We Reap What We Sew

Some famous and bad-ass climbers will cover their pants in patches, gaining publicity for their sponsors and money for themselves.

I'm skipping the fame and bad-ass parts, and not even going to bother with the piddly amounts of money available from gear companies. I'm going straight to the big-time and will be seeking immediate sponsorship from Cellular Innovations! We all need phones, right?

The actual story behind this strange bit of sewing is much more interesting and far less potentially lucrative. I'd spent a few afternoons working on one of the hardest pitches at the Index Town Walls - Narrow Arrow Overhang. My method of overcoming the crux roof, 100' up, involved throwing my feet and legs above my head, and lodging both knees into a very shallow chimney feature. There are no cracks or holds in this area, but I hoped to climb it knees-first. This worked with varying levels of success, but practicing these moves also resulted in bloody knees, bruises on my legs, and torn pants. I wanted to give the route one last shot before the fall monsoons began, but I had some problems:
  1. The Index store sold packing tape, scotch tape, masking tape, but NO athletic tape.
  2. My only pants were shredding and my knee already bloody.
  3. And I'd fallen off the route repeatedly on top rope the day before, after whipping from different spots on my first lead attempts.

Luckily, caffeine, boredom, and a junk-filled subaru provided exactly what I needed. I found a few old sewing needles in my pack, leftover from our repair-kit for the summer's trip to the Waddington area. Without thread, I re-purposed my dental floss, and initially planned on just sewing up the tear in my pants. And then, hidden amid dust and wrappers beneath the seat, I stumbled across a small rubber pad used for keep electronic devices from sliding. It was perfect! Not having other pants with me, I actually sewed this pad onto the very pants I was wearing!

 It all reminded me of Kramer's story:

Armed with my trusty purple camalot for the crux, and with new-found faith in my ability to kneebar without shredding my denim and falling head-first past the roof, I tackled Narrow Arrow Overhang, and managed to send the full 37m pitch. The first 5.10 section to anchor #1 is fun and athletic, the next 5.11 section to anchor #2 is tense and scary, and the final third is simply a hard, well-protected, and amazing.

During my first 11 months in Leavenworth, I've probably climbed at Index over 20 times. And my favorite route in the area is undoubtedly the one that took me the most work to complete, Narrow Arrow Overhang. I think Ben Gilkison's 2008 ascent of this route was the FFA of the complete P1.
15' below the anchor after falling at the crux. Thanks Matt Van Biene for the picture!

Now its raining and running with water, but as soon as things dry out, definitely check out this awesome line. To the first anchor is .10c, to the second anchor is .11c, and if you stop short of the roof and climb right to NAD, it's .12d. The best way to hang a TR after an easy warmup is via p1 and p2 of Godzilla, done as a 50m pitch of 5.10. This allows you to rappel straight to the anchor atop NAO, and a 35m rope barely touches the ground, hanging a few feet out from the wall the whole way. And since this route now tackles the roof, it is definitely more "direct" than Narrow Arrow Direct, so maybe just saying NA left and NA right makes a lot more sense.


The 7Cs Project

Goals are important if one wants to improve at something. They are also personally motivating, giving me something to work toward and get inspired by. I wrote down a few goals a year ago and I've accomplished quite a few, with others still high on the list. Two the of my goals I didn't accomplish were free ascents of Rainbow Country in Red Rock and Moonlight Buttress in Zion. Having these near the top of my list has inspired me to work on a different, long-term rock climbing goal I'm calling the "7Cs Project".

I want to climb THE classic 5.12c or 5.12d or 5.13a wall or long multipitch route in each of great freeclimbing areas in North America. Here is my tentative list of areas and routes that qualify.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison - Tague Yer Time
Zion National Park - Moonlight Buttress
Red Rock - Rainbow Country
The Needles - Romantic Warrior (this route isn't so long, but I really want to do it!)
Yosemite - Freerider
The Cascades - Thin Red Line
Squamish - Gravity Bong or Northern Lights to Yukon Gold
Bugaboos - Sendero Norte

I've completed 1/8 and done parts of 3 others. Even if this takes me years, it will provide good incentives to stay in cragging shape AND visit some of the most amazing parks and peaks on the continent. If there's a better alternative to any of the above routes, I'd certainly appreciate suggestions for different climbs.


Rock&Ice Magazine Article

Snag a copy of the December issue of Rock&Ice. I wrote an article about an amazing climb (and climbing area) to the Southwest of Denver, the complex of walls is called Thunder Ridge. Garrett Grove's beautiful pictures were used.

And a few more of GG's shots from the area's other great 5.10 routes.

"Is this for Real?" - 5.10

Lisa Stern on "So Wild" -  5.10


Crimea River - We're all Local Somewhere!

During the past month, a climbing controversy arose when 3 or 4 individuals paid and sponsored by The North Face established new, bolted routes on a peak in the Crimean Ukraine which had traditionally been climbed ground-up. Their bolts were chopped, and most of the controversy was about one new multipitch climb that wove through existingroute, and added roughly 2-dozen new bolts. The problem arose because they drilled their bolts and scoped out their line while hanging on ropes from above. This supposedly violated a "local ethic". So what?