A Day at Vantage || Road to 5.12???

Good morning, all. How is everyone doing this morning? If you’re like me you’re sitting on your boat thinking about what caffeine you’re going to drink next, reveling in the incredible forecast for Seattle, Index and Leavenworth for the next week. Take a gander at the Seattle forecast:

That’s a lot of yellow orbs, if I’m not mistaken. A lot of sun. Highs right around room temperature. Lows around the sending range. A good time to get out on your project, if I dare to say so myself.



Yesterday was only my second ever rope-climbing experience outdoors! I repeat: second ever rope-climbing experience outdoors! The other time was in Red Rocks in Vegas where I might’ve top-roped 5.8? I’m not sure. That experience has been lost in the sands(tone) of time as I no longer remember what the route or even the area was called. Something about a Wizard’s Hat? Calico Basin? The Kraft Boulders? Sorange V3?

A senhora entende?

Honestly I don’t remember. I do remember I got an earl grey with heavy cream from the Starbucks on the way to that rope-climbing expedition and instead of just giving me a LITTLE heavy cream they gave me all heavy cream. No water. It was just a wet sock in a bucket of cream.

And it was kind of delicious.

But anyway. Vantage.

Yesterday Adi and Wyatt and I and a MASSIVE (see: like seven people) crew went to Vantage to do some good ol’ rope dangling. Some hangdogging. Some cragging. If you didn’t know I’m HUGE into cragging, especially the part where you sit at the base of the crag minding the dogs and hopefully eating the chocolate chip cookies. Every other part? Not so much. I mean, I guess the APPROACH to the crag ain’t so bad. I guess the climbing itself ain’t so bad. And even belaying ain’t so bad. So why don’t I like cragging more? Why do I kind of regard cragging as a stressful, windswept, sunburnt shit show? I don’t know. I think the main reason is I don’t feel comfortable doing all of the things surrounding rope climbing. I don’t feel comfortable with the climbing itself. I don’t feel that comfortable belaying. I always feel like I’m gonna be in someone’s way or do something wrong or do something that’s going to hurt or piss someone else off. Add to this the fact that in this already stressful situation you’re usually perched AT THE BASE OF ONE CLIFF AND AT THE TOP OF ANOTHER and it’s all kinda just like…stressful.

Not to say that there weren’t wonderful moments yesterday.

AKA I almost sent 10c.

AKA I almost top-roped 10c.

AKA I had to ask Spencer, the guy who belayed me, to take, and I was so bummed about it even though my elbow tendonitis had flared its ugly head like the Lernaean Hydra come to devour an unsuspecting sailor, and even though I was also pumped as balls because I was climbing like dog shit — perpetually locked off, arms not even close to straight or efficient, basically cruxed and gripped out of my mind. I sat there for a second after he took, thinking about the next moves and wishing I could just lower down, but then when I actually went for it it wasn’t that bad and next thing I knew I was at the anchor and all I could think was, Why didn’t I just climb better so I didn’t have to ask him to take? Why is my technique so bad? Why can’t I just spend all day in a perpetual outside flag?

Aka flagging.

Aka outside flag.

Aka back flag.

After trying Professor Pogue’s Precarious Pinnacle (the 10c) I was basically done and went into support/dog watching mode. I found a nice little niche under where people were climbing and chilled with the dogs, who spent much of the time either crying or lying on a dirty sweatshirt. I, alternately, spent much of the time squinting/wearing a dirty fleece. Behind me I could hear belayers talking to climbers and vice versa, and people (possibly) sending. Wyatt went for broke on a 10b called Steel Pulse and Adi stemmed the shit out of an aesthetic trad line called Tangled Up In Blue 5.9. There was also a dude with us, Kyle, who had never climbed before in his life, and who kind of rocked a 5.7 or 5.8 (can’t remember) called The Chossmaster and who tried his damndest on Tangled Up In Blue. I was stoked to see him try hard, and also stoked to get tons of top rope belay experience holding someone tight since I basically yarded on the rope after having him ever so slightly too loose at the beginning and letting him mini-deck.

Wyatt on Steel Pulse.
Adi high up on Tangled Up In Blue.

As things were winding down Wyatt started to really crank on a (I think) 5.11b/c mixed route called (again, I think) Crossing the Delaware with Your Pants Down. At this point I only had one thought on my mind though: Get back to the car. Eat. So I skedaddled while the people with dogs took the  long way home and we all met at the cars, where I was sitting in the back seat drinking energy drinks and generally not reflecting on the day but rather just staring out at the stunning vistas, plains, mesas and buttes that are Frenchman Coulee. Then people got back to the car, we ate some sour gummy worms, and drove home.

So, second rope-climbing experience was MORE successful, but comfort and full-on stoke for rope-climbing is still a long way off. I need to ease into it more. I need to get my own equipment, go with a friend to a baby crag, and just mess around. None of this long (see: normal) pitch stuff. I need to get comfortable being on a rope. I need to get comfortable belaying.

Or I just need to stick to bouldering.