When we went to Area 44 last week Heather and I had taken a short trip a little farther up the road to see if Cheakamous was ready for us. It wasn't, there was still a half metre of snow on the ground, although the rock was pretty dry in most places. After a week of beautiful weather we decided to see if things had changed.
Boy, had they ever! There were about ten cars up in the upper parking area and almost no snow left anywhere. Awesome time!
We headed off to the Foundation Wall because of it's nice moderates and very close location. The temperature still wasn't high, but we were looking at double digits finally. We set up on the 5.7, 'Flaming Arete' and Heather took the lead.
After she daintily flew up the route I took my turn. This is a climb that I like. The moves are basic, the holds friendly, and there are options available for you to make your own ascent in the way that suits your movement style and body type. It was a great warmup, and just an overall pleasant climb.
We moved over to the 5.8 next door, 'A Chossy Arete' which frankly sucks. I will NOT do this route again, and will refuse to belay anyone who wants to climb it. The belay stance is horrid, and the whole time your climber is ascending there will be dirt getting coming down onto your rope and into your shoes. It's something that I had climbed before, but today's ascent will be my last.
After that debacle we wanted to continue with the logical progression and hit up a 5.9. There are two to choose from at Foundation, one that we had climbed before, a 15M gem called 'Mystery' and an 8M route as well. We felt that 8M is really a waste of time, and there was another party working Mystery. Scratch the 5.9, lets try 'Mystery TV' a highly-rated 5.10a.
This lead is mine, and all I can say is DAMN. The climb started with a couple of good reaches, and once I was level with the first draw I was facing another BIG reach. There were a couple factors contributing to my problems at this point. The only move I could find to execute required a monster high step on my right, while my right hand was pinching a decent hold so that I could force my left hand up to what looked like a reasonable cut in the rock, allowing my left foot to access what looked like not much!
My issue with this was that I had re-injured my right hand a few weeks prior. It wasn't giving me direct pain, but I was hesitant to really put it on the line. Being so low I knew that I was in real danger of hitting ground if the plan that I saw in my mind didn't pan out in reality.
Oh well, a faint heart never laid a lovely lady, did it? I plant and drive up my left side, quickly getting my right following up to a notch a touch above my left hand. This is more than enough to swing my feet up to some decent holds and get the second bolt in. PHEW! Safer now, the next couple sequences are cake, and now I need to find a way out from this bulging overhang just above my head.
That was a cool sequence too, and it led to some very good, balancy moves to finish the climb. That was absolutely the best climb that I have taken down this year. It beats Zoe because there was no slips or weird route finding issues. Love it.
Watching Heather on her climb makes me shake my head though. I'm probably a better climber than her, I have height and strength advantages, but watching her is just entrancing. She usually makes effortless, confident moves with speed and surety that I wish that I could find some days. I feel I climb mostly on guts and muscle, where she climbs on magic and beauty. It's a great contrast. She's definitely a better climber than I am once we're outside.
Another glorious March climb in the books and it's feeling like beer o'clock!