Monday, October 01, 2007

Upper Tiers at Poke-O-Moonshine

Me: If I could have just one weekend when I didn't have to bushwhack, I'd be in eternal heaven.
"Jello": Suck it up, pussy. This is how we get there.

A 6:30am wake-up call was followed by an hour's hike straight up the left side of Poke-O-Moonshine, only to be overshadowed by yet another adventure to find hardly sought after routes in places no one with any sanity ever goes. Our goal on Sunday was to hit the Upper Tiers section of Poke-O, if only because the approach to the popular sections were too easy, too well-populated and "not there", as Sir Edmund Hillary might have muttered if Everest was only the second tallest mountain in the world. Our team of four slugged its way up to the old fire ranger's house and pushed right into a dry stream bed, thick brush that kept telling us it didn't want us to climb there that day, and onto the base of cliffs that no one can see from below. We were alone to explore, laugh and climb whatever the fuck we wanted to climb. "Chuck" and "Utah" (I didn't give him a name the last time, but there it is, now) went off in search of a hidden gem of a 5.6 that supposedly sat right on the edge of the world as they saw it before them. "Jello" and I found Fairview (5.8), a series of parallel cracks that finish with a slick mantle up on to a nearly unforgiving slab. Our hands were sore from the day before, but we didn't care. There's only one chance to climb that day, right?

Fairview (5.8) - 1 pitch - trad - belay off a large spruce at the top or set an anchor in the crack at the top of the climb - Poke-O-Moonshine - Upper Tiers

This climb starts about 150 feet to the right of the obvious right-facing corner on the left edge of the taller section of Upper Tiers. Sound confusing? Trust me. Just walk in, find the tallest sections and you'll see the the corner hanging tantalizingly above a roof with a 5.11 crack emerging out into the sun (if it's shining, which it was for us that day). Then go 150 feet to the right and find the right-hand crack that goes up about 10 feet and then steps left to another crack for another 10 feet. The route then steps left again and follows the last crack up to the slopey top.

"Jello" led this route to the very last move and had to back down. I don't blame him, either. When I got on the first couple of sections I immediately howled in pain, as the sharp rock turned my hands into a braille art canvas complete with grandma's needlepoint book cover. I felt as if I was being stitched into a series of moves I never would have considered had it not been my cams left at the top.

I placed one hand after another in and stepped across and up with one toe-torque after another. Finally, I reached the top, plopped a small tri-cam in the uppermost hold and went for it: layback, get a tricky right foot up high, slap-slap-slap for the best available sloper, left foot comes up, keep from squatting backwards and...and...breathe...breathe...go...wait...go...nope...PUSH to the crimp that I hoped was there. With my heart racing, I pulled my feet up over the edge and slowly walked to safety. "Jello" came up after me, felt the same anxiety that I did, and swore he'd kick the guidebook author's ass if he ever saw him.

"Jello": That's no fucking 5.8! I would have fallen on my ass! Psychological crux my foot! That fucker's going to get someone killed someday. That's a real crux. The asshole took an onsight away from me. I'LL KICK HIS ASS!

We hurried downhill soon after that because "Utah" and "Jello" had to get back to work. "Chuck" and I hopped in the car, took a picture of Poke-O on our way out and headed home. Damn, if the 'Dacks were that much closer I'd be there more than anywhere else.

All this talk of crack lately makes me wish I could add audio to my blog. Because I can't, here's a sample of how I feel about the nearing end of the climbing season ("Jello" won't have weekends off after this coming weekend. Bummer. Looks like I'm inside until Red Rocks):

Lullaby - The Cure
on candystripe legs the spiderman comes
softly through the shadow of the evening sun
stealing past the windows of the blissfully dead
looking for the victim shivering in bed
searching out fear in the gathering gloom and
a movement in the corner of the room!
and there is nothing i can do
when i realize with fright
that the spiderman is having me for dinner tonight!

quietly he laughs and shaking his head
creeps closer now
closer to the foot of the bed
and softer than shadow and quicker than flies
his arms are all around me and his tongue in my eyes
"be still be calm be quiet now my precious boy
don't struggle like that or i will only love you more
for it's much too late to get away or turn on the light
the spiderman is having you for dinner tonight"

and i feel like i'm being eaten
by a thousand million shivering furry holes
and i know that in the morning i will wake up
in the shivering cold

and the spiderman is always hungry...

"Come into my parlour", said the spider to the fly... "I have something here for you"

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