Subject: TR: is leather supposed to make that cracking sound?
Date: Wed, 08 May 2002 20:36:38 -0700
From: "Christopher A. Kantarjiev" 
Newsgroups: rec.climbing

I got laid off in January - the whole company did, more or less, when we just plain ran out of money. Friday: Job. Monday: "Sorry, folks, series C funding fell through on Saturday and the board decided on Sunday to dissolve the company. You'll get paid through Friday. Bummer."

Unemployment checks were an interesting novelty for a while. Screwing around with COBRA insurance has gotten old. I'm working on lots of projects - not climbing, but rather car, house and yard projects - that have been put off for between two and six years. Finishing them, too. That's pretty cool.

Uncle Greenspan says we've turned the corner on this-here recession, which means that one of these companies that I'm working with might actually come through with an offer soon. Employment looms. That can mean only one thing: road trip.

Since Pat is still gainfully employed, she wasn't going to accompany me. That's OK - but it meant that I felt better about making it a short one rather than a long one.

Road trips usually take me to/through Salt Lake City to see my friend Mark. Mark started climbing (switching from caving) about the time Chouinard Equipment introduced hexes. He stopped about the time we met, 15 years ago - we met because we both suffer from British Car Disease, the Triumph variety. When I started climbing, his stories started rolling forth. I made a few attempts to get him onto the rock, with no luck.

Six months ago, he was foolish enough to say to me that he thought it would be nice to go to the Wind Rivers for his 50th birthday. I jumped on this, and it seems to almost be the motivation to get him off the couch... almost.

This trip was no exception. I sent mail suggesting I head out and drag him up some climb in Little Cottonwood. He countered with a weekend at the "track" in Wendover. We struck a compromise - I showed up Saturday evening, we played with cars on Sunday, recovered on Monday, climbed on Tuesday. Wednesday morning I departed (headed for South Lake Tahoe, where I finally met N42461 and we had a fine time climbing at Phantom Spires, but that's another story).

It would really be OK with me if Reno and Wendover were only an hour apart.

The excuses started as soon as I got there. A storm had moved through the area (I flirted with the snowline for the last 100 miles or so into Wendover): "oh, I dunno, the rock's gonna be wet, it's gonna be cold..." "Hmm, 15 years and 30 pounds are gonna slow me down a lot" "I hurt my foot (he really had) and I'm not sure I can handle the approach". His wife even got into the act, claiming that he'd been having nightmares and muttering about climbing.

To no avail. The weather report for Tuesday kept getting better and better.

Monday, we dragged out his climbing pack. We found a Lowe cam, some Eiger stoppers and hexes, a few Lost Arrows, a knifeblade, some Leeper Zs, and a rusty can of Lost Arrow Marrow piton wax. Various bits of webbing. We found several pairs of EBs, one of which contributed the title of this trip report. A pair of orange RRs. A very worn pair of five-tennies. A pair of Fires. The only pair that didn't crack and groan was a pair of low-top Boreals which appeared never to have been worn. They even fit. Fine, he had shoes.

He identified several snarls of webbing as "harnesses", but neither of us could really figure out how they were meant to fit (the waist belt was obvious, but the other bits of webbing remain mysterious). I offered him to tie in with a bowline on a coil or a swami, but we went to REI and bought him a new harness, instead.

He was happy belaying with an 8, but didn't have a locker. When I showed him the variety he had to choose from, his eyes glazed over. I pointed out the autolockers as an alternative and he just said "autolocker?". Yes, it had been a while.

We used my rope. :-)

Tuesday dawned. Mark stayed in bed. We got a fairly typical alpine start, leaving breakfast at the crack of noon. We had chosen Beckey's Wall, a Beckey/Kor route in three pitches, rated F7 (well, in all his guidebooks - 5.7 today :-) as a gentle re-introduction. The approach is short and steep, and Mark could be heard complaining about not exercising enough.

I led. I was a bit nervous, actually - this was my first lead of the year, and the first time I'd led where I was *really* the responsible party. Normally I climb with Pat, and can count on her to double check what I'm doing. I didn't know what Mark remembered, and knew he was busy worrying about himself, so I had to worry about both of us much more than I'm used to. An odd feeling, that.

You can do the first pitch either up to chains around 60' off the deck, or up another 60' to a fixed pin at a Y formed by two dihedrals. In theory, from the first belay, wherever you choose, you continue past the Y and up a steeper wall that's jug city. Then there's a mellow third pitch to a walk-off, or rap. I led up to the chains, and decided that Mark might like a short first pitch. I was right. He got to the belay and said "You know, I led a lot of beginners up this climb. I really should have been nicer to them!"

I headed off to the Y and made another belay. Mark followed, huffing and puffing but making good progress and seeming to have fun. I inquired as to his foot, and he said it was starting to bother him. We decided that it was better to get off and not reinjure it (he's already been struggling with it for three months), so we rapped.

All behold the mighty climber
Overall, we really only climbed 120' or so.

But, as Brutus says, sometimes the crux is getting off the couch.

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