|Mark high on the third pitch of Over the Hill|
Mark suggested Over the Hill this morning and I immediately agreed. Mark had climbed the route once before, over a decade ago. We hiked up to the Rincon wall and found Nate Beckwith and his partner gearing up to climb the first pitch of the Center Route so that they could toprope the Evictor. I've known Nate only electronically, but from way back in the days of rec.climbing. He recognized me and introduced himself. Obviously he is still climbing very strong.
We geared at the base and I led up the first pitch, which I always link to the second pitch, since they are short. I backed off the crux moves (10a) once and barely scraped through on my second try. I don't think I did it the easiest way, but I didn't trust my feet stemming on the polished right wall. Still my legs and core were getting worked over. The upper crux, rated harder (10b), went a bit easier for me, though still pretty desperate.
I belayed from two shiny bolts that weren't there the last time I climbed this route. It seems they were installed so that you could rap off after these first two pitches. We wouldn't be rapping, though, as the 5.9 third pitch is stellar climbing. Mark looked really good on both cruxes, but came off. After he came off on the first crux, he figured out the key: get the left leg on the best possible foothold and press on it hard while palming the right wall. It worked well for him and this is the proper way to do the crux, I believe, as he looked way better than I did with my crazy thrutching. On the upper crux, Mark forgot this technique and came off again. When he went back to this general strategy, he cruised it.
The third pitch is super neat trad climbing, but it is handy to have some stoppers to protect it, as the crack is quite thin. I forgot the stoppers, but was able to scrape by with the two biggest RPs and my two smallest Aliens. Mark followed nicely and we called it a morning.