A little over two weeks ago I decided that at some point, despite winter being so generous, that I have to hang up my spurs. I can only use so many sick/vacation days from work. I can only get away with leaving my wife with the kids so many weekends. I wasn’t growing tired of climbing, but the exhaustion of a climbing day…the early starts, the long drives, and the cold starts to wear on me.
I wanted to finish strong. So I asked August, my strongest partner, if was interested in swapping leads at The Narrows. Conditions were super-fat and I knew I could handle being point man on all the lower pitches and defer to him the harder headwall pitches.
We started on The Main Gully, and I lead three pitches then went not harder than WI2+ up to the headwall where August took over. The left-side of the Main Wall has a pretty long, pretty hard WI3+ route that August tackled with ease. From there, we rappelled down and he gave the right side a go, again on WI3/3+.
|Start of Main Gully (my lead)|
|2nd Pitch of Main Gully (my lead)|
|Cruising up the last few tiers of Main Gully before the headwall pitches.|
|Main Gully Headwall Left (August's lead)|
|Following Main Gully Headwall Left|
|Right Side of Main Gully Headwall|
|August, rapping off.|
Next, we headed over to the Dead Deer Gully, which ironically, had a dead deer at near the bottom. Again, I took lead on the lower pitch which was a little harder, WI3. The next pitch was more of an ice scramble, but the two of us remained tied-in with the leader on belay. When we reached the headwall, again August lead and styled impressively on a WI3 route. I told him several times that day that his climbing and leading ability is outstanding. I’m very thankful to have such a solid partner to climb with.
|Start of Dead Deer Gully|
Here's a short POV video of my leading the previously photographed section
1st Pitch of Dead Deer Gully, W12+/3
|Icy Scrambling before Dead Deer Gully Headwall|
|Center Headwall Pitch of Dead Deer Gully|
Right now, all of my rock and ice gear is stuffed in plastic storage bins, in a huge pile of bins, boxes, and stuff, being kept underneath a tarp in my garage which is currently under construction. I’m used to seeing it all on the walls, hanging from pegboards. I’m in the middle of a series of transitions…ice to rock, winter to spring, as well as preparing to leave one home for another. The snow that’s forecasted to fall later today will surely be gone by the time this weekend rolls around, since temperatures will shoot into the low 50s. Most people are frustrated with winter, and just want spring to finally begin. I experienced my best climbing season ever on account of the winter being so cold, snowy, and icy. For me, as always, it’s a little bittersweet.