Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Yesterday (Monday, February 18) I climbed again with Marc. We did a relatively new climb called Rawlpindi (sic), a 4 pitch 5.7 that ends at a two bolt anchor almost 600 feet above the canyon floor. The first two pitches go about 300 feet up a steep, narrow gully. I got to lead the first. I thought it was the better (more sustained) of the two. The third pitch was spectacular. It climbs 170 feet up a steep, thin face and ends in an airy hanging belay.

Marc kindly offered me the lead on pitch 3, and I said, “Sure” with more confidence than I felt. I organized our rack just the way I like it and moved up. None of the individual moves was hard, but the whole long face was quite thin, with none of the comfy, reassuring ledges I am used to at the Gunks. Many of the holds were those little ridges of sandstone I have not yet come to trust. They look and feel so fragile.

These factors, combined with a lot of exposure, had me concentrating hard on every move. I was in my own little world: just me, the rock, the gear I could place and the rope. It was leading at its best, at least for me. My brain is jumpy, always bouncing from one thought to another and on to a third or fourth. One of the attractions of climbing (as well as driving my race car or teaching a class) is the singular focus it imposes. The pitch ended in an exposed, hanging belay.

Marc did a very nice job leading our fourth and last pitch, another pretty thin face deal.

We rappelled off without incident, no small achievement at Red Rock where the cracks and knobs are famous for snagging rappel ropes and forcing unplanned, overnight bivouacs. Our descent took us into Pine Creek Canyon, where a pretty mountain stream provides enough moisture for a nice stand of pine trees. Quite a contrast to the scrubby desert vegetation in most of the rest of this area. I spent a lovely half our soaking in the mountain feel of the place while Marc explored up the canyon to scout out another climb in which he is interested.

My plan has been to climb every other day in order to give my old body a day to recover. But, I have managed to pull a muscle in my left calf and it feels like it is going to need an additional day off. I have had to postpone tomorrow’s planned trip to St. George Utah for sport climbing. Grrrrrr! Tori is distraught. She did not much fancy Rawlpindi: not enough bolts, and that hanging belay was not her thing.

I’ve now been on the road, living in Ezzy for a little over a week. So far, so good. Most things have worked out as I planned. The bed I built is great; I am keeping nice and warm and sleeping well each night. My Coleman stove heats dinner each night. I type these reports on days off while sitting in a big soft chair at Starbucks (where I can plug the old computer in to the AC power) and post them from the local climbing shop (Desert Rock Sports) which has free a free internet connection. Desert Rock, by the way, is a great place. A real climbing store, with tons of gear and friendly folks to help you. I shower at the local climbing gym. Life is good. But I do very much miss Lois, even though I talk to her via my cell phone at least once a day.

Photos from top: Approximate route of Rawlpindi; Bill leading pitch 3 (photo Marc Jensen); Marc following pitch 3; Two Canadian climbers at hanging belay on Birdland, the next route over (Photo Marc Jensen); Marc leading pitch 4; Pine Creek Canyon.

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