On Sunday, we went back to the Crow’s Nest, to the same climb. I was feeling less pressure to lead. I saw the value in practicing placing the gear. I felt that if I could get good at choosing the right piece on the first try and placing it quickly, that would make it much easier for me to lead eventually.
I told Dan we should move on to the next 5.5, a crack he’d been eyeing the day before during the hours he spent belaying me. We hiked up again and built another natural feature anchor again using one of the boulders at the top. We rapped down and I climbed it first.
It was a really fun climb and a good chance to practice all the gear placing tricks I had learned the day before. Problem was, I was so tired and the skin on my hands was scabbed and sore from all the gear placing the day before. Reaching into the cracks really scratched up my knuckles. Also my finger tips were a bit raw. The climb felt like sandpaper. I was distracted by the pain.
Dan climbed next on top rope. Then he led. It was perhaps his most challenging lead so far. He stopped about 3/4 of the way up and took some deep breaths. He took his time, placed good gear and completed the climb.
We stopped for lunch and I wasn’t sure I wanted to climb again. I was really tired and my skin was so sore. Maybe it would be better to focus on recovery and climb strong Monday. We walked around to the Lava Dome, another rock formation out in the Towers of Uncertainty. There was a 5.6 and a 5.4 that looked really good. I decided not to climb again and save up for those two.
Back at the Crow’s Nest, Dan asked if I would give him a belay so he could lead again. Of course I would. He said he would then come down and clean the gear off the route before climbing a final time to clean the anchor. I told I wanted to do the final climb and clean the anchor. He was good with that. I wanted to climb but not scrape my skin up placing gear.
Dan led the route again and this time, he was smooth and strong, placing gear quickly and efficiently. He flowed up the route. It was great to watch him. I lowered him and he cleaned all the gear he had placed.
I then went up, just climbing, not thinking about gear. I enjoyed the pure movement of the climb, just finding the great footholds and hands. The climbing here is really mostly about placing your feet and standing on them. Hands can be used just for balance.
At the top, I dropped the rope down to Dan and cleaned the anchor. Then I walked down. I felt like it was a very successful day.
Dan on his first attempt, a top rope climb to figure out where to place gear.