Had a great weekend at the Fins. Arrived Friday night in the Monster Van (Tom’s Quigley 4×4). We got there early enough to get in a couple pitches before the sun went down. I managed to warm up and then put one burn in on Al’s Diner. I fell on the low crux, but the the crimp felt sticky good. Apparently my training of doing 1-5 with the crimp/mono combo on the campus board paid off.
Saturday I warmed up slowly, doing both the warmups on the right side of the headwall. On my first go on Al’s I stuck the low crux move to the jug, and let out a mighty roar. I climbed into the rest and felt energized, but jittery. After getting my breathing and heart rate down I launched into the upper crux section. I latched the mono and setup my feet, but then bobbled going to the next crimp and fell. It was super demoralizing. I gave Al’s a couple more attempts later in the day but was falling on the low crux again. I tried to not let it get me too down, focusing on the fact that this was my first time climbing to the rest from the ground. I ended the day giving Koona a couple tries.
Sunday I was surprised to find that my skin felt pretty good after doing 7 pitches the day prior. The Fins is notoriously rough on your skin. I warmed up slowly (again), cleaning my draws off the two warmups on the right. I gave Koona a burn, and punted off the top. I gave Chris running beta and he flashed Koona, I picked up a new rest sequence in the pocket swap. Using the new beta I sent Koona. While hanging at the anchor looking at the extension I announced that I’d rather give Al’s another try. I ended up taking a very long rest as a couple other folks gave Al’s a try, including a TR beta burn. I tied in, forced a smile, and reminded myself to have fun. It was my first time trying the route without the first bolt stick clipped, but it didn’t matter. I had the bottom section pretty dialed from trying so many times, but this time I just floated it. I stuck the low crux without making a peep, and got into the rest. Another forced smile, slow the breath, have fun. Latch the mono, catch the next crimp perfectly. Set feet, stick the thumbercling. Grab the hockey stick. At this point I’d always figured I’d skip the draw and just move right, but I couldn’t get my foot up into the next pocket. Fortune smiled on me, as Troy had ticked another foot out left that I could use to clip off. He also chalked the only left foot I could use to step up. This was the same point where Tom had fallen off a month ago. I hoped my height would be enough as I reached to the jug.
I stuck it, fully extended. I trembled a bit and focused on my breathing and my feet. I was able to bump my foot into the normal sequence I had rehearsed. I stayed focused on keeping my excitement in check and slowly walked my feet out right, setting up for the final move to the anchor clipping jug. As I clipped the chains I quietly called “Take!” and then screamed for joy. As Tom lowered me I tried to soak in the moment, as you only get to break into a grade once.
There were fist bumps and hugs. I debated shotgunning my crag beer, but just sipped on it instead. Tom sent Al’s the next go. An epic end to an epic weekend. Season’s just getting started…
The mono move in the upper crux. Photo by the talented Mr. Kipp Schorr.