Saturday morning found us sleeping in, so we decided to forgo the hike in to the Needles and opt for the lower elevation and shorter approach of Dome Rock, on which we had an objective, the Anti-jello crack.
Anti-jello crack starts with the easy first pitch of the Tree Route. The second pitch is a 5.9+ fingers-to-tips crack, which I suspect was tips-to-nothing for Dima. He led almost all the way up it, and when the feet ran out, the crack thinned to almost nothing, and the protection got really tricky he had to hang and aid through the last bit of it. It only takes a sentence to say and justify that, but the process of making the decision and carrying it out is actually quite emotionally wrenching and time-consuming. I tried to be a good partner and give him all the time and support I could, but I never quite know whether to speak up or shut up. In any case, I was in the shade of a tree and quite comfortable. Dima finished that pitch via a right-trending variation that took us back to the Tree Route.
As for me, I think that pitch was possibly one of the best pitches I've ever climbed. The size was very suited to me. I had to stop and hang twice while cleaning nuts that were really stuck, as well as liberating a booty nut that someone had clearly used to bail on the route. Another bailing nut was fused and stayed in. During the second "take" to clean a nut I had a little accident. The draw on the piece above the one I was cleaning got jerked violently in the take, the biner at the end whipping around and fluttering and eventually taking a nice big bite out of my left bicep. It took a good chunk of flesh out, and made a giant bruise around it. It hurt a lot, but I was in the moment and didn't pay much attention. Later, at the top of the route I stopped to disinfect and bandage it.
At the top of the second pitch we switched to me leading up to the anchors of the last pitch of Tree Route, since I had the whole entire giant rack of tiny gear on me. It was fun to be, however briefly, on the sharp end. I think Dima either doesn't trust me, or is so concerned about me getting hurt and screwing up his climbing plans, that he almost never lets me lead. He certainly never asks if I want to. The silent arrangement suits me, however, as he is a lot more willing to get on harder things and flail than I am, as a leader.
The last pitch of Tree Route -- in fact the whole route -- is super fun. It's a lowish angle slab, with a single bolt in the middle, a bit like the last pitch of Angel's Fright/Fingertrip on Tahquitz, but easier. Above that are just slabs to the top. We hung out on the slabs, licking our wounded egos and arms and enjoying the incredible view. A lovely breeze had kicked up, really helping in the 80s temps and full-on sun. Eventually we walked off the rock, I took a nap, and Dima went back to the base to retrieve his gear. We finished our day with another visit to the Ponderosa, where the service sucked and the food made us both quite ill. But more about that on the next day's log...
Moonlight Buttress, learning to love the journey
2 years ago