Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Silk Road, 5.11c

We climbed the 16-pitch Silk Road on Calaveras Dome in Eldorado National Forest south of Tahoe. We were limited on time so we drove up the night before and sped up the wall first thing in the morning. My favorite pitch was my smear-fest up pitch 6, a long 5.10 dihedral that turns to 5.11 for 40 feet where the crack turns into a seam. The topo showed two pitons spaced evenly in the crux section so I led confidently after placing a couple cams in the last of the crack.

Piton 1 came none too soon and I clipped it awkwardly while trying to keep purchase on my foot smears. I couldn't see the second one but I found that a chimneying technique worked on the rough rock. I hopped on. I was 10 feet further up when I realized there wasn't a piton waiting for me. My hands did nothing. My feet smeared so hard that my heels pivoted out and upward. The only way I stayed in one place was by slapping them on as fast as they slipped off.

Downclimbing is not really permitted in Alex's ethic, so I zenned out and went on. Twenty feet above my quickdraw, the seam opened up for a brief second into a vertical pod perfect for a purple Camalot - or four stacked fingers. I went for the fingers first. My feet popped as soon as I leaned in but the jam was solid. I hung from it and for the first time let myself look down. Then I worked myself back out onto a solid stem, slipped my fingers out of the hole, and plugged in some protection.

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