Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day: 21 Route Salute

Aimee has gone to Sweden reading Stieg Larson out of order. She says it's good that way.

AnnaMaria and I went to Spruce Knob with Langston, my son, and his friend Will. We met Sandy and his friend Gina as they were gearing up to ride up the road about 2,000' to the summit.

After unpacking, we walked to the cliff. AnnaMaria had her first rappel. It went better than Langston's from fifteen years ago which involved a desperate grasp around a tree, patient negotiation and, finally, the application of dad's full weight and capitulation to gravity. AnnaMaria was excited, then briefly alarmed, and then happy as she realized she was attached to dad.

The afternoon went well with AnnaMaria content enough and interested in her surroundings. We cleaned and led two new crack routes of high quality, although short like all the routes at this crag. I reclimbed the second, easier, route with AnnaMaria attached to my harness and she thought that was good fun.

Gina made a great Korean meal for us. The weather was perfect. We had a campfire in the pit beyond the tended grounds.

The next day, Langston and Will left for Seneca while Sandy and I returned to the new crag. The first order of business was a body length roof with a finger crack splitting it. Hard 5.10 pulling the lip followed by some more technical clean crack climbing. Nice.

About 20 feet left was another mixed crack and face route which was probably 5.9+-ish.

We cleaned (cleaning with wire brushes is a big part of the experience here) another thin crack with a hard face start. It went at 11+.

Finally, we did a route with a steep start through a roof to a thin crack/face gig. Also 5.10 and very high quality. Sandy and I both thought the rock and moves here were exceptional even if the routes were small.

Soon Ben, Jim and Paul arrived with Harper's Pizza. We had some leftovers from the Korean barbeque and Disney. AnnaMaria and Gina got on well.

The last day, Gina again volunteered to hang out with AnnaMaria while Langston, Will, Sandy and I went back to the new cliff. After walking a short bit (maybe 50') from the routes we had done the first day, we found another clean crack and a proud arete. We did both these routes at about 5.9. The direct finish on the arete would be a good bit harder but we did not place any artificial gear on this or any other route yet.

After cleaning, I led a very classic 5.7 corner and we finished on a 5.10 face route which might need a bolt for a lead.

So, ten more new routes at Spruce Knob crag for a total of 21 routes. It will never rival the taller crags in the North Fork Valley such as Seneca or Champe but it has a lot of quality in its short pitches.

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