This started out as a long Trip Report. Then I realized that there were enough things that happened that I could expound on, that I could make this a Very Long- but instructional- Trip Report.
Note that most the links wrapped. Do this: right click, then "open in new window". Then you can cut and paste the rest of the link into that new window. Werks fer me.
If you are new to climbing, there are multiple things in here that might be of interest to you. Feel free to read up, and ask questions about anything at tomorrow's meeting (Tuesday, 7pm, DKH).
If you aren't new, you can read anyway.
If wordy TR's aren't your thing, feel free to skip straight to the images. http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/Page.html -Andy.
"Mit-tens! Mit-tens!" We were planning for a chilly weekend in Southern Illinois. We had stopped by Rob's garage to pick up some club gear that he had set out for us. After grabbing the stove and tent, I recommended that Amanda grab the club's ridge rest that was laying across the wooden canoe that Rob had constructed by hand. After all, the closed cell foam pads insulate better than the inflatable therm-a-rests, and not having one could mean long cold nights. Since we had two nights ahead of us, we came prepared.
We'd even stopped at Champaign surplus so Amanda could pick up a new pair of gloves. I mentioned that mittens were actually warmer by nature, so she found a pair that fit her well and shelled out the forty dollars. Forty Dollars??! Jeez...
By the time Chris (Majerczyk) had picked us up and the three of us drove down to Jackson, it was about 10:30. We pulled into one of the lesser known, nicer camping areas at Jackson with time enough to set up a tent and crash. It was rather chilly already, so we bundled up before getting out of the car. Amanda proudly declared to noone at all, "I have new mit-tens." As we were planning to be there for two nights, I brought my climbing pack in the tent and unloaded the cache of cold weather clothes I had brought. Chris slept in the bed of his truck atop his ingenious construction that created a loft above two long drawers that carried all of his climbing gear. Amanda and I set the closed cell pad on top of the thermarests to create the most comfortable cold weather camping solution possible.
The next morning, everyone was feeling pretty lazy. We each woke up a few times, listened carefully for movement from others, and after hearing no sound, went back to sleep. By the time we got out and stretched in the brisk morning, grabbed some food, and were ready to go, it was 9:30am. I hate early mornings, so that was fine by me.
I was expecting the day to be frigid, but by the time we had walked to "the Vow", abandoned it as a waterfall, and back over to "Group Therapy" to warm up our arms, the sun was already shining bright and warming up the morning. Part of the art of being warm is heat maintainence. I remember Nathaniel expounding on this topic thoroughly when we were climbing in North Carolina. While on a NOLS trip, he informed me that when you feel yourself even start to sweat, even if it's cold outside, you need to unzip your coat a little. If you sweat, you'll moisten your clothes. When you stop working, and need warmth, you need to prepare for your body cooling off by adding a layer. If you've allowed yourself to sweat profusely due to too many layers, you'll only have cold wet clothes to put on. There is a delicate balance between too warm and too cold, and it takes some careful planning and layering to be able to regulate between them efficiently.
Chris climbed first, and hung the draws for me. He was quick to notice that climbing routes requires more endurance than bouldering sessions are likely to build. On my turn, I milked the rest at the fourth bolt as I always do, finishing the route and lowering off. The rope was running through the monster lobster claws that dangle at the end of the chains, as those are suitable enough to Toprope directly through. (Had there only been chains hanging, I would have needed to leave carabiners clipped to the chains, as excessive toproping through chains wears on them rapidly.) I left a couple quickdraws midroute, clipped to the rope Amanda was about to toprope on. This allowed her to fall off the overhanging wall without having to fight her way back to the climb. She would unclip those as she passed them. (Although she would also try climbing past one of them without unclipping, which doesn't work so well.)
As group therapy would prove not to be Amanda's "style" of climbing ;) she lowered off to let the quickly forming masses have a run, a most kind gesture. One of the guys volunteered to retrieve our draws for us, so we pulled the rope. He led the route, clipped the lobster claws, and proceeded to downclimb the route, cleaning his gear as he went. Downclimbing routes is a great technique builder. Downclimbing group therapy is just plain hard. He gave us our Quickdraws back and we headed over towards Railroad.
We ran into friends of Chris' all the way. He happened to know a guy named Kipp who was busy bolting a new route. Evidently, Kipp had found another rope to use since another one he was using for this had gotten stolen. It is common practice for people to leave ropes hanging as they are estabolishing new routes. These static ropes were likely fixed (ie, tied to the anchor with a knot) but somehow someone managed to swipe the rope and cam that was being used to protect a portion of the route as it was being worked. If that person were to be found, bad things would happen. Swiping fixed gear is not advised.
I immediately thought of one of my first times climbing at Jackson Falls. Someone had quickdraws hanging all the way up a hard route (Read: 5.13). That someone, who I'm now indebted to, though I never discovered their identity, was nowhere to be seen. My young climber's mind immediately assumed those draws had been abandoned. I reasoned that the climber had gotten in over his or her head, and was unable to retrieve the quickdraws. So another climber with the group and I began to stick clip our way up the route. I managed to swipe two draws, which I proudly proclaimed as "booty" before deciding that even stick clipping 5.13 was too much work and abandoned the efforts. It was some time before I realized that the draws were intentionally left hanging because the route was someone else's project. That someone else intended to come back and attempt the route on a day when they were feeling fresh and strong. I am forever guilty of snagging someone else's gear, an ethicly poor decision that is truly deserving of a butt-whooping. Unfortunately, I have been Unable to find the owner of that gear. Bad form Andy, bad form.
Our Trio pursued onward to Railroad rock. Amanda wanted to lead a route today, so we walked through the hallway to the 5.8 route (name unknown) that ascends flakes to the anchor. She was a bit uneasy about heading up the route straight-away so for the second time, Chris played the role of ropegun.
After lowering off the two quickdraws he had clipped to the chains (with the rope end biners opposite and opposed) he untied the figure eight follow through and pulled the rope out of his harness. He then proceeded to sit down to take of his shoes, as Amanda began pulling the rope.
I looked more than halfway up to the route to see the tail of the rope dangling, with the first half of a figure eight still tied in the rope. "Ack! Stop!!" I blurted, fully realizing that at that point, there isn't anything you can really do. We all shared a still silence and our glances met as we all knew that this was not right. "Maybe we can just pull it through anyway," Chris offered. We tried, but to no avail. Now Amanda had to lead on the end of the rope that was coiled in the rope bag. She would have to unclip the snagged rope as she led, before she could clip her lead end of the rope into the quickdraw. In this case, it wasn't a terribly awful situation, but in other circumstances (like multipitch or climbs taller than half the length of the rope) this would have turned into an epic nightmare. Here are some pictures of amanda leading over the other rope. Notice how the other rope is clipped above her, while she has unclipped it before clipping her lead rope below her: http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/amanda% 20leading.jpg http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/amanda% 20leading1.jpg This one shows the knotted rope at the anchor: http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/amanda% 20leading2.jpg Here is Chris's look of "I can't believe we pulled the rope with a knot still in it, the sun is in my eyes, and you're taking pictures of me": http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/chris% 20belaying.jpg
While Amanda was on that climb, I was looking slightly askance at one of Jeff Frizzle's new climbs on the arete to the right of "Wild at heart." I pondered that route while cutting slices off of my enormous sausage (which for some reason bore the brunt of numerous jovial retorts this weekend).
I offered to hang the draws on that one. The sequence screwed me up a bit, and I ended up doing a powerful tall highstep arete move to get around it. Chris, on the other hand, being much wiser, evaded that little maneuver by discovering more delicate, yet surmountable face moves. http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Chris% 20leading%2011%20railroad.jpg However, he took a long fall near the top, which left him hanging near the bottom. He tried again, but the memory of that fall got the best of him and he favored saving energy for some great routes at the promised land. I was then honored with leading it again, and, upon using Chris's face climbing variation, redpointed the little bugger. Amanda got on it as well, and with the security of the Toprope, found the strength to push through its cruxes and get to the chains.
Then we bundled up for the hike to Promised land, and again Amanda got excited about her "Mit-tens! Mit-tens!"
After a stroll along the train tracks, we found the trail to the Promised land. I had no idea there was this much rock around here. It certainly is something to be seen. We hopped on one of the first two routes we saw. It began with some face climbing on positive holds, until it leans back 50 degrees to the 5.11 moves that Chris described as "Jug, crimp, cross through crimp, Jug" It is certainly worth repeating. Chris gave it a go as well: http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Chris% 20Promised%20land.jpg http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Chris% 20Promised%20land2.jpg However, Chris noted that the beta he was giving me has since required alteration. The "Jug" had broken off, and was now a marvellous crimp. He was sharp enough to notice "Yeah- that changes things." He was pumped from not having climbed routes in a long time (like a month) and lowered off the last draw. We left the rope hanging and would deal with it later.
I turned around the corner to find a 5.10 route that tends rightward, and also kicks back near the top. I read some of these moves well, hit the sequence, and nailed the dynamic throw. However, I was making noise on the rock, and it wasn't long before I heard, "ooh! ooh! Birds! Look at the birds!!" Apparently I had startled some wildlife that took up inhabitance on one of the ledges near this climb. Then Amanda looked more closely- "No! They're squirrels! Flying Squirrels!!" I glanced down to see her walking closer to get a better look, and Chris (my belayer) following her. "Hey!! Could at least One of you Please watch me?!!" The route finally fell, and I lowered off to untie, and quickly grab my camera. This is what a flying squirrel looks like when it isn't flying: http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Flying% 20squirrels.jpg
Amanda tackled that route after me, and began cleaning it. Meanwhile, I belayed Chris on the previous route, toproping through the last draw. His plan was to Down-Lead the climb, but after climbing the whole bugger, the plan didn't sound so cherry. While he was considering why it would be dumb to unclip the draw, and then fall onto the next one, I started to hear yelps coming from Amanda. As it turns out, she had clipped into the anchor (via cowtails) and threaded the rope. Only, she threaded the rope around one of her cowtails, and upon weighting the rope (on rappel), the cow tail was now pinched through the two strands of rope. She couldn't get it out. However, through all the cluster frigs, Amanda figured out whatever she was exactly doing up there, and Chris summoned the strength to pull the last couple moves and get to the anchors. Even though he clipped in to the rope with a quickdraw in order to "Tram" his way down, since the route was so overhung, that turned into an episode itself. Yet, all told, we escaped the climbing that day unharmed.
We still had to hike out. It was dusk by now, and Chris told us it would be quicker to hike out past Groovy Marcia and up the dog walk, so we pursued that venture. I pulled on my hat and gloves, and Amanda donned her "mit-tens." The hike out was pretty straight forward, even though we weren't exactly always on a "trail" per-say, because two of the three of us had thought to bring headlamps. Otherwise, it would have been epic. Our second narrow escape.
When we got back to the parking lot, we saw that Tony's car was still there. I was shining my headlamp in it, commenting on how it didn't look disturbed from this morning, when I heard Tony shout, "Andy??" We were supposed to meet up with them that morning, and saw their car, but no sign of them. They had toured most of Jackson Falls looking for us and climbing whatever routes they encountered (though I doubt they quite had the cicumferential experience we did).
"I lost my mit-ten." What? "My mit-ten! I lost it!" No Way.
So as Amanda and I hiked back to the dogwalk to look for a "mit- ten", Chris, Tony, and Gabe, headed towards where we had left the tent that morning. I went down the dogwalk, but to no avail. The Mit-ten was gone. Amanda and I sat down and listened to somebody playing an acoustic guitar while the glow of their campfire bounced off the wall between the East falls and Yosemite Slab. I was bummed that we couldn't find Amanda's Mit-ten, but she said it was okay because, "We saw flying squirrels!"
And so we hiked down the road towards the campsite. We were walking along, everything being cool, when we saw a truck with a car close behind coming towards us. Certain it was the trio to supplement our quintet, we stepped aside and waited for them to pull up. Chris rolled down the window, and with angry incredulous eyes managed to spit the words out: "Someone stole our site!" What?!! "We got there and there were 7 cars there. There were tents on both sides of your tent. They didn't just take our site, they swallowed it!!" Squatting another's camping ground, like stealing someone's gear off a climb, is taboo. Dirtbag. Not.Cool.
Chris and Tony and Gabe had walked over, and picked up our tent from their midst, with all our belongings in it, and crammed it into the back of Chris's truck. They were kind enough, however, to take the poles out first.
We were going to find another campsite, when Chris asked if we wanted to just go to the bouldering area he would be showing us the next day. Sure. So we went through Murphysboro, stopping at the 17th street BBQ as recommended by Tony, a food connoisseur if there ever was one. When asked what was good on the menu, he said, "The sides are really good. I like the baked beans, but don't eat the chicken."
We camped at a campground in Murphysboro, but because we had another lazy morning (despite some goose honking at all retarded hours of the morning) the ranger found us before we got out of there. $10. Bummer.
Then, we went Bouldering.
Chris was the only one who had been to this area before, so he took the lead and showed us what it had to offer. It was some pretty decent bouldering. Chris showed us one problem that he'd been working on, and so we grabbed our shoes and gave it a go. On one of his later attempts, Chris fell off and struck his big toe directly into the ground. Through the rest of the day, he gave us reports on how green it was turning. I really felt bad, not because of his toe but because I sent the project on about my fourth try. We didn't have the camera out, so I got back on it and sent it again. It was one of those problems where you just really enjoy doing the moves. It just felt Good.
Most of the rest of the day went relatively incident free. Perhaps the one last thing worthy of commenting on was the presence of bad spotting. I didn't do this intentionally, but I've captured images of Good and Bad spotting. So for those who don't know, I'll walk through it..
Good Spotting: Here is one of me spotting Chris. My hands are open, I'm looking at his center of mass, and I'm ready to control his fall softly into the mat. I'm not trying to catch him, just slow him down. Notice that my fingers are open. Having closed hands will get your fingers Jammed, I've seen it happen. http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Chris%20(the% 20Red%20sea).jpg
Good (but weird looking) Spotting: Tony is spotting me here by watching my shoulders. This climb is close enough to the ground that there is no way he could support my hips in the event of a fall. Here, he can only try to stop my shoulders from striking and my head slapping into the rock. http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Andy%20(the% 20Red%20sea)1.jpg
Bad spotting: Here, Amanda has her arms in the air. Though beautiful, she looks ready to jam her fingers while catching me with her face. This angle doesn't show it well, but she's spotting a fall towards the right- the one direction I won't fall. http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Andy%20V2.jpg
Bad spotting: Gabe is not spotting. He should be. Amanda is 12 feet in the air. While he is behind her, for her safety from a fall, he should offer to spot. For his safety from me, he should stop staring at her butt. http://ice.prohosting.com/thebud/november2004/original/Amanda% 20bouldering3.jpg
Through it all, this was probably one of the most fun weekends of climbing ever. Perhaps even the best. Times like this are the very reason I climb. It was excellent.
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