Saturday, November 13, 2010

Diamonds and Dust

Run-out sections of climbing take all the mental toughness you can muster.  It sucks when the feared happens or nearly happens.  I was lucky enough to have this experience.

I was climbing, poorly, a route called Like a Turtle (.11b and not the Madonna song).  The route is nothing exceptional and makes a decent warm-up.  Let me caveat that, it has a run-out going to the last bolt.


It’s not difficult climbing but spacious.  Am I sounding repetitive?  I just want you to understand that I was strapping on my biggest courage package to pull these moves through perceived danger.

Grab the crimp, steady self with under-cling, move feet up, and repeat but vary the holds.  Now I’m to a point that my feet are at least a body length above the last bolt with a final move.  A final gentle slap to a clipping jug; a clipping jug that slowly disintegrates in my hand while raining sandstone drops on my belayer.

So I’m run-out, not confident and ready to poop diamonds as my only salvation collapses into dust in my hand.

What to do?  What to do?

Cry.  Curse. Scream. Deal with it.

Some quick movements, a lightning clip and phew.  Well I’ll through those shorts away, but the disaster was averted.


Joseph Crotty said...

Where you gonna crater or just scare yourself really bad?

Tony said...

As freaked out as I was you'd might assume death and/or serious injury was at stake. It takes much less than that to wig me out these days...not climbing confidently.

The whole route is ~55' tall with the first bolt at max stick clip height around 15'+ (my 7' with arm fully extended plus ~10' stick). The last bolt was likely above 45' off the deck. My fall would have pulled the belayer up at least half the distance to the first bolt given our weight difference of ~50#+ (I'm on the butter side right now). Add that to 12' to 20' fall potential from being above my last bolt, I was looking at a 20' to 25' fall. Big enough for my tender spirit.

My mental calculus had me being brought in for a safe landing between the second and third bolts. Or at least safely off the deck.