Sunday, May 30, 2010

50 Climbs

The original intent was to do 50 climbs each. Seemed like a doable idea. Logistics proved otherwise.

Whatever the end result, the plan was to honor Kevin.

Here's how it went down:

We figured a Monday was the best idea, scarce crowds and all. Sunday night at BLM land was quite quiet. Finding Steve's "special spot" (he arrived before me by a few hours) was an adventure in itself:

Turn off Park Ave
Left on Onaga
Stay on the unkempt dirt road,
Turn left at the cactus that's flowering
Veer right at the rock outcropping that looks like Papa Smurf
Look for the Tundra (hidden in the rocks)

Needless to say, a flare shot into the air was required.

Once I arrived, the plan materialized:

-Trashcan (15+ climbs)
-Echo (20+ climbs)
-Thin Wall (15+ climbs)

To the right: Steve @ approx midnight Sunday, waxing poetic about how the next day will likely go.

Note the bag on the ground next to my Volvo: he neglected to tell me (until the next morn) about the King Snake he saw meandering about precisely where I was soon to slumber. (He slept in the bed of his truck for the record.)

A few Sierra Nevada later, we settled for the night with exactly 4 alarm clocks set for 5:30.

Clearly excited to start the day, both of us were upright before the chiming of the bells.

Sunrise in J-Tree. Kevin would already be geared up and ready to go. His spirit motivated us to get moving and start the day.

Below: my bedroom, kitchen and living room for the night.

And away we go...

We make it to Trashcan by 6:15, decide that the best method for tallying lots of climbs in a short period is to have one guy at the top, constantly moving the TRs, while the other climbs/races to the bottom/re-ropes.

Steve, at the top, slinging ropes for the first climbs of the day.

We bagged a handful of climbs on the west face of Trashcan, ranging from 5.4 to 5.10a, certainly not of epic proportions, but putting in the mileage nonetheless.

We'd already been talking about what Kevin meant to us and how influential he was in our climbing lives; we wondered what he would think of such an endeavor and realized his passion for climbing was such that it didn't really matter what or where we climbed, but rather whether we were embracing the spirit of the climbing lifestyle. Being outside, one with the rock, taking time to appreciate moment and what it meant in the grand scheme of things. More on that later...

Turning around to the East face, we TR'd a few climbs- the pic to the right is Left Sawdust Crack (5.10c) and, more importantly, the road that would get us to our next destination. Never mind I took my hands off the rope long enough to snap this pic; I'm confidant in Steve's ability this early in the day, as fresh as he was after his morning cup of joe.

We wrapped up at Trashcan with Steve running a few laps on Ripper (V2) and a Sharpie session noting how many climbs we bagged so far:

(That's 10 each for the hash-mark challenged out there)

Off to Echo...

Steve had story to tell about Kev before we jumped on some more climbs. It was an indication of how well Kevin was able to mix his workhorse attitude and encouraging spirit all at once...


Steve shoeing up for the first climb at Echo Cove:

This is right about when we realized time was of the essence. Despite having approx 9 hours of light left, we were in a logistical time jam. Steve had attempted 100 climbs in a day a few years earlier for some milestone birthday (to protect the innocent, we'll leave age unspoken) and it proved difficult, not in physical ability, but rather logistics. Leading, throwing ropes, moving ropes, descents, etc, lead to a time crunch. Two people vying for the same number of climbs turned out to be a doozy.

That's why the next set of pictures aren't until much later.

Our gear near Thin Wall, Real Hidden Valley.

By the time we got to Thin Wall, we had accomplished 50 climbs between the two of us. Not the original goal, but as soon as we crossed that threshold, we had a moment of silence for Kevin. We weren't sure how many pitches we've shared in his company, but within the first few it was enough to grasp his utter love for the outdoors, the rock, the spirit of ascending. We silently thanked him for the memories.

Steve, on Peculiar Taste Buds, one of many TRs we did at Thin wall.

Throwing ropes down No Calculators Allowed.

It got to the point where we had to start neglecting roped climbing to solo some lines just to get some numbers in.

Steve, on the Face of Tammy Faye.

There a happened to be a bloom occurring in J Tree and we can't neglect the "don't forget to stop to smell the flowers" mantra:

By the time we finished up at Thin Wall, we were all Sharpie'd up:

I was just shy of 30, Steve had already bagged 40. Already an epic day. Back to Trashcan to get a few more miles in...

Steve, soloing the last few to get to 50 himself.

Between rope issues, time constraints and a general low level of climbing fitness for myself, I only completed 30. Steve's strong climbing and fearless soling allowed 50:

End result: Kevin was remembered every 50 steps of the way. We miss you, Kev. Your legacy lives...

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