My father liked pickled red cabbage. On the rare occasions when my mother served it for dinner, he would talk about something he called the "Red Cabbage Gap." I never quite understood what the Red Cabbage Gap was, something I suppose about folks not eating enough red cabbage. But I always think fondly of my father when something reminds of red cabbage. He was the kindest human being I have ever met.
I thought of him last Tuesday. Carolyn and I spent the day top roping some climbs on the Dirty Gerdie boulder/slab near the Uberfall at the Gunks. After, Herdie Gerdie (5.8), and Dirty Gerdie (5.8+), we did Red Cabbage (an interesting crack climb that Williams rates 5.9-). I managed to get up it on my second try. It was the first 5.9 I have ever done in the Gunks. I'm glad it made me think of my father and the Red Cabbage Gap.
One thing the day showed beyond doubt is that Carolyn is a stronger climber than I. She climbed Herdie Gerdie without any observable problem and got up Dirie Gerdie with only a bit of struggle. I on the other hand took innumerable falls before I figured out how to do the cux on Herdie Gerdie, and managed to make it only about 2/3of the way up Dirty Gerdie. On the latter I did at least solve the tricky mantle move. In fact, I did it repeatedly because I kept falling off above and going back up to try the upper part again.
To my surprise, Carolyn tried a 5.11 route called Dogs in Heat. Despite repeated tries, she couldn't quite pull the crux, but I think she was close. I was proud of her. She'll get it next time.
This was the hardest climbing I have done since resuming the sport 2 years ago. I am very sore today (arms and shoulders, particularly). But, if I keep spending some of my climbing time doing similar and maybe even harder routes on top rope, I think I will actually be able to increase the difficulty of what I can climb. Kind of cool for an old man.
Ironically, of the three routes I tried, Red Cabbage, although rated the hardest, was the least difficult for me. Could it be that I have a bit of crack technique left over from Yosemite in 1972? Or was it just my dad's influence, encouraging and supportive as always? He was, after all, the one who drove me to the Gunks for my first rock climbing weekend when I was 13 or 14.
Day after tomorrow Lois and I leave for Honduras on a trip with her church. We are going to be there for about 10 days helping to finish a school the Episcopal Church has been trying for several years to open. We have a heavy suitcase full of parts for a jungle gym the group is going to assemble for the school playground. This will be a real adventure: neither of us has been to central America before.