Monday, February 22, 2010

Ms. Arcen Climbs On

All pictures(*except for the two that I took of her hiking across the ridge) in this post were taken by Jeff Botz. Jeff, thanks for bringing your photographic documenting skills to this trip! Figure 8 about to be threaded through her harness and traced. On Saturday morning Ms. Arcen came up with an idea that had her, Botzie and I at Crowders Mountain from mid day on. She was inspired by the two climbers we saw tie in on the practice wall a few weeks ago.

Over twenty years ago Ronnie took me to Ross' Cliffs in Old Furnace State Park just about a rolling country Stay Alive from where I grew up in North Eastern Connecticut. Some of the stuff he taught me that day will be with me for ever, the basic principles of safe top rope climbing for fun and a feeling of touch with the rock. Since then and from here back I periodically get out on to the rock and have shared that time with even more experienced climbers who have showed me their knowledge. This past Saturday it seems as if when I was anchoring our first top rope spot on an unnamed wall(lets call it Ms. Arcen Debut Wall) directly inside the Middle Finger Wall memories of that first tie in with Supe and every climb since came flooding into my brain housing group. We were on the top of a fin like 15-20ft crag that had a feel of little mountain exposure. The slopes of Crowders under us fell away roughly 1,000ft down toward the flat Gaston(not to be confused with Gaston Rebuffat) Plain. This was going to be her second experience being tied in but her first in two years. The first time was okay but she wasn't ready, now she was, this was all her idea. I went to work with her at the little ledge base and we talked while Jeff went to work with the Nikon. I quadruple checked all the quadruple checks from anchor to harnesses to knots and the gates of the biners, everything was quadruple checked. Then she said, "Climbing Dad." Climb on she did up the first easy little step. I pulled in her slack and watched her work about half way up when she wasn't sure what to do. Of course I was on belay on the ground coaching from my perspective while Jeff positioned himself safely along her side for more reassurance. She worked through it after putting her weight on the line which helped my little one understand that I was on the other end and that she would not fall down the seeming void behind her. We were in a comfortable place and time went by with each practice, struggle and upward movement.

Ms. Arcen on her Debut Wall.
Looking up towards her next hold.
Here she is feeling the solid density and cold of the rock.
The abrasiveness of the rock adds a confident feeling of contact as she pulls herself up.
Topping out with a touch of the biners.
Getting ready to be lowered with a controlled abseil.
We collectively decided that she needed another challenge. Unfortunately the next wall over to our left or north I assume was taken already by two fellows sharing turns on a top belay of a nice easy route three times the height of what we were on. It was agreed that we should walk back towards the Practice Wall and see what was happening there. After walking back across the mountain I started to anchor in on the two bolts that we watched some climbers rappel and abseil down two weeks prior. Then the climber below on Gastonia aka Burn Crack to the right said he and his friend girl were leaving and that we should take his spot. Good call, the 'rating' a better chance for the kid. Over on the top of the Crack I slung the two bolts with two biners apposing gates and then I dropped the line. More safety talk down below while she went on up the rock loving everything about a figure 8 traced back through. This was a huge challenge for her that she took on feet first(wonder where she gets that from). Shortly after she made four steps up she became stuck holding on, searching for something above her head to grab, anything. Once again she needed to counter intuitively fall back away from the rock and feel me on the other end, her life line. So she did and I lowered her to the ground for a restart. Her second attempt on this route got her up a little further then she wrestled with the problem of not being bale to move up anymore. Time passed. I lowered her down again while Jeff got ready to Climb. More on his and my vertical efforts later.

*Ms. Arcen leading across the top to the Practice Wall.
*The low ledge line to the top around the main wall.
There was some daylight left on the cooler shadowy side of the practice wall so she decided to get up on it again. Ms. Arcen's arms burned as she pulled herself up the wall. It was amazing to watch and on some level I thought for a few minutes that I was looking into a new future. What possibilities with her in the mountains still lay ahead? She fought it for more time and was able to get passed her previous height gaining efforts before she sat back with little feet on the rock and let me control her descent back to turf. Jeff stopped taking pictures long enough for him to belay my successful tie in and climb. I'll have to talk about that later because all I have in this post left is the part where I topped out, threw the line over, undid the protection, down climbed to the belay with the kid who took it upon herself to meet me up top then we packed up, hiked up over the top and back down to the lot.
Here she is on Gastonia Crack aka Burn Crack.
This kid may not know how to eat with a fork but she sure knows how to pull herself up.
Holding on to the mountain while she tries to traverse in a bit.
"Dad, I see a small cave in there."
Her final controlled descent after a good day of climbing.


The Big Bad Banker said...

Way Cool!

jeff said...

Awesome! Congrats to her on her climbs.

Billy Fehr said...

Jeff and KJ,
I concur and she passes a thanks.