mardi 1 mai 2012
Hand Bone (April 27, 2012)
We picked this route from the guidebook because it looked beautiful. We hadn't been back to Indian Creek since our first trip there last fall and this route is reminiscent of I.C. routes.
However, when we arrived at the Black Velvet parking lot we were greeted by rain. So, we changed the day's objective from climbing to reconnaissance and hiked up to look at the climb. The trail proposed in the guidebook turned out to be pretty exposed and scary even without a full pack so we hiked back down to the car. It was still showering. With nothing else on our agenda for the day we chose to explore an approach from the right hand shoulder and improvised a trail through the desert scrub to get up to the climb. One look at the route and we promised to return. It is a 50' pure crack climb, offset on one side and undulating at the top. It starts out hand size (yellow cam), then gets smaller (red cam), and smaller again (green cam).
That night I thought about the route. I still find crack climbing strenuous and I saw this project as a good opportunity to focus on learning and working on technique.
The next day we arrived mid-morning and I started up the route. I placed three yellow cams and was progressing well until I arrived at the red cam section. Then my feet began to hurt and my jams felt insecure. I immediately became stressed, and my breathing progressed to hyperventilation. Looking back now, it seemed silly because with the good gear below me, there was no real fall danger. From this point forward I progressed upwards with takes at each of the cam placements.
We had lunch and I tried leading the route a second time. This time, I sailed through the first half of the route (I even put in one less cam in) but still took three takes at the red and green cam cruxes. But, after each take, I would successfully make it through the sequence. I brought Bill up to the anchor and saw how he moved continuously. That's the key, I thought. Keep moving. The jams don't have to be perfect, just good enough. I realized that the key to this route is continuous climbing.
I realized that I could make do with 'good enough' and just keep moving.
So that's exactly what I did.
And it worked. :-)