Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Within these Walls (Part II)

Week Two: The 'Holiday'

With the first week over (our fun filled benightment being it's climax), i was pretty tired. Maybe take some rest days. It's the 24th of September anyway. This means i have a couple of days to meet up with my annual visitor. Dad. Since the beginning of my adventures in 2007, an opportunity to travel somewhere new, have some adventures of his own on 'holiday' (which never seem to be restful) and reconnect with his nomadic son has manifested itself into an awesome ritual. Previous trips include; That circus of a road trip across the south of New Zealand in a small car packed with two extra surfers (good friends of mine), four back packs and three surfboards strapped to the roof. Rafting, surfing and bungee jumping quickly ensued! The last few years have seen hiking in the Rockies, -30 Canadian winters and a couple pitches of rock climbing. Baby steps right? Well, this year it's the valley!

The day before im due to be at the airport, i luck out and find a ride from Camp 4 to the city (pronounced sh-itty). Frantic to arrive on time, i dash to arrivals and race around like a whirling dervish in the packed terminal. i woke up in a campground this morning. This is intense. Staring at the screen above the entrance like a vegetable,  i jam out to several awesome tunes before i spring out of the chair to meet him. Eager to 'get the hell outta dodge' we head straight for the rent-a-car and hit the freeway. Piles of printed maps for San Francisco are thrust into my lap and it's back like old times. "Look at the map and tell us where we're going". Flashbacks of many roadtrips in France with a huge mapped sprawled across the dashboard light up the memory banks. No problem.

Before long we are downtown and find a place for the car (a victory in itself) before checking into the hotel. Whoa, guess it's time for a shower. (I doubt i'll have to paint a picture of how cleansing that was). The next day we leave the urban noise and head to the valley, with a sigh of relief.

The week that followed was a time i'll remember fondly, even though we had our 'moments' as one with any family can expect! The most rewarding thing was being able to bring him into the family of climbers that i've had the pleasure of meeting and travelling with. No work, no politics, no bullshit. Just genuine people with the same passion for adventure. A nice way to for Dad to meet others like me!

The next step. Topping out on 'After Seven' on Manure Pile Buttress.

Enjoying the view from the top of Yosemite Falls

It makes me so happy for family to see and feel what i cherish so much. I must admit though, i was so absorbed in my journey, i didnt ready myself for a bit of compromise and a different pace. It took time to adjust as i'd been making my own decisions for the past 4 months but this is no excuse for stressing. I noticed that this life does come with alot of selfish actions. Only spending money that is essential, getting as much 'free stuff' as possible and planning everything around your passion is a topic for much hilarity but at the heart of it, you don't think much about compromise. For this i must apologise, i owe you everything for making this journey possible, without your help i would be light years away from now. I loved your company mate (and all the dinners, and showers and comfy beds...but seriously, you know it). What a trip!

Until next time...

Enjoying the concert during the 'Facelift'
Week three: Enough is Enough
With my tent set up again in camp 4, i say farewell to Dad as he drives back towards the air port. Having not climbed alot during that week, i feel as though im rested a little. Ok, let's get on it. My buddy Drew had mentioned 'the rostrum' the day before and i couldn't resist trying such a classic climb. Before long, we're looking up the impressive face of immaculate cracks from the base. I'm first to lead the warm up pitch. Brimming with nervous and excited energy i start the 5.8 layback. I go past a small ledge and the layback gets steeper. Oh the flash pump. The flake runs out and i traverse left to gain a sloping corner. Severely pumped, my foot slips and i fall down the face a few meters until im caught. My anxiety heightens as i've fallen on the easiest pitch! I belay Drew up who informs me of the 5.10c variation i'd climbed instead of traversing the small ledge to easier ground. AH.

Drew leads the second pitch via the '5.11a thin' section. He sticks in a tiny cam into the seam (a green C3) and take a few tries to unlock the sequence. Tricky. Im nervous about the third pitch from being tired so quick but i turns out to be fantastic. Perfect hands over a roof into a crack the same quality of the 'Split Pillar' back in Squamish. Beautiful! At top of the third pitch we bail and come back when we are more confident however. The right decision despite being disheartened. Strike one.

Looking down the third pitch of 'The Rostrum'.
Heading back to the valley we need to burn our energy. What better crack to climb than 'Generator Station'! This 5.10 offwidth that chewed me up during my first week was the offwidth trainer that you can learn some techniques on and how to 'want it really bad'. An offwidth is a term given to crack larger your hand if you make a fist but smaller than your side profile of your body. (Any crack you can fit your whole body into is termed a chimney). This slightly overhanging crack starts with a shoulder and widens into a tight chimney.

Thrutching up Generator.
Without massive gear, you top rope this fiend but the style of climb doesnt concern me, it's getting up this thing in general that does. I put some tape on my left shoulder as it bled last time and a start the shuffle. With my left arm flapping inside the gaping crack and my feet side ways across the crack, i grovel and slide my way up inches at a time, as the crack slowly widens. 20 minutes later and thoroughly knackered, i run into 'Noodles' back at camp and quickly talks me into doing the 'Arches - North Dome link'. "Something like 23 pitches". Cool!

A day or two after, we reach get off the shuttle and look for the base. Stumbling around some talus i drop our biggest water bottle the starts gushing. Damn. We chug the rapidly deleting water and start simul climbing the 'Arches' section. (13 pitches of 5.7).

Doing the 'tension' mid way up route.

4 hours later we finish the wandering lines of cracks. Not bad. We then start hiking up through the forest and reach the lower slabs. Traversing, traversing, we start to get hot as the yellow dot in the blue canvas shoots down on us like a laser beam. I take off my jeans and have flashbacks of the thirst. An hour later we still haven't found the trail. Finding some cairns we go up the left side of the dome. We have been hiking an hour now and things don't make sense. Especially when i inform Noodles that my jeans fell off my bag with my camera inside. Shit. Hiking back down the slabs we find them and start the hike back up. 30 minutes go by and we are done. The flame had officially died. Deciding to bail we walk towards the North dome descent. (urrgghhh) and discover too late that we had been hiking up the descent trail like a couple of noobs. The start of the route is now obvious to us. This is makes the sting even more painful.

On top of the North Dome descent gully. About to bail but trying to enjoy the view!
Finally, after another hour of slipping an sliding down that gully in my crap shoes i found in the free bin we are down and out. Strike two.

A few day previous to this episode, Drew and Lauren ask if i want a ride to Indian Creek. (The temple of crack climbing). Now, i almost sure i'll leave with them. Ok, one more try, one last hurrah and ill be happy. Another morning i wake at 6 am to do a fun classic, the east buttress of middle cathedral. After another hour a walking from camp 4 we reach the base of the route to find 3 parties clustered around the base! Strike three. I sink down onto a boulder and accept that's its over for me in the valley. Go back, get better at steep cracks, get fitter and come back when you think your ready again. I can help but be upset from the failures but i get out of my head and look towards El Cap as the sun rises and paints a veil of rose across the headwall. So beautiful.

The next day, we pack up and leave for the creek. I say goodbye to my friends that will stay and am filled with a new motivation. Time to crack it up!

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