We got a late start because Dan had some meetings in the morning. We headed in to the Park to check out the Trash Can Wall which is very close a parking lot and has a few easy climbs we could tackle. I was expecting the crag to be very busy given the short approach but there was only one group there when we arrived.
We walked over and checked out the climbs. Sure, enough it was right beside the parking lot and picnic area. Never have I ever seen a shorter approach! The cracks looked really good and Dan and I unpacked at the base of a promising looking line.
We hiked around and set up a top rope. Some of the “walk offs” are a bit dicey here with some exposed scrambling moves. But we found a place where the folks below told us a chock stone could be slung as a natural anchor. We set it up and rappelled down.
I started and climbed the 5.4 crack, struggling with long stretches of no obvious foot or hand holds. I asked for take a couple times as I scratched my head, trying to figure out where to place my feet. I have heard that crack climbing isn’t intuitive or obvious and it became apparent that I have no talent or skill for it yet. I made it to the top, came back down and hopped on it again.
My second time up, I managed to not ask for take but the climbing was so difficult. I started thinking a lesson in crack climbing might be worth the money. I climbed it a third time, trying to get smoother but this time, my feet kept sliding off the granite. How I hate when people say “trust your feet”. If I’m not putting weight on my feet, there’s a reason for it. The foothold is shit. Sure enough, when I weighted my feet, they slid out from under me and I fell off. Maybe I should pay up for some lessons in slab climbing too. I was so frustrated, I untied and stepped aside for Dan to try it.
Dan climbed it much more easily than me. Climbing moves seem to come a lot more naturally for him. He placed gear as he went and found some great placements. He came back down and pulled the rope. His second time up, he led, looking strong and confident.
We had a quick snack and considered our next move. I didn’t have much more to give to that lesson in frustration and Dan had done it. We decided to move the rope to a different climb. We hoped we could leave our anchor in place and clip the rope to a cam at the top of the second crack. I climbed up to see what could be done.
I got up there and I couldn’t place a cam to my satisfaction. I could get the cam in but I didn’t know if it would hold. I kept thinking that if it popped during a fall, we’d be swinging out under the old anchor. I couldn’t stand that thought so I called down to Dan that it wasn’t going to work. He said he’d hike up and we’d move the anchor over. Sounded like a good plan. I disassembled the chock stone anchor while I waited for him to come up.
We moved the anchor to a large crack that ran up from the ground and split the boulders at the top of the crag. We had to use gear to build it, there were no natural features. We thought back to our training from Joey. We placed three great pieces close together in one crack and slung them. We placed another bomber piece further away to give the anchor some stability and redundancy. We then attached the two with our static rope to create an extended top rope anchor. The anchor was totally over built but at this point in our trad careers, we err on the side of too much gear.
We both rapped down and got ready to climb. This crack had a lot more featured rock but fewer placements. I climbed it once and enjoyed it. Dan got on it and used his formula for success, climbing it once on top rope placing gear, then climbing it on lead. He left the gear in and I climbed it and checked the gear. All his gear placements looked really good to me. I then clipped the top bolt on a climb up the slab in between the two cracks. This bolted line looked really juicy to me and I was excited to try it.
I climbed the bolted line on top rope with only one fall. There was a really interesting seam of rock running up vertically through the granite and this different rock was fractured to make what looked like a tiny staircase. It was really fun to use as hand and footholds.
We decided we were done for the day, we were both exhausted. It was nearly 6 pm by the time we packed up.
We talked about going back to Bear Island on our next climbing day to get on that 5.3 that Dan climbed as his first trad lead. Perhaps I could do my first lead there. Dan said he would belay me as long as it takes. I’ll do my best!