Friday, April 23, 2010

A Weekend in Leavenworth

Photo Credit Alasdair Turner.

I am so not a crack climber. I mean, why lie? I, just like many other climbers of my generation, stated climbing at my college gym. I like face holds, for god’s sake. Maybe that’s why I like Red Rock so much, I don’t know.

In any case, last weekend I headed over to Leavenworth with co-worker Andrew Yasso to “get after it” as they say. On Saturday, we climbed the R&D route (5.6) on Icicle Buttress with a slight variation on the (5.7) slab and then over to Cocaine Crack, a (10-) crack. I decided to lead it after some gentle encouragement from my belayer. The first few moves were not that bad. The crack took pro quite well, my hands were miraculously finding jams, and I was feeling more confident with every move. Then, the crack traversed to the right. Um….what do I do now? Long story short, I dropped a couple nuts, got Elvis leg, and bailed. Oh well. Keeping in mind I climb gear routes at about 5.6 (fortunately the grade of the next pitch!), I was just glad to have given it a shot. Yasso, on the other hand, killed it. Very cool.

Turns out, we ended up climbing more cracks this past weekend that I had in the last 12 months. Andrew was designated rope gun and led Classic Crack (the hardest 5.8 known to mankind) and DogLeg Crack (5.8). My consensus: Cracks are hard. And they HURT. But once you find that perfect flinger lock or hand jam or whatever else you crack climbers do, it will make even the most mentally insecure person (read:me) feel like they can stay there for hours on end.

AAI guide Alasdair Turner met up with us on Sunday. I hadn’t climbed with Alasdair before, but I can now say the rumors are TRUE. He IS a total badass. I think Return to the Womb (10+) was one of the scariest, awkward, yet enjoyable climbs I’ve done all year.

Thanks for the productive weekend, guys. I’ll try to find more hand jams when I climb now, and I might actually enjoy it.

--Dyan Padagas, Program Coordinator

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