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Traveling, living, loving, exploring and trying to make some semblance of sense out of this crazy world.  


Monday, April 11, 2011


Got out late yesterday to rendezvous with Pyro and Doc Goodwack at Reed's. Despite a gloomy start to the day, the afternoon cleared and we found ourselves setting toprope on the new line L of Shaved Scamper under blue skies with only a few fluffy clouds. The previous night's rain, however, had been torrential and most of the crag was dripping water, as the creek raged below. While cindy relaxed in the warm sun, Pyro and I headed up to see what the good Doctor was doing.

Doc Goodwack, aka Mike Fisher, was finishing up the bolting and cleaning of his hard new line L of Cold Day in Hell. Pat and I left him to the fnial bolting and hiked on up the trail to clean up a bit under Ryan Eubank's newest project. Fifteen minutes made a world of difference, and we wandered back down towards where Cindy waited, passing M.fisher on the way. Mike debated a few minutes over leaving his new line unmarked as a project. I assured him that there were very few mortals who would be able to just walk up and onsight climb the initial crux or two, so he pulled gear and soon joined us for a toprope burn or two down at the Power Couple Wall.

Pat and I had headed up earlier to set a rap line and toprope, the first to allow him some practice at getting down over the top to anchors, rebelaying there, and then using his new Petzl Shunt to back-up a rappel and as a soloist aid when climbing in conjunction with a static line.

While Pat worked out the complexities and headgames required for his chosen goals of the day, I rapped and tapped the line, then offered a TR ride to Miss Cindy and the crew. Once they had finished their runs with glowing praise of the line's quality and sustained pump, I climbed it one more time, clipped hard into the anchors, and set-up the rope for rappel. I pulled up the drill and tools, settled earplugs and glasses and blow tube around my neck and started the long-tedious process of rap-bolting.

Let anyone who says that rap bolting is taking the easier road come do a bit of it on our steep, sandy, humid WV crags. After the anchors, which had gone in quickly and easily, my first bolt, a donated piece of hardware from friends in the North, snapped off cleanly at the face as I was putting the final torque on it.

This scared the living hell out of me, because the strength of my bolts are literally a life-and-death matter. If I could snap off a bolt tightening it down with a wrench under minimal load, what would happen if my 200 pounds of solid beef came down on it in a 10-foot fall? Or after dozens of other climbers hung on the bolt and then someone took a good long winger?

I tapped the traitor bolt back into its hole and began the frustrating process of finding another bolt placement when the first one goes south. The second hole was good, the second bolt survived placement, and in the end the clip was only moved about 8 inches. The rest of the line went in without incident, but it was a jarring reminder of the fact that some very kind and generous people, who live extraordinarily sumptuous lifestyles, who think nothing of dropping $50 on a bottle of liquor or more on thir favorite vices, people who have climbed all over the United States and, in some cases, the globe, turn around and ignore all their own experiences, putting their lives and the lives of others at risk by trying to save a few dollars on hardware.

I sorted through my remaining gear and removed all the suspect bolts, which will do just fine for mounting porch rails and deck cleats. Mike and I talked about innocent malfeasance, looking at a botched pruning job done, supposedly to clear a "project". This screwed up tree butchery and the weak effort at route development were all done by a climber who, despite having climbed Mt. Everest and pulling hard numbers at crags across the south, just couldn't seem to get around to putting up the project he had placed anchors on 6 months ago. This guy, who is a lawyer in D.C. (not exactly a low-income job) is too tight to supply his own hardware, cleaning tools, or drill. He repeatedly ignored ivitations for community trailwork, and usually showed up with at least one partner in tow the day after the work was done, which was in fact what he had done following recent efforts by Lyndon State College. Now, in addition to screwing up the cliffs, he had cut through a 4-inch limb in mid-branch, leaving a pointed stub that actually aimed at the climb he was "developing"!

I've said it before but it bears repeating: The worst problems of the climbing community are, first and foremost, "entitled" climbers who take no responsibility for their own impact, who treat locals and landowners like shit and screw up access, who generally think that they are God's gift to climbing. The second worst problem is the community that remains silent when the aforementioned genetic mistakes act like assholes.

We parted at the road with plans to rejoin Mike mid-week to send the new lines. I tossed my stuff in with Pyro to go in search of Miss Pinkpants.

Cindy had headed off to threaten the finny residents of the south Branch, and had three on the stringer when we got there. she fished for another half hour as Pyro and I shot the bull, looking at all the potential of the Entrance Walls and across the river at the privately-owned haven of Jake's Hill, where I have a trad 5.7 and a sport 5.8. a departing fisherman handed off two more fish and we decided that the day had come to a pretty good end. Pat headed back across the mountain and we wandered north to Petersburg, with fish to clean and smiles on our faces.

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