We went to Joshua Tree this past weekend (ahhhh, still
have issues posting photos...sorry). Made a new connection that still has me blown away. We went with a group and one of the people we gave a ride to was someone who not only went to the same high school as me, but graduated the same year. Never knew him then; it was a big high school.
We get there in the evening and the next morning are wondering what to do; they ask my opinion.... Hmmmmmm Now I've been almost dreaming of doing the 3 pitch "Walk on the Wild Side", so that was the first thing out of my mouth. My new found friend smiles and says "I've led that. I think we can do it with 4 people." As a fall back we could top rope the first pitch. Off we go.
Our timing is perfect and two people are rapping off the climb with no body else in sight. We have the face to ourselves. We divide the tasks up as such; the guy with the most experience leads, next a young, strong but inexperienced outdoor climber will follow trailing a second rope up clipping in the second rope after unclipping the lead rope, third is Patty who will clean the pitch, and last is me to make sure 2 and 3 are properly tied in. He has to throw a rope down to me with this scenario and the route does wander a bit, but between the three of us following, I have the better footwork by far.
Our leader takes his time going up while I belay. After all he is 57. There is no hurry. Things have been slowly coming back to me; my next main goal in climbing is to be the best belayer out there. As he heads up past the first bolt, there is a section where if slips he's going into this cavern to the left of me. So I keep as little slack in the line as I can while feeding him. The balance between impeading the guy and keeping a tight leash on him seems thin, but this section is not the crux of the pitch. I get 3 "watch me's" in total, but the crux seems to be near the top of the pitch near the first bolt anchor. Here he takes a little slide as he gets off route a bit trying to find the best way up. The handholds up there are positively anorexic. But up he gets and sets up an anchor and off we go with following.
"Use the feet, Luke, use the feet" should be the name of the climb. Watching the next climber and my wife is a bit like watching people climbing wearing roller skates. But they both eventually get up and complete their respective tasks admirably. I'm up next. I move up methodically with 3 breaks to plan my attack. This "new" rubber is amazing and leads to some real confidence on the rock. I can't really imagine doing this route in EB's. At the top, I basically smear my way up to the hole in the granite palming fingers pointing down the last couple moves. The leader and I look at each other at the top of the first pitch and we both know we will be doing some trad together. I'm stoked. I have a partner in San Diego. But the middle two in our party were pushed beyond their comfort zones and have taken a long time in the act of climbing. So we all rap off the first belay station and call it a day. Everyone is stoked. We only did the first pitch but what a view; what a climb.
We completed some more fun stuff over the 2 days there. Each day, Patty ended up telling me that THAT was out of my comfort zone. But at the end of each day she also had a smile on her face.