I’m sat in Las Vegas airport and it’s time to leave America. The fact that there are computer screens instead of people at the ‘information desk’, McDonalds instead of real food and slot machines instead of water fountains isn’t interesting anymore it’s just annoying.
2013 might have been the year I’ve struggled most for partners. This year I turned up in the valley for the first time without a partner or a plan. Luckily for me ‘the last dirt bag’ James Lucas showed up in his Ford ‘Saturn’ in which he offers girls to go on an ’intergalactic journey’. Uninterested in his spaceship come car, or his one-liners, we climbed Freerider in great style with James one-hanging it and myself freeing it. It was my first non-ground up ascent of El Cap, since we stashed a bag at the Alcove. This didn’t bother me so much because I’ve been on that part of the wall before and since I was climbing with an American my ethics were tainted already.
With only a week or so left in the valley I succeeded in two pretty cool things; I climbed a V8 after a few tries, which is pretty good for me. Maybe a bigger success was freeing a route with Alex (Honnold) called The Final Frontier on Fi Fi Buttress. James and Nick Berry recently did the FFA of this route in the spring. The route is really cool, with some technical, sustained and bouldery pitches, a few of which are 5.13 and most 5.12. None of this is really important compared to the fact that I only fell on one pitch and Alex fell on THREE pitches. The take-home message of that day was that maybe Alex’s worst day of rock climbing isn’t far from one of my best. We all take what we can to make ourselves feel better.
Unfortunately great success comes at a price and mine was re-injuring an old shoulder injury, which subsequently gave me some hassle in Indian Creek – our next destination. I’ve been to Indian Creek once before, 3 and a half years ago. It was there that I really started to crack climb to a reasonable standard, and I climbed a really cool non-splitter called Air Sweden. I love Indian Creek, but I sort of hate it as well. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful place and you can’t help but spectacle at how cool all those splitters look. But on the other hand, I sort of dislike the brutality and the monotony of climbing pure splitters. I feel like once you’ve done one of every size, you’ve done them all.. OK not quite, but I still feel like they lack that sense of the unknown you feel when you stand below a face climb; you can’t see the holds, or the gear and you know you’ll have to read the sequences on the spot. At Indian Creek, it’s all about trying hard and controlling the pump. Of course crack climbing is highly technical and it’s really cool to slowly improve at all the sizes, it just doesn’t grab me as much as funky face climbing.
Anyway, I didn’t end up climbing many hard routes – just two 5.13s. This was largely to do with my shoulder and then later the cold, and mostly me being a bit slack. Along side the two 5.13 redpoints I onsighted 5.12 most days and I felt like I improved at a few of the harder sizes. Toward the end of the trip it got very cold and motivation slipped – so we spent the last week of our trip in Red Rocks. After all the trad climbing I was psyched to climb single pitch sport routes, and it was unbelievably fun. It further cemented my belief that I just love holds, face climbing and sequences. Perhaps the reason why I love granite so much – is that you get both – the cool lines that come with cracks, but also the technical sequences and intermittent face climbing.
After a lot of travel to visit the TNF offices and my friend Emily in Tahoe I’m back in Las Vegas en route to Patagonia! Once again, I have no set partner, luckily I know a lot of people out there this year, brits included. With no plans, and no partner and the weather down there being how it is, I just have one hope for this next trip; that I get to climb something. Anything will do, just something. Fingers crossed.