Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Getting on with it

Walking away from the Japanese camp we were both trying to be optimistic despite Steve´s realistic take on the circumstances. In fact to be honest we were like stuff it, if tommorrow is good we'll just get on it and start climbing, there will be some crap weather but we´ll just sit it out. This was what we´ve spent a heap of money to come to try and what we´ve been thinking about for over a year and it was starting to feel like time was running out, already there wasn´t going to be time for another attempt if at first we didn´t make.

As it happened the next day was beautiful, clear and still. By lunchtime we´d pulled our ropes up, I´d taken another trip back to the bivi cave to the radio I´d forgotten and Jake was leading up a classic corner system which for the most part was dry. This lead to another beautiful pitch taking us up to the point where the wall really started to rear up into the vertical realm. Hauling had all the usual joys with a few extra pains unique to Patagonia. While rapping about 70m to free the bags from one of the many inverted steps that grabbed at the bags the wind picked up, it pulled at the rope and draged him 4 meters into the air then dropped him back down again.
It was then my turn and once again I found myself offroute. So on the topo this pitch says 7a+ (bolthangers) now this makes carrots seem quite friendly and logical. When establishing the route the first ascensionists must have been concerned about how many fixed hangers they would need for the rest of the route. They were using these 12mmx30mm sleeve bolts, they left the sleeves in but took the hanger and the bolt out so it is now BYO bolts and hangers. Understandable in a way but no less of a pain, you can imagine trying to find the way across a blank slab pitch that trends leftward for 45 meters with no gear but a few threaded holes in the rock that you hope matches the thread type of the bolts you brought along. There were a few options it seemed the FA´s realised this too and managed to partly bolt one of these options but end up abandoning it for the correct way. Sure enough I find myself at grips with the partly bolted option spying what I thought was another hole in the rock some large number of meters and insecure moves away from where I was and above the last bolt sleeve that I´d screw the threaded end of a dyna bolt into. The day was warming up and there was this little trickle of water slowly oozing down onto one of the holds I needed for my blast off move toward the next hole in the rock. There was no point procrastinating I just needed to get on with it, I gave the hold a rub with my little chalk rag and steped up. A few moves later I´m standing on a small footer above irreversible climbing in the middle of a seemingly blank expanse of granite looking at an orange stain on the rock that I thought was another bolt hole, it wasn´t! This is the sort of place you wish to put someone you really don´t like, someone who has really pissed you off.

The only vague option I could see was to keep moving up, now at least 8 meters of slab was between me and the last bolt, the 8 meters below the bolt looked about as appertizing to fall onto as an inverted staircase. After some of the more cautious climbing I´v done I spied a piton and it dawned on me that I´d done it again, I´d found some a way to incorporate a little more excitment into a pitch that would have otherwise been a fairly casual grade 24, bolted face pitch.

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