The wind speaks; it doesn’t just shriek and moan. It tells me I’ll need my fleece pullover and Mammut soft-shell in order to stay warm. It says it came from somewhere cold, and that soon that very cold will be here. It warns me that as soon as I get myself high up enough on the wall, to bath in the warm sun, that it will find me.
The wind carried in several other climbers. Larry, the unofficial mayor of The Gap. John, the fearless young man. John’s girlfriend Alison, the photographer. Boyd, the Doctor. Kyle N., or “the other Kyle”, a quiet kid who looks like Harry Potter. And my Kyle, affectionately known as The Stoned Master. And finally Kyle’s wife Amanda, who is bundled up like an Eskimo and quietly reading wherever she can find some sun. I’ve never climbed with such a big group before, usually I roll in 2’s or 3’s. The last time I’ve seen this many cars parked below the ascent trail was years ago, when a two-bit guide outfit put a deal on Groupon for urbanites to crowd the small top-ropers buttress and leave trash strewn all over the undercliff trail. Thankfully, the wild and adventurous nature of The Gap keeps the regular visitors down to a select few hardmen and committed locals.
|Gearing Up Before Heading Up|
|Larry, starting up High Falls.|
Our entire party traversed the cliff south to the Land of The Giants wall where we divided up. Larry and John on Point of No Return, 5.8+ (or, 5.8+++), with Alison taking pictures on the ground. Boyd and The Other Kyle on Surprise, 5.4. And Kyle and I on Crackpot, 5.4, with his wife sitting nearby with her book. Crackpot is directly right of Point of No Return and we were able to hear Larry’s incessant whistling/singing while he stuck it out in the hanging belay – bringing up John, and then belaying him out to lead. How he kept himself in that position for so long, I have no idea.
|Kyle, leading up Crackpot.|
|Kyle and I on Crackpot.|
After rappelling Crackpot, Kyle and I found our rope was stuck when trying to retrieve it. The links on Crackpot are a bit small, and I’ve had trouble pulling ropes from this route before. But ours were completely stuck, as in the two of us with all of our weight and strength could not get them to budge. These things happen sometimes. Larry and John were in deep on Point of No Returns so we had to wait for Boyd and The Other Kyle to finish Surprise so they could free our rope, but they planned on climbing Crackpot next anyway. And before he went up, I gave Boyd a spare biner and aluminum ring to replace those damn links up there.
|Boyd, up on the cold and dark arete of Crackpot to free our ropes.|
Our day started at 730am and by now it was nearly 3pm. Kyle and I had planned on climbing Surprise but unfortunately, we lost almost 90 minutes waiting. And at this point, the sun was completely gone from the cliff and we were all very, very cold. We all said our goodbyes after plenty of back and forth about getting together again, here or there, to climb this or that. I told Kyle that in the Spring I would make the trip out to his home turf.
Back at the parking area, the wind was blowing cold off of the river and saying that our time was short. I don’t think that today was my last day climbing rock in 2014, but very well could be. This rock season may not have been one of my most active, but probably one of the best if you quantify quality.
|View of The Mighty Delaware, just below The Gap.|
Hoping to get some additional pictures from Alison, the photographer, in the coming weeks.