After a mixed morning's effort at Shannon Falls Mert and I headed up the road to Area 44 to try some more vertically-inclined climbing. Area 44 is always a popular destination, and this beautiful day is no different. There are over a dozen cars parked here already, and fitting one more in looks pretty questionable. Oh well, I'm not going to miss out on climbing more because of parking issues.
Down we trek, all the way to the end, with the goal being to try a 'Top 100" 5.10a hiding at the end of the area called 'Rocky Horror' It will be the highest difficulty climb that I have tried outdoors on lead. I'm stoked, and the idea of climbing something that highly regarded is quite attractive. Only concern is whether or not we will actually find it free.
Luckily there isn't a single other soul in that area when we arrive, so we set up to hit it. It's an awkward approach and setup there. The gulley is very steep, and like all of Area 44 it is quite unstable ground, there really is not much space to stand and move around. We decide that Mert gets first crack, he feels the need to redeem himself after a rather tough morning at Shannon Falls.
Unfortunately for Mert, a good chunk of the middle of the climb follows a beautiful overhanging crack. Mert readily admits that he has pretty much zero crack experience, and doesn't much care for it. He moves confidently up towards the half way point before he starts to struggle. After trying to work out the moves at the fifth draw for quite some time, he concedes defeat and lowers off.
Whoa. My turn already? I had hoped to observe the whole route before trying my luck. I guess this will pretty much be a legit 'on sight' attempt. And, away I go. The moves are nice, the holds are comfortable. Before I know it I have passed the point that Mert made it to and am continuing up. As I'm trying to find the correct placement for attaching my next draw I slip! I had been trying to get comfortable to place a draw, but Mert thought I was clipping and had let out a healthy length of rope when I came dropping off the rock like I had just let go! Before I even realized I had fallen I was dangling 20 feet below the rock, spinning like a top. Ooops...
Bounced my way back up none the worse for the experience and continued my ascent. The move that I wasn't even trying to make when I fell was easy-peasy. The crux for me was two bolts down from the top, I ended up with one leg flagged straight out while making a big pull on my left arm. It was pretty intense, and there was a whole lot of nice holds after that. What an awesome feeling once I got to the top.
After I lowered off we decided to try the 5.9 beside Rocky. Mert started first again, but it's just not his day. I certainly didn't find this one to be as fun as the 5.10a, but it was a pretty good climb. Really edgy, and the sun was off the route, which made me rather sad, but it was a fun.
What an awesome day of climbing!