Cheesehead Ranch! (Part 3)

June 1, 2007 at 7:30 am

Monday morning was our last day of vacation, and Mark and I both woke up feeling stiff and sore. Three days of climbing is a lot, but I hadn’t yet had a chance to lead anything. We waved good-bye to all of our CH Ranch friends as some headed home and other scattered to the cliffs for one last day on the fantastic Shelf Road limestone.

Kate’s Favorite 5.7 lead (~5.7) – This climb is not in any guidebook or on the web. We found it once on the hike from the Bank to Cactus, back when the trail followed the cliffline and nobody else bothered to walk. The 7 bolts are shiny and perfectly placed for an interesting (but not too scary) lead of this 50-ft climb.

On Monday, I led it up slowly, placing my own gear, and puzzling out the tricky sections. I felt more confidant than usual on the smaller footholds, because I had spent so much time climbing thin slabs this weekend. The section of thin, tough climbing at the anchors still made me shake like mad, but I didn’t fall or hang.

Mark suggested I take a few laps on this climb, working the moves until I felt comfortable. I climbed it carefully on toperope once, and then pulled the rope and led it again on my own pre-placed gear. This second time felt great! I felt fully confidant in all the tiny, sloped ledges and sharp, shallow, pocket holds. I was still nervous clipping the anchors, but much less shaky, and it took me about half as long to complete the climb as my first trip up.

I cleaned the climb and came down. Mark was happy to not have to climb again; he felt completely done. And I felt like my weekend had come to a successful, and educational close. I’ve had so many problems with leading during my six year climbing ‘career’. I’ve tried so many things to get myself on the sharp end, and so few have helped at all. The idea of being able to run laps on comfortable climbs until I’m comfortable leading felt like a good one. Maybe this tool and some commitment will help me take the baby steps I need to become a consistent and confidant lead climber.

We packed up and hiked out before noon. On our way back to the Springs, I got to really enjoy my happy-post-Shelf glow. A little sunburnt, a lot sore, and very happy with my accomplishments.