Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Foundation Of Fun

It's time to head out again.  A big group today Heather and I meet, Karinya, and Jordan downtown for a bright and early start.  Upon arriving at Cheakamous the decision is made to start with the Foundation wall, and see where the day leads us.

Heather Leading 'Flaming Arete'
Heather is up first.  It's been a while for her, but she steps up to take the lead on 'Flaming Arete'.  She's even bold enough to be the guinea pig for Karinya's lead belay lesson.  These ladies have climbed together a million times, so they understand each other pretty well, and Heather has led this route more than once before, so it shouldn't be a big deal.

Jordan and I stick close through the start, and Heather is moving confidently up the climb, showing no rust for all the time on the shelf.  Once she's past the really fun part with a big step and a wiggle, Jordan and I move off to start up a second rope. 

We drop the tarp at the bottom of 'Mystery', just as the second group of climbers comes up the path from the parking area.  This is a sweetheart of a warm-up, and Jordan starts off on the small, well placed holds through the starting area as Heather is finishing up her climb.  Jordan makes short work of this challenge, he seems to have some pretty excellent technique. 

As I renew acquaintances with an old friend, all I can think about is the first time I climbed Mystery, back in the mists of time, when I accidentally started on the 11a beside it...  Ooops!  Mystery is just a fun climb, gets your gut into it, and your fingers all woken up.  Tall enough to be worth the effort, and the technical section around the third bolt is very pleasant.

The tree isn't in, as much as you want it to be, and I'm soon enjoying the view and anticipating our next climb.  We leave Mystery set up for the ladies to attack, and once they have cleaned off 'Flaming Arete' we grab the gear and set up to attack 'Real TV' a beautiful 5.10a.

This climb is all about the difficult lower-third, with that delicious big step on a right hand pull.  Jordan is seems a touch hesitant because of how low it is, and I remember how long it took me to accept that that was going to be my move the first time I touched that climb too...  Once through there to slightly easier climbing above he maneuvers out from under the roof and on to the big jugs above.

Now we're well and truly warmed up.  The ladies are thrashing away on Mystery, sounds like a ton of fun over there, and most of the routes on the wall have climbers on them.  No surprise that it's a crazy busy day at Cheakamous.  The only free choices now are 5.10d or 11a, so we go after the 10.d

'Polychronopolous' is the 5.10d.  From the ground it looks mighty slopey, which is concerning to me.  I'm still climbing in my old 5.10 Spires, which were wonderful shoes in their glory days.  I replaced them with Sportiva Mythos back before Skaha, and have started going back to them because the Mythos just aren't breaking in how I would have liked.  So I'm climbing on shoes that slip, and slip often... Concerning...

Jordan leads it, and has one of the most awkward moves of the day to get past the fourth bolt, but successfully completes the climb.  I pull the rope and prepare, Heather is going to be belaying my attempt, sporting Jordan's awesome belay specs.  Fashion model! 

The start is pleasant and straightforward, there are lots of those strange undercling pockets that abounded on Real TV, and they are useful.  The climbing starts to get trickier approaching the third bolt, and it becomes clear that I will be very off-balance while trying to get close to the fourth.  It's starting to look pretty smooth up here, and I'm getting concerned about the holding power of my rubber.

Wade All Spread Out On 'Polychronopoulous'
Slowly making my way up farther, I'm just below the fourth bolt when my right foot decides that it has had enough of the wall, as it slips free, sending me zipping back down the wall.  A nice soft catch from Heather, and I'm left hanging, examining the spot I just occupied, while looking for some more impressive seams for my feet.

I try again, keeping my weight more on the left, and my body more vertical, to get a hand on the fourth draw.  Good!  Another trial passed, I continue smearing my way up the slab, until I gain much friendlier holds above.  By this time I'm sweating buckets, it's quite a warm day, and so beautiful.

Karinya is belaying Jordan up 'In Your Face', and we finish up at about the same time.  He's ready for another challenge, so we start evaluating the last remaining route on the wall, 'Mystery TV' a 5.11a.

If I can add this to my tick list it will be my first 5.11a outdoor on lead, which would be a pretty awesome culmination to a great day.  Jordan again leads off, getting two bolts into a reachy climb before starting to have a problem.  It looks like there's almost no feet here, and the hands are tiny, tiny.  I don't envy him, but he's doggedly trying every possibility, to no avail.

After a mighty effort he's down to the ground, and I'm ready to do battle.  The first few moves are fine, but I'm quickly frustrated at the same point as Jordan.  Those two tiny pinches at the farthest reach of my arms really aren't doing much to support progress.  There's a questionable feature that might take some weight if I can get my left foot almost up to my waist without throwing myself completely off balance, but it's a hard, hard move. 

I did get the move started once, only to hear the horrifying sound of rubber sliding across granite as my shoe refused to hold and abandoned ship.  I'm spent, absolutely exhausted, and completely frustrated.  Is this truly my first defeat?  I think that is what we have here. 

With a heavy heart I deposit a quick-link on the wall as a monument to my failure.  Goodbye, perfect record.

Everybody is wrapped up, so it's time to head off to Alice Lake to enjoy some quality cool down time, while I try to forget my shame.  Mystery TV, I'll be back.

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