Monday, November 9, 2009

We Got Lucky

You know, throughout all of my bitching and moaning this fall about weather we've actually been really lucky. We had a nice, fairly cool summer and have had a number of good days this fall to get out.

This past weekend we got another dose of luck. Near record highs in the upper 60's brought a bunch of people out to the boulders. Katie and I planned on going out both days as the weather looked absolutely amazing.

Saturday we found ourselves driving up with our sights set on the West Bluff. Freaney had called me the night before and threatened to join us but that proved to be an idle threat. HAH!

Anyways, after a quick warmup at the North Shore we drove over and schlepped all of our Organic pads up the short approach to Beautiful Soup. I'd gotten psyched out a couple weeks back with only a couple pads and wanted some extra coverage for the crux throw. I did my usual routine of putzing about before I finally started to sack up and really try.

I've been trying harder and harder to actually 'try'. I must say, it's got some advantages.

I've never been this close on Beautiful Soup. Each attempt got better and better and I finally figured out just where I had to latch the sloping rail so I could still reel the swing back in. Each time my feet would get closer and closer to the wall before I exploded off. The problem had never felt so good!

Finally, after 6-7 close calls, I had whittled myself down to an all or nothing attempt. My skin was horrible and I knew I only had one or two more attempts before I split my right index finger. I loaded the holds and hit the rail perfect. On the swing in I felt my feet touch the wall and then I was off. Both hands exploded from the holds and I tumbled to the pads, eventually rolling off of them and into the pit at the base of the problem.

Devastated, I looked at my tip and I was done for.

Katie gave the problem a few attempts while I licked my wounds. Once she started paying attention to her feet she got the first move no problem but she was super stretched out and had some troubles matching her feet.

Then on one go she looked really strong. She was on...

And then she was OFF!!!

I think it was one of the worst unexpected falls she's ever had. As she was matching her feet her right foot popped off and she loaded the right crimp trying to hold it. Her hand quickly popped off and left a good deal of skin up there for her next try. It looked REALLY painful. That crimp can bite back, for sure.

Katie inspecting her own wounds

A little bit after that we packed up, stowed my full pad/half pad combo at Alpine Club and hiked our way up to Moj. Katie wanted to get a feel for the moves before winter set in and I'd been intent on looking at a possible sit start. Well, the sit start isn't great looking. It might just bastardize the line and seems like there is a more natural line instead of trying to work into Moj.

That said, I'm really psyched about the new line!! It should turn out to be a fun, hard problem! The landing still needs to get fixed up a bit but it should be pretty easy to fix. Very psyched!!

Katie tried Moj a couple times with a power spot just to feel out the movement and started to get used to the body position needed for the crux. I'm excited to see her work it some more soon. We're gonna go back on Wednesday and put some more time in on the wall. Should be good!

We hiked ourselves out and got outright terrified on the leafy talus by the Dumpster boulder. SKETCHY!!

On Sunday we were planning on hitting up both the Lake and Dodge.

We went up super early to meet a couple of other people at the North Shore. While we were waiting in the car 4 other vans and trucks pulled up and about 30 people piled out. Eventually a single pad found its way out and onto the ground and Katie and I feared that all of those people would rally around that lone pad. After a flurry of confusion, patagonia fleece and Clif bars everyone but one guy piled back into the cars and took off. That lone boulderer walked over and started warming up.

Funny, to say the least.

Eventually we met the lone climber, Mike, and the rest of our group made the hike up to Monolith. We set up by Bark Biter and and started trying those problems. I quickly sketched my way up the left arete and topped out after almost greasing off the top sloper. Katie had her sights set on doing Bark Biter, knowing it wasn't going to be that physically difficult but instead more of a mental problem.

Bark Biter gets its name from the tree that follows your back the whole way up the problem. A fall would probably not result in a collision with the tree but it's always on your mind. She quickly figured out beta and made her way up to the jugs up top but couldn't muster the courage to roll over. She swore a bit, sketched her way down and jumped off. She vowed to come back when she's feeling a bit more adventurous and confident.

Soon after we moved everything over to Shawn's Slab and started messing around on that. Everyone had a good time on the fun and tricky slab. After about a half hour we had to start packing up to meet Vera and crew at Governor Dodge. Just as we were packing Chris and Sarah came up the trail. We were sad to have to leave them but Katie was jonesing to climb with Vera. Apparently I don't fulfill the "climbing with chicks" need all that well. I do try though...

Katie trying to find a 'head jam' on the blank slab

Katie at the topout

We made the nice drive over to Dodge in about an hour and I was surprised at how enjoyable the drive was. It was a nice break in the day and takes you past a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the process. Kind of cool.

We were meeting Vera and a gaggle of ladies at Deer Cove. They were already there and Katie was getting visibly excited as we got closer. We arrived and heard the ladies down at Big Jim. Neither of us had tried any of those problems before and they were fun to mess around on.

After about a half hour we moved ourselves up to Grounded For Life. It's one of my favorites in the park and I wish there were more features like it. Katie was set on trying to repeat it and after figuring out her beta she did so rather quickly. She's climbing really strong right now and is super motivated. It's fun to watch and makes me want to try harder just to keep up.

Vera and Lisa also started working it fairly hard and after finally convincing Vera that she had to heel hook she stuck the big horn and mantled through to the slab.

Vera hitting the juggy horn

Starting to mantle...

And done!

I booted up and threw another lap on it as well and was once again reminded of how fun this problem is. Love it!

Katie and I were wiped out and we packed up and left for home. Such a good weekend!

We're heading up tomorrow and are gonna hit Beautiful Soup and Moj again if anyone wants to join us! Looks beautiful!!!!


  1. Nice post Steve. I was working all weekend (lame!) but did get out hiking around here both days, just couldn't really leave town. How about Thursday morning? I was kinda planning, weather depending, on heading to West Bluff. So excited. ce

  2. I think that a line starting on moj and going straight up would be a valid line. Not as difficult or as good probably, but not an entirely stupid eliminant.

  3. That sucks chris!! We've both got Wednesday off instead of Thursday!!! Let me know what you end up getting on!

    There could be a line that goes straight up from moj but there is a much better line that starts on the wall just left, around the corner from moj. Looks like it might be cool!

  4. Total bummer. I will actually be in Baraboo today for work, can see the bluffs from my window, but it's a near guarantee it will be dark when I get done. Oh well. Life gets in the way of climbing on occasion! Thusdays looking good though... ce

  5. Hey! I've been wanting to catch up on your site and then noticed this post. It's awesome! I still owe you that 6-pack for sucking it up and letting Katie convince you to come to Dodge after the Lake - it was all for my selfish desires to FINALLY climb with that girl - My Idol! It was totally fun! ~Vera

    PS: I PROMISE your beer will be personally delivered to Pemba this week!

  6. Haha Vera! Thanks for checking in! Katie and I think we should just meet you guys for drinks sometime instead of a 6 pack. Hows that??