Sunday, October 10, 2010

Veterans with Vertigo

Before heading back to Boston, I knew that I needed to go and climb something bigger since I would be mostly sport climbing and bouldering in New England. I headed for the Black Canyon last Friday and roped up with my friend John Schaffer. John is one of the most bad ass climbers I know, having done over 50 Black Canyon routes. He was interested in doing a climb called Veterans with Vertigo, a Grade IV 5.11+ down the SOB Gully. John started us off with the plan of me taking the crux pitch and him taking the first (and harder) or the two R rated pitches. Pitch 2 was my first lead and there was very little information on the topo about it. Near the top was a long, unprotected traverse on less than ideal rock. The pitch felt like it deserved an R rating and knowing we had a couple pitches that actually got R higher up, both of us were curious to what would follow. Route finding was difficult and we moved slower then we were hoping to. By the time we reached the crux 6th pitch, the sun was baking the wall. I took the lead and got to the crux section before reading the movement totally wrong and falling. After a few attempts at working the beta out, I was able to fight my way to the belay ledge. John managed to follow the pitch cleanly in an even more powerful way then I did it. Very impressive! The two R rated pitches that followed turned out to not be so scary and we soon found ourselves on the rim. We considered bombing back down a gully and doing a second route but ended up deciding to call it a day. The Black Canyon remains my favorite place to climb in Colorado and I hope to get back there next spring.

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