I'm on a rest day. And by rest, I mean REST. I spent the day in Thermopolis, Wyoming, soaking in a mineral spring fed hot tub, timing our slides into a hot spring pool, and sitting in a mineral steam room. I followed that up by lying in a hammock and rehearsing the lyrics for my performance this coming weekend.
This might be the nicest hike to any crag in America.
I've been here in Lander for 9 days, and have spent some quality time with a couple of different projects. Day one I visited a new area, The Sweatlodge, and BJ Tilden fed me the beta on a great 12b/c, and one of the best 13c's I've ever climbed on called "Ghost Dance". Day two I headed to my intended project for the trip, a short, fierce 13c called "Atomic Stetson".
On my second attempt of the day I was able to link from the 3rd move to the top. Problem is, the Stetson begins with a hard, very physical boulder problem that can be done one of two ways. I could eke out the moves using the less tweaky version, but the mono way is by far the easiest of the two methods. That is, if your tendons are up for it. Mine weren't. Pulling on the deep mono wasn't a problem, and after a few test pulls, I committed to going for the high undercling. I reached it easily, but the real problem began when I had to push down on the mono to stay established in the undercling. Fire shot through my forearm, and I quickly bailed out, immediately nervous that I had ruined the trip. A few more indignant attempts probably weren't the best idea considering my compromised finger, but the athlete in me wanted to fight through it. I was still able to pull the initial problem the hard way, and hiked home wondering how the tendon would feel in the morning.
Exiting the Crux.
I voiced my concern for the finger to BJ, and he reminded me that "Ghost Dance" didn't involve any tweaky left hand holds, and that I had done the moves fairly easily. Not only that, but it is shaded all day, and would be one of the few uncrowded areas during the International Climbers Festival.
Two days of rest and nursing the finger, and I found myself back at the Sweatlodge refining beta and making links. It didn't take long to get really, really psyched on this route. Next day I twice climbed to the hardest, most low percentage move of the low crux, and narrowly missed sinking into the shallow 2 finger pocket. Realizing that I might have started my redpoint attempts a little too early, I hung on the 3rd bolt, found the best way to hold the finicky pockets, and proceeded to easily complete the route from the start of the crux. All that lies below is a somewhat physical 3 bolt 11+, so tomorrow comes the first real shot at a redpoint.
This will mark my first 13c outside of the RRG, and I'll have Becca Skinner and her camera present for the attempts. Send or not, at least I'll have photos!
And then on to Atomic Stetson. It's forcing me to do it the hard way, so all I can do is rise to the challenge.
**All photos on this post are courtesy of Becca Skinner, who is about to embark on an adventure to Indonesia to document post-tsunami rebuilding for National Geographic. You can see more of her photography on the Becca Skinner Photography page on Facebook, and you can read more about her expedition on this post from The Joy Trip Project.