In the wake of Nepal I recovered, then rested, to the point of getting lethargic. Needing another challenge to spark my motivation, I got inspired by Largo’s redux of his big day of climbing and decided to embark on my own “Half Dome Day.”
Big climbing days are nothing new to me. I’ve done a ton of ‘em. But not lately. In fact, my first day back at climbing post-Yak Attack I was hanging on 5.10 and could barely scrap my way up 3 pitches. A month later I tuned my attention to doing 20 pitches of 5.10 to 12, all human supported (meaning I’d ride my bike to each climb). This style of adventure is starting to become de facto mode.
Because I’m a wuss in my older years, my climbs would all be sideways. Traverses, in other words, a sport of which I’m one of the only regular practitioners in my area. Therefore, most of the routes I’d attempt were established by me, and most in a recent exploration spree motivated by the idea of El Cap and Eiger days, which would include up to 30 pitches up to 5.13. Not ready for such lofty realms, I embarked on a baby step back into climbing fitness.
#8 and #9
I’d been concocting this with my friend Chris but it was hard for our schedules (mine mostly) to mesh, so I ended up rolling out alone on at a way pedestrian 8 am on a day that was forecasted to hit 100 degrees, riding my time trial bike—an odd choice but the only working road bike in my stable. I got more than a few strange looks when passing kitted up roadies on a TT bike, mtn bike shoes, cut off shorts and a cotton t wearing a fairly large pack.
From here, the tale is fairly bland, though physiologically cool. Falls began on route 8, which took 2 tries. Route 9 took 3 Falls don’t count in the tally and pretty quickly the mileage was adding up. It turned out to be structured amazingly well for my fitness. Each route was a fight and my forearms felt as though they’d explode before I was halfway done. However, because routes were low to the ground the day sorely lacked any Largoian drama.
#10 – a beauty!
I did #10 first go, one of the hardest on the agenda, but it took a toll as #13, a fairly simple 5.11 spit me off again and again. I finally gave up and rode up the canyon, hoping some different moves would placate the little demon in my left forearm that kept causing it to fail. The next route, my highest in the canyon (replacement #13 and 14, in reverse) is generally a dead simple warm-up jug haul but at this stage it was a full on sprint between shakes. I was so pumped that I could barely feel the rock and nearly passed out from exhaustion by the finish. Crazy, but exactly what I was hoping the day would provide.
elusive #13, er, 15
I guess the ride downhill helped oxygen flow because I managed old #13 first (re)try. I felt good but it wouldn’t last. The final five were all a part of my warm-up circuit, 10 and 11-, tops. Turned out to be a little epic as I fell on the last move 4 times on #20 (and once earlier). If I couldn’t do this route—which is was looking like—I had to hike up the hill with my bike (no lock so I carried it around with me, seems natural after Nepal) and that wasn’t the ideal scenario with the temps well into triple digits. My only blasphemy became hiking up hill with my bike in the sun. Not exactly lore of legend. After a 10-minute break I managed but only with a scream that would make Adam Ondra blush (hmm, maybe an exaggeration) on a mere 5.11 move. I was done.
#13 and #14
Well, after I rode 15 or so miles home. It was uneventful other than that I was tired enough to wonder if I’d ridden another bike but my single speed since returning from Nepal, um, as I was riding a geared bike. Thoughts were coming around so slowly it unfolded like this.
Scene – WASATCH BLVD 100 DEGREE AFTERNOON RIDING BIKE
Hmmm, have you? Hmmm… well, it seems like I’m actually riding a bike right now… yes, I am.. And look, it has gears. Sheesh, you must be more tired than you think.
So, in the end, not much of an adventure. Fatigue was in place but all I needed to do was avoid hitting cars and I’d survive. I did have one funny/lame looking fall through a bush and down a hillside when I blew a move so low to the ground my foot was literally an inch off the deck. Hardly playin’ it for keeps in the high lonesome, as Largo might say, but a good training day to prep me for things to come…