I [heart] stoppers

Posted: May 5, 2006 in Uncategorized

Little piece of metal that keep the ground from breaking me

Since I started climbing about two and a half years ago, I’d taken few enough lead falls to count on one hand, and only one more than a foot or so, and that was on bolts. Wednesday however inducted me into the “scary trad whipper” league.

The weather being as perfect as it as been, my friend Cody and I opted to get some climbing in outside of town, since we’d already hit the Columns twice this week. After warming up on some sport mid 10s, we decided to do a 2-pitch 10a that Cody swore by as a classic climb. Cody put up the first pitch since the start was a bitch, and I followed up to the nice big belay ledge, with the agreement beforehand that we would swap leads and I’d finish it up to the top. However, on my way up, I felt myself sketching and getting pumped easily, and I started to ponder if I shouldn’t just let Cody finish. At the belay ledge after getting a rest in, I pondered the mixed route above and finally decided I wouldn’t let myself back off a very reasonable route so easily and try for the on-sight.

The first thirty-some feet of the climb wasn’t a cakewalk, but apart from one moment of uncertainty, I worked my way through it to the ledge right below the last twenty or thirty feet to the anchors. Pausing to place a #4 and #1 stopper, I started up the last face, and immediately started to feel sketchy. My hands were sweating like mad, I wasn’t getting good footholds under me, and after some 10 feet, I was hating life. Or more to the point, I was loving life and hoping I got to keep it for a while longer. Another five feet and I was at a bolt, but by this point I was pumped beyond any hope of removing my grip on the rock. Swearing and chanting to myself, “Don’t let go, don’t let go, don’t let go”, I tried to find any kind of stance I could clip from, but nothing was happening, and suddenly, I pop off and I’m falling.

At this point, laid out horizontal and looking over my shoulder, I only have time to think two things: “Shit, that’s coming up fast,” and “I really, really hope those stoppers hold.” Next thing I know, my ass slams into the ledge below me, I pitch upside-down, and slide down a blissfully mossy face another three feet or so before I feet a sharp jerk, and immediately I know that both the stoppers and I are staying right where we are.

It takes me a second to collect myself enough to shift upright, and after a quick systems check I verify nothing seems to be broken or bleeding badly. Below me, Cody’s vocabulary has been momentarily stunted to “Oh shit!”, but I reassure him I’m unbroken and have him lower me back down. I’m actually fairly calm and laughing by the time I get back down to the belay ledge, so I belay Cody to finish the route and clean the gear, and we rap off and call it a day. Final tally is a scattering of light scrapes all over, a bruised heel, a nagging scrape on the back of my knee, and one seriously bruised ass. Frankly, I couldn’t have asked for much better from decking on a ledge. In retrospect, I probably should’ve backed off when I felt so iffy on the lead and was sketching so much on the first pitch, and I obviously have work to do on my lead climbing.

I am however now a very firm believer in a well-placed stopper.

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Comments
  1. annaanna says:

    oh my lord, i’m glad you’re okay πŸ™‚

  2. Anonymous says:

    oh my lord, i’m glad you’re okay πŸ™‚

  3. somechick says:

    Eeeep. Glad it all turned out just fine – scary but a huge rush I’m sure πŸ™‚

  4. Anonymous says:

    Eeeep. Glad it all turned out just fine – scary but a huge rush I’m sure πŸ™‚

  5. muffster says:

    stoppers are so BOMBER. I would rather fall on a nut than anything else ever period. but realy i would rather not fall. I am glad you are okay πŸ˜€

  6. Anonymous says:

    stoppers are so BOMBER. I would rather fall on a nut than anything else ever period. but realy i would rather not fall. I am glad you are okay πŸ˜€

  7. rusulki says:

    Don’t lie to all the nice people Reub, we all know you jumped off the mountain on purpose.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Don’t lie to all the nice people Reub, we all know you jumped off the mountain on purpose.

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