Monday, August 06, 2007

Rumney - Taking the Injured Thumb Outside and On Lead

Yesterday was my first day testing my recovering thumb both outside and on lead, and I have to say that I think I did fairly well. I was nervous, and my leg shook like crazy at times to prove that was true - even on easy routes I had climbed clean before.

The day started with "Cody" picking me up at 7am in an attempt to get to Rumney by 9am. We were to meet "Sherpa", who, by the way, requested a new nickname but won't get one because, to be honest, has a pretty good story to back her nickname up. As it turned out, our timing was perfect. As we drove into the parking lot, "Sherpa" was just getting out of her car. A few minutes later, we were on our way to Upper Vader to warm up on a few easy routes before hitting Jimmy Cliff later in the day.

The long hike up to Upper Vader wasn't as bad as it has been in the past. I think I'm getting used to hitting that section of the mountain. I've been to Rumney several times this year and have hit Upper Vader and Jimmy Cliff two or three times. This is because each cliff has some of the best easy to moderate climbing at Rumney, and neither are guaranteed to busy like the Meadows and 5.8 Crag are.

No one was there when we arrived, so we had our choice of routes and started on a nice 5.6 called Blustery Day that leads up to the right of the pumpy roof climb, Squall (5.10d). All three of us led the route, despite "Sherpa"'s initial reluctance, and then we moved on to Frosted Flakes (5.7) and Victim of Love (5.8) before deciding to hit Lower Vader where Yoda (5.9) and Obi Wan Ryobi (5.9) awaited. (as an aside, both "Sherpa" and "Cody" ran up Pee Wee (5.4) and had a fun time doing different variations). I felt fine on all three routes, but I definitely felt nervous once above the clip on all three routes. I think that despite the pain in my thumb having left, I am still suffering from a lack of squeezing strength. It is this lack of confidence that freaked me out. Still, the top part of Victim of Love has always stumped me. It is slightly overhanging with a series of slopers for hand holds and no feet. Not having a strong thumb worried me, but for some reason I found a sequence this time that allowed me to fly through the top better than I ever have before. It turns out that there is a high step that changes one of the slopers into a sort of lieback / Gaston. One pump up with a little pressure from the left toes, and the top ledge is very easily gained. I was nervous, but surprised and happy at the same time.

As I mentioned above, "Cody" wanted to hit Lower Vader to jump specifically on Obi Wan Ryobi, which I don't think I have done yet. I have done Yoda, and was a little nervous about getting on something so awkward and steep. I really felt that Yoda was going to require a gripping strength I wasn't sure I possessed yet. But, luck was on my side. As we were heading down, a few of "Cody"'s friends, whom we were to have met up with at some point in the day, heard her voice through the trees and called out. After a brief discussion, the two guys headed down to Waimea and we decided to go up to Jimmy Cliff so that I could take another run at Lonesome Dove (5.10a - my first outdoor 5.10 lead). I had climbed Lonesome Dove clean the first time, but I wanted to see how I'd do as an injured bird. As time would have it, we didn't make it to the phenomenal arrete on the right side, and I was a bit bummed about that. Instead, "Cody" and I ran up Junco (5.8 - probably the best 5.8 at Rumney) and traversed across to set up a top rope of Hammond Organ (5.10d). In the meantime, "Sherpa" ran out of draws on a 5.7 chimney that is not in the guidebook, and had to rerun the route just to get to the top. Her partner, who needs a nickname, hmmm... "Video" (because she's a video editor), made for a nice foursome in the group while "Cody" and I worked Hammond Organ (to be clear, "Sherpa" and "Video" also ran the route).

"Cody" was really pushing me to lead Hammond Organ, and I was really thinking about it. But I'm glad I top roped it first. There are two or three hidden moves on the route at crucial moments. Now that I know how to climb the route, I don't think it will be a big deal to lead. The holds are all there, it's just that it took some playing to find where they were. There is definitely a sequence all the way through the route, so I recommend that you study it well before jumping on it.

Because we had to get back early, that ended our day. "Cody" and "Sherpa" then jumped in the Baker River at the bottom of the mountain while I waded out and sunned on a rock. "Video" met up with her friends and took off. We grabbed dinner, hit traffic and were late getting in despite our attempts to get in early. All in all, it was a good day.

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