Silent Running on 3 O'Clock Rock
"How much longer can I sort of sleep before I actually have to get up pack and make it to Forrest and Brooke's by 5am?" I find myself thinking that a lot when my alarms begin to sound at 3am on the weekends. This isn't even the first time in the last 7 days I've gone through this same song and dance.
I somehow managed to have remembered to grab all my gear (well, with the exception of my gloves) and was sitting in their living room at 5am on the dot.
In my work life, I manage projects, making sure expectations are met and schedules are kept. I definitely used to be like that when it came to having fun as well - I'm not entirely sure when it changed. But the evolution has brought me to having weekend plans changing several times over the course of the week and changing mere hours before having to wake up for an excursion...and while on occasion I still stress a bit about changing plans, I like it better this way.
This weekend was no exception. We all had a few different plans going on for this weekend but somehow, at 10pm last night, I found myself with a completely new plan for today in a matter of minutes.
With 4 hours of sleep, I somehow managed to find myself piled into the car with Brooke, Forrest, and Robert en route to Darrington, WA to climb Silent Running on Three O'Clock Rock.
I've only ever climbed outdoors a handful of times (that will change). And I'm not the biggest fan of slab (cheese-grating, anyone?). And it was cold (but not cold enough for ice climbing). And I've definitely never done a multi-pitch climb before (I grew up in Texas, okay? Give me a couple years to catch up).
The first two pitches of the climb was nice and dry, albeit very cold. The first bolt was a challenge to find, but Eve and Forrest totally killed the lead. In these first two pitches, I quickly realized that climbing slab is totally different and completely weird. It was like half-walking and learning to to trust your feet rather than grabbing onto holds with your hands.
Because of the weird weather, we had these giant bursts of ice chunks fall on us periodically. We realized quickly that we needed to be super aware of what was going on and we got good at warning each other as far in advance as possible by yelling "ICE, ICE, ICE!!!" before tucking ourselves into the fetal position the best we could to avoid having ice hit our hands. These ice chunk showers hailed down on us every 10-20 minutes or so, and we eventually resigned ourselves to the fact that it wasn't going to end.
We sat around on the belay ledge for awhile. We had laughs, it got cold, we sustained a few hits from larger chunks of ice with more than a few f-bombs, I got cranky, and then I finally climbed up and rappelled down (we bailed on the rest of the climb because the slab was getting wet and icy...and no one felt like dealing with the ice bath we were getting).
So what did I learn?
I learned (if I'm being completely honest, always relearning) that I can and should trust my feet more than I think - even if i cant feel them from the cold. I also learned that my hands and fingers can hang on in the cold too.
I learned that sometimes, doing something counterintuitively might start better habits and also make things easier for you.
I learned that it's fine to bail. There's a fine line between being willing to take an acceptable amount of risk and being plain stupid.
It was reinforced that while helmets sometimes look dumb, they can really save your noggin.
I learned that Mother Nature is a freaking beast.
And I learned once again, my friends are the best for being insane enough to do things like this together.