Monday, May 10, 2010

Grand Wall Lite

A few weeks ago the clouds parted, and Sarah Spankovsky-- she of new-and-5.13A-improved Zombie Roof fame-- and I decided to go up the Grand Wall. Now I have a long and storied history with the Grand Wall. Well, that's true, except for the "long" and "storied" part. So today-- just to tease this blog's 10 readers-- I will delay reporting on recent new route activity and tell some Grand Wall stories.

I first got hauled up the Pillar by Mish Abrahams in about 2000 or so, and, as The Filth would put it, I hung like a bitch. Yes, I was the person who couldn't tell a handcrack from an asscrack (more on this later) and who at 7 PM was irritating the shit out of the two hardmen, stuck at the cedar tree, who were racing up the wall for a little post-dinner exercise, and now had to watch Yours Truly, like the sport bikers whining by on the Sea-To-Die highway below, donating blood and rubber to the rock.

Next time out, I led the Grand, with my pal Lucie. This excursion was notable for two reasons: one, I met Johnny Thrash (apparently this is actually his name). So? Well the cool thing about Johnny (at least in his own mind) is that he had been climbing for ten years, couldn't be fucked to climb harder than 5.10, and yet had managed to have sex on every major multi-pitch 5.10 route in the Corridor. As such he was an inspiration to men everywhere who think women dig boys who climb at insane levels and get frustrated.

Two, I got my ass kicked by the Sword. So? Well, after I finally made it over that mantle and up the Ladder, Lucie told me about how she had gotten into climbing. She had been out a few times, then had married, and had a kid. She woke up in hospital after a car accident on Christmas Eve, and on waking was told that both her husband and son had died, and that she had cancer. Well, after a year under psychiatric care, as well as sans hair, she decided that, man, she had better not waste time. She sold her house and car, quit her job, and began the life of a full-time dirtbag, skiing, climbing and honourary-Autiee-ing on three continents. As usual a bit of real life makes climbing bearable.

Next summer I was belaying my partner at Burgers and Fries, when a lovely young American woman caught my eye, and my nose. Love-- or lust, at any rate-- has a certain scent, and within five minutes there was some serious flirting going on. Now, the only thing that turns me on more than killer legs and ass is self-confidence, and this young woman had it in spades. I was psyched: this girl led WAY harder than me, like 5.11+ hard, had a killer smile, and wanted to climb with me. Back in the day, those would have been grounds for a marriage proposal. We arranged a climbing, uhh, "day" for the next week, and (let's call her) Tiara smiled at me as she hauled her friend up the 5.7 crack and we headed off.

Two days before our climbing "day," I found myself on the Grand again, this time with The Barnacle. Now, The Barnacle...well...The Barnacle merits an entire blog entry. At the time, I had done one route with The Barnacle, who onsighted some 11+ slab, and so I was stoked: he seemed pretty full-on competent. But on this day, let's just say that The Barnacle had managed one of his legendary tricks with which I would eventually become familiar: taking a true thing, and making it mean something entirely different, and then taking that new thing, and using it to blow up your plans. In this case, it became quite evident that The Barnacle's "I've been training" and "I'm feeling strong" were in reference to something other than climbing. As I arrived at the Pillar's base, I looked up and there was a sight: Tiara, in tights, about to follow the Pillar. Ooooh, I had to pay special attention to the belay, as a great ass generally reduces my cortex to limbic-system-only functionality.

Anyway, something odd then happened: Tiara hung like, well, a bitch. It probably took the poor girl forty minutes to hang-dog her way up the Pillar. 11+, huh? I gave her a 20 meter head start, and arrived at the top of the Pillar, to an epic stench. As her partner lead up the Sword, I found it difficult to concentrate. Because the epic stench came from her shoes. Somewhere between the smell of greenish-fuzzed Saturday-afternoon dumpster oranges and fresh Green Bay Packers jock-straps, the reek from the shoes assaulted my nose and made my eyes water. Her partner finished The Ladder, and I hauled on The Barnacle, whose "Man, if only I had my Kaukulators, ohhhh" and "the bone spur on my left hand really makes this hard, ohhh" mixed in with Tiara's "TAKE! TAKE!" At the end of the day I wanted to trade The Barnacle to Tiara for her partner.

So Spankovsky and I managed to make it up the Grand Wall Lite, with a decent hour atop the Pilalr to gossip about McBennet, Napoleon, our sex lives and how much of a pussy I really was. We were halfway toward bailing when SPankovsky looked me in the eye and said "just do it" and when I hopped on the Sword and just did it, it was fine. I can always psyche myself out.

Anyway, The Driller and I are heading up, hopefully next weekend, to do a wee bit more route maintenance, and possibly some climbing...stay tuned.

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