For our next seemingly simple excursion in Mainface, Flatrock, Choss Boys Nick and I (Daniel) devised an infallible plan:
On Saturday, June 11th, at 3PM we carefully packed the haul bag in my living room (probably not great on the hardwood) by following some popular articles for "packing a haul bag." It weighed 73 pounds which was lighter than we anticipated! Aside from taking 2 hours to do it, we didn't encounter any hitches. We set off to Flatrock at 5PM, excited and slightly nervous.
We arrived at the base of Yellow Fever at around 6PM. Although both of us would jump at the chance for more experience, Nick kindly suggested I lead aid climb because he led the last aid pitch we did. I got racked up and started up route. Like a classic Gumbo, I got heady on the first 10 feet before I could place my a piece of gear so I dropped down to the ground and before I could collect myself, Nick quickly offered to place the first piece for me. Thanks Nick.
[START OF EXCUSES] Okay, so, the crux of Yellow Fever IS the first 15 feet. It involves hankering down on a crimp ledge with bad feet to reach up to a thin undercling. There is no gear for this initial section so I had to free climb it. A full rack is HEAVY and I was wearing old approach shoes. [END OF EXCUSES]
After the hiccup, I got into a very slow and awkward flow:
Soon after the above photos, I blindly placed a piece of gear that did not conform to the shape of the crack. Still unsure, I clipped my ladder to it and stepped on it. I waited two or three seconds until I felt a bit more secure. As I breathed a sigh of relief, and shifted my weight slightly, ... CRUNCH. That unnerving sound of metal scraping against rock. I remember the feeling of air and weightlessness without a hint of anticipation. Ethan Newman described it accurately in an article on Climbing.com:
Aid falls are like that—one moment you’re reaching up to place a piece, and all of a sudden the floor is pulled out from under you. No Elvis leg, no sensation of fingers sliding off a hold. Just a pop, then flight.
A full 25 feet lower than where I just was a second ago, Nick and I laughed hard and exchanged excited smiles. My first aid climb whipper! I had fallen on our smallest ball nut, its first time ever being placed! Man I love ball nuts. I climbed the rest of the route with a bit more confidence and set up the fixed rope for Nick.
- Urban Dictionary
Synonyms: time-wasting; dilatory; dilly-dally; dawdle; loiter; linger; delay; take one's time; stall; pussyfoot around; drag one's feet; dither; hesitate; vacillate; hem and haw; lollygag; let the grass grow under one's feet
As you can imagine, this is exactly what stereotypical gumbos would do. We faffed around that evening setting up the port-a-ledge.
"Where should we put the gear anchor?"
"How do we make a gear anchor here?"
"How can we make sure the port-a-ledge is the right height?"
"How do we set up the port-a-ledge when we are both hanging from the same anchor?"
"How do we make sure the straps are done up correctly and the port-a-ledge is even?"
"How close should we keep the haul bag to the port-a-ledge?"
"How can we get setup in our sleeping bags on an unstable ledge?"
This process took us at least a couple hours but it was tempered after we stopped to eat dinner.
We settled into our sleeping bags on the port-a-ledge. Nick slept in his bivy while I just used my sleeping bag and the port-a-ledge was slanted towards my head. Nick had a great sleep protected from the wind by his bivy with his head above his heart. I tossed and turned with a cold face while I fought gravity pulling my head towards the edge.
Nick (our Gumbo Jimmy Chin) woke up with energy, squirmed out of bed, and ascended to the top of the cliff to take some shots. Then we packed up the port-a-ledge, ate breakfast, and realized we didn't leave ourselves any time to climb that morning.
Things we learned:
We are Daniel, David & Nick
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