Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Super Slab

Climbing is fun. So this past weekend, 4 of us at Smith Rock decided to romp up 1 area before heading home from a weekend of skiing and snowboarding.

Climbing involves two essential items: Exhilaration and Saftey.

Climbs are defined as a route, and the first ascent party has all the say in how the route should be climbed. This creates great discussions over style and ethics. For our route on this day, we had 3 segments or "pitches" of climbing. The middle pitch is a mild sideways scamper, rather than a vertical ascention.

In ye olden days, when climbs were mild, climbers often decided to forgo saftey measures. "Hey, if you can get to this point, you won't worry about this little bit further", was the prevalent philosophy. In doing this, they risk a bit of safety for more exhilaration, turning a mild scramble into a headtrip by making you risk injury. People later follow such routes sometimes unknowing how each in their party will feel on such a pitch. Such was our 2nd pitch of Super Slab.

Number 7 is our route

It's only 10 feet high climbing, and it's on holds large enough be considered a ladder. But when you put it 60 feet in the air, it becomes a little more "exciting" to climb. Away we went!

I led first, then built the anchor. Hanmi followed me, then Mark, then Tamar. All crowded in, I led off again as soon as Tamar showed up. It was cold and we were all getting a little snippy. Once on the climb, I was in heaven, great moves on solid gear. I did exactly what was described above, I placed gear ever 15-20 feet, even though that's considered run-out. I just wanted to get up the climb swiftly and give Mark some sense of a committed lead. Hanmi seconded superbly, and then Mark sport lead without much trouble, and Tamar cleaned.

Rap and home! I certainly appreciated hot tea at the Black Bear Even if the meals are outrageously large.

Out Through The In Door

Out of various other events this past weekend, one jumps out as a comedy of above-normal proportions. Imagine, if you will, checking into a ratty but marginally acceptable motel close to your destination. Inexpensive and walking distance to food and nightlife, you take the keys and settle in. On day 2, in your room tired and and about to lay down for the evening, you go to open the door to visit friends one room over....

It doesn't open. Not from the inside. Not from the outside. Locked, unlocked, not after throwing the keys out the 2nd story back window to a friend and they try to unlock it. Nothing. The latch is broken. Eventually it is discovered that the latch has deformed inside the housing and will not ever move again. Long before then however, you are trapped in your room.

Scour for tools! Disassemble the doorknob! No, the latch housing is still trapped in the door, and still locking you in your room. Out the window? Well, even as rock climbers, you'd rather not scramble down buildings in the rain. Plus, there's already people outside helping. With all your gear in the room, the door simply needs to open, but doesn't.

The manager is missing. The police number is busy (really!) and the owner lives far outside the little town, "I'll be there as soon as I can". Meanwhile, you have no more faith that he can help you any more than you're already doing. Plus, it's fun to figure stuff out , right?

"Throw the multi-tool up from the car!" you exclaim to the friend outside. Around the back window, they toss it up...and onto the roof! So, wearing pajamas under climbing harnesses, you climb the building a few feet in the rain to retrieve the precious instrument of escape.

With said multi-tool, plus every keychain item you have, and adding in a snowboard multitool, you remove the hinges via multilation. Still the door is snug in the jam and you Need A Hero to kick it in.

With a few dramatic kicks, shoulder-throws and pounds, friend Mark succeeds in the crashing the heavy door into the room. The latch is removed, the door is re-hung, and the owner shows up in time to deliver a new latch and a meager apology. "Sorry guys, glad we got it fixed. Goodnight!" Such is small-town hospitality. After a small twinge of wanting to lock him in the room and drive off, we threw back some scotch, planned the next day's climbing, and went to bed.

Will I stay there again? Possibly, but I'll bring a few more tools.