A few months later i found myself struggling up to the base of Lurking Fear armed with a haulbag full of shiny gear and a strong belief that i could climb this alone. My overwhelming level of psyche slowly diminished as i inched up the easy first pitch, sweating profusely in the intense August heat. I then discovered that hauling up my stuff required the use of all the swear words in my vocabulary. Eventually the haulbag joined the massive clusterf*#k at the belay and i felt satisfied, even though this simple pitch had taken an entire day.
It would be so easy to bail from here. So easy. Was i a climber or just a dreamer? I didnt want to be one of those guys who knows everything about a route but has never actually climbed it. I felt like i had something to prove to myself. Lurking Fear is an easy and technically straightforward climb but 2 more pitches still took another whole day. Maybe it was because i had eaten a lot the day before, or maybe it was the fear but somehow i'd already maxed out my poop-tube.
Each day i picked up speed, dropped less gear and learned things that i'd never really thought about before. I learned that topstepping a hook causes it to pull in a slightly different direction. This resulted in a short but trouser-filling fall as i discovered to my surprise that my method of self belaying also worked.
Sometimes i would start climbing before sunrise, then seek shade behind my hammock during the hottest part of the day, drifting in and out of a restless sleep. In the evenings i would either continue laboring up the wall or settle down in my broken hammock, burn tuna noodles in a jetboil, spill the majority in my sleeping bag and then have the worlds most uncomfortable sleep. I dreamed about placing gear, i dreamed about my childhood, i dreamed about pizza. I would often wake up wondering where i was. Dreams merged into reality and it became hard to differentiate between the two.
I encountered some sort of tanglef*#ked rope or stuck haulbag on most pitches. One time in particular i made a great error: The haulbag had got stuck under a small roof so i abseiled down the other side of the haul line to free it. To save time i did not back myself up on the lead line.. I freed the bag and as i let go i thought "huh, the bag only contains my sleeping stuff and half a gallon of water, its probably way too light to use this method". I was right. The haulbag rocketed exponentially up towards the belay as i fell equally as fast in the opposite direction. I was only falling for about 4 seconds but it felt like i wasn't going to stop. I hit a ledge, flipped upside down and crashed arse-first into a ramp, a red camalot becoming lodged in my mouth as the haulbag jammed itself into the mini traction. Not the most efficient way to haul.
I topped out the next afternoon relieved but proud that i had accomplished this goal, but i also felt a huge sadness that it was all over. I spent a night on the summit completely exhausted and dehydrated. I made a promise to myself that i would never solo anything quite so big ever again.
But the next day i changed my mind..