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Lover's Leap, East Wall


Lake Tahoe, California, USA


Trip Report
Moosedrool Climbs with an Old Llamero

by TWP
Saturday October 22, 2016 2:10pm
The Hero Moose Shot - Donner's Summit
The Hero Moose Shot - Donner's Summit
Credit: TWP

_

I’ve oft heard Jim Donini recite this humorous advice to us old guys:

Never trust a fart;
Never pass a restroom without using it;
If you get a hard-on, use it! - for it may be your last.

In like vein, us old guys who hang out at Supertopo are always wondering: Do I still have what it takes to climb?

Moose Drool and Llama Breath
Moose Drool and Llama Breath
Credit: TWP

The question remorselessly gains ever greater legitimacy with each passing year.

Supertopo is notoriously rife with geriatric climbers asking themselves the “do-I-still-have-it?” question. It’s inspired numerous Climber’s forum threads, asking about injury, recovery, aging. Like the recent gem: “At 60.”

So each time I realize that I am now 65 years old, the horror sets in.

In my youth, I never thought someone 65 years old could possibly be any good at anything - especially the most desirable provinces of youth like heavy lifting, sex or climbing. The examples of my own grandparents, parents, uncles and aunt, school teachers etc. did nothing to combat my demeaning expectations for the “senior citizen” that I have now become. As an old friend told me: “Inside every old person is a young person saying, ‘What happened?’”

FlipFlop's Pix of the Duo
FlipFlop's Pix of the Duo
Credit: TWP

So, how long can I continue with this madness of rock climbing at anything like an “acceptable,” “respectable” grade of difficulty?

Teaming up with our beloved Moosedrool for “some climbing” put this question to the test. Moose accepted my offer for a climbing rendezvous with obvious reservations. Two years lapsed from our first meeting at the City of Rocks Supertopo gathering where I suggested we climb. I pestered him a few times, until finally he emailed an invitation with an important proviso: “I will be in Minden 6-10th Oct.  On Oct. 8th I will be climbing for RIP Kenny, my mentor that passed away a month ago. I'd like to go with you climbing in my neighborhood.  Yer leading. Moooooooose  (hehehe).”

Mark and Spark joined us for Kenny Thompson’s memorial at Woodford Canyon. We repeated four lines put up by Kenny. A few inconsequential pictures capture the action.

The politics of the upcoming election became an unavoidable topic for conversation after a fine take-out dinner of Sushi at Moose’s Minden home. We knew from our Supertopo postings we completely agreed upon “The Donald.”

Our question became: “How can anyone possible vote for him at all?”

After reading a fair amount of history about World War II authored by Winston Churchill, I’ve adopted his point of view about “Monday Morning Quarterbacking.” To wit: NO ONE has any right to criticize after-the-fact UNLESS they made their own position clear IN WRITING at the point in time when the actual decision-makers had to decide what to do.

Thus, I saw fit to put in writing my completely optimistic view that The Donald will receive the epic and historic drubbing he deserves once the voters decide. I posted my opinion on the “When TRUMP Wins…” Supertopo thread on September 28 (way before before the emergence of video recording’s of His Donaldnest’s outrageous sexual boasting.)

I asked Moose to read my posting, http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=2853598&msg=2879756#msg2879756. which I quote

“Trump will not win.
I guarantee it.
For proof, I offer this stunning editorial endorsement of Clinton by a newspaper that has NEVER endorsed a Democrat for President since its founding in the Nineteenth Century.
http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/editorial/2016/09/27/hillary-clinton-endorsement/91198668/
This endorsement is a devastating indictment of Trump and an even, fair, calm appraisal of Clinton's strengths and weaknesses and the Arizona Republic makes clear the only rational conclusion is Clinton for President. And this in a State some people think might go for Trump.
I say he will loss every single state and every electoral vote. When both the New York Times and the Arizona Republic completely agree on something this fundamental, there is only one possible outcome a mere six weeks from now. Trump will go down in infamy as a laughingstock, the epitome of utter defeat.
How many people are willing to state this level of confidence in the outcome?
Time for you to post up!
P.S. But wait there is more. The Cincinnati Enquirer has never endorsed a Democrat for President - until now.
http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/editorials/2016/09/23/enquirer-endorses-hillary-clinton-donald-trump/90728344/
"The Enquirer has supported Republicans for president for almost a century – a tradition this editorial board doesn’t take lightly. But this is not a traditional race, and these are not traditional times. Our country needs calm, thoughtful leadership to deal with the challenges we face at home and abroad. We need a leader who will bring out the best in all Americans, not the worst.
That’s why there is only one choice when we elect a president in November: Hillary Clinton.’"

Moose Works TR a steep route amidst the Phantom Spire Group
Moose Works TR a steep route amidst the Phantom Spire Group
Credit: TWP

Since my posting left him no room for one-upmanship on the optimistic side, he took a Polishly-perverse, opposing view.

“I’ll bet you $10 The Donald will win the election. And I want to lose this bet!”

I accepted. To show what a nice guy I am, I’ll accept (up to November 7) a concessionary $5 payment prior to the election to release Moose from his foolish $10 wager.

I don’t lightly call His Mooseness “Polishly perverse.” Later in the evening, he told me that as a bored conscript in the Polish Army back in the day, he and his buddies opened beer bottles with their teeth and then chew up (and swallowed the shards) of their glass bottles!

So, never dare this Moose to do anything!

In fact, the eating-glass-for-fun anecdote works well to explain the Moose family success in America. He and his wife wished for years to leave Poland. Their chance arrived when wife won the visa lottery used to allocate the too-few visas amongst the way-too-many applicants in 1993. Arriving in the U.S. as husband, wife and two teenage children with $3,000 in savings, the family parlayed their work, determination, intelligence and skills to make a good life in America. Today, Moose is enjoying a happy and adventurous retirement; wife loves her works as a chemist so much she delays her retirement indefinitely; the kids are educated, launched and independent and have blessed Mr. and Mrs. Moose with three grandchildren. As I write this, Moose, wife, daughter are climbing in Moab with the most interesting man in the world - Jim Donini et ux. Angela - the most understanding woman in the world. Moose is the Man!

A Wiley Moose Outsmarts El Llamero by reading the Guidebook!  Phantom ...
A Wiley Moose Outsmarts El Llamero by reading the Guidebook! Phantom Spires
Credit: TWP

Back to tale. Nest day we climbed at the Phantom Spires.

I proposed we climb the beautiful and aesthetic crack forming pitch 1 of the “Regular Route” of Central Spire.

Moose outsmarted me by actually reading the guidebook. He volunteered to lead gorgeous splitter crack if I’d take the unseen and out of view squeeze chimney second pitch. Foolishly I agreed. After taking a not-completely-controlled slide out of the chimney on my half-hearted first stab at the chimney, I had the answer to the question oft contemplated but rarely seen to conclusion by the leader of a chimney pitch: “What happens if you fall out of this vile off-width man-eater?” Three weeks later, I still nurse large gobbies on both elbows. My second, more-committed effort yielded passage to the top of the spire and earned praise from Moose after the follow.

While farting around top-roping and seeing up raps, etc. I asked Moose if his very dingy looking climbing rope had a mid-mark. "No," he asserted without the least hesitation. Something about the overall dinginess and uniformly grayish black color of his rope inspired my suggestion that we wash the room overnight.

That evening, Moose brushed up my foreign language skills, answering my questions about Polish cusswords. Curiously, the Polish words for the imperative f— off (spierdalaj) and the adjective form (spierdolone), both sound Italian to my ear. Spierdolone rhymes with spumone, for Christ sakes! Where are the glotteral fricatives? or the string of consonants like S-K-G-W? - that an American ignoramus like me ascribes to all words in the Polish and Slavic languages?

We finished the evening scattering Moose's freely washed rope over the living room floor. (He had not known one can machine wash a rope with wash ordinary detergent: What kind of Chemist is this Moose, anyway?). The unveiling revealed an astonishing fact; the dingy rope was in fact a bicolor, bright yellow and orange rope. Now the whole truth emerged. "I didn't know it had a mid mark! Brokendown climber gave me the rope," Mr. Moose admitted. "Wow Terry, thanks for giving me a new rope." For indeed it was as good as new.

Day three Moose and I teamed up with FlipFlop for a local’s guided tour of Donner’s Summit. The derivation of Flipflop's Supertopo avatar compelled me to ask. "How'd you get your nickname?" Turns out Flipflop had served on the Yosemite Search and Rescue team during his life phase as consummate climbing bum. Team member's nicknames usually had a scatological derivation. What a "Flipflop" BM looks like must leave the hearer free to decide as this doesn't seem to describe any of my stool specimens, so who knows what image this conjures up in others' minds.

Flipflop, Giving Us the Permier on Donner's Summit.  "That's where the...
Flipflop, Giving Us the Permier on Donner's Summit. "That's where the Donner Party had their famous dinners."
Credit: TWP

Moose and I had a blast with Flipflop. A route he purposely directed us toward - “Devaluation” - hinted at its value as a teacher of the lesson of grade subjectivity. Was it so named - and rated merely 5.7 - to assure no one ever “devalued” this route? If so, the first ascender succeeded in spades.

Moose Evaluating the Devaluation Crux Series of "5.7 My Ass" Moves
Moose Evaluating the Devaluation Crux Series of "5.7 My Ass" Moves
Credit: TWP

Monday Moose returned to the Bay Area. I stayed, wanting to climb at Lover’s Leap, famous-to-all - but not yet climbed by me.

I arrived mid-afternoon at the simple, tiny and perfectly wonderful Forest Service campground situated just below the Leap’s marvelous granite walls. I strolled out to take a first look and was delighted by the detail of the climb approach using the old Pony Express Route through the Sierra. Undoubtedly the Pony Express had merely glommed itself onto this prime route used by the aboriginals since Man’s arrival in the Western Hemisphere over 10,000 years ago, and most lately used as the U.S. Highway 50.

I viewed a wall with an obvious crack line going from top to bottom and opined surely a climber’s route lay there. So I walked up to the base below a wondrous old pine and sure enough, climbers showed up who’d just completed the route. They described “The Line” in glowing terms and my ideal objective for the next day became fixed in my mind. As for a partner, I found a youth, Royal Magnell, who would deign to climb with me tomorrow IF his female partner failed to show, as promised. I proposed we climb “The Line.” Royal knew the area and the route. His vote of confidence in me as a partner on an ambitious first route at the Leap led him to ask, “Can you do it?” I’d seen the route, so offered a simple “Yes” in reply.

Next morning, I slept in to see if I had a partner or not. Around 10:15 AM, as I finished breakfast in my Lance camper, Royal knocked and allowed since his partner had bailed, “Did you still want to climb?”

Royal's First Try to Lead Pitch One, "The Line"
Royal's First Try to Lead Pitch One, "The Line"
Credit: TWP

At the base, Royal asked first, “Are we going to swing leads.” “Of course,” I answered. Now Royal showed a complete reluctance to state who should take the first lead. He would thrust on the subject, to which I parried three times in three ways, “Royal, you decide; I don’t care.” Sensing a forth lap around the same track would leave us still undecided, I posed a new question. “Ok. I’ll solve this. Tell me how old you are?” “Twenty nine,” he answered. “That settles it. You are younger than me.” (As if that hadn’t been obvious since yesterday!) “You get to go first Royal.”

Royal took a long time to rack up, clipping gear to his belt. I kept silent but wondered about the wasted time of belt clipping gear if we were going to swap leads.

The initial section of pitch 1 appeared tricky to protect in a critical area beginning about 25 feet up and continuing for another 15 feet or so. Royal got to this spot and made a few half-hearted tries, all without placing any gear, before asking, “Do you want to give this a try?”

I agreed. By the time I committed to the aforesaid blank section, I’d placed two small stoppers in cracks somewhat enlarged by piton removal BITD and a creative blue BD cam nestled improbably between two labial lobes.

I found myself repeatedly facing difficult climbing but good protection -provided the leader worked the stance to get comfortable and take the time and effort to fiddle in small pieces. Royal’s rack had ZERO small cams but a large selection of stoppers, so stoppers I used.

Looking down "The Line" from First Stance.
Looking down "The Line" from First Stance.
Credit: TWP

Foreshortening effects set in as I climbed the pitch. My vision was acting up too. Chronic inflammation in right eye, after four surgeries in the last two years, was causing blurry vision. * (I’ve been blind since birth in my left eye).

Wishing the blurriness would go away was working just as well as my wishing I felt stronger in my forearms, fingers, shoulders, biceps, triceps, feet - hell everywhere! When I set the anchor for the first pitch, I could see vegetation above me, but couldn’t tell if the vegetation was 30 or 100 feet away, nor whether it sat atop the cliff, or merely at an intermediate band. I hadn’t studied the cliff well enough to rule out either hypothesis.

To be on such a stellar and difficult climb was spectacular, exhilarating, wonderful. I was putting forth an all-out effort to make this climb, but enjoying it, without fear. With age, I do indeed often think, “Today would be a good day to die.” Yes, that was my state of mind; even as my tired and sore body screamed at me, my mind transcended. I felt happy and proud and fully alive. Life is possible at 65. So there! I thought of my ancestors. My father - who spent his life suffering from crippled feet, lousy balance and poor coordination after a bout with polio that he barely survived at age 2; my paternal Grandfather, a heavy smoker, who died of pneumonia at age 57; my maternal Grandfather, a slight man who nonetheless farmed his entire life in central Illinois and died at age 77. I thought they would be proud of me - if they could see me. Emotionally, this thought appealed to me enormously. At the same time, as an atheist, I knew this entire notion was sentimental, illogical, silly human foolishness of the first order. I marveled at the mind’s ability to entertain multiple, contradictory thoughts, all the while I should be focused one-pointedly upon my own survival in the precarious position of a climber halfway up a 400-foot, nearly vertical cliff.

Looking down "The Line" from second stance
Looking down "The Line" from second stance
Credit: TWP

Once back in camp, I asked Royal if I could read the guidebook description of “The Line.” Wow! The Guidebook quoted the other Royal (Robbins) as naming this “one of the 10 best climbs” he’d done “anywhere in the world;” and likewise Paul Piana calling this “The best 5.9” he’d ever done. I second their opinions.

Tired, sore and amazed, my trip was complete. Next day I wandered 500 miles back home in my old pickup truck and Lance camper for a reunion with my love, Judi. I thought about her nearly the whole time. I sit at her desk as I write this, in her home, felling lucky to be alive, happy and still fit at the “old age” of 65. I am no Donini. But maybe I’m as good as chopped Linguini (or I something like that; hey, you know what I mean).



* A minor footnote. My vision problem began on fine June day two years ago as I sat at the base of a climb at City of Rocks. I looked up into a perfectly clear blue sky - but saw something funny, nay inexplicable. So I asked my partner, “Do you see billions - and I mean billions - of gnats flying in the sky?” The disturbing look on their face and silence in the face of my query offered a strong clue: “Houston, we’ve got a problem.” Unwilling to miss out on a perfect day for climbing, I said nothing more about my disturbing symptoms until after sunset. Judi instantly recognized my symptoms were serious - probably a detached (or torn) retina, requiring immediately medical attention. So off we drove to Salt Lake City and the land of emergency rooms. The “gnats” I’d seen floating in the sky turned out to be the thousands of blood cells suddenly floating inside my vitreous fluid after the retinal tear.

  Trip Report Views: 3,827
TWP
About the Author
TWP is an Old Lamer and Trad Climber from Mancos, CO (& Bend, OR).

Comments
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Oct 22, 2016 - 02:19pm PT
Good on you, Terry!

Llama Drool on you, Moose!

God bless the atheists, Kenny, and the donini.
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Oct 22, 2016 - 05:24pm PT
Good writing old fellow. It was granitically gneiss & the climbing wasn't bad either.

More please!

TWP entertaining the crowd at City of Rocks.

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 22, 2016 - 06:36pm PT
This s a wonderful tr!
Awesomeness!
Happy Cowboy

Social climber
Boz MT
  Oct 22, 2016 - 07:44pm PT
Terry, I enjoyed your TR, rather it pissed me off. Kudos to you and Moose's youth. Damn I'd pull my arthritic hands out of mothballs for a chance to climb a route like The Line with you. Congratulations on climb well done.
Penny and I now have a Lance camper on our old truck since we saw you at COR.
Hasta luego, Donnie
flipo

Mountain climber
crestone Colorado
  Oct 22, 2016 - 07:57pm PT
like your politics ---- a devout saintly atheist --- a fantastic climb only for the lucky few ---Phil
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
  Oct 22, 2016 - 08:21pm PT
supercool rumination on aging and the like.

way to get after it!

Studly

Trad climber
WA
  Oct 22, 2016 - 11:28pm PT
Great TR. The Line! Way to get after it and keep charging.
Flip Flop

climber
Earth Planet, Universe
  Oct 23, 2016 - 07:50am PT
Wow. Thanks for the nod. I'll tie in with you guys anytime.
Hardly Visible

Social climber
Llatikcuf WA
  Oct 23, 2016 - 10:03am PT
Nice trip report from a great guy.
dee ee

Mountain climber
Of THIS World (Planet Earth)
  Oct 23, 2016 - 04:38pm PT
"If you get a hard on, use it." Words to live by.
Flip Flop

climber
Earth Planet, Universe
  Oct 23, 2016 - 04:38pm PT
Any time. Maybe I could try to carry it up the cliff one of these says.

Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
  Oct 23, 2016 - 05:13pm PT
Thanks so much for this. I hope to meet you and Moose one of these days. I'm about 10 years behind you, my wife just about there. For what it's worth, she's crankin' 10's on sport routes, so keep at it! The Line is one of my all-time faves, done it a bunch of times. So cool you skooled the young punk! Rock on, amigo.

BAd
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
  Oct 23, 2016 - 08:32pm PT
Chronic inflammation in right eye, after four surgeries in the last two years, was causing blurry vision. * (I’ve been blind since birth in my left eye).


How many hardman points for that?

Good choice of climbing partner who has been through worse.

Good TR.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Oct 23, 2016 - 08:37pm PT
hey there, say, moosedrool...

great stuff!! thanks for sharing all this with us!

very nice!!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 24, 2016 - 02:54am PT
Reading your discussion of what it's like to get older and question yourself was really cool,
We've all been there after decades climbing!
yanqui

climber
Balcarce, Argentina
  Oct 24, 2016 - 04:59am PT
Hanging out around here makes me feel like such a youngster
NutAgain!

Trad climber
https://nutagain.org
  Oct 24, 2016 - 09:41am PT
Glass chewing Moose? Don't stand too close when he coughs!

I especially liked the stream of consciousness section while climbing The Line.
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
  Oct 25, 2016 - 02:53pm PT
Out-spierdolone-standing, Llamero! A most excellent TR. Old poops rule (sometimes)! I can appreciate how nefarious 5.7 can be. I encountered a "5.7" crux on a climb on Longs Peak once that had three 5.8 variations at the crux, all of which were easier than the original moves. Anyway, hope you keep climbing and writing about it, as yer actually quite good at this stuff. All in all, I really relate to all you said here and hope many happy returns to the rock for both of us.
Cheers, Dude.
steveA

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
  Oct 25, 2016 - 03:21pm PT
Hey Terry,

Great TR!

Last month I did an open bivy on top of Higher Cathedral Rock, due to the fact that I've slowed up so much. We didn't take headlamps, since I was SO sure we wouldn't need them. My mistake!
At 70, the NEB of HCR isn't as easy, as in the past!
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  Oct 25, 2016 - 05:37pm PT
Nice TR... just put "The Line" on the "List"

TWP

Trad climber
Mancos, CO & Bend, OR
Author's Reply  Oct 27, 2016 - 09:36am PT
I don't want to neglect the ritual of thanking those who have commented on my TR with approval. Yes, I am thankful and appreciative of your kind words. In fact, it's the reward that inspires more TRs, so by all means keep the praise coming! And, of course, acknowledging one's commenters bumps the thread, hopefully leading to more positive comments. Ego, ego, ego. It 'Splains a lot.
Mark Force

Trad climber
Ashland, Oregon
  Oct 27, 2016 - 12:55pm PT
Terry, Good job gettin' after it! And, thanks for draggin' my ass up the stone at COR.
EAD

Trad climber
Boulder
  Nov 1, 2016 - 03:03pm PT
Hi Terry! I always love to read your stories. Thanks for sending me the link!
We're planning to head to the Winds for the total eclipse in 2017. Maybe to the cirque! Maybe we can see you there???

Love and Hugs,
...Liz (and Cory)
TWP

Trad climber
Mancos, CO & Bend, OR
Author's Reply  Nov 2, 2016 - 07:55am PT
Liz (and Corey): No "maybe" about it. I'll be in the Winds August 21 with the llamas. Only question is who wants to go on the trip with me and my boys. You want it; you got it.
skcreidc

Social climber
SD, CA
  Nov 14, 2016 - 02:25pm PT
Fantastic post TWP. Glad to see you got to get Moose out on the rock, and to be honest I need all the inspiration I can get at the moment.

Just an aside TWP. Were you the one that lost a llama in the Winds around 2012?
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Nov 14, 2016 - 02:32pm PT
Wonderful! I would praise you two as fellow geezers, but Moosedrool, at least, is far to young. TWP probably as well.

John
TWP

Trad climber
Mancos, CO & Bend, OR
Author's Reply  Nov 14, 2016 - 06:16pm PT
Skcreidc:

More like the llama lost me. Refused to be recaught after his tether broke.

As for my status within (or not yet within geezerdom,) I am reminded of Satchel Paige's dictum:
"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?"

John Eleazarian:

I'm 65. I am going to modify Satchel's dictum and begin asking young whippersnappers who seem put off by my age: "How old would you think I was if you couldn't see my face?" (Given that my face totally gives me away as "old".)
skcreidc

Social climber
SD, CA
  Nov 14, 2016 - 08:00pm PT
TWP, wasn't really intending to place blame. I just remember your Winds trip report from that time and I was there a week later and saw your llama. We talked about it a bit. Was just trying to place you as we've never met.
TWP

Trad climber
Mancos, CO & Bend, OR
Author's Reply  Nov 14, 2016 - 09:31pm PT
No problem. Didn't take your comment as blaming me.
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
  Mar 24, 2017 - 05:16pm PT
Will it still give me trouble after it was extracted?! Probably!


Definitely. Phantom tooth pain.
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
  Mar 24, 2017 - 07:05pm PT
Somehow missed this the first time around.

But then, listening to you young people blather on is boring anyway, so I think I'll just ask the nurse to empty my bag and then mumble about how it was when I was your age...
Woody the Beaver

Trad climber
Soldier, Idaho
  Mar 25, 2017 - 07:04am PT
How did I miss this TR before??? Well, thanks. Makes me want to go climbing. The Line looks dandy, if probably too hard for my old carcass!
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
  Apr 12, 2017 - 08:27pm PT
TWP, sorry to have missed this the first time around. As a contemporary I must say bravo! Look me up next time you're down in the "Trench" of the 50 corridor, that goes for your Moose too....most excellent TR.
Go
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