Climbing at the Monastery

September 6, 2008 at 10:34 pm

So, I’ve learned several important things this week. 1) I don’t know how to spell the word Monastery and 2) The last time we climbed here the lack of fun was all my own fault.

Someday I’ll write a blog post about climbing and having an anxiety disorder. Today I’ll simply say that when we got to the Monastery last weekend, I remembered what happened the last time we climbed there. What I thought, almost 3 years ago, was reasonable fear and doubt in my safety system was actually a full day of panic attacks. No wonder Mark never wanted to go back again.

The photos from the day are up in the gallery.

Mark and the crag dogs below our first climb

This weekend started with a rainy, cloudy Friday that made Mark and I decide not to go backpacking. Our trip to Smith Rocks next month is inspiring us to spend more time clipping bolts, and climbing on rock new and unfamiliar rock. So, we decided to take Liv and the little rat terrior we were dog sitting, Izzie, out to The Monastery on Saturday.

The hike out was fun as we met a family in the parking lot who had never been to the area, and wanted to follow us out. It took us about an hour to hike the steep (up and down) mile to the climbs and then we wandered around lost, looking for the Nursery, or something, to warm up on. That’s what the green squiggles on our GPS track indicate, before we found the rocks waaay down the hill (red area).

Our hike out to and around the Monastery

Eventually, we found ourselves in The Catacomb (gotta love the freaky names for this climbing area) and warmed up on a couple of fun routes on a rock called the Sepulcher. Mark loved the name Sepulcher. It made him think of NetHack and D&D from back in the day.

Gravestone (5.7/8) – This did seem like the hardest route of the day. It was short, and it was like diving back into the deep, dark end of the pool where you’re not sure the crystals will stay in the rock. But after it was over, we were having fun.

The Mausoleum (5.9-) – As this climb shared an anchor with the previous one, we both ran a lap on it. I was starting to get into the groove of sticking my fingers in tiny crystalline cracks and using itty pebble footholds by now, so the route didn’t feel all that hard.

Headstones (5.8) – We walked up the hill to the right side of the rock we were climbing on, and Mark did a lovely flash of this long 5.8. When he got to the top, he found the chain anchors to be in a bad place for top-roping, but decided it would work out ok and lowered off. As I climbed, the rope friction was so bad that Mark had to haul on the cord with his whole body to take the slack out of the TR.

Granite, crystals and big views

It felt wonderful to top out this little route. The anchors were in the far wall of a little bowl, and the views were amazing on all sides. As I pulled over the edge, I felt completely relaxed and happy to be out in such an amazing place, climbing to such beautiful spots.

Climbing in the Rockies

Simplexity (5.9+) – There’s a good chance we’ve done this climb before. But Mark picked it out and Mark lead the route. The first bolt was high and creepy, but by this time, we both had our pebble-toes in full gear, and Mark loved climbing a route where all he worried about was where to put his feet. I enjoyed every minute following on it, and then moved the TR to the climb on the left which shared the same set of anchors.

Altered Boy (5.7) – At this point, I don’t know if this climb was really 2-3 grades easier than the previous one. They were all starting to feel very similar and very fun. It was a great, pebbly, crystally, crackily, lovely climb to finish the day on.

Mt Meeker and Long's Peak at the end of the day

The clouds cleared during our last two climbs and we hiked out in the late afternoon sun. The doggies were all tired, and so were we. It turns out, the Monastery is not a scary horrible place to climb after all! I’ve changed my mind. I’m happy to recommend the area to anybody.