Monday, August 29, 2011

I did say Kissack "Adventures" ...

I think I mentioned before that one of my loves was climbing.  My long time friend Ofelia and I have been road running, trail running, weight training, climbing and just plain having fun for years.   We have been all over California to different climbing gyms, including our favorite Stonehenge in Modesto.  All this time, I've wanted to do the "real thing" in the outdoors.  It happens REI was offering classes in beginning and intermediate climbing, so on the spur of the moment, Ofie and I signed up for the intermediate movement classes (how to use non-existent hand and foot holds).  Up at 4:00 ... a.m. that is ... we were off to Roseville REI where we met up with our group.  From there, it was another hour drive to Donner Summit where we were to climb at Babylon Dome.  Well not exactly, because from the parking lot, it was another 1.5 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, all of us carrying very heavy packs with water, food and climbing gear ... then another half mile approach cross country to the base of the rocks.  The two guys have had indoor experience, the young girl on the right, none ... zilch ... nada ... NO experience at all, which comes into play a little later.
The guide is hiking around the top of the mountain to set the top ropes.  You can see we are all wearing harnesses, which we attach to one end of the rope.  The other end goes all the way to the top, through a steel carabiner and back down to the bottom, where your partner "belays" you ... basically attaches the other end of the rope to himself using a breaking device.  You are free climbing the entire way, with your partner pulling up the slack in the rope as you climb.   If you fall, he can break you ... hopefully before you fall more than a couple feet.   
This is the second climb of the day.  That's me, barely visible at the top.  I kept asking where the hand holds were.  At the gym, the holds are rather large ... most of this climbing was with hands flat on the wall, or barely hanging on by a fingernail ... which I had to file off, because fingernails and rocks don't mix!!  Our climbs were from 60 to 100 feet.
Here's Ofie climbing the same route.  You can see her rope is a little loose here.  The young girl was belaying her at the guides request so she could get experience.  By the second time she took her hand completely off the break, I told Ofie to freeze and had one of the men take over the belay.  It was an extremely hot day with no shade, and the girl had not been drinking enough water.  She collapsed in a heap at the bottom of the climb.  Good thing Ofie didn't really know what was going on .....
When these climbs were done, we packed up and climbed/crawled over car sized boulders (with our still all too heavy backpacks) to the second site, 1/4 mile away.  This is Ofie  climbing Tiger Stripes chimney.
In the above photo you can see another set of ropes to the right ... I'm attached to them at the start of this climb.  
Further up the rock, I'm pretty exhausted.  How do we get down you ask?  We place our feet flat on the rock face, lean way back and walk down the face backwards ...  putting ourselves totally in the hands of the belayer as he runs the rope through his break ... hopefully slowly!!!  I'm further up the face here.  The view is always awesome, but I try not to look down.
By 4:00 p.m., we are all exhausted and out of water.  Time for the return trek ... uphill this time ... and back to the parking lot.  Ofelia and I got back to my house about 8:30, a little worse for wear.  I have a nice raspberry on one knee where I slipped, but luckily caught myself.  Our shoulders are terribly sore from the heavy backpacks, but we both have big smiles on our faces!!!  The feeling of accomplishment is pretty huge!!!!!  Just another Kissack Adventure!!

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