Monday, May 14, 2007

Gorgeous Day - And Some Good Climbing To Boot

I can't say we haven't been lucky this year, because the sun has shone brilliantly several times the past few weeks to give us what I think has been the best climbing spring in three or four years. Every other year we've found nice weather during the week or on weekend days the day after it rains (e.g - it pours on Friday making a beautiful Saturday irrelevant). Not this year. This year we've already hit Rumney twice and QQ twice. I predict a Gunks and NoCo trip in the coming weeks as well. I'd even like to get to Quebec City at some point later in the summer.

But that's all beside the point - it was supposed to stay in the low sixties yesterday and it probably did stay there, but QQ, where we saddled up to give "Ashmont" a final, outdoor wave-off before he heads out west for good (he was so bad-ass yesterday. I wish we had a camera. With those tattoos, the 1970s porn star / motorcycle cop sunglasses, the thick beard and the bright orange helmet - I swear, it was as if I was watching some cult leader scare away all the nice kids just by showing up. It was totally cool), is well protected from the wind because the quarry settles into a bowl with cliffs all around. It can get really warm there during the summer, so cool days in the spring and fall (even the occasional warm, winter day) are quite enjoyable.

We also had a good day climbing; knocking off routes that had previously haunted us and kept us from believing we are as strong outside as we are inside. "Chuck" managed her first two 5.10s outside and it is probably only a matter of time before she gets them cleanly. It'll take some work and diligence, but she'll get them. "Gammie" jumped on everything I climbed and felt stronger on some routes than others. Still, he also jumped on a tough 5.10 that I was hoping to work throughout this summer (and I nailed it first go-around. I couldn't believe it. I seriously thought I was going to get it sometime in August or September, and I only got on it yesterday to "work it". But I climbed it clean and it felt so easy. I guess it's time to find another project - I think I did too, to the right there is a 5.11 with a massive blank section. I'm going to need to tape my fingertips to get through the slight, sharp pockets that are there, but it's going this summer, if I can help it), and he also tried a couple of other variations on other routes just to add flavor to the day.

We got off to a good start too. "GGF" taught us all how to swear on her first route. It turns out that repetition is the key - saying the words over and over again, even if you use them in different combinations, helps tremendously. Though the other climbers may now get confused - apparently "GGF" felt the need to both re-grade and re-name the routes. I'm not convinced the QQ guidebook will take into account the new beta. Despite her sailor imitations, however, she's getting stronger, as it was noticeable that she was able to get up the 5.8 and 5.9 routes that I think were tough for her last time. It's all a matter of climbing; just getting out there and practicing different moves for different ocassions. Once the arsenal gets built up, climbing harder grades becomes easier. I think both "GGF" and "Chuck" are discovering this. "Gammie" still relies on raw power, but he's strong enough to climb hard grades without much technique, so it works for him in the end.

Just to make everyone feel a little better, the QQ grades probably weren't sandbagged when they were graded thirty years ago, but because the rock has become slick and polished over time, they are sandbagged now. I'd say 5.9 at QQ is really 5.10. Maybe 5.10- or a hard 5.9+, but definitely not 5.9 anymore.

We didn't escape without some adventures, however. QQ had its share of loonies. There was new graffiti at the bottom of a fantastic 5.8 I was hoping to do another variation on, so that kept us off that route out of fear of getting paint on the ropes. A kid showed up with one of those gas-motor scooters (not the kind you sit on like a moped, but the kind that you stand on instead). He was loud and obnoxious, but he left soon after he sprayed the place with dirt from doing doughnuts. "Gammie" was on the hard 5.10 I spoke about earlier when someone dropped a rope on him, twice. They yelled "rope" once, but didn't actually look to see where they were throwing it. He wasn't particularly happy about it, and I don't blame him. And then there was the poet who was at the quarry when we arrived. He entertained "Chuck" and "GGF" while "Gammie" and I set up the topropes above.

In all, I can't complain about the weather or the quality of climbing we've been getting in. It's been great thus far. I can't wait to get out and do more. On a sad note, good-bye "Ashmont". We'll see you Wednesday, but you can't get out of saying good-bye by not having a going-away party (unless of course you are having one and you're not inviting me (then you're just and asshole). I encourage anyone to post either a good story or a good-bye to one of our most popular members in the comments section of this story. Maybe we'll get some good embarrassnig moments that will never be taken down!

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