Saturday, 26 May 2012

A humble start to a soon-to-be storied career.

Starting from the little crag nestled quietly in the far reaches of North Vancouver's Lynn Headwaters Regional Park known locally as 'Sulley's Hangout' to what unimagined heights?  Only time may tell!

A date that will be indelibly carved in my memory for the rest of my life, this day started out like so many others...  Coffee, cereal, orange juice, and off to the car to meet up with Mert and Ursula for a day of outdoor climbing.

Heather and I were excited, that much is certain, and a little apprehensive too.  We met our mentors at the Safeway and set forth.  Armed with just enough information to get us by and a vague description of how to find our objective, we were optimistic on that beautiful morning.

Once parked in the lot at the trailhead, I realized that I had already made big mistake #1...  Don't hike in flip flops.  Rookie.  Like I don't already know this one, and now I'll have to live with my error.  We start the trip in, and spot the turnoff into the trees as was described on the interwebs.  Then my poor footwear really starts to be a pain when the going gets steep.

Eventually, we reach the bottom of the crag, there's a fair number of people there already, but we manage to select a free climb that is within the range of difficulty that we feel comfortable a big, bad 5.7 that was a whopping 18M tall, appropriately named 'Beginner's Luck'.

Looking up at that modest granite slab, listening attentively to the safety instructions that I was receiving from the more experienced climbers, all I can remember thinking was, "This is why I started climbing again!  I can't wait to do this"

Do that I did.  The first day there was no leading, not even cleaning.  The advantage of having a pair of experienced companions with only one set of gear.  The first route was a piece of cake, I was already pushing 10d in the gym, after all.  Great holds, low angle, a wonderful opportunity to see what climbing was really meant to be.  Second climb was disposed of with casual disregard as well.  When confronted with the third climb, we were running out of selection for routes, so we took a 10a.  Nothing beyond anyone in the party that day.

27M in height, '3M' was a new animal to discover.  Fairly vertical, especially over the crux, not much in the way of obvious jug-type holds either, that didn't give me a moment's pause.  10a.  That's all the info I need.  I will eat this thing for lunch.  Went up quick and smooth...  until about 20M or so above the ground, when I was coming out of the shade of the trees.  The sun blasting directly in my eyes, toes carefully pressed inwards on a crack in the granite, and my left hand resting on a lump of rock, I couldn't see anything for my right hand to go to!  What's this business?  Where's the piece of tape inviting my hand to grab a well-placed piece of plastic? 


Now I understand.  Now I see how it's different.  Now I'm almost nervous.  Breathe.  Just breathe.  On top rope.  Nothing bad can happen.  Beautiful day, doing something I love in a beautiful place.  Ok.  Eyes adjusting to bright light, and there, not much of a hold, but I think it will help steady me.  Good.  Moving on...

The last 7M went by smoothly, my moment of anxiety left behind, I am slowly lowered back to terra firma, successful yet again.

That's about enough for one day.  I learned one thing more important than any other this day:  I really, really like this, and am pretty sure that I will be great at it.  All I need is a little bit of knowledge, and some gear.

Looks like fun times ahead!