In which, we learn about climbing on all passive pro, and can’t stop making stupid toilet-humor jokes.
There are lots of pictures from the day in the gallery.
A series of random decisions and strange events landed us at the bottom of The Pear on Saturday morning, at around 11am, with blue-bird skies above, and not another person around for miles. We decided it would probably be a good day to try to get all the way to the top of Magical Chrome-Plated Semi-Automatic Enema Syringe (5.7).
Also, we decided on Saturday that it was time to try a “true Lumpy Ridge rack”, which included almost two sets of nuts, and only 5-6 cams. This didn’t seem like such a big deal when we were on the ground. We’ve been trad climbing, using chocks and cams, for almost 5 years now. Surely we’d have no problem with this lighter rack!
Problems started on the first pitch, when it took me about 15 minutes of banging on one nut with my nut tool to get it out of the rock. Mark and I have been trad-climbing together for long enough that I am usually pretty darn good at getting his very weird placement puzzles figured out. He usually leads, and I usually follow, and I’ve always considered myself “The Nut Queen!” Usually I can pop those suckers out in no time. But on Saturday, my mojo was not flowing.
Mark was having his own problems as well. His pieces were good for down-pulls, but as the route has a twisting and traversing nature, he started having a few pieces actually pull out of the crack behind him! Yikes!
On the second pitch, I left one tiny nut, that was so far back in the crack I couldn’t even see it, behind on the route. In the anchor, I wailed on a giant purple chock with everything I had, cussing and scraping up my knuckles. I left two dents in the bottom of that chock, on on either side of the wire, and it never budged a millimeter.
Nuts falling out of cracks, nuts stuck in cracks, these are things that we haven’t had problems with in years. By the time I made it up to the top of the second pitch, I was feeling defeated and humiliated. Like a total n00b who shouldn’t be on the rock. I tried to convince Mark that we should walk-off, go home, and come back some other day when we had more cams.
But Mark chalked it up to “kinks in the system” due to our recent break from climbing, and he led on up past the escape ramp. I had no choice but to follow him up the rest of the route, and now I’m glad we kept going.
The fourth pitch turned out to be a lovely little crack climb, and the giant rock butt for which the route is named came into view. Mark joked about climbing the 5.9 variation that jams straight up the, eh-hem, crack, but we didn’t feel like we had the gear to protect it that day. The whole time I sat at the belay below that HUGE rock butt, I just couldn’t stop giggling. I’d think I had myself under control, and then I’d look up, and just start laughing all over the place again!
We summited the rock at around 4:30 in the afternoon. We stood on top of the butt, victorious, with the rest of our nuts still on our rack (see, I can’t stop!), at around 4:30p. There were a few distant clouds, but the sky was still clear, which was a small miracle for that area this time of year. A larger miracle was that we had not seen another person on our climb or rock all day! On a Saturday! On Lumpy! Amazing.
We screwed around a bit. Took some pictures. Eventually Mark found the rap anchors and then called me over. The book assured us that we only needed one rope to rap off the back of the summit, but looking over the edge, all we could see was a dark hole in the rock. A dank abyss beckoned us downward.
Mark, of course, went first. He made it down and I could hear his voice echoing out of the darkness “Don’t worry! The rope reaches! This place is amazing! Take pictures on your way down!!”
My eyes were not adjusted for the dark, and getting on rappel with my rope disappearing down into blackness was really creepy. I did not stop to take pictures. But it was a fun rappel.
It turns out, the rappel leads to a secrete space behind the Pear. A hallway was formed in the distant past. With vertical walls nearly 100ft tall on either side, and only about 4 ft apart. It looked like the rock had simply separated. A giant crack had formed, perhaps as the slab of the Pear inched slowly down the face of the ridge.
We enjoyed the cool darkness, and the scent of ferns in our spot. Then it was time to head out. The hike back to our bags was long, but not hard. We were packing up at the base of the climb by 5:30p, and in the car driving home around 7p. It was an amazing day, for many reasons. And I’m glad we got all of the kinks out of our systems. Heh heh.
Next time, we’re climbing with more cams.