Monday, June 20, 2011

Gunks Initiation

Vicious hooligans beat me up in the middle of the night.  They were of the usual New Paltz crowd--mustached, tattooed and friendly with a hint of sarcasm--but they were changed in the after-hours, as if all of their good day-energy required counterweight in depraved acts.  With glassy eyes and a moan, they kicked me in the gut, stomped on my neck, and dragged me so that my palms grated across the pavement.  It all happened while I was soundly asleep, but I knew what had gone down.  It was the simplest explanation for the way I felt upon waking in the back of Alex's station wagon Sunday morning.

It couldn't have been the climbing we did in the Trapps on Saturday.  Sure, Alex had never been to the Gunks before, and I was excited to provide him with a strong initiation.  Yeah, it was brutally hot and humid.  Yes, we spent 4 hours exerting our every fiber on the punctuated V3 cruxes of The Sting (5.11+), with its little finger ledges and giant throws up the wall; and the rest of the daylight scrapping up the three pitches of Carbs and Caffeine (5.11-), Alex taking 30' hero whips off of the final roof, 150' up in the air.  But crag climbing has never thrashed me so.  It must have been hooligans.

That said, once we dragged ourselves back to the wall on Sunday, I was hardly prepared to lead Stirrup Trouble (5.10b).  The unlikely looking climb took every spare unit of my physical and emotional energy.  I hung at the low crux.  I made stupid choices with gear and rope management on the traverse.  I pumped and embraced the plunge on the upper crux.  A black pebbly faced vulture actually landed within arm's reach as I scratched up the last couple of bulges.  It knew I was just about cooked in the hot sun, salted to perfection with dried sweat.

Off belay at the top, I thought it appropriate for Russ Clune, Fritz Wiessner, or some other Gunks hero to pop out of the woods and revoke my climbing privileges.  I bummed that Alex had witnessed the performance.  I used to be so proud of my onsight record--this sullied it all.

I found a new way to look at it over a few cool beers and a schnitzel at the Brauhaus.  Sometimes, when you try really hard, it feels like you're going in the opposite direction.  A proud onsight record is folly in perfectionism.  Bailure is part of the process. photo from The Sting

1 comment:

  1. Those same damn hooligans left Mexican food in my car!