Friday, May 4, 2012

The Gota story

It's been two years since The Driller and I put up La Gota Fria. As of this writing, we have the FCA-- first complete ass-- with two pitches (12c ansd 12a?) remaining to be freed. I'm not holding my breath.

After our ascent, a bit of a shit-storm happened on-line. Basically, Napoleon was unhappy that Driller and I had done the First Ass of the route without him. He having done the First Ass of some of the pitches, wanted to be included in the First Ass, but wasn't, and this is why.

When we began the route, in 2008, Napoleon and I started ground-up. We immediately ran into one problem: Napoleon didn't want to show up for work. After the second day on the route, we made plans to work a third, and Napoleon sent in his stead Kasper Podgoski, who nabbed the Fist Ass of P1 and 2 with me (on aid).

After this point, Napoleon would only show up for the occasional day. It became obvious that the route was going to go, and it became equally obvious that, if we wnet at Napoleon's pace (one day per month) we would be retired by the time the FA came around. So I recruited The Driller, who has a ton of aid experience. The Driller, despite having a non-climbing girlfriend (now his wife), a full-time job, and full-time school, ALL AT THE SAME TIME, became a regular feature on the route. I also had a non-climbing girlfriend-- and we have kids-- and a full-time job, so during the doing of this route, both Driller and I gave up quite a few climbing days.

Together we pushed the route -- entirely ground up, via aid-- to the top of P10. Napoleon disagreed with the tactics. For him, ground-up was too dangerous. However, he had not led a single pitch. At this point he proposed that he rap in from the top, so he and our friend Ben hauled a few hundred meters of rope up there and they rapped down and isntalled fixed ropes to the top of P10.

We now had fixed ropes-- as of April 2009-- on the whole route, and it basically came time to clean, log and bolt. This work, while not awful, isn't nearly as fun as actual climbing. You are hanging from aiders or a butt-bag, hacking away at dirt, logs or flakes of rock. Yes, you can shit-talk with your partner, and the views are great, but it's not climbing.

As the route progressed, Napoleon did less and less work, while Driller and I kept at it. Napoleon would send us missives which included JPEGs of the route with suggestions that we "scrub variations" on the route. In the summer of 2009, on several occasions I was on the route, working, while Napoleon would project this or that on the Badge, and yell at us "hey fuckers, you guys should try climbing something!" and so on. Indeed, that summer, Napoleon-- who was working 8 hours per week and not in school-- was climbing five days per week, and came out twice to work on the route.

In March of 2010, Driller and I told Napoleon flat-out that when the first ascent was going to happen, he would not be on it unless he massively upped his work commitment. He responded with "I will be available to work on the route in May and June." Instead, he went to the Valley and we didn't see him for two months.

One week before the first ascent, I ran into Napoleon and his girlfriend in Starbucks. I told him that Driller and I were gunning for the First Complete Ass next weekend. He said "cool" and I said that we would save the two 12+ pitches for him, to which he said "cool."

On July 10, 2010, Driller and I did the F.C.A. of La Gota Fria, freeing all but two of the pitches.

The next day, when I put the topo online, the shitstorm started, with Napoleon name-calling both Driller and I on Squamishclimbing. He was told by the admin that if his comments persisted they would ban him, as he was slandering both of us.

When I added up the days of work on the route, it had taken something like 53 person-days. I had done around 30, Driller 15, and Napoleon 8. Other people like Ian Bennet, Tony McLane, Ben Roy, Paul Cordy and Kasper Podgorski had put in time as well.

Napoleon was angry that he'd been excluded from the F.A. I still have mixed feelings about this. His lack of work-- especially considering that he had no job, no girlfriend, and summers off-- was shocking. At one point in the summer of 2009, I called him to see if he wanted to get out onto the route, and he said "I can't; I've been climbing all week and I am too tired." While he enjoyed a climbing summer, Driller and I hung on ropes and dug mud.

Were we selfish in excluding him from the F.A.? Probably. Were we justified? Dunno, but it felt like it, and still does. If I were as generous as I'd like to be, I might've forgiven him...but that route came at great personal expense, it cost Driller and I many climbing days, and it felt like Napoleon was more into talking about the route than doing the work. Indeed, it became particularly galling when Driller and I would run into acquaintances mutual to us and Napoleon, and hear them say "so Napoleon was talking about your guys' route. How is it going?", when Napoleon would have been months not climbing the route.

In the end, the route forged a much stronger and deeper bond between the Driller and I, who shared some hair-raising moments. It also taught me to aid-climb, to confront fear, and it showed me that small acts of selfishness (like showing up hours late for climbing days, and refusing to work, and assuming your partner will bring all of the stuff you forgot to pack cos you were out partying till 3 A.M. the night before) often portend much bigger ones.

So, yeah. Ya dance with them what brung ya. But not forever.

No comments:

Post a Comment