Overcoming climbing fears
At the end of the day of climbing Chris and I were hiking over the mesa towards the car.
“So, on Saturday and Sunday I was climbing rather weakly with Vitaly. I only did eight and nines, wasn’t inspired at all.
I took two rest days, had salmon for dinner last night, got up at the crack of dawn, drove through 4 hours of traffic and led a couple of tens, including George and Martha, which is a real ten.
What is the magic sauce?”
Chris piped up from 20 feet behind me on the trail:
“Me, I’m the magic sauce. You always climb better with me.”
I was thinking she’d say it was the salmon, or the two rest days. But on reflection, she is at least partly right. We’ve been climbing together 13 years. Other than family, Fletch is the only person I’ve climbed with longer…and only by a couple years. We all met within about a year.
There is a bond, or comfort level that comes with a long time climbing partner. You know you can trust them absolutely. But, I trust Vitaly completely too, he is very safe. We’ve been on some long trips.
It’s probably a mix of everything. The salmon (wild caught Alaska Coho) was the perfect ingredient for stoking up on protein and carbs. The two rest days helped loads. Plus there were those two days of cruising with Vitaly on stuff like Pony Keg, Vantage Point, Whip Saw, Throbbing Gristle and Crossing the Threshold.
Chris and I started on Air Guitar. It’s really just got one move at the bottom. The rest is a standard mix of normal crack and face climbing. Gets big at the top but it’s very safe and climbable.
She led Bob’s Your Uncle with one fall. I think she’ll get it clean this season…didn’t struggle at all until the last 15 feet. She asked if I wanted to clean/top rope it, but I declined. My shoulder has been acting up, and with only one day, I didn’t want to get pumped following something out of my price range. I’m a long way from being able to lead it, and I had bigger fish to fry.
On to George and Martha. She is right, I do climb better when she belays me. She is so confident in my ability. I could see it in her eyes. She had zero doubt I would fail, and said so. Vitaly does the same thing…but maybe I believe her more? I don’t know.
I was pulling up rope to clip my second piece and let out a howl when my bad shoulder tweaked. Close to the ground, clipping the second piece is very dangerous. You pull up so much slack that your belayer can’t keep you off the deck in a fall. She heard me howl and thought I was coming off. I was fine…my shoulder just doesn’t like lifting things.
G & M looks so steep and hard, but really there are a series of bomber jugs and side pulls most of the way up. When there isn’t one of those, there are some rattly jams that are good enough to place gear from. Plus a series of very nice hand jams to rest on. I used her Luco tape and it was great, not too slick at all. In a few spots, you have to use a red hand jam, but only briefly, and the feet are good there. You move off the red jam to either a huge jug or great yellow jam…so it’s all very doable. Not to mention the stems off right. Basically if you can stay calm you can ace the first 35 feet and then it’s just like any vantage hand crack.
The #5 at the top isn’t really needed, but it’s very reassuring to have a clear top rope. That last move is a layback off two fist jams. Toe jam below the bulge, pulling on the fists, then step or knee jam above the bulge and reach into the back for the hidden edge on the left. Do sort of a jump step up and stand. Chains are in sight. Love seeing George and Martha! Great people those two.