Castlerock Entertainment presents.... popular(???) demand.....

...yet another (long, tedious, boring) adventure with Indy!

Indiana Mark: Storming The Castle!
Indy (naturally)
Cro-Magnon Man (non-netter - yes, non-netters still exist!)
With honorable mentions to:
Bronach "I will climb someday...yeah, right"
Jen-Vader "Me too! Me tooooo!!!"
Fasteph "Looks 5th class; you lead, Indy"
Sandy "I Can't Remember My Psycho Climbing Name" Landsberg
Michael "I Don't Even Have One!" Yourshaw
Eric "I Can't Stand 12-yr Olds Singing Happy Songs" DeSilva
Amy "I'll Try To Remember That Annoying Song For You!" Bleich
No soundtrack available due to cosmic imbalances from Comet Hyakutake.

Prologue: Tuesday afternoon/evening, April 9th, 1996.

It's snowing. The temps are in the 30s. It's almost mid-April. Winter sucks.

(two days later...)

Indy, Bronach, and Jen-Vader decided to Break From Drudgery (tm) and opted to slip from work, to dash across campus in search of...Food (always a Good Thing). Within moments of leaving the building (with all assorted nazi bosses and managers and other Higher Up types chasing the trio to drag them bodily back to their offices and seats), Indy realized...hey, it's WARM out here!! Jen-Vader commented that the sun was out (well, more to the point, about having a lack of sunglasses along on this run). The temps were in the mid-70s. With this having been going on for almost a month, Indy figured the Weather God was tripping out on LSD or something. The three began sweating as they ran from the nazis.

(later that afternoon)

Indy had been in contact with the DC Crew about potential climbing plans for saturday. There was loose talk going back and forth as to where people wanted to go. Some were thinking Crescent Rocks (aka Raven Rocks, for which Indy is still waiting to get a copy of the guide to the area), and some were thinking Great Falls. Indy was leaning for Great Falls as he had to work a graveyard shift saturday night/sunday morning, and wanted to try and get back and to bed at a semi-reasonable hour to get some sleep before pulling the early early morning shift (Indy's not the youngster he once was; no all-nighters can be easily pulled these days!). The only person who had a concrete decision aside from Indy was Eric - who was in San Diego! He wasn't going to make it (and had other...'obligations' for sunday when he returned - what he gets for having a girlfriend!).

(that evening)

Indy was at home, idly procrastinating about cleaning his apartment, when the phone rang.



Upon answering, Indy heard a ghostly Voice on the other end say, "The Castle...The Castle...we will do...The Castle..."

Then <click>. Dialtone. The Voice hung up.

The Castle?? What was this The Castle? White Castle?!? No. No, not a slimey mid-west micro-burger (please, not that!). The Castle...


The Voice was back. It said, "Meet me at The Cabin friday evening. The directions are..."

Indy copied them down. Then, without warning, the Voice hung up again. Yeesh. So much for conversation. Indy turned on the tv and checked the weather forecast.

Blechy. Two cold fronts were converging on the area. If he was lucky it would be dry saturday morning, but cool (50s to 60s) and cloudy. After that, all bets were off - it was going to rain. Every weatherman verified this for Indy. The Weather God was gearing up for a Spring Stomping. And so far the DC Climbing Contingent (those who were in town) had only agreed to go climbing.

Indy decided he was psycho for even contemplating The Castle.

To bed went Indy, mulling over directions to The Cabin, wondering about this The Castle, wondering what the Weather God had in store for him, and hoping the car repairs weren't going to cost too much...

(the next day) Friday, April 12th.

Indy packed his climbing gear, and finalized dinner coordinations with Amy, as Indy was going to try to attend a talk about extrasolar planets down outside of DC. But first, he had to get his car. Indy slipped on his pair of convertable pants (the legs strip off, turn into shorts), noting that there had developed a quarter-sized hole in the butt. Well, no one really looks there much, so he didn't worry about it. And off he went to retrieve his car (and pay oodles of $$ :( ).

Once he had his car, he dashed back home, got packed for the night and for any potential climbing to be done saturday, and headed to the University of Maryland College Park for this talk. After fighting some nasty traffic snarls and coming upon some seriously unexpected campus road construction, Indy finally arrived.

20 minutes late. And the talk ended 10 minutes later. <sigh>.

As Indy had some time to kill before meeting Amy, he sauntered over to the REI in College Park, to check on prices of convertable pants (as he was going to need a new pair at some point). He got there, looked 'em over, and decided to make sure they would fit, so went to try a pair on.

Upon pulling off the pair he was already wearing, he noticed that the leetle hole had not only grown, but you could shove a whole planet through it!! EEP!!!! Guess he was buying a new pair of pants onna spot...

That done (and him changed), he dashed over to meet up with Amy (getting caught up in DC beltway traffic from HELL!). A quick dinner and catch-up on things, Indy then dashed off to...The Cabin (which was located outside of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, on the road to Paw-Paw...uhmmmm....errrr...don't ask). A couple hours later Indy arrived at...The Cabin. As he parked, a figure emerged - it was...Cro-Magnon Man!!

Cro-Magnon Man helped Indy get his gear inside by watching Indy struggle with his junk and offering verbal encouragement. Indy kicked him as he went by.

Once inside The Cabin, Indy looked around...this wasn't any cabin!

"Sure it is," said Cro-M.

"No way!" exclaimed Indy, "Cabins don't have running water, or fully-furnished kitchens, or tvs and vcr's, or showers, - and cabins DON'T have two inch-thick plush carpetting!"

"Indy, what century were you born in again??" asked Cro-M.

Indy shut up. Damned younger generation...

Cro-M picked up and put on the hat Indy carried in with him. "Hey, pretty cool."

"That's my Indy Hat (tm)," replied Indy.

Cro-M immediately tore it off and threw it on the ground. "I don't want any big boulders chasing after me!"

"It's not boulders that chase me, but the Weather God," sighed Indy.

Cro-Magnon Man began to tell Indy of this place, The Castle, that they could climb come the morrow (it almost already was). The other option was to take the longer drive down to Seneca and do a quick climb there before bolting out. Indy advised Cro-M of the forecasted weather conditions. They thought, they pondered, they hummmed. And decided that come daybreak they would make the final decision. They retired (but not before Indy introduced Cro-M to a couple episodes of Babylon 5 ;-). Indy slept, but tossed and turned all night long (it was also a rather warm night).

Saturday morning. Indy woke (again) to...sun? Sun?? It was bright out. Sunny. Clear skies. And just a shade cool. Indy stepped outside. There clouds! Sun!! Woo hoo!!! Indy checked with his Weather-O-Matic-God-O-Meter. Somehow, somewhere along the way when the Weather God was tripping out earlier in the week he got all confused and ended up preparing to Stomp the snot out of Cleveland, Ohio.

Indy kicked Cro-M awake. "Dude! We gotta go CLIMB!"

Cro-M stumbled around the shower while Indy cooked breakfast (yes, Indy cooked; deal). Then the duo gathered their gear and piled into Cro-M's truck, and headed off to...The Castle!

Along the way they passed a couple castles, but those were not The One. They also passed the famed and famous (infamous?) massage and hot springs/pools places in Berkeley Springs that Indy had heard about. "Well, I now know where they are; I'll have to come back another time and investigate them in more detail."

Half an hour later the duo parked, and began the half hour hike in. Soon (30 minutes later), through the tree branches (covered with buds), the two spied an immense shape arising from the hillside. The Castle! They dashed to the rock (after chatting with a couple of folk who were in the neighborhood watching for birds-o-prey) and upon dropping the gear, Cro-M dragged Indy all around showing him this climb, and that climb, and this other climb, and this climb here, and that climb there, and after we do this climb we'll do that climb and then this other climb and so on and so forth.

Cro-M was unusually unenthused with the area.

Cro-M pointed Indy to a 5.5/5.6-ish route to do. For Indy, it's been 6+ months since he's led anything more serious than a 5.2, and this was only his third time out climbing in as many weeks since early November of '95. Indy was Gumby. He knew it, but figured 5.5/5.6 would be workable.

He hoped.

He geared up as Cro-M flaked the rope. Then, as soon as Indy tied in, he and Cro-M heard this heavily accented voice call down from above.

"'Allo? O' ees eet?"

Indy looked up then sighed. "Who knew there'd be French?"

Cro-M called back up, "It is I, Cro-Magnon Man, and Indy. We are on a Holy Quest in search of the Ark!"

"Oh, ah zee. We've already got wun," yelled down the head encapsulated with a pointy metal helmet and funky mustache.

"Are you sure?" asked Indy.

"Oh, yes, ees verra nice," replied the head above.

"Can we have a look?" asked Cro-M.

"Of course not! You are cliiimber types. Ah'm Frensh. Why do you think I have thees outrrrrrrageous accent, you silly boy?"

Indy turned to Cro-M. "No, don't!"

Too late. Cro-M shouted up, "What are you doing in America??"

"Mind your own beeznez!"

Indy just shook his head.

Cro-M stamped. "If you do not show us the Ark, Indy shall storm The Castle by force!"

Indy just covered his eyes.

The Frenshman called down, "You don't frighten us, climbing peegdogs! Go and boil your bottoms under a silly person. Ah blow mah nose at you, you so-called climber. You and all of you connnnnnnniggets! Phththt! Phthththt! Phthththtt!"

Indy had had just about enough and whipped out his rack. He chose carefully, and selected a #12 nut. He began twirling it at the end of a quickdraw, slingshot style.

"Now look here!" shouted up Cro-M.

"Ah doan wanna talk to you no more, you empty-headed belayer. I fahrt in your general dirrrection. Your mother was a sport climber and your father smelt of elderberries. Now go away or ah shall taunt you a second ti - urrrk!"

Indy had let fly with the #12 nut, pegging the Frenshman squarely 'tween the eyes. The Frenshman toppled over, and faded from view. There was a muffled <thump> on the far side of the rocks, but Indy and Cro-M never heard it. Indy converted his new pants to shorts (it was HOT out!), and began climbing.

About a third of the way up, Indy was having a terrible time. "Dude, I am wiggin' here. Way wiggin'. Yep, definitely wiggin'. I am Gumby!"

"You're almost there!" Cro-M cheerfully called up.

"Almost to Hell," muttered Indy and he struggled on. He could SEE the moves, but convincing his Gumby Body to actually DO the moves was another thing entirely. 6 months since his last serious lead, and being on new rock...gaaah! Wig, wig, wig.

Two thirds of the way up Indy shouted down "I'm wIgGiN'!!!!"

"You need a wig?" asked Cro-M, "I dunno; yeah you got a thin spot, but I think you should be alright for another few months."

Indy contemplated throwing the #4 Friend at Cro-M, but that would leave him without a belayer, and stuck 15 billion feet above the ground on this heinous 5.22e climb. Indy sighed and moved on.

Finally Indy got past the first 3/4 of the route (which was 5.5-ish) and before him was the final 15 or so feet - a 5.6-ish dihedral. Indy was....not having a good time. His leg had developed Elvis Leg, and he was getting fried from that shake. He placed a cam and moved up a move. Bleh, bleh! He placed a tri-cam and backed down. Then went up and paused and came back down. And back up, placed a nut, and back down. Yep, okay! The bottom 7 feet of the dihedral was stitched up! Indy wondered, could he put any more pro in? And he realized that while the corner crack above him was wonderously inviting for mid-range pro (or extra large nuts), he had used all his mid-range stuff down below. Urp. Finally, Indy just decided to go for it. Wigging out all the way, grace and form thrown out the door, Indy let out a Rambo Yell (tm) and surged upwards.

'Surged' is a good word here.

Finally Indy half-flopped, and half-scrabbled over the edge onto a ledge. <gasp!> Covered with lichen, tired, hands full of rockbite from the crack in the dihedral corner, Indy managed to secure himself to a nearby friendly tree.

"Off belay!!!"

As Cro-M prepped himself to come up next, Indy looked around. They were, other than the falcon-watchers, the only ones in the area. Down in the valley below, on the Cacapon River, were a couple of canoeists. But that was it. No one else around. This was it. Solitude. The sun shone. The breeze blew by. All was quiet, except for the sounds of the river, far below.

"On belay!"

Indy snapped out of his reverie and began belaying.

A few minutes later Indy noticed a rather large-sized rock salamander stopped by to pay him a visit. As Indy was belaying, he couldn't test to see how friendly this critter was. It was eyeing him, though, pretty closely. Finally Cro-M came up. Indy pointed out the rock salamander, and Cro-M reached down to pet it. It didn't flinch. But then it bolted.

"Don't tell Kara KaveWoman I was strokin' a lizard," said Cro-M.

Indy made a mental note to call Kara at his first possible opportunity.

Cro-M took the rack and led the next pitch, finding an awesome slot placement for a #5 tri-cam. A few minutes later Cro-M was at the top of the pitch. Indy followed with improved grace and style (it was easier climbin', after all!).

Getting to the top Indy noted that the time was getting late: almost noon. He had to be going soon, if he was to have any hope of getting any sleep before the all-night marathon at work. The two adventurers packed up and then Cro-M dragged Indy about the rocks some more, showing him other routes to climb someday (no, no enthusiasm here). They came across a hawk's feather (a pretty large one, tooa). Cro-M happily picked it up. "I prayed for one of these last time I was here!" Indy looked around and found his own relic: a discarded snap-open syrup bottle top. Joy.

The two then gathered the gear left behind at the base of the climb, and headed out. After a quick stop for Food (always a Good Thing), and back to The Cabin, Indy and Cro-M went their seperate ways: Cro-M to hang out at The Cabin for the afternoon/night, Indy, complete with Farmer Tan and Pink Arm, to return to the ardors of The City, and graveyard shift.


If you stuck through this whole thing, I, for one, am impressed. Hope you weren't bored to tears too much...

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