Sunday, April 22, 2007

Granite Dells at Watson Lake

The past three days have been of us climbing in different crags in this area around Prescott. The Watson Lake area (Granite Dells climbing crag) was short and interesting. It was here that Hanmi felt more open to start leading again, and put up a mild climb, then top-roped a steeper short problem I wanted to play on.

Then, we scrambled over to “Thor’s Wall” – which holds a menagerie longer and more difficult problems. The rock at this crag overall is of an eroded quartzite, similar to Joshua Tree in rounded blobs, however they are even sharper and of larger crystals than J-Tree.

Ben had mentioned of a few 10-ish trad leads on Thor’s Wall, so we went to scope them out. I became distracted for a short time by an intriguing problem that seemed like a hard 11 or low 12. I made it about 2 moves up that one, then down-climbed and pulled pieces.

Humbled, I racked up and began another climb in the 10 range. After 2 moves, again I froze and found myself refusing to commit to the balance of a thin problem above my gear. After several tries and lots coaching from Hanmi, I lowered frustrated. In my annoyance, I suggested she give it a shot.

After only a split second of consideration, she was shoes on and rack-ready. At the move, she threw a high foot and slowly rocked onto it, hands only balanced on the thinnest of features. She clipped the last sparse bolt and then had a great time climbing up and placing solid gear. She topped out shortly afterward and belayed me up on a trad anchor.

I couldn’t have been more delighted and proud of watching her meet the anxiety of a true lead at her climbing limit and sending the route onsite. After a lot of hugs and kisses and a scramble down, we headed into a hotel room to clean up for celebratory dinner. Going back to where we found great lunches, we ate braised lamb shank and whiskey glazed pork loin. We had skipped a proper lunch, so dinner had all the courses, from a salad with bread, to soup, main course then dessert. A bottle of wine and a short trip back to the hotel room and solid sleep followed.

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