Saturday, March 14, 2009

La Cueva: Climbing with the OMTRS

I climbed with the OMTRS today. We set up about 5 ropes on the Sunny Side of La Cueva. I immediately jumped on the chance to lead Hive Mind, which has shut me down twice before. To be fair, the first time I took a hang on the route was because I got stung at the crux. The second time I was rope-soloing and not really comfortable taking a lead fall. But today, I had an attentive belayer, Will, and finally climbed the route cleanly. It still felt hard, with the holds all sloping away at the crux and the feet being very crumbly.

Will had a hell of a time on top-rope. He managed to un-clip my draws at the crux, but then fell and swung away from the climb. After what felt like 30 minutes of trying to get back on route, he finally resorted to prussiks to get back on route and finish the route. I patiently belayed him and watched the other climbers. John Gallegos led Piton Power, Bob Almond set a rope on Black Streak and Grady set a rope on Battle of The Bulge. Climbers were doing laps while I was belaying Will, and I watched as Bob Almond led up a crack system to the left of The Bulge which I had been meaning to try. It looked like it protected well enough, and was at a beginner grade (~5.6) but with a more serious top-out crack that Bob didn't tackle, either because he was only wearing approach shoes, or he didn't want to set a top-rope too hard.

Some of the younger/newer OMNTRS members are strong climbers, if a little green. Leading is something they've never done, but they can dance up the 5.10s we set today like it's perfectly natural. I'm happy to see more climbers joining the team, because it means more partners. Pictured above is Natalie dispatching the crux of hive Mind.

Grady mentioned that the first bolt of The Bulge could be replaced as it was rusty looking and I jumped at the opportunity. This turned out to be a big mistake, I spent an hour trying to get that bolt out and only managed to chip away about 1/2" of rock around the bolt, loosen it to a dangerous spinner and expose 3/4" of the shaft. Even repeated bending back-and-forth couldn't shear the bolt off, although maybe it was twisting around rather than actually bending. Eventually, I got tired and fed-up and simply placed a new bolt next to it. I'll have to come back with a crow-bar/cold-chisel to finish the job.

By this point, most of the MOTRS crew were packing up, but Bob was interested in another climb and I tlaked him into checking out the Sun-Rot Dihedral. I remembered working out the moves to the bouldery start, but we both struggled with it on lead, first Bob giving it several tries, then I took a turn couldn't work up the courage to commit on the bad holds into the funny shoulder-scum moves. I was ready to give-up and circumvent the crux, but Bob gave it one more try and sent it. He led up the rest of the route, dubbing it Crumbalicious. I dispatched the crux on top-rope without too much strain, leaving myself to wonder why it was I couldn;'t get it on lead. One thing that made the lead hard was that some of the wires you can place for pro cover over a finger-lock that I use to get myself into the should-scum. I could get my finger into the lock when I was attempting the lead, but if I had fallen the carbiner would have crushed my finger, a thought which scared me off from really going for it. The rest of climb was crumbly, but about how I remembered it. The 1/4" bolt was still there, but after my earlier experience I didn't want to mess with trying to remove it. Instead, we added a second bolt nearby so that the two bolts could be used as a rap-station.

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