Yes...that you have rec'd this mail message signifies yet another long, drawn-out, boring Indy Adventure follows (and yes, one of these days I'll actually finish up the trip report from *last* year!). This ought to cure most forms of insomnia. Sleep well!
The write-up below has everything in it...well, almost everything. It has rock, climbing, camping, and an epic. Ought to be enough. I hope.
[insert music here: lalalala - laaaa]
Starring: Indy (natch), Eric, Michael
Featuring: Yuke, Pete the solo-aider, NoBeta, Bob & Bob
Guest Starring.....you guessed it: the Weather God
Prologue: Indy was getting things set for the second great CCC'97 event of the season when Yuke responded that he would not be able to go after all due to family things that had come up. As an alternative, because he hasn't been out much this year and desperately wanted to go, Yuke proposed to Indy that the two of them head up to the Adirondaks in early October and climb Rogers Rock (700' 5.5 finger/slab route that one must kayak to the base of the rock to get to the climbs since the rock comes straight out of the lake) and then go over to do Diagnol on Westface (Diagnol: 700' 5.8 route that gets progressively harder the higher you go). Indy thought...700' climbs...he checked his calendar, and found a 4-day break on the first weekend of October - perfect!
However, Indy also started taking another class, so his thursday-sunday 'weekend' was mainly a friday-sunday weekend. Indy decided to take monday off to make it a 4-day weekend, anyway. For 700' routes in the East? You betcha! Plans were laid, the stage was set...
Wednesday, October 1st. Indy fired off a msg to Yuke, inquiring as to the details that would be needed (directions, appropriate gear, etc). Yuke was swamped with Real Life things and unable to get back to Indy. Indy really wanted to know should he leave thursday night after class, or first thing friday morning.
Thursday, October 2nd. After a *very* late night, Indy decided to sleep in for once. The phone rang. It was Yuke. He would not be able to make the weekend. Some pressing matters had come up at home, and the *best* he could do was be free saturday. Not nearly enough time to make the 11-hour one-way drive up to the 'Daks and back. Sadly, the plans for Rogers Rock fell through. They decided to try again in the spring.
In the mean time, Indy had four suddenly blank days ahead of him. What to do! He got online, and exercised the Power of the Internet. He contacted his longtime friend Sandy, but she was unable to break away for the entire weekend. Indy was looking to go to the Gunks. Sandy could only climb locally. Indy contacted Eric, and managed to persuade him and Michael to accompany him on an exploratory mission of the Gunks. Indy had been up there twice earlier this year, and has been aching to get back. Finally, here was another opportunity! Even if just for a couple days, it was better than nothing. The Gunks! Plans were quickly made. Eric would pick Indy up on his way past B'more; Michael would be going up with his daughter, Amanda. Indy spent the day doing errands, going to class, then friday packing and other stuff.
Despite the best efforts of Maryland traffic to impede his progress, Eric negotiated his way to Indy's Abode, where they loaded up the Eric-mobile and tore off into the night, barrelling through Pennsylvania (to avoid tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike). 4 hours, 45 minutes (drive time) later, they arrived at Camp Slime. It wasn't too bad out. In fact, almost warm. Indy set up camp, while Eric moved his mobile tent to the overlook parking lot. No sign of Michael yet, but he would roll in when he got there. Indy went to sleep.
Indy and Eric leisurely ate while waiting for Michael. Eric expressed a great deal of interest in doing Jackie (5.5), while Indy was interested in also doing Horseman (5.5). Michael, when he arrived, expressed an interest in just climbing. So the trio gathered their gear and headed to the rocks.
As they walked along the path, they noted an inordinate number of cars parked along the road. Looked like it might be a crowded weekend. They came to the Uberfall area, and there found almost all the routes visible rigged. Including Horseman (oh well). They moved down to Jackie. There were two people sorting gear beneath it, preparing to climb (oh well). Indy decided to take the group down further. His ideas: do Beginner's Delight, Minty, Three Pines, Andrew, and a slew of other easy routes there that he's been wanting to just jump on, but has never had an opportunity to do so (since the other few times he's gone he's only done some of the more moderate/harder routes). Since all the climbs Indy mentioned were rated 2 or 3 *'s (eg, high quality routes), the other two were agreeable to this (but Eric really did want to go back and do Jackie; Indy did, too, but not as badly as Eric). They wandered around for a while, got slightly further downtrail than Indy meant them to, but eventually found Beginner's Delight.
No one was on it.
Which surprised the hell out of Indy. It's one of the most popular climbs at the Gunks. A high-quality (3-star) 5.3 route, it is an easy and vastly enjoyable climb. It was also 3 pitches long, which would enable each of the members to tackle a pitch. Indy and Eric voted that Michael would get the first pitch, Eric the long second pitch, and Indy the final, 3rd pitch (Eric, from his recent intro to the Gunks, was mostly convinced that the 3rd pitches were crap up there, but his experience had been closer to the 'front' of the Trapps rock; Indy has been down further and knows the 3rd pitches are often quite nice, sometimes the best pitches of the climbs; Eric was willing to concede that for this route, but held reservations).
Michael took the short first pitch. At 5.2 it was nowhere near outrageous, and had plenty protectable. Michael, not mentally prepped for leading just yet (prolly thought he'd lead later, not first thing as his first intro to Gunks climbing, never having been here before), informed Indy and Eric that they would pay. But Michael quite enjoyed his pitch. Indy followed, with Eric behind.
Eric took the next pitch, the loong, multi-up-and-traverse-and-repeat pitch. Eric wasn't/isn't all that fond of traverses, and wasn't looking forward to these, but discovered that they weren't terrible. In fact, not bad. And Eric managed to do the 'slightly harder variation' to the climb (5.3+). He got to the end of the pitch, onto the GT (Grand Traverse) Ledge, and didn't like what he was finding: lots and lots of loose rock. Indy said to go left, but Eric somehow confused 'left' and 'right', looked right, *really* didn't like what he saw, and downclimbed to a ledge/stance. There he secured himself in with bomber anchors, and belayed Indy up next.
Indy found the 5.3+ variation to the climb to be interestingly challenging. Not for the faint of heart leader. But not outrageous, either. Soon he was up to Eric, and heading for the GT ledge, intending on setting up for the third and final pitch. Eric was a little confused until he realized Indy went *left*, and not the 'other left'. Indy secured himself and put Michael on belay.
Michael, having to remove minimal pro (just the traverse pieces), got to meander a little bit about the face of the rock than be 'stuck' in the corner. He seemed to enjoy the pitch very well. Soon he was up, and then Indy brought Eric up to the GT belay ledge.
Befor them was a thick, left-facing corner capped by a roof. That started pitch 3. Climb the corner, traverse right out under the roof, and up. What was above...was anyone's guess. Indy geared up and began climbing. Since no untying of the ropes had been done, Indy would be leading this pitch on essentially a 'double rope' system - bringing both ropes attached to Eric and Michael up with him, and using them as he would a single rope. A not untrivial problem with rope management while one climbs.
The pitch was interestingly pleasant and neat. Everything was there, just when you needed it. Nothing outrageous, but not trivial, either: you couldn't put your hands/feet just *any*where on that traverse (well, you could, if you wanted to make it harder; Indy, being on lead, wasn't interested in that). Around the traverse/roof Indy went, and before him was a wall with horizontal features and mini-ledges...up to another corner, right-facing, capped by a larger roof. This corner pushed out into space a good bit. Hmmmm! Which way to go? After some discussion with the two at the belay ledge, and consultations with the Tome Of Trapps Knowledge, Indy fired up to the corner.
Once there, he really felt pushed back by the mass of the roof above, and rock around him. Setting his pro, he began the traverse - and suddenly, due to all the gear, couldn't see where he was supposed to put his feet! He scrabbled a bit, finally found a purchase, and swung around the roof, hanging out over the air. A few quick moves to the top and Indy was done. Anchored in he ripped off his shoes (growing painful were his toes), and put Eric on belay.
In short order Eric, then Michael, were up atop of the rocks. Michael claimed he was now converted to the Gunks. Eric got converted the weekend before. Indy was converted a long time ago, but has had a devil of a time convincing anyone else to go. Finally, two new converts. Too bad it's the end of the season...
They sauntered off in search of a rap station. Eric had foraged ahead while Michael was coming up the third pitch, and discovered that he wasn't where he wanted to be. Indy belayed him up the top pitch of something that was reasonably difficult (but they never identified what it was). Further down the trail they found a rap station. Eric and Michael went down, then told Indy that this was a bad idea, that he had to reset the rap elsewhere because where they came down was nasty, thin, and ugly: they had to traverse far to the left to get to the next rap station, and the rap rope didn't reach (they were unfamiliar with travelling on the GT ledge, as it turned out - NOT that the GT ledge in this area was a walk by any means!). Indy pulled up the rope and set up a rap off a tree nearer where Eric and Michael were waiting. Indy's feet were *killing* him; his damned shoes, though he likes them for climbing, were just too tight. Finally he was down, and the second rap was set. This was a double-rope rap, down the side of Southern Pillar.
By now the cliffs were swarming with climbers. It was hard to negotiate the rope down between all the people leading up various routes. Good thing the three of them got to the rocks as early as they did! Even if it wasn't very early.
Once down they pushed fast to their packs: Indy and Michael interested in getting their shoes off first, food second. As it turned out, there was a top-roping group on the first pitch of Beginner's Delight (mostly top-roping the climb next to it, but both finished on the first pitch of Beginner's). The second was having a big problem trying to remove a jammed nut in a crack. Indy offered some suggestions, but she was unable to free the nut. Indy took stock of the situation: he could easily scramble up to the nut and have secure purchase to work it out. He told her to climb on, he'd give it a try. If he couldn't get it out, then it was up to the guy who set it at the bottom to come up and get it out. As soon as she moved up a couple moves, Indy stepped up a couple feet, got a secure hold, pulled out his nut tool, and a dozen solid thwacks later, the nut popped free. Indy handed the piece of pro to the climber, then scrambled down to *now* get out of his shoes! And then eat.
The three of them waffled a while, trying to decide what to do next. The cliffs were just swarming with climbers, and more were coming all the time. Indy threw out a few suggestions: Limelight (5.7**) and Andrew (5.4+**) being two of them. The first pitch of Limelight was 5.6-, and Indy's already led it on a prior trip. He intended on giving it to Eric if Eric wanted it. They finally packed up (more prodded by the guy with the guitar behind them singing away in a good/bad imitation of James Taylor's voice than anything else) and headed down.
The cliffs were very busy this afternoon. Many climbs were taken, and a couple did have parties queued up behind others already on them. More than a few top ropes had been set up on the first pitches of some routes here and there. Onward they went...to find the entire Arrow/Limelight wall mobbed with people. Onward they pushed, and got away from the bulk of the maddening crowd, to come to Andrew...no one was on it. A hundred or two feet further down the trail were some people on other routes, but no one climbing near them. The closest people to them were actually doing the final pitch of Andrew, and so would not be in the way at all. Andrew it was!
As Indy put on a sweater (it was getting a little chilly) Michael took the first pitch. Eric was going to play 'excess baggage', and Indy was going to take the 'classic 5.4+ final pitch'. Indy was looking forward to it.
But his feet had other ideas in mind.
Eric went up after Michael, then Indy followed. By the time he got there, his toe were crying out in pain - Indy didn't feel like trying to lead something with flaming pain feet! As badly as he wanted to lead the next pitch. Alas, Eric had to take the final pitch (much to his disappointment, of course). Indy will just have to come back another time, then...
Up on the GT ledge with them was a solo climber armed to the teeth with aid gear. The climber, named Pete, intended to solo-aid The Best Things In Life Aren't Free, a 5.12+ A4 route (which probably is more secure than A4 with the addition of fixed gear under the massive roof; might be A2 now). He proceeded with his intended route while Eric started on the final pitch of Andrew.
While Michael was doing the first pitch, Indy had taken stock of where the leader on the final pitch had gone. Armed with this knowledge, he was able to guide Eric through various sections of Andrew. Some of them were not obvious at first to Eric ("You want me to go WHERE?!?") until he moved up and saw that it really wasn't that bad at all. Soon he was done, and Michael went next. Finally it was Indy's turn. Putting on his torture shoes, he started up, chatting idly with Pete, who was working out the 20' traverse under the major roof behind Indy. Indy snapped off a couple of quick photos (impressive looking was Pete with all that gear - tons and tons of it!), and continued up to the top. A fun, neat route, that was also pleasantly long - 110'! It just kept going and going and going...
At the top Eric wrapped his 60m (200') rope around a tree a bit back from the edge for the rappel. Over the rope ends went. Who was going first? No one seemed to be in a big hurry. The day was ending; they would be lucky to get in one more pitch of climbing before dark. Indy finally volunteered to go down.
As he started over the edge, something wasn't...right. Something felt 'wrong'. Indy continued down, slowly, looking down to the trees on the GT ledge. The rope disappeared down there somewhere. But Indy couldn't see it on the ground anywhere, and it wasn't wrapped up in the trees. He proceeded down a little more. He asked Eric for confirmation that this was indeed a 60m rope. Getting that confirmation, Indy believed that the rope had to reach the Ledge. The pitch was 110', but a good bit of that was traversing. Why couldn't he see the ends of the rope?? Maybe because they were at the ground, in the shadows of the trees. The rock is south-east facing, and it was late in the afternoon; the sun was on the other side of the hill. Indy went over a big roof and continued down...slowly...still looking...and suddenly stopped.
His heart went cold. 40' below Indy could see the ends of the rope swinging thirty feet above the Ledge. And Eric forgot to tie knots in the ends (not that that would have helped much) believing that the rope would/should reach the ground from up top. The entire wall around Indy was unclimbed, and FULL of large chunky lichen. Indy's prussiks? In Baltimore. Indy sighed. "Why me...why fucking me?" Damn epics.
Indy quickly wrapped the rope below him around his leg to free his hands so he could tie knots in the bottom of the rope - just in case! He was NOT a happy camper. Or climber. Whichever the case may be. Some other climbers a hundred feet away on some other climbs realized there was a situation developing, but didn't do anything about it. All Indy heard them say was "Some guy's rope doesn't reach the ground." Nothing more after that. No one came over, either (not that they could probably do anything; Indy was on his own for this one).
Indy looked off to the right side. There was a pillar of rocks stacked up about 30 or so feet horizontally away, but as he attempted to pendulum over, it became obvious he could not reach them without coming off the rope. Damn. Indy tried going the other direction, to get back on Andrew. Couldn't do it. Damn! Piss! What to do. What to do...
Fortunately Indy had *not* given Eric back the gear he had cleaned from the final pitch of Andrew, and amongst that gear was a .75 Camalot. Just within reach of Indy was a horizontal slot that would take it perfectly. Indy slotted it, and anchored into it (after pulling on it a LOT to make sure it would hold). Then Indy, hanging on the piece, tied a knot in the rope immediately behind the belay device. This to prevent him from going any further down in case the piece pulled out, or if he had to climb (somehow) up and out. He looked above him once he was done securing his safeties. There, two body lengths away, was rock clear of lichen. And obviously had been climbed before, but didn't look very easy! (whatever the route was above, later examination of the guidebook revealed nothing about it). Indy's plan: to make his way up the two body-lengths to a likely-looking flake that could take more than just one piece of gear. Indy was not happy. Double-checking the safety knot, Indy started up the lichen-encrusted face, taking out the Camalot as he went up, plugging it in a higher horizontal as he reached the end of the lichen field.
One more body-length to go. Maybe as short as 4'. No, closer to 5. Indy took stock of the rock and 'route' before him, and climbed up to the flake, taking out the Camalot as he went passed it. Some committing moves were necessary to attain his goal. But fortunately not obscene; the holds around where good.
Once at the flake, Indy sunk the Camalot! Then quickly he whipped out his 5' of webbing (used for belay anchors) and wrapped it around the flake. He anchored in to both of these, but wanted MORE! The plan forming in his mind was that he would be temporarily stranded out here while Eric and Michael (who could barely hear him as it was) pulled up the rope, tied the other rope to it, and dropped them both. His main concern would be that once the ropes were dropped he would not be able to reach them. But this shouldn't pose to be an insurmountable obstacle, and they'd cross that bridge when they came to it.
By this point Pete realized Indy's predicament and had attempted to solo over to his aid, but couldn't quite make it. Unable to help without endangering himself, he moved back onto safer ground. Indy told Pete the basic plan (mostly to let Pete know that there *was* a plan). Indy forgot about Pete after that point; he wasn't part of the equation.
Indy took stock of what little gear he had left, and looked around, unwilling to detach himself from the rope just yet. He had a small nut and a #3 camalot still on his harness. The #3 Cam was useless, just so much dead weight - no crack around him was large enough to accept it. But the nut...the tiny little eety beety nut...a #3 or #4...very small...Indy could maybe slot that in a constriction just above the flake (all Indy could imagine was that the flake, after being here millions of years, suddenly choosing that day, that hour, that moment, to break off). Indy slotted the nut, secured to it, then...detached from the rope. He was on his own. The wind blew.
Still untrusting of putting his full body weight on the flake, Indy did manage to find an incut to stand on. He yelled up to Eric and Michael, instructing them what to do. Despite the fact they could barely hear him, they did make out what to do, and hauled the rope up.
Indy felt very much alone out there.
He waited...a really long time (maybe 5 minutes, but that's still a really LONG time!). Finally he heard a faint cry of "rope!"....but nothing happened. "What are they doing up there??" he thought, "Teasing me???". A moment later a stronger cry of "Rope!"...and a few moments later Indy heard the whistling of a rope coming down very fast.
WHOOSH! the rope shot past Indy, and crashing into the trees below. Indy gently, gingerly r-e-a-c-h-e-d.....out.....and.....snagged the rope! Quickly he clipped it to a 'biner so it would be at his disposal. Now...if the other rope is within reach...
"Rope!" came the cry, and WHOOSH! came the second rope. <THUMP!> it sounded on the Ledge below. Indy could more easily reach this rope, and put himself on rappel - happily!! He then slowly detached the anchors from the flake...and swung out into space again. And down he went. Pete watched from his perch to the side.
Soon he was in the trees, still a good 20' above the Ledge, and he discovered, MUCH to his dismay, that the first rope *hadn't* reached the ground!! Indy let off a small, quiet string of explicatives. The rope had somehow managed to wrap and knot itself all up in the branches of the tree. So, hanging there with one hand on the break side, Indy one-handedly freed the rope from the tree - no small task! But soon it was free, down, and Indy was down. Finally! He moved off to the side where Pete had just come down. While they chatted Eric and Michael came down. Pete sauntered off down the 4th class gully while Indy and crew opted to set the last double-rope rappel. This went without incident. Thankfully.
Michael said to Indy, "Don't take this wrong, but I'm glad it was you, and not me." Indy understood.
Once down it was late. Too late to get in another climb. The three of them changed out of their gear (and shoes!), and hiked out. Into town they went for food, after first stopping off at Rock And Snow (where Indy acquired the Tome Of All Knowledge For Adirondaks Climbing). Then a quick tour of town for Michael (remember, he'd never been here before). Finally the trio headed back to camp. To bed they went.
4am. Indy awoke to the pitter-patter of rain. "Oh, no...not the Weather God, too!" sighed a dismayed Indy. Well, maybe it would only be a short, quick shower.
4:15am. The thunder started. Indy cried.
8am Eric stomped into Indy's camp. It had only stopped raining a short while before. Everything was soaking wet (what a surprise), and while the sun was starting to peep through the slowly breaking clouds, it wasn't getting a good blast at the rocks. After the three of them had breakfast, they waited. Pete stopped by to give Indy his address so Indy could send him copies of the photos Indy took, then went to go prepare his day (living closer than Indy & Co, he was definitely sticking out the weather). Eric and Michael wanted to be on the road by mid-afternoon, 4pm latest. By 9:30 it was clear the weather couldn't clear for at least a couple hours, the rock not be dry until noon-ish. Given how fast the three of them climb, and how many other people were still in the area, it was highly doubtful they would even get a chance at Jackie (hidden in the trees it would be one of the last routes to dry, too). The bail option was exercised.
Another quick trip into town (to check out this other outfitter at the far end of town - which wouldn't open until noon!), and then on the road the three went. Back through Pennsylvania, stopping in Wilkes-Barre (pronounced 'wilkes barry') for lunch. Michael opted to head straight home when Indy mentioned attempting to salvage the day by swinging by Rocks State Park in Maryland on the way back. Eric thought about it a bit, then went for it. Parting from Michael, Eric barrelled the Eric-mobile down the highway, and in a few hours they were at Rocks. The sun was blazing, the temps more than warm. It was a nice day. Eric asked Indy how crowded the rocks got on the weekends. Indy's experience is a hit-or-miss thing: sometimes no one ever shows, other times it's massively crowded.
This day would prove to be the latter.
On the short hike in Indy and Eric encountered another climber also going in: NoBeta. The three got to the rocks and found almost all routes set up. Indy was a little bummed; he and Eric were looking forward to getting on Breakaway Right (5.9+**). NoBeta pointed out another set-up for Indy and Eric to do which put them more over Breakaway Left (5.9+/5.10-, depending on whom you talk to) plus they would be able to climb some routes off to the side that Indy had never done before. Cobbling together webbing and cordelletes from their lead gear (they didn't bring top-roping gear, planning on doing all leads this weekend), Eric and Indy set up their rope and went down.
There they encountered more than half dozen other people. With NoBeta they made 11, among them were Bob and Bob from the Hopkins university climbing gym. There were four ropes now set. Indy sent Eric up Breakaway Left, which he zoomed up in brilliant fashion ('they' say it's a 10, but Eric doesn't yet smoke 10s, so it's a 9, probably 9+). Indy then tried one of the 'new' routes, and it proved harder than he was informed it was (told it was a 7, sure felt a lot tougher!). Eric then tried Breakaway Right (the 'main' route) and with one fall (from being tired) sent that one home. Indy tried another 'new' route which put him onto Breakaway Left, so he finished on Breakaway Left. This pumped him out so much (plus he didn't climb it brilliantly) that he took two hangs, but finally topped out. One of the Bob's decided to do 'laps' on Breakaway Right, and managed 4 repetitions before he couldn't climb anymore. Eric played a little more, and then the two of them bagged it to go home. NoBeta gave Indy a copy of his developing Conowingo Climbing guidebook; Indy will have to make a foray up there someday to explore it. Looks promising from the guide.
After packing their gear Eric took Indy back to B'more, then went onward to DC. Another adventure was over.
Only the bravest try where eagles and angels dare to fly