Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Climbing at Owens River Gorge - Days 5 & 6

I lied. I'm not sitting at the Looney Bean. I'm at Black Sheep Espresso Bar, sipping on the cup-of-the-day, charging my phone. While I haven't had as much luck with finding sport climbing partners as I'd like, there's plenty of bouldering here, so it's highly unlikely that I won't be able to climb something on any given day. Fantastic.

5-6 October 2012

The last two days were all about climbing, climbing, climbing.

On the 5th day, I finally found my sweet spot with arranging my gear for the approach. Carrying the water bottles on the inside of the bag instead of in the side pockets centered the weight better, and instead of cramming the rope into the pack, I slung the rope bag strap over my shoulder and cradled it something like a baby. This made the approach easier. The approach was even better on the last day of climbing, when I decided to start tossing the rope a few feet ahead of me as a I scrambled down the gully. Hooray for durable rope bags!
At the bottom of the Central Gorge approach.
As my focus on climbing increased, I took fewer and fewer photos. I regret not taking more photos of Antoine, Ramsel, and Trevor on their climbs-- I was always either climbing myself, belaying, or eating.  Or watching, slackjawed, as they climbed very hard things. Trevor and Antoine both made an effort to take photos during my milestone climbs, which, as the beginner-est of the group, I had a couple of. I didn't think of it, but it's so nice to be able to look back at those moments now. I owe them.

Here I am on Orange Peel (5.10c), the hardest grade I've tried to redpoint so far. 
Love those high first bolts.
I fell on my first attempt, and Antoine said, "You must give it a second go." So I did. Success! I climbed it without falling.
Trevor told me to pose. "No Posing" rule broken.
I was elated. Other things were climbed that day, but it's all a blur now. Fun was had. Beer was drunk. We also had friends pull up late that night and join us at camp. 

On Day 6, I kept in mind the "Last Day, Best Day" motto, and after climbing the beautiful Dr. Evil (5.10a) and tricky Tall Dollar (5.10b), I set my sights on trying something beyond my ability and experience: The O.R.G. asm (5.11a) Because it was the last day, so why not?

I think I fell sometime near this moment.
Picked myself up and moved through the hard part.
I fell once on the first attempt. Only once! I couldn't believe it when I got back down to the ground. The thought was already planted in my head without Antoine saying a thing: I'd give it a second go. I ate some chocolate, drank some water, stretched my fingers, massaged my arms, and returned for another attempt. 

And it happened. I climbed it without falling, though I got nervous near the top, because I kept thinking about how upsetting it would be to fall at that point. And I made it. 

It was only one route, and I know that there are "easier" routes that will be difficult for me, but I feel different. Like I get it now, what it means to surpass what you think your limits are. What can happen if you try to. I'm thinking more now about what I think is possible for myself, not just in climbing. 
End-of-trip fingertips, clean & bruised.

They were dirty before they became my camp shoes.
The next morning, I took in my last sunrise, stopped for an hour or so in Bishop, and headed back west. Head full of ponderings on what's possible. 

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