Climbing Log – September 2007 and October 2007 (Pre-Yosemite)


In late August 2007, Andrea Deaton and I were leading an AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) major excursion in Yosemite National Park. We were hiking and backpacking, nothing technical; however, I couldn’t resist checking out every single granite face we encountered. My long time climbing partner Yaroslav and I had started actively preparing for a Yosemite climbing trip in October and being a rock climber in the States, I know this simple fact-—Yosemite is the place to go.

I bought a rock climbing guidebook featuring climbs in Yosemite Valley and I studied it every night in the tent after each participant finished their dinner and got ready for bed. I remember I asked myself a question repeatedly “How come there aren’t many routes rated 5.7 and below?” I could follow up to 5.9+ or maybe 5.10a but I had a strong desire to lead and leading is a totally different story than following. In Wyoming, I had learned the theory of traditional leading, built many anchors and placed many pros; however, I did not lead even though I mock led two 5.7’s. I needed some real experience to be ready especially mentally; I could not afford carrying any moment of doubt when I stepped in the boundary of Yosemite again in another two months.

I started my quest to do trad-leads (traditional leading) in September. Not only did I want to boost my confidence, but I needed to familiarize with Yaroslav’s style in an outdoor setting. Ever since then I kept a climbing log for all my outdoor climbs, which is a suggestion I took from my instructor Jared Spaulding, and therefore I can monitor my climbing progress or simply indulge in my adventures.

I logged 5 climbing days in September 2007 and 3 climbing days in October 2007 before I headed to Yosemite. Labor Day Weekend, I was in West Virginia, exploring New River Gorge and Seneca Rocks and at the same time taking a break from the Shawangunks (Gunks), New York. The rest of the climbs were all done in the Gunks.

September 1st, 2007 – I top roped Jumpin’ Jack Flash (5.7) and New Yosemite (5.9) at the Junkyard Wall in New River Gorge. I was still a bit hesitant to embrace the challenge and therefore I asked to mock lead Jumpin’ Jack Flash before I considered playing for real. The mock lead went well and I had no excuse to not step forward. I picked an easy dish for my first lead, Distortionist (5.6); uneventful; I was happy to lead it on sight; however, because I could have free-soloed (climb without protection) it with caution, the seeming success did not serve my purpose. I could have led Jumpin’ Jack Flash, but I claimed that I was not ready and top roped Team Jesus (5.10b) instead.

September 2nd, 2007 – It was an interesting day. We remained in Junkyard Region but the climbs we did were in a sub-region called Dog Wall. Yaroslav managed to find a 5.1 here and without too much evaluation I jumped right onto this route and led Poodle with a Mohawk (5.1). The first half of the climb was an off-width crack in a left facing corner; crack climbing was still foreign to me, not-to-mention that it was a notorious off-width. I could not jam my body parts in the crack as I wished; being not able to stay still during the moves stimulated my nerves, I yelled “I can’t do this,” “I am gonna fall,” etc. Yaroslav did not know how to respond to my fear; well, he is a man and a climber, who can blame him? Finally I screamed “Take!” and the next second I was hanging on the pro I just placed; “hmm… it held,” I thought with some amazement. “A pro should hold if I place it correctly and especially when it is weighted by my body weight not by a leader’s fall,” my thought continued. Of course my rational side used its analytical skills telling me that there was nothing amazing; however, my emotional side knew that it was not that simple and comforted me that it was okay that I did not trust the pros I put in. The rest of the climb was easy and I had no objection that this part was rated 5.1 but as for the off-width in that left facing corner I did have a different opinion.

The second climb of the day, Themetime (5.6), was also led by me, the climber in training, who had just recovered from a denial of not being able to lead a 5.1 on sight. This climb was also a crack, and I climbed it with awe. It was not vertical but a bit overhanging; in addition, given that I had to try at least 3 times to find the perfect pro and my muscles were tense due to my fear, I got tired pretty quickly. I did not trust my pros and therefore I did not want to fall. At some point I was hanging on my hand jam and felt vividly that my energy was draining out of my body; the more nervous I got the faster my energy was leaving me. I kept going up, and it got more difficult to maintain a position long enough for me to “take my time” on protection placement. My body was shaking and I knew that I only had one shot; I looked at the crack and put in a Black Diamond #3 Camalot faster than a lightening and yelled “take.” I was hanging on my pro again, and this time with relief. I set up an anchor to bring Yaroslav up at an intermediate ledge, and I intended to finish the lead; however, I couldn’t fight the final roof with my condition; I yielded the route to Yaroslav.

September 3rd, 2007
– It was a happy day because I led two routes on sight: R2D2 (5.5) and Scuttle (5.7) at Seneca Rocks lower slabs. R2D2 was 120 feet, a little bit long for a trad-lead newbie like me but due to its easy terrain I managed to finish it before I started to panic. Scuttle was short (40 feet) and could be well-protected. It was sweet to bag a clean 5.7.

The weekend of September 16 and 17, we returned to our familiar terrain—The Shawangunks in New York.

September 16th, 2007 – I led the first pitch (5.5) and the second pitch variation two (5.4) of Arch. I got stuck at the crux of the first pitch because it was an exposed traverse. I always find exposed traverse and roof intimidating even if I know clearly that the rating of the climb is mild; it is probably due to the swing effect after a fall. This traverse took me a couple of attempts. I moved to the right in an extremely slow manner, using my right hand to discover good jugs or at least good hand holds. During the process I got tired and had to down climb to the previous good stance to catch my breath again. Finally I decided to commit to it and pass the traverse section of the climb.

Later that day, I led the first pitch of Bloody Bush (5.5) and also got hesitant at a small “chimney rest” because the climbing angle became more than vertical. I rested at that rest spot and convinced myself to continue.

September 17th, 2007 – I led Horseman (5.5) and Rhododendron (5.6).

October 6th, 2007 – I led the second pitch of Frog’s Head (5.5).

On October 8th and 9th, I was climbing with a group of four that I had connected with through a Philadelphia Climbing gym mailing list. One group member was an experienced guide and I was excited to have a chance to lead with him and let him check my protection gear placement. We climbed various routes and I led a total of three easy pitches.

October 8th, 2007 – I led the first pitch of RMC (5.4) and the first pitch of Betty (5.3).

October 9th, 2007 – I lead the first pitch of High Exposure (5.4).

2 thoughts on “Climbing Log – September 2007 and October 2007 (Pre-Yosemite)”

  1. Hey..I felt like that I haven’t been here for ages since pregnancy and now post-pregnancy. All the sudden, my whole world is around my little one. 🙂 You are always my hero for outdoor events. Keep rocking. 🙂

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