Trip Report
My Climb with Andre: A Little Nukey for Old Guys

by TWP
Monday July 31, 2017 3:31pm
**My Climb with Andre: “A Little Nukey" for Old Guys
**
//“If you are getting better as a skier as you get older, you weren’t very good when you were young.”
//
Quote from a Warren Miller skiing movie
_

Penstemon Dome, Courtright Reservoir
Penstemon Dome, Courtright Reservoir
Credit: TWP

I started skiing at age 37, so I never worried about my skiing ability as a youth.

On the other hand, I started rock climbing at age 21, so …. by implication, I condemn my youthful abilities as a “rock jock” by admitting that I am “climbing better than ever” - at age 66.

Sadly, this is so. Or, is this not sad after all?

“My Climbs with Andre” (apologies to the deeply philosophical movie “My Dinner with Andre”) at Courtright Reservoir let me reflect upon this Zen koan of half-empty versus half-full glasses. I come down on the side of “half full.”

Over six days Moose (Andre Citkowicz) and I climbed in this splendid paradise of granite domes and high Sierra Ponderosa and Sequoia forest lands. I surprised myself and Moose.

Our ascent of Crooked Neck on Penstemon Dome proved highly entertaining. The clever entry traverse ledge to the “Walk the Plank” tree - a Ponderosa growing horizontally away from the wall, offering stupendous exposure to anyone who ever “climbs” (“walks”) this tree. No one ever need try this stunt, though someone, sometime will. A delightful and unique feature. When I led the third pitch, Moose lead me to believer I faced a “long” pitch to the two-bolt fixed anchor marking the end of this route, far below the dome’s summit. So I began to wonder “where is the anchor” with growing apprehension as I ran out of rope on Moose 80 meter lead rope.

“How much rope?” I yelled down.

“Twenty feet.” I’d found no good protection for the last 50 feet, so decided to end the pitch when I finally found three good placements at rope’s near end.

When following and still a good 80 feet below me, Moose again questioned my intelligence and eyesight when he pronounced, “The anchor’s here.”

Thus, we resolved to complete the climb to the Dome’s summit, and retreated by adding a third rappel from a Ponderosa Pine tree, to the two fixed anchors. (Which require two 60 meter ropes).

Next day, Moose decided we were ready to “go big” and set our sights on “A Little Nukey” on the west side of Power Dome.

Somehow, we turned the approach to this climb into an extended route finding affair. Four hours after leaving our camp on the east side of the reservoir - from which the west side profile of Power Dome is clearly visible and close-by - we reached the base of “A Little Nukey.”

The wrong areas to look for the rappel anchors into the gorge.  The re...
The wrong areas to look for the rappel anchors into the gorge. The real ledge system to the bolt anchors is lower down into the gorge. Summit of Power Dome is in the distance.
Credit: TWP

Once found, the correct ledge system becomes obvious and leads to the ...
Once found, the correct ledge system becomes obvious and leads to the bolt anchor for the two-rappels into the gorge at the base of Power Dome
Credit: TWP

First of two rappels into the gorge below Power Dome on the approach t...
First of two rappels into the gorge below Power Dome on the approach to A Little Nukey
Credit: TWP

But still we were confused.

My confusion had a simple explanation. Looking up, the route looked impossible! A steep wilderness of smooth granite with nary more than a water pocket ripple as a feature offering climbing holds. Yikes.

Moose proposed I take the first lead - since the second was advertised as harder.

My first try I couldn’t even get started. I decided to get serious and tighten my shoes as tight as possible. My shoes? A 17-year old pair of Hot Chilis with decaying rand rubber and a loose fit.

I’d done myself in again. Underestimating the difficulties; overestimating my abilities. I faced a hard fight to avoid ignominious failure at the first bolt.

Looking Down the first pitch from the hanging belay
Looking Down the first pitch from the hanging belay
Credit: TWP

Somehow, I pulled through. And therein lies my best explanation why I’m climbing better in my old age than as a youth.

Now I realize each climb is “now or never.” And I realize at 66 years of age I’ve already had a fantastic life, so death and injury are not so consequential. Neither can cheat me now of a full life. I’ve already got that in the bag. To get the true remaining prizes on life’s table, I now need to dig deeper, fear less, and focus more. Today I feel more serene, focused and secure while climbing than I did in my twenties and thirties. Practicing yoga the last six years and Transcendental Mediation the last 48, giving up all alcohol the last nine years and exercising vigorously virtually every day all have helped.

Looking Straight Up the Wall from Pitch Two, It's Not All Together Obv...
Looking Straight Up the Wall from Pitch Two, It's Not All Together Obvious This Wall is Climbable - except others have.
Credit: TWP

I was overjoyed as 160 feet of the most sustained face climbing of my career came to an end at the fixed anchors. I reveled in the view downward to Moose. The lead impressed me and I’d just done it!

Ratings be damned. I’ve done “easier” 5.10a face climbs than this supposed “5.8.”

Looking Up the Second Pitch, "The Shield" is a protrusion which appear...
Looking Up the Second Pitch, "The Shield" is a protrusion which appears as the roof area above Moose at the second belay.
Credit: TWP

Moose lead the second and fourth pitches, brilliantly. He sent to out to surmount “The Shield”, bypassing it on the right, for the third lead. His good intentions notwithstanding, he told me I’d gone too far just as I nearly reached the two-bolt anchor (which is the prescribed end of said pitch). Dutifully, I down climbed back to The Shield and set up a gear belay. After all, I am the private and Moose is the general is our team. How can I disobey even when the General is wrong?

By the final pitch, my big toe and the inner ball of both feet were screaming bloody murder in pain from the incessant pressure of climbing on small pockets with nary a single positive foot and finger hold to be found. My sloppy, dry rubber shoes were taking a toll, extracted in pain. The final pitch yielded for Moose ingenious tri-cam placements in water pockets. A unique and cool feature often found on Courtright Domes. Moose’s last tri-cam before the bolt anchor left me, as the second, facing a 30 foot pendulum fall if I should come off. I did. I saw it coming and calculated my “best bet” was to run across the wall to stay in some semblance of control of the long pendulum.

It worked for a while - until 9.8 meters/second2 of acceleration (to wit: the force of gravity) required “running/falling” at a cadence beyond my 66 years. My final foot placement caused the lower half of my body to “stick” on while the top half kept accelerating up at 9.8 meters/second2 - resulting in a giant cartwheel, ending with my right hip smashing into the wall once I reached a plum line below my belayer. It hurt, but no damage done. Fortunately, the rock directly above was climbable.

In spite of our four-hour approach we topped out with the plenty of sunshine and a pleasant evening ahead of us. Exhausted and delighted, I could hardly believe how quickly and efficiently we’d ascended this smooth dome. Wow! Being 66 isn’t so bad after all. So long as I keep getting a “little nukey” - on the rock and elsewhere.

Over the next five days, “More Climbs with Andre” only solidified a partnership well on its way to many happy returns.

The Gang (Nut Again, his son Rishiahb, skcedric and Moose) app...
The Gang (Nut Again, his son Rishiahb, skcedric and Moose) approaching Voyager Dome for ascent via "Ramp On."
Credit: TWP

TWP, skcedric & Moose on the summit of Voyager Dome.  My!  Aren't We G...
TWP, skcedric & Moose on the summit of Voyager Dome. My! Aren't We Good Looking!
Credit: TWP

Cross Reference to Moose's Photo Trip Report:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/2997659/Six-Days-at-Courtright-photo-TR

  Trip Report Views: 1,995
TWP
About the Author
TWP is an Old Llamero and Trad Climber from Mancos, CO & Bend, OR.

Comments
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T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Jul 31, 2017 - 03:57pm PT
Geezers gittin after it!
Cool report and pics.
TFPU
Tad
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jul 31, 2017 - 04:13pm PT
I'm glad to see you youngsters take some time out from texting to get on some rock...well done lads!
moosedrool

climber
Andrzej Citkowicz far away from Poland
  Jul 31, 2017 - 04:16pm PT
Thanks for the write up, Terry. Well done, soldier!

To my defense, there are two options to climb above the shield. I wanted to climb the right variation, thus I asked Terry to belay me from the shield. My mistake was, I didn't memorize the topo very well. So, I went straight up and instead of continuing slightly to the right. Then, I moved to the left after clipping the second bolt, and joined the left variant. I clipped a bolt, went up, and instead of going slightly to the left, I went to the anchors to the right, joining the right route!

There was no gear placement to protect the second from the pendulum.

Soory Terry! You are a great partner in crime, whether climbing or skiing.

Man, what a superb route.

Route DD on the topo.
Credit: moosedrool

A few pics from my phone.

Terry leading the first pitch.
Credit: moosedrool

Terry following the secong pitch.
Credit: moosedrool

Terry leading the third pitch.
Credit: moosedrool

Terry topping out.
Credit: moosedrool

Moose
TWP

Trad climber
Mancos, CO & Bend, OR
Author's Reply  Jul 31, 2017 - 04:37pm PT
Moose:

Hey, no need to defend yourself!

I had it easy. You did all the guidebook and topo study and got us to the base of every route! All I had to do was follow!

Should have given you more kudos on your Generalship in the TR.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jul 31, 2017 - 04:40pm PT
I’ve already had a fantastic life, so death and injury are not so consequential. Neither can cheat me now of a full life. I’ve already got that in the bag.

Nicely writ. I was up there that day and should have yodeled down to you the correct location for the rap anchors! A Supertopoan "almost" sighting! Glad you kids had a nice romp in my back yard.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jul 31, 2017 - 04:46pm PT
Taken from the dam.  The dome is just behind me and you guys are proba...
Taken from the dam. The dome is just behind me and you guys are probably somewhere down there flailing around on the ledges over my right shoulder!
Credit: micronut

Your route. Taken on the way home at the end of the day.
Your route. Taken on the way home at the end of the day.
Credit: micronut

Brrrrrrr.....
Brrrrrrr.....
Credit: micronut
L

climber
And I'm searchin' for waterspouts...
  Jul 31, 2017 - 04:55pm PT
The whole thing made me smile.
Thanks for the write up.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Jul 31, 2017 - 05:19pm PT
Great TR for a fun route!

Good times...
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
  Jul 31, 2017 - 06:45pm PT
Fine people having a good time and looking good, too.

For anyone who hasn't met Terry, I'd like to say that he looks, sounds, and acts exactly the way he comes across in this TR.

Verdad.
Studly

Trad climber
WA
  Jul 31, 2017 - 07:12pm PT
Nice. Looked like some interesting climbing!
Climberdude

Trad climber
Clovis, CA
  Jul 31, 2017 - 07:15pm PT
Nice, good to see the Courtright is getting some love!
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
  Jul 31, 2017 - 07:16pm PT
Yes Andy I have met both Terry and Moose. Both fine gents. I liked both of the TRs. good times
Timid TopRope

Social climber
the land of Pale Ale
  Jul 31, 2017 - 07:30pm PT
This was fun to read. I like that Andrzej dude. Doesn't take himself too seriously,probably doesn't mind that you dropped the z and j in his name, which makes the West Euro spelling of my name. Looks like a really fine outing. Thanks for the photo share and write up.

Andy T
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 1, 2017 - 03:35pm PT
Really nice tr,
Thanks!
locker

climber
  Aug 1, 2017 - 03:40pm PT

I generally don't read TR's because they bore the fuk out of me...

But I did just read yours, and it did not...



GUD one:

"And I realize at 66 years of age I’ve already had a fantastic life, so death and injury are not so consequential. Neither can cheat me now of a full life. I’ve already got that in the bag."...
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  Aug 1, 2017 - 05:15pm PT
Nice.... that approach to PD is big fun... The first time I went down there Bob Kamps lead the way... No raps, just a big down climb to about half wayto where the second rap ends... then you walk one of those dikes...with about 200 feet of exposure to the creek. I will always fondly remember the devilish look on that mans face when he was about 1/2 way across, with both hands in his pockets, and he turned to the group of us just standing there, afraid to try to do it and said, "come on climbers it's this a way...."

I am so happy for the rap line down-- I use it every time.

And TWP.... thanks for making this TR. But one word of advise.... dump the 15 year old shoes... you might be able to climb 5.11.

DaveyTree

Trad climber
Fresno
  Aug 1, 2017 - 05:50pm PT
Congrats on the send. Enjoyed the report.
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Aug 1, 2017 - 06:10pm PT
Good stuff! Looks pretty sparse on features on Power Dome. We were happy to share a camp with you for a week and look forward to future adventures!

Donini crackin' me up!

And Micro, damn man I knew we were generally in your neck of the woods but didn't realize we were so close.
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Aug 1, 2017 - 06:18pm PT
Gneiss & Granetic adventure gentlemen.

Terry: One of the differences between you & me: is your particular thought, corrected to any of my last 10 birthdays, up to 67, does not go through my mind, when I'm leading in runout situations, which I mostly avoid these daze.

"And I realize at 66 years of age I’ve already had a fantastic life, so death and injury are not so consequential. Neither can cheat me now of a full life. I’ve already got that in the bag."...
Inner City

Trad climber
Portland, OR
  Aug 2, 2017 - 04:41am PT
Loved the report!

Rock quality on Power Dome is among the best there is.

So many fun routes there...

Thanks!
skcreidc

Social climber
SD, CA
  Aug 2, 2017 - 05:55am PT
Little Nukey looks even scarier in your pics TWP. Nice job! Nothing like a positive end to an adventure!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Aug 2, 2017 - 06:25am PT
Little Nukey is likely a reference to the Diablo Canyon nuclear energy facility, meant to operate in conjunction with the Helms Project.

TWP and MooseDrool, a match made in heaven. You two rock it.
crankster

Trad climber
No. Tahoe
  Aug 2, 2017 - 06:41am PT
Great TR (and movie reference). A Little Nukey and Welcome to Courtright are classics on that intimidating face. I remember Nukey being a bit easier and less run out.
little Z

Trad climber
un cafetal en Naranjo
  Aug 4, 2017 - 08:34pm PT
good climbing TR bump
David Nelson

climber
San Francisco
  Aug 4, 2017 - 09:21pm PT
Nice trip report but sorry to read about the hip strike. Must have hurt
steveA

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
  Aug 5, 2017 - 05:20am PT
Hey Terry,

Nice TR! It was fun to read, and glad to see your getting out on the rock.
karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
  Aug 12, 2017 - 08:30am PT
That's a great route! Slabtastic!!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Aug 30, 2017 - 07:22pm PT
enjoyed the read, especially after a recent visit.

Will need to plan on revisiting nuke and welcome.
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