Sunday, April 22, 2007

The First Rumney Assault of the Year - YEAAAH!

OK, so we were so excited after hitting Qunicy Quarry a few weeks ago that we got ahead of ourselves in thinking we'd be able to get out every weekend from that point thereafter (maybe until the end of time). I know. I know. It was a foolish thing to think, but I'm not convinced it's entirely abnormal; especially after living inside for the winter. When it gets cold at the start of the winter, you pretty much know that you're inside for the duration of the season. So it stands to reason that when it gets nice in spring that you'd think you'll be outside for the season. But alas, this is not summer, as I just noted; it is spring instead, and that means transition. From the time we spent clawing our way up the cliffs in Quincy until this past Thursday, it's been rain, rain, rain and a little bit of snow mixed in with cold temperatures and a dysfuntional jet stream that wouldn't fight back against that bullying artic cold front. That is, as I said, until this weekend.

It took a while to figure things out. You see, a few of us have been planning to stay at the MIT cabin in North Conway for the entire weekend. We were looking at heading up Friday night and Saturday morning collectivelly to hook up with some people who knew what they were climbing (we're all sort of noobs to the cool climbing areas, we need help and direction, we need leaders to become leaders ourselves).

But instead of enjoying what turned out to be a glorious weekend at the crag in North Conway, we were hit with a mother of a nor'easter Sunday evening into Monday that dropped about 5 inches of rain and snow in the NoCo area (the storm lagged until early Thursday morning, even though the worst was over by 8am Monday). Throughout the week there were talks of whether or not it would dry by Saturday and if the snow packs at the top would be dangerous - a topic that also came up suddenly at Rumney too... twice. By Friday afternoon it was evident that everyone who was heading up to NoCo was bailing. It was pretty much over except for the waiting for the guy who rented the cabin to officially call it off. Four of us were still willing to go, but then the guy in charge said he wasn't going. Alas, we were stuck in a void of ascension, and something needed to be done.

That left us scrambling to find out what we were doing for the the weekend. First it was the Gunks, but some people didn't want to go all weekend and some people have a hard time jumping out of their comfort zone (ahem) at the last minute. Then we decided on Rumney, but would that mean all weekend or just one day? Back and forth we went. Do we go to Quincy again? That wasn't ideal, and neither were Crow Hill or Red Rocks in Gloucester (it's funny because I feel I have to justify "Gloucester" every time I mention that place). By late Friday afternoon, just as word was coming in that the NoCo raid was officially off, it was decided through a hodgepodge of patchy e-mails and voice messages that there would be an all-out assualt on Rumney at least on Saturday. Then the lines went dead.

Four o'clock passed and no decision on time or length of stay was determined. Then five o'clock. Then six o'clock. More calls and e-mails went out. A few hits came back, but none were decision-worthy comments - just "I'm in!" or "count me in for whatever!". Decisions had to be made, and they had to be made quick so that decisions could be broadcast to the world, and I failed, miserably.

Not knowing what people could do or what our options were for accommodations, I called off the weekend overnight (admittingly, I did this after hearing that one of the two main groups could not stay overnight, so it wasn't as if I was pulling the evil cord from the socket - I had help and direction). But we still didn't have a time. There were meeting places to set, time to keep, pickups to make, logistics to get around and it was nearing seven o'clock (where, by the way, I was still sitting at work grumbling as I played with a spreadsheet I hope to get rid of in the next month).

What time do we leave?

Eight o'clock?

But we have to pick up so-and-so?

Seven-forty five?

What about the others?

Call them.

Do cellphones work up there?


Slowly, things came together and by the time I finally put my head on a pillow Friday night, at around midnight, we had a plan, a little excitment rumbling in our belly and a full-day of sunshine and warm, dry crags in front of us. It was to become the first 2007 Rumney Rumble!!!!!

OK, so I'm being dramatic, but we all met up as planned. My group arrived first and we headed straight for the 5.8 Crag to get a couple of warm-ups in before we hit the harder crags. I was a little worried we'd see a lot of water on the routes, but a few were dry and the crag was empty. We were off to a good start.

As we finished up there, the second group showed up and decided to head to New Wave where there was a nice combination of moderate routes and steep, stiff and fun harder routes. By the time we showed up, the second group had set up some nice top ropes for our moderate climbers and were nice enough to leave the lead gear for the really hard guys (tongue-in-cheek - if you're a new subscriber to my blog, it may be best if I disclose my sense of humor now - it's a bit off). The routes were all over the map in terms of moves - high steps, mantles, high-step mantles, underclings, knee bars, sticking-both-feet-into-a-really-cool-and-wide-crack (not sure what to call that one, and I don't think the acronym "SBFIARCAWC" works - suggestions can be made in the comments section below). Everyone led, even those who were a little nervous about it, and everyone felt as if a perfectly good day of climbing and workout had been had. We had a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, more fun hearing the laughs from below when the second group headed to the crag above the first group, and pleny of sweet smelling suntan lotion (hint to person who brought that - get more! The chicks like it!)

Anyway, as I noted, before we finished all the routes on Lower New Wave, the second group headed up to Upper New Wave to get a few more runs in before leaving. We joined them, but found a limited number of routes available due to water runoff and growling stomachs in the secound group that wanted to go home. So we waved good-bye, noted our desire to climb with everyone again, and headed down to the Meadows to get a few more climbs in at the end of the day. One person found her "new love" on a 5.7 while I nearly crapped myself taking a lead fall I really didn't want to take (it was wet, overhanging and I was damn tired - leave me alone!). We packed up and left for the long ride home, and, despite being overwhelmingly exhausted, are probably ready to head back again next week for more punishment.

On a side note, these are some of the things we learned yesterday, in no particular order: The techno star (and former hardcore punk bad boy) Moby named himself after his great-grandfather; his great-grandfather wrote "Moby Dick"; "Moby Dick" was written by Herman Melville (NO! It's MILLER!!!!); some people have crushes; some people fart; some people have farts that echo; some people don't hide properly; others use the rope on overhangs; dogs like sticks on precipitous edges; John Ritter was not in WKRP in Cinncinatti; Manchester is known as ManchVegas for a reason; melting ice on a steep hill has only one place to go when it breaks off in dangerous chunks; guys who look like a rag-tag crew as they come into a restaurant aren't always the same people we saw climbing earlier; people in Sweden live alone; women in Sweden are the ones who pick up guys in bars; Greg wants to move to Sweden; people in Sweden are poor, but all own bikes and eats lots of sour cream while the royal family can afford mayononaise (tartar sauce on holidays); Thailand has way sharper edges than Rumney; the video game "Guitar Hero" is still annoying after two weeks of being removed from the apartment (he's going through "Deep Purple" withdrawals - it'll be over soon - I hope); some people like putting big, thick sausages in thier mouths, others prefer coconuts and hotdog buns; some people have courage despite not being able to climb harder routes; and everyone was happy that Rumney was pretty much empty of crowds and waterfalls.

Till, next time...

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