eight is great

Something about Saturday made redpoints unrealistic. The weather was unusually cold, maybe 60 degrees, which ordinarily would make for a good day. A good day anywhere but at the Tor. You see, we are not the only ones with excuses. The Tor itself will throw down an excuse card once in a while. So, despite seemingly good conditions, the Tor decided it would take this opportunity to shut everyone down. And since the Tor does not need to dignify us with a reason for spitting us off our projects, I have to assume she was grumpy from a late night partying with her hell-crag friends. Paul, Andy and I all failed to redpoint Chips even once. Phil got on Galla Galla Happy and claims a mild food poisoning (don’t think I don’t remember – that excuse has been used, broheim). Mary did not succeed on Power. Marcela did not succeed on Power and reminded me again how bad one’s day can really be at the Tor. I don’t even know how Micah and Sal did. Probably they got shut down on whatever they touched. But the day was not a complete loss. At worst, just showing up at the Tor is a victory. I did 8 laps on the bastard. Last week I could not will myself up Chips a second time after my first redpoint failure. Saturday I redpointed The Sea, fell in Chips‘ crux on two separate burns, and got on Hell and Auto Magic – a volume I am happy with considering my recent medical events. I believe everyone there got a little stronger. One needs to be acclimated to the type of climbing the Tor presents. Even seemingly bad days are good training. And we all had fun. We all enjoy each other’s company.

same route, different me

I’m feeling better all the time. However, the Tor doesn’t care. Here’s a classic: I’m feeling pretty good all week, good shedding on Wednesday, campused for the first time in a long time, warmed up strong on Power, and thought ‘I’m feeling so rad, I’ll crank Chips then, since I’ll probably feel so remarkably mega-strong, maybe think about getting on Better Than Life‘. We call this “Tuesday thinking”. But Elijah, you say, BTL is 13c and you were in a coma six weeks ago. Whatever, dude, I’m cranking it. I did not crank it, actually. I didn’t crank it because I didn’t get on it. Chips shut me down before I got that far. We call this “Tuesday thinking” because this is the kind of delirium one may suffer on a Tuesday prior to a Saturday at the Tor. On Tuesday, one may feel mega-strong and ready to crank basically everything at Santa Maria. By Saturday, reality sets in. The Tor is still the Tor and you are still getting murdered. It’s cool though, just getting on Chips was good for me. And I feel really good about my pace of recovery, especially considering my previous two Saturdays. Intensity is important. I went hard on Chips, fell reaching to the crux pinch, and was so spent couldn’t get on for a second go. So, I got on Power again and fell trying to clip the chains. Two rad falls, by the way. Maybe it was the heat or maybe I just did too much but I got light headed. If I stood up too fast I would get super dizzy, almost pitching off a rock near the belay once when my vision turned black. That’s when I knew to take my harness off and be done for the day. Sorry, Dr. Ungerer.

Mary working Power of Eating (5.11d) – She’s close to a redpoint.

Sal on Power – This is Sal’s first trip to the Tor. Obviously, he will be climbing here, and only here, from now on. One of us, one of us, one of us…
These are the new starting moves to Chips Ahoy (5.12d) – They’re rad. Dare I say, there is now more to love about this already bodacious route.



all Tor, all day

Last weekend, my first trip back to Santa Maria since the hospital, we went to Mr. Lee’s before Owl Tor. This time, we went straight to the Tor. Excellent idea. The Tor is way more rad in my opinion and its routes are not forgiving to tired climbers. The Power of Eating (5.11d), once my warm up, was my project the previous weekend. This time, I redpointed it three times. Each successive go felt easier, oddly.

Mary leading Power of Eating (5.11d) – She seems oblivious to her ridiculous innate talent. This is her first lead, encouraged because I “accidentally” pulled the rope before she could toprope it. She loved leading. You’re welcome.


Andy on Chips Ahoy (5.12d) – I’m envious of anyone on Chips and I can’t wait to get back on it. This route is the reason I continue climbing. Hopefully, I’ll give it a go next weekend.

Me belaying Phil on Anchor Punch (5.12a)

Brian redpointing Auto Magic (5.12a) – He’s been quietly building an impressive Santa Maria ticklist.

Paul dominated the biggest stone ever moved at Owl Tor. Some years back, Phil and I quit stone-moving cold turkey. We had to. It’s so addictive, we would build stone stuff until we were too tired to climb. Paul, in a fit of obsession, let this monster know exactly who is the Lord of the Forest.

return to paradise

Friday was my first day back to Santa Maria since my hospital vacation. Absent was any kind of prediction for my performance. There was just no way to anticipate how I would feel on moderate sport routes. I’m still looking and feeling atrophied and my lungs are not back to normal. On the other hand, I’m lighter than ever. Wednesday’s weigh-in put me at 158 lbs. Things went pretty well. I redpointed The Shores of Hell (5.11b) feeling good the whole way. Resting mid-route was effective, surprisingly. I was impressed I could catch my breath while hanging at rests. Although, this not a steep route, overhanging maybe 5 ft in 40. Little did I know angle had played a big role. Next, I toproped a 5.9 and 5.10 slab with Mary farther down the Mr. Lee’s valley. They sucked. We finished the day at the Tor. Here’s where angle comes in to play. Power of Eating straight kicked my ass. Maybe I was a little tired, sure, but the way steep moves put me on my arms is a whole other deal. Pulling felt hard. I felt like a little girl, a little girl who can’t pull very hard. Bolt-to-bolting Power was possibly a bit too much for my body. There was some coughing and not so nice stretching sensations around my core. Things were not so bad, however, that I would stay away next weekend. My recovery has been fast. I predict things will go much better in a week. This season’s focus will be to emphasize power (which is every season’s focus). Owl Tor made things clear: get stronger or stay home.