Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Actually Climbing Outside and Got a 5.12 (Outside)!!!

In my last blog entry I set myself a seemingly simple goal––to climb at least one more time before I head back to Walla Walla for school. When I wrote that entry I hadn’t climbed outside for several weeks. While I joked about my goal being easy to accomplish I secretly wondered if I’d actually be able to accomplish it. The truth is I never seem to be able to climb on “real rock” (as opposed to “plastic” or artificial rock) nearly as much as I want to.  I have two main problems. First, I sometimes have trouble finding climbing partners. Second (and interrelated) I don’t have a car or a driver’s license which means I need to carpool to climb outside anywhere, which also naturally makes it harder for me to get climbing partners.

Fortunately, I managed to not just meet my goal of climbing outside one more time but to actually exceed it. The past two weekends I’ve climbed outside and next weekend I’ll probably get to climb outside again. The reason: I finally found a good climbing partner to climb outside with on a regular basis. Plus the weather in Seattle has actually been cooperating: it has been sunny and dry, which means the rock has also stayed dry rather than wet (not good for climbing because wet rock is slippery!)

It all started last Saturday––or it could have been Sunday, to be honest I don’t remember.  In any case, that day Linda invited me to climb with her at exit 38 with one of her friends. I met Linda last year on a Washington Trails Association (WTA) volunteer trip. The WTA works on building/repairing hiking trails all over Washington State and is an overall awesome organization. I highly recommend volunteering with them both because it’s fun and you always see get a lot a done so it is gratifying.  Anyway- to get back on topic––I went climbing that day at exit 38, which is in North Bend, which is located near Seattle and exit 32 as well (talked about that area in earlier blog posts).  Linda’s friend turned out to be Ian, who just moved to Seattle from Tucson, Arizona in April. We climbed at the Nevermind wall, one of the popular advanced walls at exit 38. This turned out to be a good thing because even though it was pretty hot that day, Nevermind is behind several trees and was therefore in the shade the entire time we climbed (which prevented me from overheating.) Unfortunately, Linda, in her own words, was there more as a “chaperone” then to actually climb since she was injured. Linda was very kind in that she picked up both Ian and me and drove us to exit 38 and back.  She only tried one climb on the entire trip, and she couldn’t finish it because her shoulder hurt so much.

On the other hand, Ian and I tried several climbs, and they were . . . well, interesting. The main issue is the rock all looks the same so it’s hard to tell what climbing holds were actually good. We both wasted a lot of time grabbing holds we thought would be good but that actually turned out to be bad. Ironically, we did find an 5.11, called Steep Street, that we actually thought was easier than the 5.10c we warmed up on because not only were the holds huge and positive, but you could actually find the huge holds easily. I also tried three climbs where I could barely get off the ground before bailing (i.e deciding not to climb) which was humbling––I just could not find out how to do those routes. The most memorable route I tried was a really hard 5.12b, where I couldn’t even get to where I needed to place my first clip, which was a good 15 feet off the ground (a little higher than I’d prefer). However, I did manage to climb through a spider web, which resulted in a spider climbing all over my back while I was trying to climb. I couldn’t wipe the spider off because then I took the risk of falling (fortunately I have an amazing lack of arachnophobia) so I just tried to pretend it wasn’t there, and I actually forget it was there after awhile. In the end, Ian and I didn’t climb anything that hard at Nevermind, but we did a couple 5.11s and tried many other difficult routes.

Near the end of the day Ian mentioned that he was looking for climbing partners because he was new to Seattle. I jumped at this opportunity to make it clear that I’d be willing to climb with him sometime, and he said he’d tell me if he went climbing next weekend.  He was true to his promise and he climbed with me today, this time at exit 32. To make matters better it was easy for him to pick me up because he only lives a few minutes from my house.

We did a lot of awesome routes at exit 32 but the highlight of my day was when I did my first 5.12 of the summer and only my second 5.12 ever, “Bust A Move.”  “Bust A Move” is a 5.12 but most of the route is actually a relatively straightforward 5.10. However, near the top of the climb you hit a very distinct 5.12   crux (a crux is the most difficult move or series of moves in a climb), hence the 5.12 rating.

My first attempt on Bust A Move was pretty rough but I’m stubborn climber who doesn’t give up without a fight, and I eventually got to the top. When I was first trying the route a lot of the route was in the sun, which caused me to become rather hot and sweaty-not conducive to getting hard climbs. However, my real issue came below, rather than at, the supposed “crux.” There were two holds you had to lay back on (when you “lay back” you literally shift your wait away from the climbing hold or lay back on the hold), and I had a lot of trouble doing that movement. However, after trying that section of the route more times than I could count I finally got past it and made it to the crux section.  I did have to try the crux move a few times before I got it, but it was comparatively easy compared to the section below for me, and I made it the top without further problems. My second attempt went much better because I actually sent the climb (to “send” is to do a climb without falling). I felt much stronger on my second attempt from the start.  The climb was now entirely in the shade which was hugely helpful because I didn’t get nearly as hot as before. I also was more familiar with the movement of the climb and now knew what to do- and what not to do, resulting in me climbing much more efficiently. I made it past the lay back section without any problems (much to my surprise) and then proceeded to do the supposed crux move (which wasn’t the crux for me.) After that it was just a matter of holding on for the remaining 10 feet of the climb, and although I was pretty tired by that point I managed to stay on nonetheless because the holds at the top were good, not to mention that I was determined to finish.

Getting Bust A Move was exciting for many reasons.  The grade aside, I was excited I managed to do a climb I initially had a frustrating amount of difficultly on.  It’s always more satisfying to get a climb you really have to work hard to get. It’s good to know that hard work can actually pay off. Moreover, I felt extremely strong on Bust A Move the second time around. This makes me optimistic that I am perfectly capable of climbing other 5.12a’s and even harder climbs if I just put in the work and time.  Honestly, the reason I think I haven’t done many 5.12s outside is because I haven’t tried many 5.12s outside. As I’ve gradually started to climb outside more, I’ve surprised myself by realizing I can actually climb okay outside. My longtime climbing goal is to keep climbing routes that are difficult for me outside and see what I can do since I do not think I’ve realized my full potential outside yet.

Better yet, Ian wants to climb outside again with me again next weekend. I hope we end up climbing because regardless of how hard I climb, climbing outside is always fun and especially with kind, enthusiastic, and supportive climbing partners like Ian.

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