see spot run

so far this trip, we have experienced the gamut of weather. cold. snow. clouds. sun. heat. we were hoping to avoid the really wild windy days that we have been in on our spring trips. alas, it was not to be. wednesday, dec 4, a cold front began it’s approach and with it came wind. gusts up to 50 mph. in the desert, when there is wind, there is dust. it didn’t turn into a full blown dust storm, but it was close.

on wednesday, we climbed up on north mountain in the sun and the wind. you might think that these days are a deterrent to the climber carrying, essentially, a big sail (the crash pad) on his or her back. perhaps it should be. at least twice i felt the wind trying to man-handle me as we hiked along the slabs between climbs. we have climbed on windy days before–i have had at least one good send in 50 mph winds and a dust storm. i wasn’t about to let it keep me from my choice climb of the day…

see spot run, classic high ball v6, with an end move that packs a punch. i admit, i was a little freaked out (read: terrified) that the wind would blow me right off this high steep face. in fact, i was just terrified of the climb all the way around. see spot run is roughly 30 feet tall. three years ago when we came to hueco for the first time, i tried this rock climb. after a couple of tries through the first, hardest moves, i found myself at the top before the final big move. and i panicked, down-climbed and jumped off. the fall from that 15 foot height was jarring and scary. two years ago, the second time we came to hueco, i tried it again. i didn’t get as high before i fell and torqued my ankle a little bit. enough to keep me from trying the route again. i don’t think i was ready to commit to it yet. going into this trip i told brian i wasn’t going to get on it at all, i didn’t write it down on my tick list–at first. the more i kept thinking about it, i decided that i would get back on it, but with one caveat: i was only allowed to try it once. so for the past 10 days since we have been here, i have been thinking about this climb in the dark of night, hands and feet sweating like i was actually on the thing.

after warming my fingers up on some easier climbs outside the martini roof and also small potatoes, my friends (who took the time to come up on their rest day to offer much encouragement and padding) arranged a jigsaw puzzle of pads. i wasted no time in pulling on, figuring that the least amount of time looking up at the high moves, the better. i quickly remembered the moves, the movement at the bottom easy to get caught up in. soon i found myself at the move to the smile crimper where i fell two years ago. the flow of the moves before that stopped abruptly, and i felt my left elbow pointing up and out at an angle like a chicken wing, a sure sign of imminent failure. something was off. something felt wrong. i had to let go. falling on the crash pads felt fine this time. i didn’t land funny, it didn’t feel that far. “warm up go,” i said, a common phrase between us during this trip because sometimes you have to try a rock climb a couple of times before it feels like your moving well on it. i had one more go since i didn’t fall due to lack of commitment. i was going to sit and think for a bit and figure out why it had felt so weird up there, so hard.

thankfully a group came by wanting to try the climb out. i watched three guys do the climb, varying in height and weight, and was able to see some different ideas for what feet i could use at the smile move where i fell. i was pretty sure i had my feet to high, it was just a matter of choosing which lower feet to use. one thing i love about hueco is that you usually have your pick of feet to use.

once there was a lull in activity at the base of the climb, i was ready. i shed my down jacket and sweater and sat to put my shoes back on. again, the beginning of the climb flowed well. when i got to the move up to the smile, i set my left foot in a lower foot hold, my right stayed where it was for the move before, and made the move no problem. now i was at the final deadpoint to the good holds at the top of the face. my left hand was seizing up since i had been holding crimps for all the moves before this one, so i quickly shook it out to help it relax. then i hiked my right foot up high and checked out the hold where i was going. it was one big fluid move: pull in my weight over my foot and at the same time move my right hand up fast to the end of my reach. bam! got it! and i think i had my eyes closed. when i opened them, i just had to look around for feet and climb a few more moves and i was on the top of the boulder. done!

a proud send in anyone’s book. probably one of the best rock climbs i have ever done in my life. now see spot run isn’t going to keep me up nights, and i won’t get butterflies in my stomach every time i walk by it. it’s kind of sad. that anticipation of sending a climb is almost the best part of the game. i’ll have to find a new climb to grab my imagination. hmmmm, what’ll it be?