Sunday, November 13, 2005

Scraped, bruised, and battered...

...all in a good day's climb.

Yesterday, Sean and I decided to hit up Enchanted Rock State Park for some hiking and granite rock climbing. It had been over a year since we've climbed here, and I was a bit nervous about it. Why nervous? Well, last time we were here, I chickened out on so much stuff. But that was before we really got into I was curious as to how I would do.

We checked out the routes, and Mystery and Imagination was only a 5.8 -- that one, I chickened out on last year...Some of the routes that we did previously seemed so difficult, yet the ratings were so low...

Well, it was all psychological. I'm so spoiled by climbing on limestone, with the great small huecos (monos) for small fingers, pinches, crimps, and jugs...Climbing on granite posed a different challenge.

Going with a familiar area, we decided to go to the Orange Peel area. There were a few groups of climbers about. As we went to the area to set up the ropes for practice slab, we met two other climbers -- Ben and Andrea. They were pretty cool and offered the use of their webbing which was perfectly set up for use on the practice slab. Sean and I did a quick run up the practice slab as a warm up and practice to get the feel for granite again.

Ben was setting up the anchors for toproping Orient Express, a 5.9 with a scary-ass looking lead. We watched him and Andrea climb the Orient Express with some ease. Ben then offered us the use of their ropes on Orient Express. Me, being a chicken that I am, I'll just belay. I mean 5.9..I've thrown down a 5.10a on limestone..what's up with me? But anyways, Ben and Andrea convinced me to at least give it a try...

Getting to the belay station for Orient Express is tricky in itself. You have to go down this super slopy rock with enough momentum not to fall down to certain injury to the side of the rock, some 7? feet below. Well, I tried, uh..sliding down the rock, Ben caught me by putting is foot out and grabbing me so I didn't fall. All the while, I scraped my left thigh above the knee with a few bruises, too. Tricky getting down there, especially if you're short.

Sean climbed Orient Express first. He encountered some tricky areas, but made it up with a few rests. Then it was my turn. Well well well...long story short, I made it all the way up, with many rests, piecing it together. I didn't even think I'd make it 2 moves of the ground, but the fact that I finished it gave me a confidence boost. I was pretty excited. Granite shall not defeat me...or shall it?

We walked over to the Motorboat area. Ben's Dilemma, a 5.9-, looked really interesting. It has a crack all the way up, but it ain't no oridinary crack. If you're short like me, the start poses an interesting problem...and if you have small hands like me, the crux near the top, where the crack goes somewhat horizontal, poses a problem as well. Sean finished Ben's Dilemma with only one rest.

Me..well..that's another story. I had to start it a few times as the crack threw me off the wall. Layback? Well, was difficult. I finally got to a spot where I could put my hand on a flat spot, pinched the flake on the outer side of the crack, tapped my feet up the wall, then finally, finally, was able to place my foot where my hand was and stand up. That was a resting spot...the next section was not too bad -- I could kind of straddle the crack (yeah, I know that sounds dirty...) and stem my way up. And then the crux, the horizontal part. Well, the crack up there was much larger than what I thought. Once you're in position, you have to lay on your stomach almost horizontally, with both hands jammed into the crack. Easier said than done. And for me, well, I had my whole forearm jammed into the thin part of the crack, and tried to palm something, any kind of texture, with my other hand...slip..slip..slip..shit! That was frustrating, when you can feel yourself slipping and can't do anything about it. If that wasn't hard in itself, getting back to that position was almost impossible. The anchors are offset, so that there's a little swing if you slip, you're completely off course. And it was a bitch to get back into position. I used up so much energy just trying to get back there, by the time I did, I was completely defeated and worn out. The bruise on my forearm from the arm jam is proof positive that it's a route that will kick your ass...

We thought we had one more climb in us, and checked out Motorboat. I stayed on the ground, and Sean scrambled to the top of the rock to see if he could anchor it. Well, for this one, we would need extra long slings -- there are no nicely accessible anchors. There was a tree nearby, but far enough back that it would make the rope run on rock too much. We decided to call it a day and hike back, then head home.

Me hiking back on Echo Canyon Trail at the end of the day Posted by Picasa

Me and Sean Posted by Picasa

View from Enchanted Rock Posted by Picasa


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