Thursday, July 10, 2014

Anthill Direct w/Octavian

At the top of our third (guidebook fourth) pitch

I met Octavian this morning at 5:30 a.m. We were headed to Eldorado Canyon to do a long, moderate trad route. I chose Anthill Direct, as it has some very fine climbing and can be done as four long pitches. Octavian is a strong, young guy in his 20's. He's a boulderer, mainly, sending V5 and up while I fail on V2. But he's still inexperienced in trad climbing, so I took the sharp end today.

I elected to do the real first pitch of Anthill Direct. That sounds strange to write because "why wouldn't you do that pitch?" No reason really, except that I have usually done the more classic Touch and Go pitches. It had been awhile since I'd done this pitch, but it went well and I ran out 160 feet of rope.

Octavian followed and I led the second pitch and and then strung the third and fourth pitches together into a massive 180-foot wandering, runout 5.7 pitch, which I consider to be one of the best in Eldo. Following this, Octavian slipped off and fell! It was surprising, but my belay was solid and I caught him.

I did the 5.9 direct finish and I don't think I've ever finished this route with the original pitch. I need to do that sometime. At the top I racked the gear and Octavian coiled and carried the rope, sort of. For some reason he didn't coil it into a backpack coil, maybe because he didn't know about carrying the rope like that. I didn't want to patronize him and let him be, but I think it hampered him on the descent of the East Slabs, as he moved quite cautiously and it took us a long time to descend.

Once we hit the trail, I stopped to wait for Octavian to switch out of his climbing shoes into his hiking shoes. As I sat on a rock at the start of the trail, Octavian looked down to my right and said, rather calmly, "Rattlesnake." Sure enough, I was hitting within three or four feet of a sizeable rattler. I'd never seen one in Eldo before. Thankfully it was still early and the snake was in the shade. It never rattled, but slowly slithered off under a bush.

It turned out to be an exciting morning for both Octavian and I!

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