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Trad Mentoring Trip Report
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fastestgun


Oct 26, 2003, 8:34 PM
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Registered: Jul 3, 2003
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Trad Mentoring Trip Report
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OK, this happened like 4 years ago but I wanted to write it down before Alzheimer’s sets in. Also, after moving out west it is now apparent to me how few climbers are as lucky as I was to have a trad. mentor. In fact, I was lucky enough to experience both sides of the coin. I was mentored for about 1.5 years and then I was a mentor for another climber for about 1 year. And being a mentor was without a doubt the most rewarding experience I will ever encounter in climbing.

‘Jim’ and I had been climbing together for about 2 months when we decided to try something hard on Moss Cliff. Contrary to its name, Moss Cliff is a beautiful, clean, 350 foot granite cliff about 10 miles outside of Lake Placid, NY. Aerie takes the most direct line up the cliff. Pitch 1 starts with a squeeze chimney followed by a sparsely protected 5.11 corner. Pitch 2 is the most beautiful 5.10 corner in the Adirondacks. Sustained for it’s entire 60 feet, it starts at maybe 95 degrees and then sweeps up past vertical with an imposing roof to finish the pitch. The third pitch was the money pitch. At solid 5.12, it would be Jim’s hardest lead to date. Multiple thin, flaring finger cracks lead up an increasingly steep face to an unprotectable, ultra-thin traverse and a dyno to a sloping ledge. The 4th and final pitch was another really nice, 100 foot 5.10 finger crack leading to the summit.

Of coarse, we had no idea that we were going to be climbing Aerie or even at Moss cliff until we took the Lake Placid exit off the thruway. The tradition was that Jim and I waited until the last possible second to decide the day’s climbing itinerary. Up until taking that exit, we threw around the idea of driving an additional 25 miles to climb at Pok-O-Moonoshine or spend the day cragging at the Beer Walls. We blamed our procrastination on scoping out the weather but a good part of the ritual was determining whether we were physically and mentally up to at-your-limit leads. This was especially nerve wracking to me because I had only been leading for one year and still had plenty of demons to conquer. Needless to say I was very happy with the decision to climb Aerie because I was unable to lead any of the pitches and would be enjoying a day of stress-free top-roping.

We arrived at the parking pull-out and promptly engaged in the ritual of conning the other guy to carry more gear. I’m sure that I carried more this day since I didn’t need to be ‘fresh’ for any leads. Since we had both climbed at Moss before, we were familiar with the Tyrolean traverse across the Ausable River. The checklist goes something like this: 1. Backpack clipped to runner doubled around belay loop. 2. Tripled runner hitched to belay loop and clipped to pulley. 3. Another doubled runner hitched to belay loop and clipped to cable as backup. 4. Do a pull-up onto cable and attach pulley 5. Pull yourself hand-over-hand across cable to other side 6. Heckle partner as he does the same thing.

After the traverse, the hike to the base of the cliff, and racking up, Jim finds himself on-belay and humping his way up the squeeze chimney. I remember feeling a combination of amazement and terror as Jim runs it out for 40 feet to the first decent gear placement. After exiting the chimney and negotiating a 5.10ish finger crack Jim disappears from view and ~20 minutes later yells off-belay. I don’t have much problem following the chimney, but I take a couple falls on the 5.10 finger crack and get totally shut down on the 5.11 corner above. More of a boulder problem than anything, the corner forces you to lieback it’s slopey arete and then make a long reach at the top to a crimp. Jim later tells me that he teetered during the reach but regained his balance and pulled it back in. A combination of yarding on the rope and yarding on gear gets me to the top.

The second pitch goes much better for me and I was super psyched to do it with no falls. The effort required for the sustained 5.10 overhanging corner reminded me of the effort required to run a mile at your limit and I nearly vomit as I pull over the roof using only a marginal finger lock. I join Jim at the semi-hanging belay and settle in for a loooooooong stay.

Jim is clearly nervous with this next pitch and goes to extra lengths to safely protect the lower 30 feet. He’s constantly traversing back and forth among the multiple finger cracks looking for nut and TCU placements. He finally decides it’s good enough and climbs past his last decent stance. He gets a few more pieces in and then comes to the traverse. From the belay, the holds look microscopic. Jim needs to make about two moves on the micro-crimps to reach a small, slopey undercling and then set-up for the dyno. He peels somewhere around the second micro-crimp, rips a nut and a TCU, and smacks into the rock about 5 feet above me. Probably a 30 foot fall. From the sound of the impact, I’m worried that Jim has a broken hip but the non-stop, two minute string of expletives tells me that he’s OK.

Everyone that knows and has climbed with Jim would describe him with the same one word: stubborn. The most oft heard words out of Jim’s mouth are ‘one more try’. This attribute might make him a pain in the a** to climb with sometimes, but it also makes him a kick-a** climber. After that first 30 foot, bone-crushing fall, I’m sure that we’re retreating. But Jim takes that exact same fall another 8 times. During his last effort he sticks the dyno and has both hands on the slopey ledge but simply can’t summon the strength to mantel. As I lower him to the belay, he can’t stop shaking. I’ve never seen him more worked before in his life.

I retrieve the gear by french-freeing up to his high piece and then jump cleaning until I can traverse left into 5.8ish terrain. The rope drag is horrible and I pull the crux on the adjacent route by yarding on a cedar growing out of a crack. We rappel down as the sun is dropping behind the cliff and reach the car as the first stars are starting to shine. On the drive home I remember thinking how lucky I was to be experiencing all this.


occlimbr


Oct 26, 2003, 9:08 PM
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Registered: Mar 31, 2003
Posts: 139

Re: Trad Mentoring Trip Report [In reply to]
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Thats awesome!

I wish i had a trad mentor. I wanna get into trad soon.

-Kyle


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