Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Well, after the snow melted out around here Cory and I got back up on Yam for another couple of days of it. On Saturday we cleaned the fifth pitch and bolted the sixth pitch--both are crazy steep and technical, the rocks I was dropping (after checking to make sure there was nobody on the trail below!) went all the way to the scree, that's about 700 feet of free fall! Cleaning and bolting on lead were a bit sketchy as many of the blocks were directly over my head, the position and "freak factor" was really high. Sooner or later I'm going to learn to relax up there, right now it's still a bit much. Some of the blocks are so big that I'm worried the whole damn climb is going to fall off the face of Yam--not likely, but that's the sort of scenarios that start running through my mind... But the cool part was connecting into a bolt from the "low point," the spot where Raph and I had rap-bolted to about five years ago. I was fully freaked out from drilling off hooks on lead, it was mega to reach up and clip a pre-existing bolt just as it got dark. I then started to fix the rope and rap off into the dark, but was so freaked that I put in another bolt, couldn't see doing it off one bolt. One bolt can look mighty insignifcant when preparing to rap off it in the twilight WAY over the ground... Two just felt so much nicer.

Yesterday the climbing started to feel reasonable for the first time, I worked the second pitch (Big Ass Roof) and was able to put it together in big links. It's a very physical pitch, but the biggest difference is that I finally started to relax and enjoy the climbing instead of hanging on for dear life. The exposure is wild--it doesn't make much different above about 100 feet whether there's 100 or 500 feet of air below your feet, but my mind just doesn't listen to logic. I finally started to forget about the air below, handholds breaking, the rope getting cut on some edge (very blocky climbing, the rope is always over an edge) and all the other worries and just focus on the movement. Sarah, a strong local Canmore climber, came up to sample the climb, it was good to get her perspective on the moves as she has climbed a lot on Yam. Cory took some photos as well, I'm fired up to see them, get more of an open perspective on the climbing instead of, "How the hell do I reach the next hold?" I managed to redpoint the fourth pitch at around 12c, it's bouldery but with a good sequence not so bad, just gunning through moves to keep the pump at bay. I think it's the best pitch I've ever climbed on Yam, good rock and stellar position, it fired me up. I also worked the fifth pitch a bit, I was concerned it wouldn't go but managed to do all the moves including a super-thin dihedral at the just before the belay. That sequence has the potential to be a heart-breaker on the eventual redpoint--you could get through the inital overhanging thuggery, clean the loose section with small holds,then fly off if a foot blew at the every end of the pitch. The climbing is super-technical due to the three-dimensional nature of the rock--foot way over there, oppose here, dyno there, it's a bit like Rifle mixed with Malham in England with a touch of Thai-style three-dimension or something, it's different than any other limestone climbing I've done. The rock is generally OK, but rope-drag is a problem because the line seldom goes straight up, it's all over the place, like a three-dimensional maze for human rats. We hope to go back up tomorrow and work on some more cleaning, I can't manage two days in a row because the whole experience is so physical it just destroys my body--I've got some elbow tendonitis and a tweaked finger, it's a race against winter and physical injury to get this rig done. It will be eight pitches, with only one of 5.10 to start...

PS--dD just sent me this link, holy shit!

No comments: