Friday, June 20, 2008

Heaven's Gate

This Wednesday Kyle and I headed out to Index to climb Heaven's Gate on the Upper Town Wall. The route begins up Lamplighter, a mixed off-width pitch, makes a short traverse, and finishes with three outstanding bolted pitches. Having never visited the Upper Wall before, I was both excited by the amazing granite landscape and apprehensive about the height and exposure. I've been making a concerted effort to regain some competance on a rope, but the steep sport climbs I had been working at Little Si definitely only lie halfway between bouldering and big, multi-pitch granite routes (even if they're bolted).
I am continually humbled by route climbing these days - the strength and precision required by hard bouldering seems trivial compared to the mental game for even moderate-level trad climbing. Working my weakness in this way has been at turns both frustrating and rewarding as I've tried to wrestle my ego into check. Half the time I end the day on a high, glowing because I stuck with a climb and used my head well. The other half of the time I'll end up feeling weak, stupid, and like a spoiled primadonna - I'm used to driving home with an extra notch on my belt, and there's really no such thing as 'bailing' on a boulder problem (except maybe that Boxcar Arete).
Anyway, Wednesday was one of those perfect days... The exposure was engaging, a nagging feeling in the back of my mind telling me not to relax too much, but I felt totally committed the whole time and there was no whimpering. Kyle led most of the pitches, and we topped out the wall with no falls. What an affirming experience! We hung out at the top for a half hour, then rappelled past another party. Back on the ground, we climbed Dana's Arch, a spectacular short pitch, and checked out some other walls before heading down the hill. It's worth stating that I am so thankful to have a reliable, confident, and encouraging partner like K-Diesel to help adventures like these fall into place...
Here's Kyle and I on the wall

Kyle, way up the third pitch, a 35 meter face with some of the coolest stone I've ever encountered

The view from the top

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