Joy – Part Two

joy part two title IMG_4809If you look up an established route in a climbing guidebook you’ll get an idea of how many pitches and the length of each, what permanent bolts or other hardware (fixed gear) might already be there, and what kind of gear you will need to haul up the mountain with you.

If you don't own your own ropes, cams, XX, slings, and stuff you don't even know the names of and have no clue how to use any of it, it's handy to hang out with people who a) have stuff and b) know how to use it

If you don’t own your own ropes, cams, nuts, quickdraws, slings, and stuff you don’t even know the names of and have no clue how to use anyway, it’s handy to hang out with people who a) have stuff and b) know how to use it. Note the cheerful smile. A positive attitude and endless patience are fine attributes in someone leading newbies up mountains. And by newbie I am referring to me and not Anne, the third member of our party on Joy Day. Anne, it turns out, is gazelle-like in her navigation of talus (see previous post) and willing and able to belay pitch after pitch when climbing with injured geriatrics… 

Every time I turned around there was some new vista to photograph. Next time, I'm going to haul my better camera up with me, though the iphone did an admirable job. It constantly amazes me how tiny wildflowers, moss, lichen and, yes trees are able to grow in what appears to be a totally inhospitable environment.

Every time I turned around there was some new vista to photograph. Next time, I’m going to haul my better camera up with me, though the iphone did an admirable job. It constantly amazes me how tiny wildflowers, moss, lichen, clumps of grass and, yes trees are able to grow in what appears to be a totally inhospitable environment.

Once all the mysterious gear was organized and strapped to bodies (mostly to the body of our fearless leader), the work of keeping us all more or less safe began. This was my first multi-pitch climb so I was totally intrigued by the various do-hickeys and how they were used (expert rock climbers, forgive anything completely stupid I may say and, yes – I know they are not called do-hickeys).

Anne Belay ready to play out rope as our fearless leader starts moving up the slab, hauling ropes behind him that will later be used to prevent either of us from sliding backwards off the mountain.

Anne tied in and getting ready to belay (play out rope) as our fearless leader starts moving up the slab, hauling ropes behind him that will later be used to prevent either of us from sliding backwards off the mountain.

Crouching on the slab, Fabio looks for a good spot to jam some of that gear into handy crack so the ropes will be attached to something reasonably solid...

Crouching on the slab, Fabio looks for a good spot to jam some of that gear into a handy crack so the ropes will be attached to something reasonably solid…

All the way up the slope, Fabio bounded ahead, stopping occasionally to set more rope traps (yes, yes – I know that’s not what they are called either…). As he went, dragging the climbing ropes behind him, he clipped them in as he placed draws and kept going until the ropes stretched between him and us were basically used up. Along the way Anne played out the slack so if Fabio fell he would only crash backwards as far as the last piece of protection he had placed.

It was amazing how tightly some of those do-hickeys held on to that crack...

It was amazing how tightly some of those do-hickeys held on to that crack…

Anne paying close attention while belaying...

Anne paying close attention while belaying…

Fabio scampering up the rock face dragging the ropes behind him...

Fabio scampering up the rock face dragging the ropes behind him…

IMG_4786 IMG_4788Me, snapping photos while the other two did all the hard work…

Meanwhile, gear continued to be placed up above us. When Fabio reached the end of the rope then he set up an anchor so he could belay us, taking up the slack as we climbed up to join him. Sometimes belay anchors were located on a luxurious ledge so we could all stand with feet more or less level. Just as often, we had no space to maneuver and sort of perched with screaming calves on the rock, hoping the next section would go quickly so we could move on again. (By the way, if you click on one of those smaller images you can enlarge it and click through the gallery…)

And that was the pattern for several hours – Fabio led the way (while Anne belayed, something my injured elbow really didn’t do well), set gear, and established a belay anchor so we could follow him up. We repeated the process about ten times (I was going to keep a very accurate and precise log detailing each pitch but confess I totally lost track after about four or five…).

Eventually, we reached the top (actually, eventually came pretty quickly – we moved fast and made it up in under four hours). Every time I turned around and looked back as we reached a new resting spot the views did, indeed, got better and better as more and more of the lakes below appeared.

At some point Anne and I failed miserably in our attempts to free a nut from the crack (refer to earlier comment about how hard those little suckers hang on) so Fabio had to climb back down to retrieve it and then climb back up to join us.

IMG_4863 IMG_4865

To be continued… I’ll leave the climb at this point and continue in the next post because the worst part of the whole expedition was the bit AFTER we had reached the top and somehow had to get back down again…

3 responses to “Joy – Part Two

  1. You left me hanging on the side of this mountain! Ugh!

    What an awesome place. The views are incredible.

    Like

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