Sunday, April 27, 2008

Good Crap, Bad Crap

There's a belief among those who breathe in the currents of self-honesty and live within its cruel social ramifications; those who trust will live, those who lie will die, and those who choose will always get what they ask for, so long as the consequences are understood and accepted, good or bad - and we always choose...

I have a dirty little secret about Friday that I'll keep to myself, but let's just say it involves me taking charge of what I want most out of life: to principally do what I want to do, despite the known risks that may come with it. I could lose so much if I keep doing what I did Friday afternoon, and it bothers me only because I don't know what is on the dark side of the consequences if my secret is discovered. And yet, I'm so eager to get there that I just might allow myself to get caught one of these days, just to see what's in store for me. Is it a lifetime of strife and missed opportunities, or will a world of freedom open up before me that shatters the blind trust afforded to the standards of personal accountability and social norms?

I'm lucky as all hell, but only sometimes. KITT and I arrived at Camp Slime with the tensity of rain spread across our gritted jaws and firm cheek bones. We knew we were safe Friday night, but the forecast called for possible T-showers Saturday morning and afternoon, with definite showers the bulk of the overnight into Sunday morning. And I knew the weather wouldn't play nice on Sunday until deep into the afternoon, well after we were going to be on our way home. "Ratherbe" had run into a wall of climbers the weekend before, and I had heard the community had been out in force up at Rumney, too. Her and I were at the 'Gunks a couple of weeks ago among intermittent crowds that were strategically placed on the best of the classics not far from the head of the carriage trail. We had to settle for a lousy campsite #1 or #2 (I'll never figure out which one is which), and that weekend was cold. Still, the hints were clear. Climbing season was trying to play as if it were in mid-season form, and it was off to a very good start. Would "KITT" and I seek our truth? Or were we just lying to ourselves because the warm weather leading into the weekend convinced us that it was our time to be outside instead of inside slaving away at math problems on chalkboards and spreadsheet? The choice was certainly ours, and I hoped that we chose well.

I was nervous that we'd get to Slime only to find a blockade of colorful canvas that would push us back to the Multi-Use Area (MUA), where I have never stayed, and have no desire to stay. I knew two other parties would be at Slime, and I believed it was too much to ask to know that my acquaintances would be the only ones there. We pulled into the handicap lot at about 8pm and let out a mutual cough of disbelief: not only were there only two spots taken, but the one spot that I know that easily takes my four-person tent was as naked as a baby before the cord is cut. We grabbed it, piled our stuff into the tent and crashed with dreams that we'd at get on least one of the classics we had discussed on the ride down.

Before I get to Saturday, I'd like to introduce three new members to the Greg's Blog Climbing Community: "HappieG" (a fellow climbing blogger - see her link on the right), "Rank" (a silent, lurking member of both MassClimber forums: yahoo and, and "Bulb" ("Rank"'s partner for the weekend, and apparent electrical contractor). "Rank", "Bulb", "KITT", and I went to a local German restaurant down the road from Slime to grab some grub when the following conversation took place:

- "KITT" (who is from Cologne, Germany): I'll have the such-in-such dish (he used the German pronunciation of a dish that he recognized from home - the waitress, clad in a heavy German dress, needed him to repeat it...twice).
- Me (when the dish arrived): Just like home is it?
- "KITT": Um, no.
- Me: Yeah, it's never like that. Ethnic restaurants always Americanize the dishes. Still, you recognized the dish on the menu, right?
- "KITT": Yeah. I certainly recognized the menu.
- Me: It must be somewhat similar then.
- "KITT": Actually, I have no fucking clue what I'm eating.

Note: this restaurant is apparently not very genuine.

Just a side note, I'm going to be creating a new blog soon called "Greg's Route Index". I hope to index and link all the routes that I write about on this blog. Hopefully it becomes a useful tool for folks interested in the same routes. I'm not sure when this will be up, but I'm shooting for the end of the year (2008).


We awoke to what everyone who camps always wakes up to: birds and daylight. When we finally crawled out of the tent at 830am, we were a little taken aback to only find one other tent propped up overnight after we crashed. I rubbed my eyes just to make sure we were that we were alone, but the re-awakening did nothing to change the scenery. "Holy crap," I thought, "there's no one here." "HappieG" was up making breakfast and not ready to climb, "Bulb" and "Rank" said they were going to be up extra early, and the other tent showed no signs of conscious life. It seemed as if we were in the midst of an opportunity to learn something about the 'Gunks crowd: that the threat of rain meant easy camping, and a free-pick of whatever classic climb we so desired.

Frog's Head (5.6-) - Two Pitches - Bolted Anchors - Trad - Greg led
Pitch One (5.6-) - 80 feet

This classic is on a wall of classics with Maria (5.6) to the right, and City Lights (5.8-), Son of Easy O (5.8) and Baby (5.6) to the left. It's also easy to find, too. Follow the carriage trail away from the Trapps Bridge past the to-be-needed outhouse on the right and rescue box on the left. Soon after those two landmarks will be a subtle turnaround spot in the road (where the Mohonk Rangers turn the truck around). You'll see a small stone wall on the left (about two to three feet tall). Take the next marked trail up to the left (marked with a yellow stripe). This short path will take you up to base of the wall, which has a prominent left-facing corner (Maria) on the right and overhangs way up to the left (Son of Easy O). About dead smack in the middle is a large block with a wide flake / right-facing corner that is about 10 feet tall. A foot or so to the left of the flake, on the face of the block, is a crack that starts after a couple of "steps" takes one up about two feet above the dirt ground. Start here at the crack.

Essentially, follow the crack and left-facing corner to the bolts. It's pretty easy climbing, as all the holds were there for me. No stories to tell, except we were the first people on the wall with not a single voice to be heard (including the carriage trail). I remember thinking how odd that was despite the fact that the sun was out, the temps comfortable, and considering location of the climb (within a few minutes hike downhill from the bridge). With so many classics concentrated in one area, I was amazed that there wasn't at least one other person even close to us. I wasn't complaining. I got up to the sun-drenched first anchor, tossed down my long-sleeve shirt, and wondered if it was worth going anywhere else for the day.

Pitch Two (5.5) - 90 feet
While the first pitch was pretty straight forward (nice, but not exotic), this second pitch added a little route-finding fun to the mix. Head toward the right-facing corner and climb that to its top. From there, enjoy the ride to the ledge at the top.

One thing I should note, however, is that the best belay spot at the top of the second pitch is on the rap bolts off to the right (toward Maria). I topped out well left of the chains, which is apparently where the route ends. But the top out has crappy protection, and that's why the Dick Williams guide recommends belaying from the bolts. I don't disagree with this, but what I didn't like was that between the top out and the anchors is a tree that the rope must rub against while the second is being belayed. I wish that I had traversed right just below the ledge and topped out at the anchors instead of left of the tree. I can't vouch for the pro or the holds, but it looked like an easy traverse (I don't think it would change the grade). If you feel confident in your 5.6 climbing ability, I would traverse right at the top before going over the ledge, and this would thus avoid the awkward belay position against the tree.
Descent: The belay anchors are the rap anchors. Two raps with a 60m rope will do just fine. Doubles will get you there in one shot.
Maria (5.6+) - Three Pitches - Varied Anchors - Trad - Greg led

Pitch One (5.5) - 80 foot traverse - slings for anchors

There are three starts to this route: Maria (5.5), Maria Direct (5.9), and Maria Redirect (5.11a R). Don't worry, unless you're spatially challenged, you're not going to think you're on the 5.5 start and actually be on the 5.11a start by accident. The 5.11a and 5.9 starts are both pretty much directly below the left-facing corner that is Maria's second pitch. The 5.11a is furthest to the right, and is a very thin crack with no pro. The 5.9 start is a bit more obvious and to the left of the 5.11a start (a few feet to the left). There are a few crimps on the face that lead to a couple of pockets about 10 feet off the ground (protected by a piton in the right pocket). Those pockets then lead to a thin crack in a shallow right-facing corner. The 5.5 start is the same as Frog's Head for about 15 feet before it traverses right for the bulk of the 80 feet (along a horizontal crack, also protected by a piton at the far right of the crack).

I have to admit that I was feeling emboldened due to my new-found lack of fear of falling and, because there was someone working the crux of Frog's Head (right above the point where one traverses on the 5.5 start), I wanted to save time by giving the 5.9 start a try. I was nervous however, because the crimps at the start looked a long way away from the pockets and, despite my momentary courage, I wasn't in the mood for an early-morning dyno with a sketchy fall below me. I decided to boulder the start just to see how far away the pockets were. Not surprisingly, they were a long way off, but I later found out that I had bouldered the start incorrectly. The crimps are very solid (looking and practical) when doing a layback to the left (with one's back toward the start of Frog's Head). I could have hung off those all day, but the move from that position up to the pockets was huge. The position I was in would have taken me to the left-hand pocket (near the corner and crack), but I should have reversed my position so that I was laying back to the right (facing Frog's Head). After climbing Maria and descending, I saw a woman who claimed she was only 5'5" easily reach up to the right-hand pocket (near the pin). That put her in a perfect position to then get her feet up and bump her left hand into a nice groove near the top of the thin crack. It was an impressive sight that was filled with grace, ease and effort all rolled together...and I'm itching to get back on it...right now!

But that's not what we climbed. We climbed the 5.5 version, and that's just as nice as the 5.9 looked, except obviously a little easier. Anyway, as I noted above, climb the start of Frog's Head for about 15 feet or so and make what may feel like a sketchy move out right just below and to the left of the horizontal crack. There will be some decent hand holds up above, so don't worry about climbing the wrong section. The feet here are good, too (note the three long(ish) pockets). Once you have your feet in the pockets, fade up to the right until you get to the crack. Then follow the crack with your hands until you get to the piton at the far end to the right. This crack is easily protectable, so there is no excuse for not doing so (large tri-cams, hexes in some spots, and / or mid-sized cams will do the job). Once at the piton, head up and to the right to the base of the left-facing corner and belay slings.

Pitch Two (5.6+) - 90 feet - Make your own anchors

Simply put, climb the corner to the ledge and have fun. Wow, what a great climb. There are plenty of moves that rely exclusively on the corner, the face, and everything in between. It protects well, it adds the slight threat of exposure, and it's just plain exhilarating. I have to give "KITT" some kudos here, too, as I placed two pieces that I thought were destined to become a permanent part of the landscape (one nut and one accidentally over-cammed cam that got stuck without due notice). He got them both out with ease, so he's a good second if you ever need one.

Whereas the belay for Frog's Head was the bolted anchors, and despite the fact that those anchors are probably closer to the top of Maria's second pitch than Frog's Head's second pitch, there is enough pro to build an anchor below the roof that is just above the belay ledge. I recommend building an anchor here knowing what I know now about the third pitch.

Pitch Three (5.6+) - 50 feet - unsure of anchors

Alas, we didn't do the third pitch, much to the chagrin of several people who have asked me what I thought of the third pitch. We didn't do the third pitch for three reasons: 1) "Ratherbe" and I didn't do the third pitch of Minty (5.3) a couple of weeks before because it was supposedly not worth it (I stupidly assumed the same about Maria); 2) we didn't know what the rap situation was up top (I know, a lame excuse because there has to be something up there right?) and we did know the rap situation from the top of the second pitch because the chains were right there and; 3) the Williams book doesn't clearly state where the third pitch is. The Williams book states, "Climb the corner above the overhang, step left..." Well, first of all, it's way, way, WAY more of a roof than an overhang. OK, this may be semantics here as an overhang is technically something that "over hangs" something else, but I usually consider an overhang to be steep terrain and a roof to be just that, a roof. Maybe I'm making a difference where there isn't one, but it seems to me that a roof is overhung, but an overhang isn't necessarily a roof. To be clear, it would make sense to use the word roof where there is an actual roof.

So why is this important? Well, because of the words "step left" in reference to the "overhang". I wish I had a picture here to show you, but a description will have to do instead. If one is standing under the roof and facing the rock, one can see a corner that could be steep about 20 feet over to the left (well away from the roof - on the other side of the rap chains). This corner is right-facing and it would be very easy to see how a climber would step left at the top. But that's isn't even close to being the route. The route actually goes up a face and a very generously described as, because it looks more like a feature, a corner. If one visually follows that "corner" up to the bottom of the roof, one visually sees a step to the right, not left. What one doesn't know, however, is that the step left occurs after the step right around the roof. According to the book, there is a crack that one climbs from there to the top. Again, I assume there is a rap option that leads back to the ledge at the top of the second pitch.
Descent:From the top of the third pitch, find the rap station and rap to the ledge at the second pitch. From the ledge, rap the same as Frog's Head (on the rap anchors that split Maria from Frog's Head).
City Lights (5.8) - Two Pitches - Bolted Anchors - Trad - Greg led
Pitch One (5.8-) - 80 feet

If you ever wanted a mind bender for a start, then this is the climb to get your brain cells hooked on. This climb starts left of Frog's Head at the crack that is right in front of a large oak tree. The tree is off, but it certainly is in one's head when climbing because with a single fall one will surely get the backscratching of one's life. There are four tricks to this climb, three of which I am happy to have discovered on my own:
- Trick #1 - There is a cool gear placement on the first hand-hold that one can place while standing on the ground. Take a small nut (not micro) and feed the wire down through the hole from the top, thus leaving the nut on top of the hole. It might take some maneuvering to get this done, but it does work. Don't go with too large of a nut because you'll need the space for your hand. A smaller nut will obviously slip right through. Find the one that is just right, and you'll feel better about moving through the early crux. (BTW - I was so happy to have discovered this trick that I place two other nuts the same way on the second pitch)
- Trick #2 - One can place a 0.4 Camalot in the back, right-hand crack of the first pod, near the bottom of this crack. You won't see the crack unless you look closely at the pod, but it is there, and it is very secure.
- Trick #3 - The mantle through the second pod is really, really hard. In fact, it's not even worth doing it because...
- Trick #4 - Are you ready for the beta? Are you ready for the hidden jug? If you don't want to know then close your eyes and scroll down three times before opening again. Ready? OK, here goes: the first pod is an up-side-down triangle (with the base at the top and the point at the bottom) while the second pod (up and to the right) is a right-side-up triangle. At the very bottom of the left-hand side of the second triangle, right on the edge, is a HUGE(ish) under cling if grabbed correctly. If you grab too high up then you'll simply grab the open-hand layback (it's still a jug, but also still awkward). Seriously, play around until you're able to grab the bottom and outside roundish part of the left side of the triangle. Once you feel it, you'll thank me because then you can get your left hand out left on one of the two crimpy pockets and simply step up to the jug at the top of the second pod. You'll have to trust your feet a bit (the crack is slick), but the layback is so solid that you'll never worry about relying on the two bomber pieces noted in Tricks #1 and #2 above.

From there, follow the climb up to the anchors. As the Williams book notes, follow the path of least resistance. It is easy climbing, even if run out.

Pitch Two (5.6+) - Patty Duke Variation - 90 feet

It was recommended to me to do the variation as opposed to the actual 5.6 second pitch. The 5.6 path goes left to a right-facing corner and straight to the top. The variation goes right through some right-facing flakes. I agree that the variation is a better option, but be careful of loose rock, as it is definitely there.

I also have to say that I ran this out a bit and must not have followed the route precisely. For one, the Williams book notes a long reach left that I never found, and there was certainly some steep rock on this path, which made it an adventurous lead considering the wind was absolutely HOWLING above the first anchor (it was so nice and warm below, but the air's true temps came out as soon as I got above the tree line). "KITT" later noted that he would have led the first pitch but not the second. I must have led up through a harder-than-5.6+ section, so beware of taking my directions here.
Descent:Rap off both anchors with two raps on a 60m rope (one rap with doubles).

The weather may have been different at the top from the bottom, but it was still warm and sunny (I'm sure "KITT" got a stinging surprise in the shower Sunday night when the hot water cascaded down the back of his neck), and there were still only a handful of climbers where we were climbing. It was mid-afternoon and we were a bit tired having conquered six pitches of classic routes, so we used the long log at the bottom as a back rest and watched a few other parties climb around us (the woman who did the 5.9 start to Maria) and a father and two sons, on the 5.5 start of Maria, who recognized me as a comp judge (I kind of recongnized them, too, but they knew who I was as soon as I asked if the kids were comp climbers. One kid had a Team Rock shirt out of New Rochelle, NY. I remember the team from last weekend's comp at Carabiner's in New Bedford, mainly because the head coach was kinda sorta smokin'). We gave the kids beta, something the father was pleased to have. His kids were both 5.13 climbers but trad was something new to them and the initial step up into the horizontal crack was a bit heady without encouragement. There was also another party on City Lights where the belayor was encouraging his "Sally" leader to run both pitches together to the top. It was rather humorous.

As we sat there sipping on our now poisonous water bottles and relaxing in the welcoming spring sun, we discussed for several minutes what routes we were going to do, and this is basically how the conversation went:
- "KITT": So what's up next?
- Me: I don't know. Sundown (5.8+)? Son of Easy O (5.8)? Baby (5.6)?
- "KITT": Sounds good.
- Me: OK, let's get up.
- "KITT": Yup, let's go.
- Me: Uh-huh. Let's do it.
- "KITT": Sure thing.
- Me: Since you're older, you should get up first and give me a hand.
- "KITT": I'm older by a week.
- Me: Christ. OK. Time to get up.
- "KITT": I agree, let's do this.
- Me: Got anymore GORP?
- "KITT": Yup, enjoy.
- Me: What are we doing again?
- "KITT": Have we decided?
- Me: Yeah, let's do... ...mmm... ...damn good GORP, dude.
- "KITT": Thanks. Made it myself.
- Me: This a German recipe?
- "KITT": What? Nuts, raisins and M&Ms?
- Me: Yup. Good stuff.
- "KITT": Are we going to fucking climb or what?
Baby (5.6) - Two Pitches - Unsure of anchors - Trad - Greg led and backed off

Pitch One (5.6) 80 feet

We had two options before us: Son of Easy O (5.8) and Baby (5.6) (I had, for some reason, ruled out Sundown (5.8+)). There were parties on both at the time, but the party on Baby was further along, and so we decided on that route to finish the day. That, and, earlier in the day there was a woman who entertained the entire crag on Son of Easy O with incredibly sexy grunts and moans through the overhang. I knew I was a bit spent from the climbing we had done, and I figured 140 feet of 5.6 was a safer bet than finding my sexuality on a 5.8 overhang.

Baby is located to the left of Son of Easy O, which is left of City Lights. Baby is easy to find because it is below a sketchy scramble that drops about ten feet below the start of Son of Easy O. It is the route with the wide crack / thin chimney / dihederal / offwidth (whatever the hell you want to call it) about 20 feet off the ground. As the book says, a 3.0 Camelot works well at the bottom of the pod (let's call it a large peapod, because it is about the same size and shape as the one on the fourth pitch of Dark Shadows in Red Rocks, and they call that a pod), but a larger cam (4.0? 4.5?) would work really well in the pod itself.

Look, I was tired alright. I tried it three or four times, but each time the layback pumped me out before I could even get my body high enough to jam it into the crack. For that reason alone I wasn't overly disappointed like I was on CCK the year before (where I just freaked out and bailed out of a lack of courage). I was somewhat dissapointed because I was thinking this would be great training for my Yosemite trip in June. To get that out of the way would go a long way toward building my confidence for that trip, but it wasn't meant to be. I was struggling with confidence and strength, and "KITT" was at the end of his allergy suffering rope (poor guy's left eye looked like the Terminator's at the end of the first movie - it was bloodshot red and he didn't stop sneezing and swearing all day). So I decided it was best to retreat and call it a day.

The climbing day was over, but I also had been carrying around some extra weight all day and it was ripening just as we got back to our bags. I left "KITT" to rack the gear while I tried to run to the outhouse before all hell broke loose. I was relieved to see no one waiting in line as I approached the building, and was happy that no one else came along as I came within 10 feet of the door. But then I heard the sounds of gravel crunching under rubber tires behind me. Slowly, a man on a bike passed me, got off, plopped his kickstand down and entered the outhouse. "MOTHER EFFER!!!"

The bastard took his time, too. To make matters worse, there was no toilet paper inside. Well, I wasn't going to not use TP, so I squirmed back to the bags and politely asked (note: begged) "KITT" for spare TP. He said he had some all the way back at the car (MOTHER EFFER!) that I could use. That mean going all the way to the car, past two outhouses on the way(each without TP), and back uphill to one of them before I could lighten my load. And when I finally did? It was a major dissapointment. I just knew this was going to come back to haunt me.

After all that, we ran into town get allergy medicine, my guidebook drilled so that I could carry it on my harness, two beers (again, "KITT" ordered a German beer that he had to pronounce twice before the bartender understood), and some fun talking about how we each wanted to pull the towel that hung out of the back of the bartender's shorts (hey, she was kind of cute and the towel look liked tail. What guy doesn't want tail?). We then went back to the parking lot where we had dinner, and then to the tent where we crashed hoping the evening's rain wouldn't spoil Sunday's climbs.

I awoke first to the sound of the ranger's alarm clock going off in the cabin next to the tent sites. It was apparent that no one was home because the alarm was still going off two hours later. In fact, in the middle of the early-morning rush to the rock, I could still hear it from the Trapps Bridge across the street. But before all of that, as I woke up, I felt the tent around me and frowned as my fingers immediately dampened to the touch (a product of me being too cheap to buy the actual footprint that goes with the tent and using a tarp instead). Would the rock be too wet? I knew the temps wouldn't get warm until late in afternoon, leaving for a cool and raw morning of climbing. Considering how badly my fingers hurt on Limelight (5.7) a couple of weeks before with "Ratherbe", I wasn't so sure the day wouldn't be a total loss.

I nudged "KITT" awake and told him that I was going for a walk to see what the rock was like. I also wanted to try "HappieG"'s recommendation on how to find the routes at the 'Gunks to see if I was being unreasonable in my recent rant (see her comment at the bottom of the post). Well, the results were mixed. I didn't find her technique easy, but I did easily find our proposed climbs of the day, mainly because they are near Minty (5.3), which "Ratherbe" and I had also done the same weekend at Limelight, and I recognized that route from the path. Maybe "HappieG" has a point, and maybe I'll figure it out or maybe I'm too dumb to do so. Still, my rant remains; it is not easy to find routes in the 'Gunks unless you're already familiar with them.

Anyway, we decided to do Beginner's Delight (5.3) as a warmup with Snooky's Return (5.8) as the final climb of the weekend. I walked up to the grey, dark rock and expected it to be as wet as it looked. But it wasn't wet at all. It was bone dry and not even that cold. It was kind of exciting, to tell the truth. I was really looking forward to both climbs. But unfinished business called and I needed to get to the car to take care of said unfinished business. I went back to the tent, grabbed "KITT"'s keys and ran to get the TP. Oddly, on the way to the car I ceased having to go, and so ate breakfast (muffin and watermelon chunks) until "KITT" came around to eat as well. After breakfast we headed up to the bridge (me to the porta - again, a disappointment as I knew I had more up there then what came out), and off to the climb.
Beginner's Delight (5.3) - Three Pitches - Varied Anchors - Trad - Greg led

Pitch One (5.3) - 75 feet - Make your own anchor

Again, I can't really tell you where to go, except that the path leading up to the cliff is well past the East Trapps Connector Trail (which goes down to the right to the road below). On the left, look for a marked trail (tiny steps to start and a yellow stripe) where there is a long(ish) and flat boulder on the left of the path (boulder is about five feet long and two to three feet wide). Head up that path and you should see a thin crack close to some thin trees on the left (one tree has one stump and two trees growing out of that one stump). That thin crack is Snooky's Return (5.8). Up to the left again you'll see a thin crack that starts about 10 feet above the ground. That crack has a triangle-shaped pod just up and to the righ of a patch of grass sticking out of a rectangular pod. This is the start of Beginner's Delight. Nothing special about this pitch. Just climb straight up to the base of the obvious left-facing corner and build a belay.

Pitch Two (5.3) - 120 foot up and traverse - Make your own anchor
This is a fun, safe, and spicy-feeling pitch. I was never in any fear as a result of the moves, but there is a fair amount of loose rock, and some of the moves are committing in the traverse itself.

Climb up the corner about 25 feet or so. If you can see it, there is a pin that is up and to the left, just after the start of the traverse and about 10 feet left of the corner. It is about 25 feet above the belay, and you may not see it until you get up a bit, but it is there. When you locate the pin, keep it's position in mind. Climb up the corner until you think you are on the same horizontal plane as the pin, then carefully make two steps left away from the corner. Clip the pin and fade up left to the right-facing flakes. When you get to the flakes, be careful as there are some seriously loose blocks up there. I stayed to the solid ledges, even if that meant making bigger and more dynamic moves. The moves are easy enough, so don't worry about falling.

Once through the loose rock minefield, exit left through an ungraceful-looking notch to gain the top of a couple of boulders. Build an anchor below the roof.

Pitch Three (5.3) - 60 feet - Belay off the slings on the tree above

This pitch was wild. There were two airy moves that I loved, and one move under the roof that was just a lot of fun because everything was there, and yet, I felt that it was going to sandbagged before I even tried.

Climb the corner to the roof, use the huge jugs below the roof on the right to traverse to the right hand edge before going over. It's airy, but secure and fun. Fade left under the next roof, climb the face below and to the left of that, and exit right so that you're on top of it. The second airy move is a choice move, as there is a less-airy option to finish the climb. The less airy-section just goes straight up (bor-ring). For the fun moves, climb the crack to the right - the crack that steps out away from the ledge over nothing but air that leads all the way down to the base! The holds are bomber, and you'll get to feel as if you've experienced High E (5.6) exposure but with 5.3 moves instead (OK, so maybe the moves are closer to 5.5, but it's really not that bad). Belay off the tree at the top on the putting-green grass (seriously, it looked as if it had been cut with a mower recently).
Descent:Look to the right and you'll see the rap slings to Snooky's Return on a tree (about 50 feet away). Be carefull with this rap. The tree is probably solid, and the branch initially feels solid, but upon closer inspection the branch is rather brittle. The tree should hold when the branch breaks, but someone is going to get the crap scrared out of him or her when it does break. Rap here to the chained anchors directly below (which you can't see - I recommend tossing your rope from the ledge that is below the rap tree so as to not throw your rope onto climbers coming up Snooky's). Rap again to the next chained anchor below (you can't see the second set of chains until you're almost on top of them). Rap to the bottom. We used a 60m rope, so the anchors at the top of the first pitch are less than 100 feet from the ground, despite the William's guide's estimate. Doubles probably get you down in one go from the upper chains with a rap to the upper chains from the tree (better option). Or one could rap from the tree to the first pitch anchors (less desired option due to the frailty of the tree branch).
Snooky's Return(5.8) - Three Pitches - Bolted / Tree Anchors - Trad - Greg and "KITT" Toproped

Pitch One (5.7) - 90 feet - Bolted Anchor

By the time we got back to the ground, we realized that we only had time to climb the first pitch of Snooky's. Since we already had the rap set up, we decided to TR the route. Too bad, too, because it was a sweet route (and I did think two or three times about bringing "KITT" up to finish the route after I climbed it first). Start at the thin crack near the split tree (noted in the directions to the crag above) and climb the thin crimps on the face and solid holds in the crack straight up to the anchor. Pretty straight forward, and the climb is far less intimidating once you climb it than it looks from below.

After that, we packed up and headed out. But just before we did, four climbers came around the corner and said "hi" to us. I recognized one, and she recognized me, too. But I have to admit that I can't place her face. If you are reading this, please don't be offended! This happens to me a lot. Please introduce yourself to me the next time you see me, and I will happily do the same!

The walk out was refreshing in the sense that we had done some good stuff this weekend (good crap). However, I still had one more mission to accomplish (bad crap), and I stole "KITT"'s TP and headed straight for the first outhouse. But again, just as I got there, a hiker came out of nowhere to claim the room for himself. "Crap," I thought (no pun intended, but definitely relevant). He was in there forever. So long that a girl queued up behind me who really had to pee. Since I knew what I was about to do, and since I knew she'd be quick, I let her go in front of me. Finally, ten minutes after the hiker went in (he took nine of the 10 minutes), I experienced success!

Thirty minutes later the tent was packed, I was changed, and "KITT" was stuffing his face with an Italian sub and driving 75mph with his knees on I-87 north. We were both honest with our abilities this weekend (me = Baby; "KITT" = top of City Lights), even when we lied (me = Baby), we chose exactly what we wanted to accomplish in the end (us = small crowds and lots of classics). Hopefully I can get away with my little secret again more often as the summer progresses. Fingers are crossed! We're at Rumney next Sat. Hope to see you there!

Click here to see pics from the 2008 MassClimbers' 2008 Gunks Trips (this trip will be followed by older trips)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! What an existentialist start to your trip report! Very Camus-like!

Ed and I were at the Gunks Tuesday through Thursday. I have written but not yet posted the trip report on Bill & Doug Climb! I am humbled. It pales by comparison to yours.

In fact, I may just stop writing TRs. What's the point, after reading yours? Pardon me while I open my heart up to the benign indifference of the universe.