Monday, March 27, 2017

Serendipitous climbing experience at T-Wall

I am an aspiring trad climber for long now. I do not get to do a lot of real rock climbing being in Florida; and hence trad climbing as a discipline, which is honed after a lot of vertical mileage, has always been an elusive skill for a guy like me used to plastic pumping indoors. I should say that this is even more true in the niche of crack climbing.

Cake Walk 5.10a

I have done a few 5.8 trad climbs at Lost Wall, where I could avoid the crack and use features on the face. I have done a couple of long alpine routes in the High Sierras, which were more of ridge climbs rather than 'real cracks'. I had never yet attempted a 5.9 trad climb, leave alone crack climbs. And unless I really did a few decent cracks, calling myself a trad climber seemed a far fetched epithet.

Well, this trip to T-Wall changed it a bit, except for the fact that I still don't hesitate to consider myself a gumbie, or a beginner at the best in terms of crack climbing. I simply need to have more mileage on dihedrals and splitters before I can consider myself a competent crack climber.

Coming back to the T-Wall trip, I was happy to onsight a couple of stiff classics and even attempt a 5.10a finger crack.

Nappy 5.7

Golden Locks 5.9

Golden Locks 5.9

Besides Nappy (a good consistent dihedral crack at 5.7) and Blind Date (an ok 5.7 crack) as warm up climbs, I managed to onsight some higher grades on Razor Worm (5.8+) and Golden Locks (5.9). Razor worm came to me easy, but Golden Locks was really stiff and the fact that I could onsight it, no matter the Elvis legs, really helped my confidence.

I also went out of my comfort zone to lead Cake Walk,  a 5.10a finger crack, albeit with a couple of falls at the crux and near the chains. This was also the first time I took a fall on gear and that too on a #0 Metolius TCU that I managed to sink and clip seconds before my foot popped at the crux. It was a small fall, would have been more like a take if it were not for unanticipated foot slip. In any case, I am glad that it did not freak me out!