|"Wisconsin First Aid" cont.|
I'm a poor (income and ability) climber, and in some twisted part of my mind I think that using Friends where chocks will work is cheating. Because of this, my rack was heavy with non-mechanical pro including two full sets of stoppers, one full set of micronuts, knifeblades, small lost arrows, bugaboos, and small angles up to 1". On the haul line I tied the big stuff necessary for the headwall. This included hexes to 3 inches, bigger angles, and one 2" cam.
The first 15 slabby
feet went free. Balancing on ripples in the rock, a solid #2
lost arrow went in low, then some psychological 1/4" stoppers,
and a tricky 3/4" stopper in the pod at 15 feet.
After some sideways moves, I clipped a screamer into a funky brass piton/stopper combo and grabbed a stump. Back into the main crack and over the flake, I felt satisfied with my effort. The rope-drag sucked, but that is an ever-present annoyance for the rope-solo climber.
The next 40 feet were a vertical paradise, ranging from knifeblade to 1/2", flaring at times, with occasional 1" pods. Nothing too hard, mostly A2/C2 with psychological brass nuts and a great A1 1/2" angle halfway up, which sang right to the eye.
The last 20 feet overhung about five feet total, gently cresting above my head. The crack was wet, but not frozen, and far less sandy and muddy than the lower section. Surprisingly, it turned out to be the easiest section of the entire line, taking big hexes in the flaring crack, large stoppers, and lost arrows in the back of the crack. At this point, well over an hour into my lead, I was getting cold and tired (I'm a slow climber as well). My gloved hands were slowly losing feeling, and a nasty, misplaced hammer-blow had rendered a fingertip useless and bloody.
With tiring muscles and frizzled nerves, I weighted a 3" hex without clipping in below it, assuming it would sit as the rest had. Unfortunately, the hex blew out in my face, cracking me square on the bridge of the nose, and I dropped a few feet to my next placement, which held after a few reassuring rips from the screamer at my belay far below. (I discovered later that nearly half the bar-tacks blew out, and another screamer placed at the brass piton/stopper stack lost a few tacks as well.)
A bit panicked, and not sure about the piece I was hanging from, I relented and placed the cam which I had brought up just in case. It sat perfectly in the crack and I fifi-ed into it.
Safe, but real bloody, I tipped my head back and pinched my nose ever so gently. A quick farmer blow shot blood but no cartilage and, having broken my nose before, this didn't feel that bad. I cut off a cuff from my shirt and shoved pieces of fabric into my nose to stem the flow. Then, to add insult to injury, I had to duct-tape them in place. I hoped no one would see me like this.
The last 15 feet went easily; mostly free 5.6 in a crack that widened to about 4". Good stopper placements sat in the back of the crack and I was able to jam my elbows and arms and an occasional knee. After a few minutes, I pulled over the lip of the cliff, bloody and covered in duct-tape, sand, and mud.