I can't shake the feeling that I came into climbing in the wrong generation -- all the low hanging fruit has been plucked, coddled, and juiced. I want to explore! People say that we're now in a prime place in climbing history with modern techniques and gear opening up new amazing FA possibilities, and it's true. New routes these days blow my mind. But all that still falls into the elite category. If you look at the rates of growth of techniques, gear, and FA completion, I would propose that there was a knee in the curve when techniques became fairly modern but a lot of rock remained unexplored. It might be interesting to try to put some numbers to my harebrained proposal; in the mean time, my real point remains: new challenges are just fun!
The Sandias are full of unclimbed rock, linkup options, hardman potential, and training opportunities. When the first cold, snowy day hit us this winter (Dec 3, 2011), Micah and I sniffed the curious alpine fruit -- a snowy rock climb to whet our ambitions for AK 2012! (Note: I'm not suggesting this was the first snow climb of the route, no doubt it's been done.)
|Excited for the unknown?|
We would hit the NW ridge of the Thumb (III 5.5), a route I'd done in a few configurations already - with rope, without, etc. It'd be a perfect avenue to scratch up with crampons and a tool. And it was a blast!
|Starting up easy ground.|
|It was a treat being completely alone in the canyon!|
|We roped up about 1/3 of the way up, where the sidewalk ends.|
|Our gear choices were right on. We wore La Sportiva Trango S Evo boots and simple|
crampons. We each had a single basic tool which we used occasionally. We
carried a light rock rack and single rope.
|Micah traversing into one of the cruxes.|
|We swapped the 4 roped pitches. Snow made it difficult to find gear.|
The climbing was simple fun and went on without a hitch, though a little slower than expected. I got back just in time to not blow off my date! Anyway, best not to dwell on whether I got screwed out of the prime climbing generation after such a quality day. Really, if we could contrive such a fun climb with just a little snowfall, what else is waiting out there for us?