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18 September 2006

Gunks... w/o the camping

What an exhausting weekend! Made it back safe and happy (with lots of new bruises) after a weekend of climbing in the Gunks. The first day of climbing was very wet having just rained the night before. Every hold was a pocket of water threatening to throw you off the rock. Wilson was a brave leader despite the condition and put up a 5.5 and a 5.6 that day. Found out the rope we have is actually 70 meters, not 60 like previously thought. This turned out to be a lifesaver on the first climb where a 60 meter rope would have left us 25 feet short of the ground on the rappel down. The second day was incredibly humid and cloudy making many routes still too wet to climb. We found our first climb for the day, set up and Wilson was bouldering up to put in the first piece of gear. Out of the corner of my eye, 200 feet down the wall I saw a myriad of colors flying by me, and then a terrible loud THUD. Quickly there was shouting and we knew someone had taken a ground fall. Wilson quickly downclimbed and I unhooked my belay and ran over to see if I could help. The climber was an older guy climbing WITHOUT a helmet and three of his gear placements had popped out on an easy 5.5 route. He was bleeding from his head, but alert and moving around well enough when I got there. There was an emergency room P.A. in the crowd who checked him out quickly while someone called the ranger for a litter and ambulance. I helped his partner pack up the gear and settle the man down who was insistent on walking around (he was more concerned about his bruised ego than his head). The rangers arrived quickly and Wilson and I went back to climbing. They littered him to the carriage trail (only 40 feet away) and had a truck drive him to an ambulance waiting at the trailhead. Climbing afterwards, Wilson was a little shaken, but confident in his own knowledge, taking extra precaution to place solid gear and often. We had a great climb reflecting on the event at the top of the pitch. Wilson then led a hard 5.8R with minimal gear placement but these small horizontal cracks perfect for size 00cams -- yes, 00 is as small as it sounds. Climbing slowly and precisely he made it to the top of the pitch and dragged me up the same path (less delicately at the beginning). There were only small little rock crystals, barely big enough to put your fingertips, on this 90 degree slab wall. After that success we chatted with another group at the same belay station and somehow Wilson convinced me to lead the final climb. We choose the 5.5 next to us and Wilson talked me through the beginning gear placements and my jittery nerves. I made it easily enough with two rests and set up a top anchor station to belay him up. Wilson critiqued my gear placement and making fun of my ridiculous use of a tricam at one point (will never make the same mistake again!). He thought the small crack climb was much harder than listed and wants me to start leading harder climbs. Not bad for my second trad lead ever! Overall the trip was mentally and physically exhausting, with great successes and lessons learned from other climbers mistakes.

"If by protected you mean that it's 10-15 feet above that alien, then yes, yes it is protected." Greg Kneser.

"When men climb on a great mountain together, the rope between them is more than a mere physical aid to the ascent; it is a symbol of the spirit of the enterprise. It is a symbol of men banded together in a common effort of will and strength against their own true enemies: inertia, cowardice, greed, ignorance and all weaknesses of the spirit." Psalms 61:2.

The bed and breakfast we stayed at was adorable. The lady covering for the absent owners on the first day was more friendly than the owners! Not sure if I like the lack of privacy from B&B's, but the nummy food and pretty rooms make up for it. We had a balcony that backed up to a waterfall! Highly recommend: Captain Schoonmakers! Had a TERRIFIC 5 star dinner at the French CornerScrumptiousus goat cheese app and lemon tart dessert (I managed to dig out all the strawberries). Thchampagnene cocktail was too dry for my taste and the annoying gay NY City crowd was too much to handle at times. The best part was spending such a wonderful evening with Wilson. I'm afraid our tastes in food are FAR too expensive for our meager budget.


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