Reading time: 15 minutes
Indiana Mark and the Rocks Of Seneca
Recently Mark "Indy" Kochte posted the closely guarded script to our epic Seneca Trip. Herewith is a view from below, to perhaps enlighten the Gentle Reader who climbs at a level somewhat below Indy (won't lead a 5.10c in the rain, for example) and missed some of the implied "behind the scenes" action.
You'll remember our cast: Indy, Wynn Segal (Famous Climbing Lawyer Person), Beth Patridge (playing the plucky-Karen-Allen-type part), and your Humble Correspondent who will be played by Don Knotts.
Beth & Bob set out on a steamy Friday afternoon to rendezvous with Indy at Seneca for a bout of Manly Climbing [tm]. After assuring that Bob's life insurance was up to date, Mrs. Bob kissed him good bye and cautioned him about not getting eaten by bears. This thought was to prey heavily on our anti-hero, as we shall see.
Attempting to get into the spirit of things, Bob had tried the patented Patridge packing technique of frantically gathering one's belongings five minutes before departure. There is apparently more to this than meets the eye. Our sub-plot heros compared notes as they were stuck in westbound I-66 traffic; Beth seemed to have forgotten nothing. Bob was only short:
As the Alfa hurtled through the gathering dusk, Bob entertained himself by connecting the stereo to his CD player (a critical bit of lead gear if there ever was one). Beth was absorbed in a personal wager made earlier (with the mysterious "Vito") that seemed to center on keeping her Spyder in a continuous four-wheel, high-speed drift up several mountains. She would offer occasional words of encourgement to her white knuckled passenger:
The brisk pace continued into the sleepy hamlet of Franklin, West-by-God Virginia. A festive sprinkling of blue lights in her mirrors convinced Beth that the Nazi's had tumbled to their plan to assist Indy in a seige climb of Seneca, and stealing the Golden Idol at its peak (or signing the summit register, anyhow).
Our heros were soon sitting truculantly on the side of the road, listening to accusatory pings of cooling metal from under the hood of the Alfa while the Imperial StormTrooper [tm] approached warily, hand on his blaster. The clipped voice of the dispatcher spilled out of his belt radio, warning all of WVA that a brown Laser was loose somewhere, accused of refusing to dim his headlights to oncoming drunks. Excessive Force was authorized.
Beth fished out one of several drivers licenses from her wallet, subtly mouthed the name thereon a couple of times then fixed the approaching StormTrooper [tm] with a dazzling smile. "Good Evening Officer!" she chirped, presenting the bogus document.
Bob watched this frozen tableau in fascination (He was sure he would get his insurance rates raised for just being in the car with someone who was speeding, but at least this was entertaining). "I guess I was going a little fast", Beth said after a monent. "You were going a little fast", replied the cop, starting to look a little dazed. "I won't EVER do it again", continued Obi-Beth Kenobi. "I'm sure you won't EVER do this again Ms. Thornton" he replied, referring to the Italian drivers license with a puzzled stare. He began to sweat. "We should Move Along?" suggested Beth; "MOVE ALONG!" said the StormTrooper [tm]. "Crimeny!" said Bob as Beth sprayed gravel over the cruiser's hood while making good her escape. "How do you do that?". "Change the CD" she replied.
Arriving at the campsite a scant few moments later, they wound their way to the Park Attendant's Spot to inquire after a campsite. "Call me Jase!" he said cheerily, looking up from the battered hockey mask he was patching. "You got twenty bucks?"
After a few more encouraging words Bob and Beth proceeeded to "Site Nummer Foyer" and surveyed their new domain. "Hey! Right next to the showers!" Bob exclaimed. Beth then removed a cigarette pack size nylon bag from the glove box of the Alfa, mumbled some incantations invoking the Goddess of FiberGlass Stays and "Poof!" a four-room tent appeared in what Bob had taken to be a viper pit located at one edge of the site. Much encouraged, Bob trudged off to the shower leaving Beth to kill deer, dig bear traps, or do whatever the hell else one had to do before declaring the campsite ready.
Bursting with Outdoorsy Questions on his return, Bob extracted the following Outdoor Secrets from Beth:
"Fine!" he said, zipping the bag shut around his head. As he was drifting off to sleep....KERBLAMMM!!!!
"What the hell was that!?" Bob asked in a panic. "Sounded like the door to the shower" Beth mumbled, then gently added "I thought you were going to shut up.." Our hero forced himself to relax, contemplating his fateful meeting with Indy in the morning.
Awakening at dawn ("KERBLAMM!") Bob and Beth sorted out Climbing Stuff and headed for the infamous 4U diner ("No Checks before Noon") to meet Indy and Wynn. A scant three hours later they were fed, and actually headed for the rocks. This "Making Of" special will refer the reader to Indy's most excellent first person account of the climbing that followed, however a peek behind the scenes of some of those smooth moves may be of some interest:
First pitch of Prune:
After Wynn did a bitchin lead, Bob seconded assuring Wynn that he would get at least half the pro out and back to him. He actually did quite a bit better, only meeting his match in one stopper. (Editor's Note: A stopper is a small climbing gizmo that resembles a chiclet on a wire. It is a part of Climbing Stuff and is generally placed in tapered rock cracks to protect the climber from a fall.) Hanging off a handhold, Bob fiddled with the recalcitrent stopper for several minutes then noticed with interest that his left forearm was beginning to quiver and emit nasty popping sounds. Taking this cue, he left the stopper in situ and finished off the climb, admitting his defeat to Wynn.
"Never fear" said Wynn. "Indy will get it out".
"Great idea" I thought. "Hey! Indy!" I yelled down the hill. "Can you pull the stopper I missed on Prune then traverse over to Cast of Thousands?" "Sure!" he yelled back. Bob then settled in to belay Beth up Prune while Wynn rigged COT for Indy. [Editor's Note: Bob has left out a non-verbal conversation he CLEARLY had with Beth, waiting below. Something along the lines of "And don't worry your pretty little head about it, Beth!"]
Much to the delight of Wynn, Indy and the 2000 other climbers who seemed to appear on the ledge, Beth soon popped over the rim of the climb with the fabled stopper, Excalibur, dangling from her harness. Hoots of derision soon filled the South Face of Seneca, and Bob crept away to belay Indy up COT. Beth was declared Queen.
We shall not recount Indy's Manly Climb of COT here, save to say that Bob learned that using a loop of one's own intestine as a belay device does not technically constitute "aid". The interested reader is referred to the original script for details.
Meanwhile Beth had moved the the next belay station and, according to Wynn, seemed to have her acrophobia under control. Bob scrambled up to join them and had to agree. Spiderwoman was plotzed out on a rock, filing her nails. Her delight at seeing her climbing partner was evident in her warm greeting: "Got anything to eat in that pack?".
[ Much manly climbing later, our heros are approach the summit ]
Bob gingerly eased up the 3.2 scramble to the summit, painfully aware of the screaming exposure on each side. (His faithful RayBans's were critical here, as his pupils seemed to have frozen open at about F 2.8 from fear.) Joining Wynn and Beth at the summit he plastered himself in a 2 molecule thick layer to the rock. "Nice view, huh?" said Ms. Acrophobia. "Too bad you forgot your camera...will you move over?!"
After signing the summit register, and taking a brief 2 hour interlude so Indy could read the entire thing, they roped up and took off. A short traverse and a fun rappel led us to the east face walk-off, where B & B left Indy & Wynn to face the Climb Of Confusion (detailed inhis novel). Bob loaded up with Wynn's mondo-impressive rack and he and Beth began the long march down the hill, visions of pizza dancing in their dehydrated brains. As they reached the footbridge over the local stream they happened on Tony Barnes, local Climbing God and their climbing instructor from two months earlier. Exchanging pleasantries, Tony eyed Wynn's Manly Rack slung around Bob's underdeveloped shoulders. "Jeez, that your rack?" he asked in amazement. "Guess you are really getting into this climbing stuff.."
Following the requisite post-climb pizza and a gallon of water, Bob and Beth returned to Bear Alley for a well-deserved rest. A black bag operation on the shower doors (involving large quantities of tape and cardboard) had muffled the Deadly Door Slam [tm], so a quiet evening was anticipated.
About 8 pm, Bob's Keen Woodsman Senses [tm] alerted him to danger. "Beth, there's a Bear, Lion or Other Large Animal approaching our campsite and I'm too young to die." Beth observed that the headlights and car door slam precceding Bob's alert MIGHT argue that the intruder was Wynn come to retrieve his rack, and could Bob please put down the spare candle he was brandishing bravely in front of him.
Indeed it was Wynn who, for the price of one cold Coke, regaled us with the tale of Indy's Climb of Confusion. Bob passed out laughing and thus the first night wound to a close. "He's not well," Beth noted to Wynn.
Sunday found us once again in the 4-U, accompanied by several friends of Indy's (Phil & Jean and other Mysterious Ohioians). They entertained the crowd by speaking secret Ohioan greetings to each other ("Ohio?Whatpartyoufrom?BeentoCuyahoga?", etc.). Beth, greatly concerned about Indy's Climb of Confusion, settled in next to him and patted his arm consoling. "Figure out how to read that yet?" she inquired gently, pointing at his upside down Seneca Rocks Climbing Guide.
Wynn showed up later, carefully timing his arrival to follow a 200 person wedding party, thus assuring even speedier than normal service. He apologized for his tardiness, noting that he was faxing a lawsuit to the publishiers of the SR Climbing Guide, in regards to the Climb of Confusion. It was not made clear if the basis of the suit was for faulty information contained in the guide, or for merely letting it fall into Indy's hands.
After breakfast we adjourned to the Lower Slabs for More Manly Climbing. Wynn led Scuttle with Beth seconding, Indy directed Bob to rig Discrepancy and to "get on with it." After a highly entertaining, tendon-popping false start, Bob succeeded in conquering his first 5.8 in the wild. Indy then proceeded to slide up the same climb, thoughtfully retreiveing the digits and limbs Bob had left all over the place. "Don't litter" he cautioned your Faithful Correspondent.
Bob took some small satisfaction in later watching the shirtless Indy, pretzeled into a Manly Climbing Pose, turn purple as Wynn feigned ignorance on how to operate Indy's one button camera. "Can you hold that?"
Beth meanwhile dispatched Scuttle (twice!) and volunteered to lead the directionless Bob back to camp, so they could make good their escape. Reversing the Tent Magic, she repacked two million cubic feet of stuff in the Alfa while Bob loaded up a sack with jars of highly prized Green Mountian Salsa from the climbing store. A six-pack and bag of ice later and they were on the road! Both agreed it was a Good Weekend and that it Was A Shame About the Camera.
Fearful of a Stormtrooper [tm] ambush awaiting them in Franklin, Beth took a short-cut back to the beloved beltway, keeping Bob entertained by launching an open bottle of Clearly Canadian into his lap during a 1.6 G hairpin on a mountain road. He is still recovering.
As Bob unpacked his gear at home, he suffered the final indignity. Unzipping the "spare battery" stuff bag (never can tell when the campsite TV remote will go flat) he discovered his camera quietly reposing therein. "AAARRGH!!!"