We've spent much of the last week hiking through the walls of Arrow Canyon and wandering our way to the Swamp Cave and my project. It's rare that we exit this erie canyon in day light, we've become accustom to finding our way back to the truck in moonlight, or guided by headlamp.
I'm always fond of the relationship I develop with a cliff when projecting. A certain crag becomes something of a second home. I inevitably memorize a long list of details during the hike-- the landmarks, the views, the time in and out. Warm ups that once felt solid for the grade gradually become almost too easy. Here's where I set down my pack, here's where I escape to the sun at 1pm, etc. I think it's awesome, learning a crag so well. I can look back and almost taste the air of the crags I've spent days after days projecting at.
|rock art in Arrow Canyon|
Arrow Canyon is such a unique place. Quite intimidating at first, but now I've slowly started to develop a better relationship and understanding of the place. Despite how many days I've spent back there, I've only had a handful of attempts on this awesome project. Sussing beta and cleaning can be super time intensive, so up until now I've essentially limited myself to one go a day (sometimes forcefully because of waning sunlight), in large part to save the psyche of my belayer. However, these few attempts have proved to be very productive. On Saturday I did every move on the climb, and began to make links. Yesterday the process continued and my links both from low on the route and mid route are gradually expanding.
It's a beast of a route. The meat of the climbing is only 70-80 feet but there is very little easy terrain. The angle gradually increases to a full on 45˚ at the upper crux. It's sick!
|you can see my draws hanging in the shade out the cave|
The climb: You begin with two short bolts of mid 5.11 on beautiful white flow stone to a jug and a clip. From here the first crux, and perhaps the hardest boulder problem on the route begins. Slippery holds, a sharp one and a half finger pocket and very delicate body position leads you to an explosive finish, ending with a good jug and poor feet. Rest. Here the angle changes and so does the rock. A bolt of dynamic albeit easier climbing takes you right into the upper business. The first boulder problem moves through a mono for both hands and into a tenuous gaston before a long and accurate move to a good three finger pocket. Here's your clip and now you enter the crowning boulder problem, and the redpoint crux, without rest. Eight hard moves take you through this mind bending, explosive and powerful finale. From here you escape the steepness and carry on through 13a terrain for 5 bolts to the anchors.
I've managed to link into the upper boulder problem, but honestly, I'm completely gased when I get there. The more I climb on it the easier it will undoubtably become, but for now it's feeling damn hard. It easily could be the hardest route I've ever tried... but it's always hard to tell with new routes-- finding sequences and testing beta always requires a lot of time and effort. Now that I've got my beta sussed I can approach the route with a new mentality-- no more funny business, time to climb this damn thing!