutely have to leave, which is also Willy’s birthday, Nov 17th. We’ll go back up, and face our demons, please wish us luck. Until then, I hope you all had a great holloween. I know I did.
Picture by Paul Bride.