June 25, 2011.
In the Lower Gorge, one can escape the masses of climbers at Smith Rock. But you need skills: trad climbing skills. And ideally, partners who climb harder than you. Today I had both.
We started on Delicatessen (5.8), with Tom on lead. It was pretty good, but not particularly memorable. I led the one right next to it, Dire Wolf (5.8). Somehow I left all the small nuts on the ground and I really could have used them. I finished anyways, and it was more enjoyable than the 1 star the book gave it. My next lead was less impressive: Patent Leather Pump (5.9). I got about halfway up to a great ledge and was completely stymied. I built an anchor and lowered down for Tom to finish. Even on TR it was hard for me to manage that sequence of moves.
We did some toproping on Dave’s climbs too. Quasar (5.10a) was a really fun crack with a bubbly, rocky start. Erogenous Zone (5.10c) was next. This was a strenuous finger/thin finger crack with a couple of big, reachy moves and a creative crux. We all did it a little differently. I went virtually sideways, using counterpressure with both hands on a lip to my left and my right foot smearing out right to a ledge. It was crazy. But it felt good to nail it after falling on it once.
The last climb of the day was an adventure. Tom decided to lead Gruff (5.10a). This was NOTHING like the book description. Tom plugged it up with gear and had to build an anchor to belay me up halfway through. I took the direct start since I was on TR and it was challenging! When I got up to the belay it was difficult to manage the rope, gear and bodies all in one big cluster. I was happy when Tom took off o I could get as comfortable as one can get in a hanging belay. He took awhile to lead the second half so I tried changing body positions frequently so my feet and knees didn’t get too tired. The second half of the climb sucked. I was happy to be done. Sitting atop this pitch in piles of bird poop… We rapped down and called it a day!