Rock Climbing --- 6/23/2005 --- Gunks
Climbed at the Gunks with Jason. We climbed the first two pitches of Northern Pillar to Le Teton. I traversed over to the intimidating face and got two small cams in at the base of the crack. Then up the overhanging face. I got in a blue Alien with only two lobes making contact. Don't know why I bothered to pull up rope to clip it. Moving up to the top of the thin crack, I nearly came off twice, then managed to get a hand jam at the top of the crack. At that point I was completely wigged out. I reset the blue Alien to greatly improve the placement. I fiddled with trying to get a nut in below the Alien as a backup, but couldn't get anything and was getting too tired. So I continued up to the jugs and moved into position to clip the big angle iron up and left of the top of the crack. But I was too burned out and had to drop on to the Alien. It held!! Hurrah! It took about four more hangs before I finally clipped the angle iron and moved up to the arete. After a long rest I moved up the steep but juggy holds to the top.
For some reason my lead head seems to have deteriorated this season. I was glad to persevere on Le Teton, but I know I could have climbed it cleanly. Add to that my fall on Directissima and a hang on Ant's Line -- both of which I had climbed cleanly in 2003 -- and I wonder why I'm falling so much. It definitely seems to be in my head. I get scared on lead, hang out in the worst spots, and pump out quickly. I need to either get over this or get used to it.
After Jason cleaned Le Teton we did the fun rappel from Madame G's and decided to look for something more mellow. We ended up on Never Never Land. At 5.10a, this isn't really more mellow. I had followed Kyle on this climb in 2004 and knew I could lead it. Seemed like a way to get my head back into the game. Not sure why, but I felt supremely confident. Maybe the fact that it is practically a sport climb makes me feel better. I climbed up to the bolt without a problem and stood there looking at the crux move. It had taken me a while to figure out that move in 2004, but I did it cleanly back then. I experimented with a few options, but decided to go with the sequence that had worked for me in 2004. Pulled on two crimpers, left foot high into the dish, start to rock on... POP... both hands blow off the crimpers. I try again with the same result. I'm leaving skin and fingernail bits behind. This isn't a strength issue, it is a friction issue. I ask Jason to throw me his chalk bag. Normally I never use chalk, but when climbing slabs on a hot day I'll make an exception. With the chalk I easily pull the move. Then up to the top. Yeah! I feel good!
Continuing the slab & bolts theme, we head over to Sente. Never would have thought I'd be wanting a stick clip at the Gunks. But there is good gear in the horizontal below the first bolt. Jason leads Sente and does a good job reaching the top. This is his first 5.9 lead at the Gunks. In fact, Jason has never led 5.8 at the Gunks; though he is completely capable of doing so. I clean the route and enjoy another opportunity to torture my fingertips.
By the time we are down from Sente it is late. The hard climbs took us a long time to finish and left us exhausted. Time to head for home after a great day of very strenuous climbing.