|"Blow" on V3's P3 (5.7)|
I arrived at the 'Gunks alone for my final weekend there in 2010 and on the tail end of a nor'easter that had just dropped a bucket of water on the entire northeast. The wind was all that was left when I set up camp below a left-behind blue tarp that was flapping loose in the 50mph gusts. I stuffed my sleeping bag with clothes and squeezed myself in for what I hoped would be a warm sleep.
|"Milsap" enjoys the sunshine|
|"BMR" coming up V3 (5.7)|
Saturday turned out to be a bad day for me. We did finally climb, two easier routes called Classic (5.7) and Ken's Crack (5.7), each of which "Blow" completely destroyed with his new-found confidence, but I was in all sorts of pain from my new shoes squeezing my feet to the cold air and rock rendering my fingers useless. I had to let go on Ken's Crack; It was simply too painful to continue. I hoped with all that I had that Sunday would be a better day. The temps were supposed to be warmer. The door was open slightly even if my partner situation hadn't improved. Modern Times was a goal of a lifetime for me, a route of such intimidation that I never, even if I had ever become a stronger climber, felt I deserved to climb. I needed a partner I could trust and the one partner I had hoped would second it with me, "Mom," wasn't able to go on Monday as we had tentatively discussed. "Fashion," who I had later learned could climb with me on Monday, was coming back from a shoulder injury and this seemed too much too soon for her. That left a new-comer to my growing world of climbing partners: "BMR." I had met him once at the Southern Adirondacks Climbing Festival a few weeks before, but I hadn't climbed with him yet. I knew from other sources that he was a solid partner, but what I didn't know was if he was strong enough to second the climb and, if he wasn't, if he knew how to prussic.
I had to wait until Sunday to figure all of this out, even then he was only around for just that day. It was either Sunday or bust.
|"Caboose" on V3's P3 (5.7)|
I felt infinitely stronger than the day before (thank you warm, oh beautiful warm sunshine), but my head was still a little unbalanced. Easy moves felt tentative, and all the potential falls looked hazardous. I even climbed the escape hatch to the left on the third pitch just so I could place a piece above the harder moves in the roof so that I could essentially be on top rope when I downclimbed and climbed the roof proper, and this was a small roof compared to Modern Times. I mentioned to "BMR" that I wanted to get on Modern Times and that he would have to second the money pitch because that was what I wanted to lead. I kind of threw it out there, simply hoping that in the dead of the wind the comment would stick.
- "BMR": No problem.
- Me: You'll have to prussic if you can't pull the roof.
- "BMR": No problem.
- Me (a little nervous now): Seriously, there's no getting back on the rock if you fall.
- "BMR": No problem.
- Me: You can prussic, right?
- "BMR" (with a little smile across his face): No problem.
|It was cold on Saturday|
However, "Blow"'s goal for the weekend was CCK (5.7+), so that was next. I was relieved to know there was another route before Modern Times that would allow me to breathe a little longer, but when "Blow" and "Caboose" said that it was late and that they had to get back on the road the game was suddenly on. I looked at "BMR" and he looked back at me. We both had "are you ready" looks on our faces while simultaneously smiling "yes" in return. I wasn't scared, but boy, was I feeling something I hadn't felt in a long time. It was so long, in fact, that I simply couldn't figure out what to make of the situation. I was giddy, confident, unsure, nervous, and happy. Yes, happy is the best way to put it now. Pure and sheer happiness had developed inside of me, and because it hadn't existed in my climbing heart for maybe years, it was unrecognizable to me.
|"Fashion" has fun on CCK's P3 (5.7+)|
The only real delay, however, was that the second above us had fallen at the crux and was now swinging in mid air with no way to get back on the rock. The problem? She didn't know how to prussic! I guess we were all fortunate that there was a cameraman and two climbers who wanted to jump in front of us to get the perfect end-of-the-day light for a Rock and Ice article they were writing. We let them climb through ahead of us, and as a result of that the cameraman, who was suspended from an anchor at the top, he was able to teach the woman how to prussic. Soon after she topped out the photo dudes climbed, the photos were snapped, and off I went to the roof, that massively committing roof with all that air and space below it. I was going to do it now. There was no turning back and there was no question about it. It was going to happen.
|"Fashion" tackles Limelight's P2 (5.7)|
|A beautiful morning on Monday|
With 200 feet of air below me, I stood on the final hand-hold of the crux section and prayed that my legs and balance would let me catch my breath before I plugged my next piece. I was shaking, not from fear or exhaustion, but from pure unadulterated excitement. I had done it. The route wasn't over for another 15 feet, but I had done it. There was no way I was going to peel off now, and even if I did I still would have said that I had done it and called the pitch off into the air as a victory whip. "BMR" shouted from below and I grinned from the top. I hadn't been so happy to get to the top of a climb since "Jello," "Sungam," and I stood on top of River Tower in the Moab Desert. But it also wasn't over yet. "BMR" still had to come up, and he wasn't sure if he could do it clean.
|Remember, I was COLD the day before!|
- "BMR" (breathing very heavily): Oh god! Holy fuck!
- Me (stunned at what I saw below): DUDE! You made it!
- "BMR" (breathing heavily still): Wow, what a route! Wow! Nice job!
- Me: DUDE! You made it!
|I call this pic "Friends on a Ledge"|
We descended in the dark with the photo shoot guys (I can't wait to see the one photo of the dude who was ahead of us where he hung at the crux one-handed with his feet kicked out into the air) and since they cut in front of us (with our kind blessing of course), they bought us a drink at the restaurant at the bottom of the hill. "BMR" and I had dinner with "Fashion" who, in her own right had an awesome weekend climbing, too, and the day was over. After dinner "BMR" gave us a ride to Camp Slime, we shook hands one more time, he congratulated me on the send, I congratulated him on that too as well for soon becoming a father, and we went our separate ways until next year when I hope to get "Blow" on CCK, "Fashion" on lead on the same route (which we did together the next day with her seconding), "Caboose" on more gear climbs, "BMR" on whatever he finds time to do with his new parenthood, and me with ANYONE who wants to do Modern Times again and again and again and...
|I'm going to miss this place|