This climbing trip was my best trip to date. In part because I was super motivated but mostly because my girl Steph and I had our own rope, set of quickdraws, and it was our first trip of the season. Friday we drove from Seattle to Vantage and got to the “campsite” in the dark. We found a firepit, built a fire, grabbed s’more fixings and popped a bottle of wine.
Friday night consisted of some wine drinking, s’more making, and “sleeping” under the desert stars. I say “sleeping” because a wind storm ripped through the valley, throwing my sleeping bag off me, and dirt whirling around my face through the night. It was still my happy place though. I woke up to the full moon and blue skies but the sun hadn’t quite yet made it’s appearance over the rocks. I snapped some photos, fell back asleep, woke up and took some video, and then made some eggs and bacon in true car camping fashion.
Reed, the genius that he is, brought a can of whipped cream and strawberries. Whipped cream went on everything, my strawberries, my coffee, and just some whipped cream can to mouth. The sun poked it’s pretty face over the rock as we kicked off breakfast, and I caught a pretty emotional experience of Reed having a relationship with a cream covered berry. (Found above 🙂 )
We nommed breakfast, packed up for a day at the crag, and headed to Sunshine Wall. If you have ever been climbing in Vantage you know the hike there is straight up, through some amazing rock cracks, a scramble down a short wall, and a short hike around to a very warm section of rockwall that is very busy through fall. It’s one of the nice spots left in the state when fall, falls.
Steph and I warmed up on Sunshine Butress (10.a) after the boys led it. And then headed out to an easy 5.8 to get back in the lead climbing game. The wind whipped down the wall and threw around patagonia puffy jackets, shirts, socks, chip bags, beer cans and anything that wasn’t tethered to the ground with rock or glue. It felt like it could rip us right off if it wanted to do so. It didn’t stop us, we went on to lead a couple more 5.9’s and then decided to up the game and try our first 10.a lead climb at the end of the day.
Heel High Cresent (5.10a) was a 4 start route that was deemed “Way too much fun” in the guide book. So we figured we had to give it a shot. Steph made it look flawless, so the competitor in me decided I had to do it too. I was pretty nervous, but excited. About half way up I took my first lead fall. and I didn’t die. Fear is a funny thing, and the fear of falling is sometimes paralyzing if you let it be. But it was actually kind of fun and I am glad I finally got my first unintentional lead climb out of the way.
Excitement and giggles ensued after we both had accomplished our first 10.a lead climb. We decided to “climb” a 10.b to close the day, and basically just giggled and flailed our way up. We bought another bottle of wine to celebrate, ate amazing food, giggled, listened to good music and Reed’s stories of hiking the PCT this summer. Life was good.
Sunday went sort of the same way that Saturday morning did, sans wind, plus waking up reading my book, The Soul of Money. Sunday was a little slower and less motivated than Saturday. Saturday took it out of us, I had popped blisters, and my body was feeling pretty lazy. I decided to honor what my body was saying and take it easy. I decided near the end of the day to do a lead climb of a 5.9.
Climbing up the first part was easy, but once I got to the crux, I had a moment of doubt. I started to panic a little, thoughts of I can’t do this crept in, and I forgot to breathe a bit. Luckily I was climbing with amazing people. Reed, Steph, and James all encouraged me that I could do it. Reed shouted at me to breath, listen to my breath, and then just take it move by move. I breathed my way through it and made it to the top pretty easily.
Funny what our heads can convince us of. But I moved past it and feel like I broke through to the next level of climbing in my head. I felt proud, and tired, and excited to keep moving forward with climbing. Hello winter climbing.
On the way home we stopped at Arrvark Express, by suggestion of Reed who tried it at Snoqualmie while hiking the PCT. It was by far the best curry I have ever had. As we ate our dinner, drank our beer, and watched the sun set over the mountains, I felt complete bliss.