October 27-28, 2012.
Somehow I managed to wrangle my way into a group of strong climbers to take our chances with the weather this weekend. I was excited to climb but I hoped I wouldn’t embarrass myself too badly.
We hiked into the “Zoo” in a misty drizzle. There, we ran into the developers of this new sport area: Kevin and Jen. They gave us the grand tour. All the routes were heavily bolted, but most were in the 5.11-5.12 range. There was an upper gully with more moderate climbs, but they were slabby and too slick to climb in these weather conditions. That meant our warm-up was a 5.10d. D, as in dog. 5.10d. Like pretty much at the upper limit of my skill level.
To paint the scene: it was about 50 degrees outside. Foggy. We were all cold. I had to hop around just to warm myself up for the warm-up route. My hands were so numb it felt like I was climbing with mittens on. The rock was really sharp, but I didn’t even notice until I looked at my hands: cuts, gauges and bleeding. Fantastic.
The weather began to dry up and clear. There was even a short burst of sunshine. I followed a few more routes in the mid 10-11 range. Everyone led something except me. It was okay though, it was a fun bunch of people. And I can’t believe we got so much climbing in. We returned to the cars after dark.
Note: The road is gated in winter, making the hike in about an hour long.
It was mild and partly cloudy all night and part of the morning, but the weather took a turn for the worse. We thought about bailing, but took a walk down to the Lower Gorge anyways.
First I top roped Cornercopia (5.10b). A bouldery, balancey start led to a stem box. I botched the starting moves big time and struggled to find a flow up the remainder of the route. Meanwhile, another member of our party led Quasar (5.10a) so I hopped on that next. That was super fun with a couple of tricky spots.
We sneaked in two more climbs before the rains came for good. First, Prometheus (5.10c). Finger jamming, liebacking and wide mother-effing stemming on this one. I found it challenging at some points. Once I calmed down and let myself settle into the stemming work I found the moves much easier. Fittingly I made a final attempt at Last Chance (5.10c). This was a really fun climb with killer finger and hand jams that were sometimes very painful. I struggled to find my feet and fell several times, eventually having to bail off. It was my favorite climb of the day, regardless.
Wow, am I wiped out…