Gone Fishin’

May 20, 2007 at 7:08 pm

So, last week I mentioned that while climbing with the girls, at an out-of-the-way toproping area, I lost our big, $120, number six BD Camalot deep down inside the 6-inch wide crack we were climbing on. When Mark found out, he was not happy, but seemed optimistic that we’d be able to get the thing back the next weekend.

On Saturday this weekend, we had one goal: Get that cam back.

Our plan on Friday was to set a toprope on the climb and try to find the cam first by using several flashlights, and then fish it out of the crack with a couple of treble hooks we made from drapery hangers.

Mark was still having trouble with the return time change, and slept in a little late that morning. We made it to Vedauwoo at around 11am, and then hiked out to the crag. By the time we got to the climb, the clouds were thick above, and there was thunder in the distance.

I suggested that Mark might take a look at the fat crack and see if he wanted to lead it, and the next thing I knew, he was free-soloing up to the base of the climb in his running shoes. I tossed the rope and his climbing shoes up to him and he lead up Barley (5.6) with no problems, set an anchor, and started lowering down as the wind started picking up, and the thunder got closer.

He stuck his head in the crack as far as it would go, with his own nice headlamp on, and couldn’t see anything. He looked for several minutes, from several points, and couldn’t see a cam. This was when Mark figured that somebody must have read my blog post from last week, and had beaten us to the cam. He was sure there was nothing down there.

I climbed up to the spot and couldn’t see anything either. I tried several different things to wiggle in and see that cam. I even tried lowering my headlamp on a long cord, and swinging it back and forth to see if anything would glimmer or “tink”. I didn’t see anything.

Mark was pretty sure there was no cam in there. But I decided to lower the hook and swing it around a bit and just see if it caught anything.

And it did.

It took me maybe three swings, less than a minute, and I felt the hook catch on something. I lifted experimentally, and felt a weight and heard metal scraping on rock. Mark was shocked. He was down below me saying “That’s probably just the hook caught on the rock.”

I pulled a little harder and the hook came free. I swung it into the spot again and caught something again. I pulled again, slower, and I heard metal grinding on rock as I lifted the weight up, and then pulled it further in to the wide spot in the crack. In less than a second, the big cam came into view. I don’t remember exactly which part of the thing I had hooked, but I remember it looking really secure on the end of that line.

I grabbed it, pulled it out of the crack and WHOOPED for joy! Then I quickly clipped the darn thing to my belt and told Mark to lower me down. Once back on the ground, I put the cam back on the hook for the trophy shot. :-) Mark was completely amazed. He had totally prepared himself for the cam to be gone, not in there at all, and somehow, I had just pulled this giant chunk of metal out of dark, thin, air.

Mark scampered up the climb again to clean the anchor and move the rope over to the 5.9 destination climb for the crag. As he bounded up, fat rain drops started to fall, and thunder roared over the top of the cliff. Mark took shelter in the cave at the top of the climb, and Liv and I hung out in the cave at the bottom. The rain poured and the hail pounded down for more than 30 minutes. Liv was hugely freaked out by the thunder, and kept trying to crawl further onto my lap. A few of the bolts sounded extremely close.

When the storm was over, all of the cracks were running with water, and the rocks were slicker than snot. We packed up our stuff and slid down the formation and back to the trail to head home for the day. No more climbing for us that day, but definitely MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!