Suicide Rock, CaliforniaAbout a year ago when I decided that I was ready to jump on the sharp end, Deb and I went up to Suicide Rock. She had told me ‘Graham Crackers’ a 2-pitch 5.6 route, was a good one for me to get started on. I had dabbled in leading some easier sport routes back around that time, but I wanted to get something more fulfilling under my belt. As we hiked up the steep trail up to the base of the rock, my stomach was tied in figure 8's. Typical newbie going thru the gambit of emotions, I thought, and kept moving upward. We arrived at the base of the rock and quickly we cued up for the climb.
I cast off and climbed the first pitch, and climbed it well. I arrived at the anchors before I knew it and brought Deb up to the 1st belay. By the time she arrived, the fears I DID have, and what I did caught up with me and my psyche closed up like a Venus Fly Trap. We rapped off and the day continued on with me following Deb up another route.
Fast Forward...another year or so.
As another typical work day drags by, I find some solace in my usual happy place; pouring thru the guidebook for Tahquitz and Suicide. As I daydream climbing the smooth, beautiful white granite of Suicide, I gander at the North face topo. Graham Crackers stares out and slaps me in my face, as a awesome memory in the ebb and flow I felt on the 1st pitch; and the terror and uncertainty felt looking up from 1st belay. I knew that I should go back and finish the route, and finish the story behind it.
The next Thursday arrives, and here I am, with Deb again, hiking our way up to Suicide Rock's North Face. In a nostalgic breath and feel, the wind and weather is similar to the memories I have of the previous adventure up here. And again, we arrive at the base quickly and gear up before I know it. As I climbed, I smiled. I moved upward with as much grace as It is gonna get. I remember the first time I climbed the route as I climb now, live and in color and feel.
The belay ledge arrives, and so do new emotions. But the time comes, Deb just arrived to the belay. We reorganize gear and I am back on the face, looking up into the unknown territory above.
I Climb a featured, gear welcoming crack section, then 13 ft of no pro. Repeat. Above my last piece, I started to get a nasty leg cramp, and frantically shove in my new rigid friend. He is in, but not really, if you know what I mean. I try to rest only to find that this is not a great spot to rest. Climb up higher to find manky pro, do an Elvis impersonation, almost fall transitioning onto a slab.
Climb a weird corner around to easy slab, but at this point I am now officially off route. Rope drag around the corner makes me feel like I am pulling a shopping cart up behind me.
That last little roof was crazy too, since my last piece was like, out of sight WAY down and around the corner. Rocking over the lip, I moaned in a pathetic but thankful tone. Glad it was windy so Deb didn’t have to hear me bitch and whine. Ahh, a tree and a nice big flat ledge. It was over.
I bring Deb up, we rap off. Then Deb leads ‘Break Out 5.6′. This route should be renamed to Vertical Birth. Maybe one day you will climb it and see why.
Rap off, make jokes, shuffle down to JoAnn’s. Blue Moon Beer and Buffalo Burgers follow. And as we exit to the world below the clouds, I feel now I have a ending to a story I started long ago. A finish, to something that I started. Guess I need to start something then.