5SA (5 Saturdays Ago)
Previously unreported from the motivation swarm of Andy's visit in August: fleeing Crater Creek like drowning rats we proceeded straight from 4-wheeler to a brief 15-minute coffee and a change of socks at my house in Icy View, and then it was on to the Windmills for "mini-top roping" for the rest of the day.
(below) Grappling with death by crushing in the "Lee Cave."
A stiff breeze was clipping along that day, and the air was ululating with the sound of turbines. Almost too windy to climb, except that we found a perfect little rock hollow in the lee of the southwest wind. Did I mention it was windy? But the grass in our green tundra meadow was sunny and still-- there's always one exact aspect where you can find this. This occasion was the very first time I ever actually set up a top-rope at the low-to-the-ground Windmill Boulders.
where I once got charged by a rabid fox. If you look closely on the hillside behind you can see turbines that came flying off their post during a powerful sequence of gusts last Spring-- I remember laying in my bed listening to the undertones. Now the poor windmill behind Andy's helmet in the picture just sits there like a fly with no wings.
(above) Mini-tope rope on "South Wall," the narrow beam end of the Windmill boulders (and one of the cruxes on the world-famous "Borehole Traverse.)
Though I felt a bit silly constructing top-ropes at a place that should by any definition remain strictly a bouldering area, our maneuvers that day brought one, distinct satisfaction for me. Have you ever had a particular high-ball bouldering problem, not that hard a one, necessarily, but a high-ball about which you were just not quite certain about that last move onto the top, just not quite certain? And you climbed up to that last leg-breaker move time and time again, and hung there chalking up over and over again compulsively, trying to visualize your way up that one last move? And you just never quite did it? Some primordial will to remain intact manifested itself, you justifiably invoked the "live to see another day" clause, but you would always remain curious about just how difficult that last move really was.
At the Windmills with Andy, I finally got my chance to satisfy my curiosity about just such a bouldering high-ball. See the image below.
(below) The wind doesn't blow in cyberspace.
In the picture above, Andy has surmounted the death-by-crushing overhang and is cruising on big holds. I have spent many a fine evening perching and pimping like Gilderoy Lockhart above the spot where Andy is posing, but never had I executed the folly of topping out. And no wonder! Turns out, on the very last move you mantle onto hideous little loose flakes, little ears of schist glued on by dirt and bryophyte. Casual 5.6 on top rope, but one could imagine getting the belly-sketch, were one soloing.
Thus, this experiment in intuition became a validation: that heeby-jeeby feeling I had always experienced at that spot, little glimpses of what it would feel like to get run over by a Toyota Highlander, had not just been a figment of my paranoia. Live to see another day.
(below) Windmill boulders, looking east, August, 2011, 5SA.