Vertigo is such a great climb. Stefan had been on it twice before without a redpoint despite its pedestrian (by his standards, not mine) rating of 5.11b and he wanted to clean that up. I was game and we met in Eldo at 6:30 a.m. Well, he was there then. I arrived 5 minutes late.
We hiked up to the base of the route and I led the 5.9 approach pitch to the base of the classic dihedral. The guidebook describes this approach as two pitches, but it is commonly done as one and even then it is only about 120 feet long or so. We climbed this route back in March and I had really struggled with the overhanging crux on the approach. This section is a bit awkward, but I remembered the key, huge foothold on the left that is very difficult to see when in the midst of the struggle. I got us up to the ledge without too much monkeying around this time.
Stefan than sent the dihedral, looking pretty relaxed with the desperate fingertip/body scumming that is required at the crux. He cranked up the rest of the dihedral, finding a nice stemming solution to the final bit. He then linked it into the very overhanging Direct finish. This overhanging burly climbing is his strength and he made it look trivial.
On my turn, I fell off the crux a couple of times, but got it on my third try, though it was a very low percentage move for me. I then fell off the next section as well, which involves using some bad fingerlocks to stand up on a shelf. After falling off, I found a very cool way to do this section involving a handhold on the left wall that I had previously ignored and some cool stemming. I finished up to the ledge and took a rest.
I then started up the horrible roof that gives me so much trouble. I thought things were going well, as I got to the lip and, with Stefan coaching me, even got my left hand on the jug at the lip. At this point, the climb is over for Stefan, but it is the beginning of the crux for me. I just don't have the power to lock-off on this hold. I can't do anything, but hold on. I slumped on the rope and tried a couple of more ways, but I couldn't find a solution that I could do, even on toprope. I'm just too heavy and/or too weak. This is frustrating because it isn't just easy for Stefan, but trivial at this point. If it's trivial for him, I should be able to struggle through at my limit...Apparently not true. Dang.
We finished up and rapped off and then toproped Call of the Dodo (super sandbag 5.12a). Stefan had hopes of a clean ascent, but fell far short today, though he did finish it. I climbed up the lower section (supposedly 5.11-) clean, but didn't get far on the overhanging finish. This is very hard climbing here.
We headed back to the car, arriving a little past 9 a.m. Fun stuff, but oh so humbling.