Spaceshot IV 5.6 C2 or 5.13
TR: Team Gumby Giggles Goes To Zion
The essence of any wall climber is to persevere.
(adapted from Seneca)
"This is how it feels to be alive!" I think out loud on the shuttle bus back to camp, slumping exhausted next to the huge backpack filled with ropes and gear. Chelsea and I just completed our first (very small) big wall climb: Spaceshot (grade IV, 5.6 C2) in Zion NP. And I promise myself that next time, I swear, I will train for this. And I'm gently reminded that I said the exact same thing back in October when we bailed off Leaning Tower. And did nothing.
So this is how it went. We practiced on Organasm (4-pitch 5.8 C2), where it became apparent that it takes me 3 hours to lead 100ft (if that) of straightforward aid. Maybe it has something to do with posing for hero shots like this:
But it's truly amazing to me. I feel focused and efficient, and I'm constantly doing something, yet I look up and the sun is setting and I'm only half-way up. There's something about aid climbing, the way a clueless gumby does it, that warps time.
Then we went to the real thing. Team Gumby Giggles ready for the 7am shuttle bus:
After much thrashing with the haulbag on the free pitches, it was my turn to lead p4. The flaring seam after the bolt ladder (cheater stick!) took lots of small offset nuts, sometimes sideways, and a few very good cams (#1, aliens). I screw around on a less-than-perfect nut too much, and zip! down I go, maybe 12-15 feet. Going back up, the bad adrenaline catches up with me a few feet higher, when I seem unable to reach any more placements, and give up on the lead. We sleep on the ledge on top of p3 (which is a good bivy site for two if one person goes slightly lower).
Seeing how I'm out of shape, slow, and falling on C1, at that point I give over all the leads to Chelsea. My penance for not training for our adventure is to whimper and jug, curse and fiddle with stuck nuts, and trust my life to a fixed line for the entire day.
On the plus side, I get to hang out with two locals at the belays. Darren and Andrew, if you're reading this, send me an email and I'll send you some photos of Andrew. Nice meeting you.
Chelsea dispatches the leads one by one with determination and style, here on p8 (the Spaceshot):
We top out in the dark and sleep on top, after the 3rd class scramble. At that point, it's pretty much flat ground and a good bivy for 3, you don't even need to tie in anymore. The next day, it's a few hours of making love to the pig on rappel (less pleasant than it sounds) and we're back on the shuttle bus.
Views of Zion:
The tiny guidebook for Zion has many neat features, but complains about the shuttle buses. I respectfully disagree. They're awesome! I particularly enjoyed being a local attraction and answering questions such as "how much does your luggage weigh?" and "are you rock climbers?".
Big thank you to Scott, the backcountry desk ranger who gave us lots of info even though he introduced extra doubt into our minds with his tales of big falls and bailing.
Summary of lessons learned:
1) Get in physical shape
2) Take several bags for the poop tube so you don't have to re-open the one that's already been used
3) It's all about having the right gear
4) I really like long, moderate, FREE climbs! :-)
More photos here: http://people.csail.mit.edu/paulina/pics/2008/04_zion_apr/
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