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|Buffalo Aid Weekend March 2010
||Tuesday, 23 March 2010 At 11:28:59 AM
|The Aid Weekend
After five pages of Chockstone thread padding we finally made it to Lake Catani. The roll was as follows: IdratherbeclimbingM9, Fish Boy, robertsonja, Wollemi, bl@ke, hargs, Trogster, JimmyW and myself.
Breakfast Saturday morning was accompanied by a tour of IdratherbeclimbingM9's extensive rack. Crack'n Ups, bat hooks, scary bits of elastic, made for an interesting breakfast. Thus girded for the day we trooped off to the Disabled Lookout.
Fish Boy lived up to his name and went fishing for his guide book. It took the first ground fall of the trip. Fortunately the guide book survived and Fish Boy got to practice his jumaring. Wollemi and hargs spent most of the day grunting and cursing at the off width, Cacophonic Crack. They both got their first aid ascents.
Trogster and JimmyW quietly sent Thanksgiving Crack. Stepping high in their etriers they both cleaned up the M3. Later bl@ke took a shot at the line. He took wailing whipper off the top, ending up half way down the climb. After a long pause at the end of the taut rope he let loose a manly, "Whooooohooooo!" We were all very impressed. Still later robertsonja and I got our chance to tick the line.
The Cream Machine took its toll on our party. I was first in line on this climb. My first aid climb ever and the first two times I test my RP off the ground it pops. One dodgy RP after another and finally, heart-stoppingly, a good piece at half height. The kind of piece I would love to take big whippers on. Breathing easier it is smooth sailing until the top out. High stepping on the last decent placement is not enough to mantle out comfortably. No hooks on my rack, no nut placements on the rock. After a little head scratching I settle on using my nut tool. Thank you Metolius. Topped out and breathing easy.
Next up on TCM, robertsonya. He set off up the face and upon reaching the good nut at half way actually looked like he might be enjoying the process. This did not last. He called down for the third time from the last move, "How did you do this?" "My nut tool," I repeat for the third time. Working from the last good placement he settled on a marginal RP as the seam peters out to nothing. Robertsonja oozed up on the little RP and BANG! He was dangling from that good nut. Having had his fix of adrenaline for the day he lowered off. Aiders 1, TCM 1.
JimmyW found himself on the sharp end of TCM next. The climb yielded to JimmyW right up to the top. Only then did we see any cracks in his composure. Legs shaking he lunged for my anchor that I left too close to the mantle. The ethical committee met and the consensus ruling was, "Fair enough, it is aid climbing after all." Aiders 2, TCM 1.
Trogster's attempt at TCM left us all shaken. Aiders 2, TCM 2.
In the decider, Fish Boy did us all proud and sent the climb easily. The advanced techniques deployed left the crowd in awe. Aiders 3, TCM 2.
Day two started slowly. The celebrations of our victory at the Disabled Lookout took their own toll. Off to The Devil's Couch. Oooo scary. Get the comfy chair! Well the couch did scare us.
First to arrive were Fish Boy and bl@ke. They broke the all aid spirit of the weekend and attempted a free ascent of Loose Fit. Fish Boy was thoroughly punished for his indiscretion. The climb doled out a drubbing and would not yield.
Over on Faust and Elizabeth the M4 chocked up a solid 2-1 victory over the Aiders. JimmyW and bl@ke both backing off the climb, preferring to fight another day. Fish Boy held up the pride of the side. Finishing the climb in good style.
Around the corner from Faust and Elizabeth, Wollemi and hargs were working a project up a nice shallow corner to a over hung flake and a truly frightening traverse of blank territory. From my belay on the other side of the track I had box seats for Wollemi's efforts. He was the very image of composure as he aided his way up the flake. Making the scary moves out on to the flake he was ready to send. Then with a suddenness we were starting to expect the rock under the flake blew out with a crack and Wollemi very nearly had his own ground fall. Wollemi and hargs spent the rest of the afternoon working back up to the high point and then back down. They didn't want to leave any of IdratherbeclimbingM9's gear on the climb. I guess we know what is more frightening than the prospect of a fall.
IdratherbeclimbingM9 suggested we go try the line above Damning My Soul. "It hasn't been done," he says. First up, I aid DMS to the first belay on a pleasant ledge. It probably goes at M2 with creaky flexing flakes. It looks like a fun little outing to free at 21.
Robertsonja is up next. The thin rotting little seam rises straight up from our ledge. Robertsonja starts working on his first placement. Looking back at me as each piece he attempts to set rips through the crumbling rock. After a while, IdratherbeclimbingM9 weighs in. "Looks like an M7 I put up," he shouts up at us. WTF! Robertsonja and I look at one another. He continues, "It is probably M6 because it is not as steep." Well that's a relief....
IdratherbeclimbingM9 makes his way up to our ledge like some rock wallaby. With the delicacy of a brain surgeon using a chisel on some poor bastard's skull, IdratherbeclimbingM9, assembles a matrix. Equalizing 3 marginal Peckers and a couple crappy nuts he builds us a Jesus placement to keep us from landing on our pleasant little ledge. This is about enough nonsense for robertsonja. Wisely he defers the lead to me. Less wisely I accept.
Now clipped through the matrix, I placed my first hook and ascended the etriers. I placed my second hook feeling an odd sort of confidence. Like the samurai who knows he is going to die today. Reaching down to clean the first hook and etriers there was another loud crack and I was hanging from IdratherbeclimbingM9's Jesus matrix. "f---!" and surpised again I thought, "Well f--- me running. It worked." Then up again.
The first hook was good, I used it again. I made my own little matrix instead of the bad hook. Stepping up on to my matrix I settled with one foot in the second step and the other balancing against the rock to the left. My next placement was no problem, but in a spastic moment completely out of place on that thin gear, I lost my balance and flipped right off that etrier. There I was hanging from the Jesus placement again. I was just confused. The absurdity of the situation settled firmly on my shoulders.
From there on time came to stop, and I worked my way up. One bodyweight RP, another matrix, then the Crank'N Up. IdratherbeclimbingM9 had mentioned I might need the small Crack'N Up he handed me after building the Jesus matrix. Sure enough I found purchase with it in the rotten rock. High up at the end of my reach off a top step the Crack'N Up bit. I bounce tested as much as I dared in the rotten rock and oozed up onto the thing. With my nose level with the evil little hook, I said quietly to robertsonja, "I am going to cry like a little girl."
That Crack'N Up tip was just and only just wedged in between the two most rotten looking crystals on that whole weathered crumbly face. Luck was on my side. It held long enough to equalize a Pecker and a #1 RP. From there a real nut at the top and I was standing safe on top of Division of Labour (M6).
I am always surprised by the intensity of the come down from such a powerful experience. Sitting there in the sunshine, the cool breeze blowing, melancholy washed over me.
I want to thank IdratherbeclimbingM9 and the rest of the crew. Beautiful weather, good people and an adventure or two, I could not ask for more. The siren song of those thin faces frightens me. I know I will be out there on them again.
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