Monday, June 25, 2007

Finding my trad legs

Gunks, 2007. I was thrust into the lead position for the whole weekend, a first for me, and learned a thing or two about 5.6 stress on High E and Moonlight. Thanks to Trevor for the production and a very memorable trip!

Monday, June 18, 2007

The GF "Test"

The following is a trip report I posted on long ago. So much has changed. For one, the GF and I will be married this coming Saturday 5/28/2011.

First off, I regret the superficial implication that this was a "test." It was meant to be cheeky. That being said, isn't pretty much everything in dating a test? :)

Second, to fill in a little background: she had been toproping once and to a rock gym a couple times, spread over the past year, so there was a very base level of familiarity.


With a long drive from Philly to the Gunks, I had hoped to get an early start. 600am was the plan. We left at 630.

"30 mins late," my mind nagged, "time...effeciency is essencential!" This was the part of my brain that wants to go alpine--the part that wants every minutia of a trip to make an elegant contribution the whole. "This is a different kind of trip," I resolved, "I HAVE to go with the flow."

A quick stop to pay homage at Rock and Snow, then the Bistro Mountain Store and we were parked and headed up the Stairmaster.

My intent was to climb Betty (5.3) as the highlight of our day, following a TR tutorial on P1 of Finger Locks (5.5). Of course, the guide wall was thronged. I consulted the guide book and spotted Easy V (5.3) over by Arrow.

We took our time getting the gear ready and went over the concepts.

Teachers make bad students.

By invoking this generalization I don't mean to say my that gf, a teacher of inner-city kids with behavioral problems, didn't listen to me. It was just hard to tell.

I climbed the first pitch, which was long and slightly slabby, with soloing in mind, set up a TR achor and rapped down, leaving the gear for her to clean.

She climbed it without pause, leaving a tricky cam for me to clean.

Seeing that she was completely unphased upon returning her to terra firma, I went over the plan for completing the second pitch. She would belay me to the top of P1, this time on TR, I'd bring her up, then we'd have to traverse the GT ledge about 40', then complete the last short section, which contained the crux.

After bringing her up to the GT ledge I asked her how she felt about walking unroped across the ledge to the beginning of the next pitch. The ledge is a good ten feet wide and is perfectly flat. Nonetheless, I still get a little freaked walking it, naked of the systems of protection I'm used to having in exposed placed. She shrugged, "yeah, that's fine," and untied her knot.

Following me across the ledge, coming out of the corner of the first pitch, we attained full-view of the landscape. Gorgeous.

"Woah, I didn't realize how high we are," she said. I smiled internally. "We're not really going up there?" she asked, pointing at a V-notch in a typical Gunks roof, which comprises the crux of the route.

"You're going to rock it," I told her, trying her off to a large tree. She put me on belay and I set off.

"Okay, but don't fall."

I climbed the pitch, taking note of the key moves I used, in case I'd need to offer beta. I put her on belay and she proceeded up.

I heard my name drift in the breeze as she approached the crux. "You got it hon!" I offerred.

I saw her head appear through the notch. "I don't like you right now," she said, showing her uncertainty of the situation.

"I know you can do this."

"I know I can do it too, but I don't want to," she stated.

"Had I pushed too far?" I wondered for a split second, as she pulled through the crux with hardly an issue.

I brought her up and we relaxed, both of us happy.

To this point I hadn't made up my mind whether it would be best to walk-off or I should lower her, or just teach her to rappel. Everything having gone so smoothly and having noted a nest of webbing on a tree set back from the ledge about chest-height--an ideal placement--I decided to go with the rappel.

I showed her the setup and showed her how she could weight test everything while still being attached to the anchor.

I then rapped down to be in place to give her a fire-man's belay. On the way down I noted a short free hanging section that made me wonder how she would handle it.

She set herself up and slowly proceeded down. Coming to the free hanging section, "what do I do now?!"

"Continue on babe."

And she did.

We traversed to some chains near the top of the first pitch and repeated the process.

"That was way better than the first one," she commented, having enjoyed that she could keep her feet on the wall.

To cap off the day we headed back over to the guide wall to find Finger Locks open for business. I quickly racked up, climbed and setup a TR.

My gf enjoyed watching a husband and wife couple climbing a thin slabby section to our left. "She was so happy to have made it through the hard part...and they had a little celebration on top," she told me once I got down.

Then she started up the slabby hand to finger crack that is Finger Locks or Cedar Box (5.5)

I've seen the crux, a short vertical section with a thank-god tree on top, shut several of my newbie friends down. But not my gf. She pulled right through it, comitting to the moves right off the bat.

"That was a fun one! Not scary at all," she said.

I climbed it once more to clean our anchor. At the tope I met the couple who had been on the route to our left. I mentioned how I was bringing my gf out for the first time.

"Well, did you see that thread on" the gentleman asked me.

"Yup, that was me," I chuckled.

We chatted about some of your replies, the Shockley's incident, in particular, which I hadn't yet read.

The couple let me rap down on their rope, ending an excellent day at the Gunks.

I just got a text from my gf that she's been bragging to her friends at work about our Sunday, and has been receiving some props! She also said that the "craving is set."

In retrospect, I may have pushed her a little hard. Her work makes her exceptionally good at handling stressful situations without showing signs. Not seeing signs of stress, I kept on pushing.

On the other hand, she owned it.