Eventually every conversation amoungst climbers in Rifle Mountain Park is about the current project. After 2 months in the park I have finally landed on a project that I aspire to send. For the uninitiated, a project is a rock climbing route that you aspire to climb on lead and not fall. This is known as a send or a redpoint. Though, technically a redpoint is a send while placing gear while a send with gear in place is a pinkpoint. However, the term redpoint is widely accepted in the climbing community to mean either way of ascent.
There is a whole process involed in choosing a project. First and foremost is grade selection. I was looking for a 5.12d that would inspire me. Perhaps a route that I had not yet sent on the east side of the canyon. The east side of the canyon is of course shady in the morning which is when it is cool and when we climb most often. Once grade selection has occurred it is necessary to scour the guidebook reading descriptions and eyeing the pretty color photos. A second approach is to eye routes while at the base and look to see if the line looks appealing. After one or more potential routes are selected, it is a good idea to solicit input from fellow climbers to get beta. This is not a step I took until I had determined that my first two choices were not going to be options. My first option was 'Never Believe', a 5.12d in the Wasteland that is bouldery and powerful. What was I thinking? I haven't had to muster that kind of power and core strength in at least 6 months. My second option was 'Hand Me the Canteen Boy', a 5.12d at the Sapper Wall that is perhaps one of the most brilliant climbs I've ever done. However, after I fell with my leg stuck in a crack resulting in a large scrape on my ankle it lost it's appeal. Both of these routes I have done in the past so I thought they would be good options.
At this point I started gathering input from the hard climbing women in the canyon. Two came up that held potential. Espresso in the Wasteland and Blocky Horror Show at the Meat Wall. I had tried Espresso while a budding 5.12 climber when it was rated 5.12c and thought it to be heinously hard so opted for Blocky Horror Show. I had considered Blocky in my earlier hunt but had gotten shut down by a big move through a bulge low on the climb. True to the process I sought out another woman climber to get her beta (information) for that section. Inspired again, I tied on my climbing shoes and pulled on the knee pads. According to a friend of mine, she always pulls on both knee pads when getting on a new climb in Rifle as one never knows if they will be needed for that secret knee bar.
On my first attempt I reached the crux but couldn’t figure out how to get through. It felt very powerful, more powerful than it should for the grade. So, I sought out input again. The word was ‘go right’. The next few attempts I made it through, but clipping the bolt in the crux was scary and quite tenuous. While chatting with a friend around the fire the route came up in conversation. I shared the moves through the crux he shared how to clip the draw.
I was on again, but kept having problems with the last two moves of the crux and fell each time. On a rainy Wednesday, I decided to change my beta in two spots and give it a go after I verified that the top of the route was not in the rain. The first change was how I made it through the low bulge and the second was my foot placements at the end of the crux. The changes worked! I cruised through the low bulge, got the good rest below the crux, clipped the crux quickdraw and exited the crux without any issues. I was now in new territory for me but fortunately I had seen my friend on this part of the climb two days earlier. After getting a good rest at the stance above the crux, I finished the route. Finally a send of a hard route again in Rifle!
I have now selected my next project; ‘Philibuster’ a 5.13a on the Anti-Phil wall. It is a different style of climbing from ‘Blocky Horror’ with crimpy powerful moves. As with other routes at the Anti-Phil, it is a technical route which actually suits me well. I love it! My first attempt went very well and the route feels doable. I have climbed through the lower part of the route a couple times now in order to commit the foot placements and movement to memory. I feel confident that I will send it soon.