Monday, April 7, 2008

Gunks Gumby

Yesterday I went to the Gunks to climb. In a fit of gumby rage I decided to make a fool of myself.

We climbed a route called something wick I'm not really sure. It doesn't even really matter I suppose.

It is rated 5.7G. For those of you that don't know anything about climbing or climbing grades that means it's easy, has big holds and an abundance of available crack placements. I thought that this would be a wonderful warm up. To some degree I was right. It was a great warm up that kept me on the sharp end for close to an hour.

The climb started out normally. It was a nice day out. Not too cold not too hot. I racked up with a variety of cams and a set of nuts (which you don't actually get to use too much in the horizontal ledge systems in the Gunks). I noticed I was slightly nervous as I began climbing for some reason. I figured as soon as I got going and got some gear in I'd be fine. It let off a little, but I was climbing slowly and cautiously for being on a 5.7 jug haul. Well whatever I was thinking. It would be over soon, and then I'd do something else.

After sorting my way and zigging and zagging through a few wet parts I reached a large ledge covered in mud and wet grass. Despite my best efforts to avoid the grass I eventually was saturated. The bottoms of my shoes were soaking wet. my knees, thighs, arms and hands were covered in mud and water. Every hold I reached for was full of water. The chalk was doing nothing but caking in clumps.

I say all this like it's an excuse. It's not. The climb was low angle and riddled with large easy to hold onto holds, but I was being a big fat cry baby. I looked left and right for probably 30 minutes on this ledge. climbing up and climbing down climbing left and climbing right. Down climbing, setting a cam, climbing up, deciding that was a bad placement and climbing back down to get it only to reset it somewhere else. I was doing that because it was my absolute last piece of gear, and the next one down was about 15 feet away and I still had 20 feet of dripping stone left to climb. I fixed my eyes on this tree on a ledge and tried everything. I had a large sling left and a locker so this was basically my only option.

I was not interested in slipping off going for the tree, falling, hitting the ledge 20 feet below, breaking my legs and then cascading down the rest of the climbing until (hopefully) one of my pieces caught me. Well, at least I wasn't interested in doing that on a 5.7.

Eventually I got to the tree. I immediately looped the tree, clipped in and lit a cigarette. I pulled Kevin up to me who made the climb look like walking up stairs. Kevin and everyone below gave me a hard time for making the climb last so long.

I did what any self-respecting climber does in this situation. Went bouldering for the rest of the day.

Moral: Even the P&C crew can be gumbies on occasion.

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