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Maleficent


Jul 4, 2011, 3:55 PM
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Registered: May 12, 2011
Posts: 30

One for the books.
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We took a trip to test our skills on the granite of Oklahoma, the "other" granite state. The trip from Dallas to Quartz Mtn. only took 4 hours, not a horribly long haul. As I approached Altus, a town near to Quartz, I could see several mountains, or large hills in the distance. I played with the idea of which one was Quartz as they were now just silhouettes, covered in a shadowy haze. I picked out the biggest one and appointed that Quartz Mtn playing out scenarios in my head of how high we would reach, how long we would climb for, how many pitches we might attempt. As I neared closer the real Quartz came in to view and I could make out distinct features that I remembered from the pictures in my guide book. It looked magnificent from a distance, the only real mountain in the range, all the other surrounding peaks were really just large hills with boulders spotting their ground, maybe a 20ft section of cliff here and there. Quartz with its large dihedral and long slabs stuck out like a sore thumb and roared a little more loudly than its surrounding partners.

I got to camp and met up with my buddy that i have known for 16 years who has recently gotten in to climbing. He was originally the one who amped me up for this trip and planned it three weeks earlier. The two man A-frame was alread pitched next to a levee creek. We talked for a bit and caught up on work and relationships, or the lack there of and headed in to town for ice, food items, and of course a little beer for after the climb. We pulled back in to camp and iced our goods down and shared a beer and more conversation together. My friend was different now though, and i couldnt place my finger on it but something had changed. He had moved off to California years ago for his undergrad and although we didnt have the pleasure of hanging out anymore we still kept in touch over the years and to me, we hadnt missed a beat. It wasnt weird or awkward, I picked up right where we left off. As we talked he seemed a little frantic, anxious, and unable to concentrate fully. This wasnt the friend i had grew up with or known for 16 years, it quickly became a little awkward to be around him as the night grew on. We pulled the tops to 5 beers and he seemed to loosen up alot and he magically, of course, changed back in to the person I knew. He was funny, caught up in conversation; all sign of his anxiousness had faded. He was calm, relaxed. He divulged that he had been diagnosed with depression and type two bi-polar disorder, which is'nt sudden mood swings where you're happy one minute and violent the next. His was rather a lack of happy all together, even if he was having a grand time, his mind never felt it. I felt for him but he brushed it off and we decided to go for a walk around the camp site. We found a hill with a boulder field and climbed to the top and looked over the farm sceneary that covered the area. The stars were bright and out in force lighting up the night, the wind was howling across our skin, which was welcomed in the 90 plus degree heat. We sat there on the tip top boulder for a few hours and cooled off and talked more about things. My friend was back, for the moment atleast, the trip was taking a turn for the better.

We called it a night and climbed in the tent which was more like a sauna at that point. We were both miserable, but him living on the California coastline made his situation worse. I have lived in Texas my whole life so I was used to the high humidity and astronomical heat index, he grew up six hours north of me in Oklahoma and has had the pleasure of 70 degree highs with a breeze for years now. He came down with a heat headache and was just complaining in general. The A-frame tent only had mesh screening to let air in at both ends and i noticed the wind was blowing at the side of our tent, so, we climbed out of our sweat box, pulled up stakes, and turned the tent in the middle of the night. We enjoyed a rather short fifteen minutes of breeze blowing through our tent when the wind suddenly decided to change directions into the side of our tent yet again. We were instantly back in our sweat box and again we got up, pulled stakes, and turned our tent in to the wind trying anything to get a little cooler. I decided not to stake the tent back and laid back down. My buddy was still complaining, I remained silent and concentrated on sleeping finally drifting off in to a sweaty slumber. I wasnt sure of the time, some where between 2am and 3am, I was awoken to something crawling on my arm, I swatted it in a sleep induced haze and drifted back to sleep. Seconds later I really came to and felt what had to be thousands of somethings crawling on me. I sprang up, dripping in sweat, and nearly ripped the tent to pieces trying to get out. I had ants all in my hair, on my neck, and arm. I was brushing and swatting frantically. I ran down to the levee and dove in head first using my hands to wash the ants out of my hair. I was thrashing violently like a pissed off cat in water. I finally stopped, looked up and said "what the fuck!?" Really? Was this actually happening? Only something like this would happen to me I thought. Funny now looking back on it. I walked back to the tent, grabbed a headlamp and saw we apparently camped out in the ant capital of Oklahoma, there were thousands upon thousands, every where, small ones, big ones, even bigger fire ants. I guess the ants here were only active at night because there were none earlier. Let me clarify, in this area you don't see large ant hills. They bury in the dirt to get out of the heat apprently so there are only little holes, sometimes you can't even see them. I walked around trying to find a new camping spot and was amazed to see the ground crawling in every direction for twenty or thirty feet. I looked in the tent and to my amusemet saw there were no ants in the tent. I guess I dragged them all out in my hair. I climbed back in the tent and closed it up tight and slept through the night with no problems.

I woke up at 6am and was ready to scout the mountain and start clipping some routes. My friend however, had a different idea all together. His parents only lived 45 minutes away and he was tired from tossing and turning in the heat all night. So, he went to their house to sleep. Of course I thought, this makes perfect sense. So there i was, on a climbing trip without a climbing partner. So it had turned in to a camping trip i guessed. I was still determined to pull something out of this trip. I got to the mountain right at 7am and set out. I found a great boulder field on the South Wall and climbed up a good 150ft, found a large boulder to climb up and sat there for about an hour and took in the sceneary. The top was just above me about one hundred feet and i wished i had enough skill, and balls to solo right on up. I down climbed and went around the the back side of Quartz where, reeling from my thoughts earlier, I soloed the Devils Slide, a 90ft 5.5 slab. My first solo, and even though it was a 5.5 it was the scariest climb i've had. I was up around 70ft and the flakes where crumbling, it was the first time that I didnt see my move to continue. An "oh shit" feeling came washing over me, for a moment a sudden overwhelming fear crept into my brain and i was frozen. With a rope even if you dont see your move you have the phycological protection that even if you fail, you arent falling to the bottom. I pulled it together and made three of the easiest hardest moves i've ever attempted. I topped out and wondered what the hell I was thinking. I was sure some would laugh, I ended up laughin a little about how I almost got skunked on a 5.5 but that fear has a way of breaking down even the best climbers, and with no prior soloing experience I figured I did ok.

It was getting on to 11am now and I decided to head back. I arrive at my car, checked my phone, it rings and its my buddy. We chatted a bit and I asked if he was coming back, he said no and was going to head to the camp site to collect his things later. Feeling fed up I let him go, headed in to town and got a room and fell asleep in the cold AC which felt great. Several hours later my friend called again and said I could have all of his climbing gear, that he wouldnt be needing it anymore. What?? Whatever, par for the course and hey, I would be adding to my rack. I met him and all in all I made out with a tent, a mummy sleeping bag, 6 quickdraws, a climbing helmet, petzl headlamp, and a therm-a-rest sleeping pad. I figure it to be about 500 dollars worth of gear, for free. This whole trip was something out of a comic strip, what the hell was even going on? Luckily I had invited another buddy that I had recently met at another climbing location and he was on his way. My hopes were in him now, hopefully he'd save this trip.

Turns out he did. We climbed several slabs at Quartz which I hadnt had much experience on and I have to say im not a huge fan so far. I felt awkward and out of place leading my first 5.7 slab. I topped out, set up a top rope, threw the ropes over and climbed a 5.9 slab just to the left, that felt even worse and even more awkard. We did a few more and realized everything else was a bit out of our reach and very very runout. My buddy decided we should call it and head to WMWR. We pulled up on a 90ft 5.9+ and it ended up being the saving grace of the entire trip. It felt hard and even though having seven bolts, it was scary as hell. If you fell before the third bolt there was a good chance of smacking the very large flake ledge you had to climb to reach the first bolt. We worked on the route for two hours or and I was so shocked. At other locations im knocking down 5.10's and 11's with ease. Maybe its the fact that it was granite, or just in general a hairy climb and it got in to my head. We collected our gear, hiked out, had dinner, and decided to return home feeling that this place might be a little our of our league for right now.

The trip was an adventure to say the least, every thing went wrong in a funny way, but it was still great. And I guess thats what made the trip, all the silly stuff that happened, friend leaving, ants, free gear, 5.7/5.9 kicking my ass. It definitely opened my eyes and brought me down a peg, which is a good thing. I have an even greater respect for climbing as a whole (which is shocking) and I realize now that just because I can climb a 5.11 at point A doesnt mean i'll always be able to hook up and climb one at point B. It made me realize several things and has definitely advanced my climbing mind. I have alot of things to work on and this trip showed me that.


gblauer
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Jul 6, 2011, 4:53 AM
Post #2 of 4 (1361 views)
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Registered: Oct 3, 2002
Posts: 2816

Re: [Maleficent] One for the books. [In reply to]
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Ummm...glad you had fun.

Doesn't sound like a trip that I would want to repeat!


onceahardman


Jul 6, 2011, 3:14 PM
Post #3 of 4 (1298 views)
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Registered: Aug 3, 2007
Posts: 2473

Re: [Maleficent] One for the books. [In reply to]
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I'm sad for your old friend. I hope he's OK.

Also glad you got some climbing in. Traveling can be humbling, but IMO, it makes you a smarter climber. I've puffed up my ego climbing numbers above my normal limit at a "soft" grading area, and had my butt kicked at other areas. Having been at this a while, I tend to think the stiff grades are more accurate, and that newer climbers don't think anything easier than 5.11 even requires a rope.


iidesu


Sep 2, 2011, 12:32 AM
Post #4 of 4 (957 views)
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Registered: Sep 2, 2011
Posts: 3

Re: [Maleficent] One for the books. [In reply to]
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that looks fun!Tongue


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