Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Gunks - Day Three

Leading the second pitch of Bonnie's Roof

When I awoke today the ground was soaked and it was overcast, but it wasn't raining. By 10 a.m. it looked liked we'd be climbing and we packed up and headed for the cliff. The rock was still soaking wet, but drying. I figured I should be able to lead a 5.6 even it if was soaked and I was just barely right. I think I put in more gear on Rhododendron than any other pitch that day. Okay, that isn't true, but I did place two pieces within ten feet of the ground. I didn't trust my feet at all and didn't want to fly out of the crack and land on the stump at the base of the route. 

You'd think feeling insecure on 5.6 wouldn't lead me to attempt a wet 5.9 with this description in the guidebook: "Many people have decked from this route while trying to place the second piece of protection." Yet, that's what I wanted. Mainly because Laurel was about thirty feet to the left of the last route and I was all shoed up. It basically consisted of one 5.9 move where I had to stand up on a tiny, wet foothold while grasping two wet, marginal hand holds. It took me quite awhile to commit to this move. I protected it with an RP. Once I made the move I was able to get in a solid cam and then the rest of the route was easier and well protected.

I'll update this later, but we then did Bonnie's Route (5.9), which was incredible. The first pitch was the crux, but the 5.7+ second pitch, which traverses out to an arete with tons of air and great holds epitomizes why I climb: fun adventure in a super cool position. This much more than pure difficulty, is why I climb.

We then did Airy Aria (5.8+), which started with a very committing lieback and felt harder than the 5.9's I had done so far. I strung the first pitch with the second and it was continuously interesting. I set up a hanging belay on a prow and Bruno led through to the top.

We finished with Three Doves (5.9) and the 5.7+ route to the right, while we waited for a party of three young guys to clear the crux pitch. It involved some exciting climbing above an old fixed pin, which I backed up with an RP. We didn't get back to the car until after 7 p.m., having done ten great pitches.

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