failure at any cost

So, Saturday’s session at the Tor started out smooth. I warmed up on Power, then a lap on The Sea before I walked over to No Skill. Not only have I not redpointed No Skill this year, I’ve never redpointed it. This being my fourth day on it this season I thought this should go over pretty easy. It had better go over pretty easy because this is MY FOURTH DAY ON IT THIS SEASON. Sure, I’ve only been getting on it once a day and sure, the way it climbs does not suit my style. But the thing is not that hard. Which makes my next two burns that much more amazing. My first go had me falling reaching from the jugs on Chips to the far crimp. One fall, no big. I’ll just give it one more stupid go to make the redpoint official and I never have to get on this pile again. As befitting any story worth telling, the outcome was interesting. I fell. Again. At the same point. Now I’m thinking something’s wrong with me. So, I get on Chips. And crank it like I’m walking to the fridge.you: But, Elijah, isn’t No Skill 5.12c?me: yesyou: …and your projects are hard 5.13s?me: exactlyWhy this stupid friggin’ route has my number I can’t understand. Why I can hike up Chips, eight feet to the right, an undeniably harder route, after flailing twice on stupid No Skill boggles my mind. I’ve managed to turn what should be a lap route, another incidental pile of holds in my mid-summer endurance routine, in to what is now virtually a project. I’m virtually projecting it. Whatever. After Chips I got on The Natural, maybe the most hated route in all of Santa Maria, and tried my variation to the crux sequence. My plan here is to dyno off the two-finger, throwing left hand from the flake to the jug straight above. This eliminates the right hand jug after the pocket. It’s far, I’m not gonna lie. But it’ll go. I got close. Well, all is not lost. I do believe all this endurance garbage I’ve been hammering out lately has helped. Like I said, Chips felt easy. It felt better than it’s felt in a long time, better now than ever this season.

Micah on No Skill. He does yoga.
Justin on When the Sea Doesn’t Want You.

It was me, Micah and Justin.Temperature was about 85. Kinda hot but nothing like last weekend.Saturday’s routine:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) – redpoint
  • When the Sea Doesn’t Want You (5.12a) – redpoint
  • No Skill (5.12c) – 1 fall, going from the Chips jugs to the far crimp
  • No Skill (5.12c) – 1 fall, same spot
  • Chips Ahoy (5.12d) – redpoint
  • The Natural (5.12b) – Lots of falls, trying to work out a new ridiculous sequence.

Hell hath no furry

Unbelievable. Climbers who squander their lives on earth go to a bad place when they die. They go to Santa Maria. The place is a piece of work. Total work of art. If you thought where you climbed this weekend was epic be glad you weren’t getting it on with the Tor in June. 103 degrees in the shade. IN THE SHADE. Amazing. Justin and Micah went with me. In that kind of heat a person’s skin pays a price. Justin tore what is maybe the biggest slice of skin I’ve ever seen from his pinky and left ring finger. All layers, nothin’ left but blood. Everything felt epic. I eeked out improvements on single No Skill and Hell of The Upside Down Sinner burns, falling on each once but in slightly better shape than last week, during my third and fourth laps of the day, respectively. By lap five I was cooked, could not will myself up Anchor Punch to save Halle Berry’s life. Justin is a rare pleasure to have at the Tor, introduced himself to climbing about 6 months ago and is making marked progress on Power of Eating upon every visit. Micah did my same routine, with a full value burn on No Skill that pushed back the inside of this monster boulderer’s route envelope. All said and done the day sucked.

Micah and I swam and climbed at UCSB the next day. This also sucked. Thinking the routes inside the UCSB Rec Cen would be cooler than the solar flares pounding Santa Barbara County crags was a mistake.
Note to the University: turn on the AC. Idiots.
Note to anyone contemplating a trip to the UCSB wall: don’t. It was a total epic. I’m not going to get myself started but I will say the staff is something else. In a word – unbearable.

Saturday’s routine:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) – redpoint
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12a) – redpoint
  • No Skill (5.12c) – Took once as soon as I left the jugs on Chips
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) – 1 fall 2 moves after the last clip
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) – Like 37 falls. Here’s where I totally imploded then left.

and then there was one

Thanks to Phil’s shoulder surgery last Friday I’m left scrounging for belays at the Tor. Which would have ruined my week had Micah not manned up for the occasion. So, it was me and the vegeta-bro keeping the funk alive at Santa Maria on Saturday. Things were good. The weather was a touch warm for my liking, 90-ish degrees, but not as oppressive as some days. We got on a bunch of routes, six different ones, eight total. My elbow’s not too happy about that which has me wondering if maybe I should skip training this week. Probably I won’t. Sounds like Micah enjoyed it too. Some of these routes he hadn’t been on before and was pleasantly surprised.

As I mentioned, Phil is on the injured list for a while. He had arthroscopic surgery to repair a few problems, most of which were operable without a more invasive procedure. And Phil’s prognosis is good despite his surgeon’s insistence that this is one truly gnarly looking joint. Four to six weeks of recovery for many years’ worth of enjoyment. I’ll keep the ticks warm for you, broheim.

Saturday’s shopping list:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) – redpoint
  • When the Sea Doesn’t Want You (5.12a) – redpoint
  • No Skill (5.12c) – 1 fall
    • I took at the last clip, the jugs on Chips. Totally spent.
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) – 1 fell
    • Got to the ledge, tried to recover. Wasn’t happening.
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) – redpoint
    • This is the first time I redpointed this route and on my fifth lap of the day this represents better than usual fitness for me, I think.
  • Auto Magic (5.12a) – 1 fell
    • Pathetic. I clipped the last draw and took. Totally spent.
  • Power of Eating – redpoint
  • Power of Eating – 1 fall
    • Grabbed the chains. Pathetic.

shouldn’t have left you

The Tor doesn’t handle rejection well. She knows I was at Joshua Tree two weekends ago then at Pine Mountain last weekend. She doesn’t care where I was, just that I wasn’t with her. After two weeks away I had to deal with her wrath on Saturday. I felt stronger. Honestly, all the moves felt easier. But I guess the Tor was just messin’ with me because the tops of all the routes tired me out bad. It was like she kept luring upward, move to move, route after route, just to spit me off within reach of chains. Just bitter. But I’ve learned something. DON’T SKIP WEEKENDS AT THE TOR. EVER. Because no matter how bad she kicks my ass, like a red-headed step child, the anger she grows in my absence is too painful to come back to. I either show her the devotion she demands or walk away forever. And I’m not leaving yet. Oh no, Tor. I fought off death to be here and there’s no way I’ll let something like ‘life’ get in the way of our romance.

In fact, I’m thinking of spending all weekend with her – from Friday to Sunday, sleeping there both nights, climbing with whoever shows up Saturday and belaying myself Friday and Sunday.

Saturday’s routine:

  • Power of Eating (5.11d) – redpoint
  • When the Sea Doesn’t Want you (5.12a) – redpoint
  • No Skill (5.12c) – 1 fall at second to last draw
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) – 1 fall at ledge
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) – 2 falls
  • Anchor Punch (5.12a) – 1 fall at crux
  • Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12a) – 1 fall
  • Power of Eating (5.11d) – 1 fall at second two-finger pocket

Another volume day at the Tor, real boring and real tiring. Totally spent.


Me on Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b), Phil belaying, and Elhanan (a rare treat) planning.


Me on Hell. Notice the chalk hand print on my back – yeah, the flies were biting.

check it: Owl Tor photos – Saturday June 7, 2008