Monday, January 19, 2015

Pulling On Rocks

Once again yesterday, Leo and I woke up in the van to a rather nice Arizona sunrise. Our initial plan for the day had been to go to Havasu Falls and swim, no matter the temperature of the water. But after hiking Brighg Angel the day before, I was quite frankly over hiking and there was no way I was hiking 8 miles in to swim for an hour and hike 8 miles back. It just wasn't happening. Since the Bright Angel had been my idea, it was Leo's turn to pick an activity. It took all of two seconds for him to decide that we should go rock climbing and even less time for me to jump on board. He navigated rockclimbing.com (I think?) for a bit trying to find a place near our route to climb, and we backtracked a little ways to find it. By "find it" I mean that we drove around for a couple of hours trying to follow shitty directions which didn't take you anywhere near where we should have been, and the GPS coordinates given for the climb were literally in the middle of fucking nowhere. Once we finally decided we had found the right place we parked (whether or not our parking spot choice was legal is questionable at best) and set out on a hike. A burrow nearly attacked us, but we like to live dangerously. The hike that we took wound up 1) Being on a game trail rather than the actual hiking trail 2) Not taking us anywhere near where the routes were set. We did find some cool caves though. In a last ditch effort to find the fabled prebolted sport route the website spoke of, we made our way back towards the van, bush-whacking it along the cliff face. About half way back we heard voices, and Lo and behold we found climbers on the sport route we had been looking for. They were super chill and immediately invited us to climb with them, to which we obviously obliged. There was a 5.7, a 5.8, and a 5.10 all right in the same spot. Leo hadn't climbed outdoors in a good 5 years and I've only ever even climbed outdoors once back in high school. To be honest, I don't even remember if I made it up the wall I had tried back then, so these climbs were perfect. Once Timmy (one of the climbers we met) set up the top rope on the 5.7 and 5.8 (they could both be done from the same top rope position), Frank (another of the climbers) ascended, then Leo. Oz was the next one up, and it was his first time pulling rocks and swinging on ropes. Despite the fact that he was baked and a little tipsy, he was literally shaking with fear when he was getting tied up. You could tell he wasn't really hearing much of the instructions Timmy was giving him, but he got on the rock anyway. Honestly, I don't know if he would have gotten on it if he had been sober. It took him a while to get up, and he almost gave up, but Timmy and Frank had convinced him that he literally couldn't come down until he reached the top because the equipment just wouldn't work like that. He got to the top and they made him kiss the caribeaner before he could sit back and begin his descent. He was shaking worse than someone in the final stages of Parkinson's. It was fucking hilarious. When he finally made it down, I honestly though he was going to vomit all over the place. Instead, he just kissed the ground repeatedly while we all laughed. He was a good sport about it all though. Next was my turn. While I haven't been on belay in I don't even know how long, I do have a knack for climbing things, and any time I go hiking I climb basically anything and everything I can just for the hell of it. I made it up and back down the 5.7 pretty quickly. Leo then gave me a crash course on how to belay him which consisted of him telling me that my right hand was the break hand and he was tying me to a bolt in the ground so I didn't fly up the wall if he fell. Honestly, I probably wouldn't have trusted me to belay me, seeing as how I had next to no clue what was going on. Once Leo was on the wall, Timmy came over and gave me a little more detailed job description of a belayer. Which is probably a good thing cause I won't say that I was getting it right. At all. I got my ascent on the 5.8 while Timmy and Frank played on the 5.10. Leo took a day and a half to go up the 5.10, but that was fine because it was just at sunset and some of the pictures I got of him kicked a whole lot of ass. 
After we finished climbing and packed up all the gear, we followed our new friends down the actual trail to the van and then to a local brewery in Kingman called Black Bridge Brewery. I'm not a fan of any type of beer, but they had a raspberry wheat beer that I could drink all day every day. That shit was on point. Also, there's a couple different restaurants that deliver to the bar and the bartenders will call in your order for you. We choked down on some of the most kick ass pizza I've had in a while, then made our way across the street to a wine bar. I'm not sure what else they have there, but the moscato was quite delectable. Eventually, they turned out the lights and we had to say goodbye to our new friends. All in all, it was a pretty kick ass day, and I'm definitely going to have to get into climbing now. Leo suggested that I take my harness, shoes, ATC, and figure 8 to Europe with me and meet up with climbers on my trip around the world. A suggestion I fully intend on fulfilling.