Fall Friction at Nine Corners

Heather, Andy, and I hit the road for another trip to Nine Corners last weekend. The temperature and humidity are finally inching toward Fall conditions, so projects were on our minds.

We set up base camp at the Lookout boulder, warming up on Stairs and Andrugen. The friction seemed promising, so we moved down to the Nick Stoner boulder for some quick ascents of Tea Time. Andy and I then tried our luck at the two slab problems just left of the crack, sending each on our first try. The friction was outstanding, at least compared to the recent summer heat.

Rather than waste more time and energy in seemingly prime conditions, Andy suggested moving right along to our projects on the Gate boulder. I agreed. While we settled in, Heather casually onsighted the boulder’s tall, unnamed left arête. I followed, impressed by her calmness on the line — to me, it felt tall, scary, and insecure.

Then it was time for business on The Origin. I felt strong and prepared, but the crux move, a long dynamic right-handed reach, shot me down a dozen times. Reluctant to waste my entire day’s strength, I finally gave up. Between my burns, Andy worked on The End, finally sending with a desperate slap from bad slopers to the bad lip. This left a few minutes for Everything in the Bible is True, which had tossed me off repeatedly the previous weekend. Fresh fingers made a huge difference, and I sent on my first try. This send completely outweighed the earlier disappointment, and I could have gone home satisfied at that moment.

But there was plenty of sun and strength left, so we headed up to the Cave area. Heather was eager to practice some topouts, so she worked on those of Nippin’ Out and Chillin’. Meanwhile, Andy worked out and sent The Earthling. I passed the crux on Crazy Ice, but exhaustion got the best of me and I fell off the rest jug just before the topout.

The sun had been warming gradually and fatigue was setting in. We were all tired and prepared to go home, but instead took a detour back past the Optimus Prime boulder. This was my first visit in about five years, so I was interested in discovering how much (or little) my skills had progressed. All three of us tried Starscream, an easy arête, but only Andy sent. I redeemed myself by barely sending Decepticons Rising, sketchily pulling the topout on shaky hands and feet.

We dragged the pads around the other side of Optimus Prime to Top Gun, a moderate lowball gem that Brian Harrington originally pointed out to me. I recalled that the problem climbed well despite its uninspiring appearance, and considered it a great introduction to the V2 grade for Heather. So we settled down for a bit and gave her the first try. She initially struggled with the tricky sit start, but kept working and eventually uncovered her own sequence to reach the delicate face holds. A handful of frustrating attempts later, she still hadn’t sent and decided to call it a day, so Andy and I took turns trying out the climb. Before packing up, we convinced Heather to give one final attempt. She grudgingly agreed, put on her shoes, and found herself on top of the boulder, ecstatic about sending her first V2.

Completely wrecked by this point, we trudged back to the main area for a few random, unfocused attempts at Heart Attack Man, Bearded Arnie, and Meat and Potatoes. But the quality climbing was long gone, so we finally relented, packed up, and spent the mile hike back to the car reminiscing about the highlights of an incredible day of climbing.

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The entry Fall Friction at Nine Corners was posted on September 19, 2011 and tagged ,

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