Monday, May 07, 2007

Another Great Day At Rumney

I just can't get over how much fun I've had climbing at Rumney this spring. In years' past, climbing there has been difficult, not because the climbing is hard, but because getting on routes is a challenge on nice days. Rumney has many, many crags spread across Rattlesnake Mountain, but each of the crags are so enjoyable that they all attract crowds when the sun is high and warm. Cloudless days usually mean long lines and posturing for routes. Uncomfortable silence tends to dominate the scene when one group has been queuing for a specific route and another group, one that sees the current group cleaning, starts smacking its lips at a potential open climb. Thankfully climbers tend to possess good communication skills, and the hungry beasts can be pushed back with a witty comment about how they want to stay away from the climb because they heard the guy who just came down farted at the top. It may be a lie, but it works.

Anyway, for the most part, I haven't had to tell tall tales in order to save my next route. For instance, two weeks ago, everyone must have thought Rumney was going to be too wet to climb. I think many people chose the four-hour route to the Gunks instead(which I hear were busy). As I mentioned before, I was definitely OK with that. I know, we did primarily stay in the New Wave area (with quick jaunts to the Meadows and 5.8 Crag), so we didn't exactly venture out to see how crowded the other areas were. But even at New Wave, where the approach is light, we had few groups come our way. We pretty much had the crag to ourselves.

I really thought yesterday was going to be the opposite. When we arrived, I thought we were toast because the main parking lot was as full as I had seen it. But it turned out to be not as bad as it seemed. Somehow, the crowds ventured high up on the mountain first, leaving the lower crags not as busy as expected. I'm sure a lot of people figured that most would stay low and so maybe they overcompensated, leaving good, quality routes for the beginners to play around on.

In any case, We started in the Meadows and hit a nice 5.7, 5.9 and 5.8 as warm ups before the crowds arrived (and by the way, we started climbing at around 10:30am, which, in my estimation is late and definitely peak arrival time for anyone coming from Boston). To get three good, easy climbs in at the Meadows during peak hours is an accomplishment. I didn't get on my project 5.10, but that's OK. It'll be there next time. I saw a few people run it and have an idea as to what to do next time. I have done it on toprope, but leading is tough (if I didn't mention this before, I took a really wussy fall two weeks ago when I asked "Chuck" to pull me off. She did, and I fell. Damn that was scary).

After warming up, we then went to Main Cliff. We knew it was going to be open because the falcons have relocated to Summit Cliff (early for that). We also figured most people did not know this fact, thus, creating an opportunity to get a few runs in on some of the moderate climbs there. As it turned out, most of the easy climbs were trad routes, and we didn't feel as if we wanted to place our own gear. I was OK with it, but I wanted to make sure that there were bolted anchors at each belay point. Bolted anchors on trad climbs makes life significantly easier and allows for faster turnaround time. We couldn't confirm there were bolted anchors all the way to the top, so we passed and instead sought out a hybrid, bolted climb that was supposed to take us to the top.

I led the first pitch of what was supposed to be a 5.9 that probably ended up at 5.7, dropped the rope down for "Geneva" to lead (we didn't want to use two, full ropes to simul-climb the two seconds), and then "Chuck" cleaned. The point was then
to make an easy traverse down and across to the top of a trad pitch and climb the last pitch on bolts. However, it turned out that the traverse was neither easy nor obvious and, despite "Geneva's" attempts to locate the route (see pic), we chose to rap down and eat lunch. The view was fantastic though, and we were all glad that we were outside climbing. After all, it isn't always the grades one climbs. Just being outside in good company is good enough.

After Main, our next goal was to hit Jimmy Cliff, one of the uppermost crags on the mountain. We were prepared to do the full hike, but as we got up to Lower Vader, we decided to stop at Upper Vader just to catch our breath from the warm, steep climb. Upper Vader, as it turns out, is where we met one of our most eccentric climbing-group members ("Jello")last year, and I remembered there were some very nice moderate routes there for us to do. All three had nice moves that were different from the other climbs, making our time there interesting and not monotonous. All three of us managed the fun, and blind, mantle move on the 5.8 while "Geneva" and I had fun practicing our stems on a short 5.6. "Chuck" took a big fall before the first clip on one route, but she got back up on the route after that. I've always said courage doesn't necessarily come in good climbers. I'm a better climber than her, but I made her pull me off a route two weeks ago. She fell without protection (she was spotted well, but hadn't made a clip yet), and still had the nerve to jump back up. You see the difference don't you? I do.

After that, we decided that Jimmy Cliff was just too far to go at the end of the day. All three of us had to be at work the next day (me in particular), and so we packed it in and headed home. There was a beautiful sunset in my rear view mirror that made me smile. I'll be back there again this summer for certain.

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