Saturday, July 19, 2014

Better Redpoint than Deadpoint? P-38 (5.10b), Precarious Perch (5.9+) and Fun Moderates in the Uberfall

(Photo: Nani on Classic (5.7).)

We are about to embark on the great sleepaway camp trek of 2014. My wife Robin and I are taking the kids to New Hampshire, dropping them off, and then we will take a little time off to do some hiking in the White Mountains.

I am very excited about the hiking, don't get me wrong.

But let's face it: hiking isn't climbing.

Friday was supposed to be a beautiful day in the Gunks, so I decided to start my little vacation with an extra day for climbing. I made plans to meet up with Nani so we could climb together for the first time this year.

Nani and I have been partners almost as long as I've been climbing. She's been there for some of my big climbing moments, both highs and lows. She was there for some of my first 5.9 leads, and she was there when I broke my ankle in a climbing fall in 2009. But for the last couple of years she's been in and out of the climbing habit and we've seldom been able to get together. Recently she's been getting back out there and she's decided to focus on getting used to trad leading, an aspect of the game that she's flirted with uncomfortably for a long time. I'm really psyched for her and I hope I'll have the opportunity to watch her grow into the confident leader I know she can be. I know that her climbing and gear placement skills are both very strong. She just needs to get used to handling the climbing and the pro at the same time and then she'll be ripping it up out there.

On Friday we got up to the Gunks to find it was a beautiful a day, as predicted. Since it was a weekday we had our pick of lines and we gave in to the temptation to stay close to the parking lot.

(Photo: If you follow the rope you'll see me at the end of Classic (5.7); I'm the blue dot up above the roof.)

I warmed us up with Classic (5.7). This was my first 5.7 lead back in 2008. It can be a little scary for the new leader because the hardest move is right off the ground and the pro for the first several sequences consists of fixed pitons. As of this writing the pitons seem solid. One of them was replaced just last year.

(Photo: Nani striking a cool pose during the early bits of Classic (5.7).)

Since this part of the cliff gets insanely crowded on the weekends, I generally avoid the whole area. But the first pitch of Classic is so nice. I forgot how nice it is. The moves are good throughout and consistently thoughtful. As long as the pitons are okay the pro is good too. The roof at the end is all jugs. It's probably no harder than 5.5.

After I led Classic, Nani took a turn leading Jackie (5.5). This is another quality pitch full of good moves.

(Photo: Nani at the finishing roof on Jackie (5.5).)

I always find Jackie a little confusing after the tree about 20 feet up. You can head left up a vertical seam or more easily right past a little ledge. And then you pull past an overlap, either at a right-facing corner at its left end or a few feet to the right. I've never been sure which is the "correct" route and it seems I change my mind every time. It's all good climbing. I think heading up the seam to the corner at the left end of the overlap is the path with the best gear. Nani worked it out on the lead and got through it just fine, despite my poor attempts to point her in the right direction.

A few weeks ago I decided I needed to go get the send on all of the climbs I've failed to on-sight on lead. Last week I managed to knock off one of them, Frustration Syndrome (5.10c). This was a good start but I have a bunch left to do.

So after we finished with Jackie we moved over to one of these climbs I've failed to send: P-38 (5.10b). It had been over a year since my first attempt at the route, but I thought I remembered what to do at the hardest move.

(Photo: Working my way up P-38 (5.10b).)

Well, I guess I waited too long. Turns out I didn't really remember much of anything. I couldn't for the life of me remember how I previously made the first hard move right off of the ground. It took some real thinking and experimenting but I eventually got over the initial hard bit, using a secret toe hold that I don't think I found last time.

Then, moving up the diagonal crack, I got flustered. Hadn't I been able to rest last time? I found the climbing so awkward. And then when I moved left into the crux I got very confused. I wanted to do a step-through move I remembered but I couldn't find it! Where was the pebbly toe hold I was aiming for? It turned out that the step through was still a few moves away. I discovered it again as if for the first time, after a few hangs.

Once I put it together and did the crux properly it felt straightforward. Again. I think there is some kind of lesson to be learned here about memory and expectations. I should have studied the route a little more carefully before I hopped on, and I should have approached the climb with more patience. I wasn't looking and thinking enough. I let my expectations dictate my actions and when reality didn't match my memory I got all messed up.

I know I can do this route cleanly if I go back to it THIS YEAR. I have it all worked out again.

(Photo: Doing the finishing moves on P-38 (5.10b).)

P-38 remains a nice pitch. I enjoy all of it, even the mellow traverse after the crux, and the finishing moves. There is gear everywhere. There has been a lot of run-off this year and right next to P-38 there is a filthy brown streak on the wall. But don't let that deter you, the climb itself is clean.

We decided not to do the Radcliffe walk-off which is right behind the climb. There seems to be a family of vultures inhabiting this descent route and we didn't want to bother them. Instead we scrambled up the notch to the top of the cliff and walked off the Uberfall descent.

It was Nani's turn again so she led pitch one of Dennis (5.5). This is another nice easy pitch with a (surprisingly hard!) "easy" bulge right off the ground and then some fun slabby low-angled climbing right after. The pitch steepens again towards the end. The gear is great for all of the challenging bits.

(Photo: Nani getting solid gear for the hardest moves on Dennis (5.5).)

We rapped off at the tree anchor atop pitch one and made the short journey over to another one of the demons from my past: Precarious Perch (5.9+). This one I failed to send just a few weeks ago. I knew exactly what to do, but still this was not going to be easy. The long reaches between crimps over the crux roof would be hard. I could easily mess it up.

(Photo: Starting up Precarious Perch (5.9++). Look, I can place gear while standing on one foot!)

Luckily it went very well. I cruised through the puzzling 5.8 move to get into the Jean corner and then I had no hesitation during the rightward thin traverse. I plugged in two good pieces below the Precarious Perch roof and got a good rest before firing through it.

I still think it's a 5.10. That roof move is a lunge/dead point. I was able to do it but I could easily have missed it. I can't think of another 5.9 roof like this. Jean is definitely easier, as is pitch two of MF, Keep on Struttin', Grim-Ace Face... I just can't think of any comparable 5.9's.

(Photo: Working on the roof on Precarious Perch (5.9+++). Sorry about the shadow of my arm in the shot.)

Anyway I was glad to take care of Precarious Perch. Nani, who'd danced up P-38 like it was nothing, had some trouble at the Precarious Perch roof. Once she got over it we decided we might as well try pitch two. It is rated 5.8 and someone on Mountain Project once said it was worth doing. Why not check out something new?

I thought it was actually pretty terrible. Pitch two of Precarious Perch has below-average Gunks face climbing with dirty rock that is at times loose. The first few moves up aren't bad, ascending a blocky left-facing corner. But after that it is not very nice. I couldn't find any 5.8 on it, either. I think I might have skipped the crux. I came to a spot with a long reach to a pointed horizontal hold. It looked kind of fragile to me so I touched it lightly. When I did so I thought that it creaked and flexed a bit. My last piece, below me, was a green Alien in questionable rock. I wasn't about to trust my weight to this suspect hold. So I moved to the right just a few feet and easily climbed around it. I probably should have continued traversing another five or ten feet to finish on pitch two of Sixish. It would have been more fun.

(Photo: Coming up the 5.8 pitch two of Precarious Perch.)

When Nani joined me on the GT Ledge I suggested that she could end our day with pitch three of Sixish. The pitch is only 5.4 but it is one of those special Gunks pitches, offering great exposure at a moderate grade as you traverse above the lip of one roof and below another, and then finish up a fun v-notch. The traversing nature of the pitch challenges the budding leader's rope management skills and the climb's finish at the top of the cliff, over a big overhang, can make communication difficult.

(Photo: Doing the traverse on pitch three of Sixish (5.4).)

Needless to say, Nani got it done without any trouble. Like all the other climbs she led on our day together, Sixish is well below her ability level. But of course this was by design, so she could focus on the gear and not on hard moves. These were great confidence-building pitches, I hope, and anyway it's nice every so often to romp up some of these fantastic moderate climbs at the Gunks. It's easy to forget how much fun they are.

I hope Nani and I get out again soon for some more climbing, whether easy or hard or somewhere in between.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A New Route in the Trapps?!? Erogenous Zone (5.10 or 5.11 or something), plus Frustration Syndrome (still 5.10c) and Comedy in Three Acts (5.11a)

(Photo: The view out from the ravens' haven at the belay stance in the cave, on Erogenous Zone.)

I was excited to climb this past Saturday with Kathy, a new partner for me.

She isn't really a "new partner." Though this was our first time roping up together, she and I have been running into each other constantly at the gym and the crag for years. We've talked about routes and shared beta many times, and the conversation inevitably ends with us resolving to climb together. It just never seemed to happen until this week.

I love running into Kathy. She's always about to go on a great climbing trip, or she's just coming back from one. She never fails to have some amazing, ambitious project in her sights. Her enthusiasm is infectious. And her skills are impossible to deny. Through her travels she has become a solid crack climber and lately she's been obsessed with attacking off-widths, so that she can be truly well-rounded.

When we decided to get together on Saturday she told me she wanted to do this new route in the Trapps which she heard about from our local Millbrook expert (and friend of the blog) Chris Fracchia. The new route starts on the GT Ledge to the left of Andrew, inside a big cave at the back of the buttress that houses Twilight Zone. Chris and his friends named it Erogenous Zone.

Chris told Kathy that the first pitch of Erogenous Zone involves a 5.10 off-width crack. This was all Kathy needed to hear, given her recent fascination with wide cracks. If it had an off-width, she was up for it.

I have almost no experience with off-widths but I was game to try the climb. I just hoped I could get up it without making a fool of myself.

First we needed to get up to the GT Ledge. We hiked on out to the Andrew area. I was going to lead our first pitch of the day up to the ledge and I was thinking about two not-so-popular climbs in the vicinity that I hadn't yet tried, Proctor Silex (5.9+) and Man's Quest For Flight (5.8). But as I scoped them out I thought Proctor Silex looked kind of hard and Man's Quest looked really dirty, so I decided to do Silhouette (5.7), a climb that I'd really enjoyed once before.

I liked it just as much the second time around. The face climbing off the pedestal at the start is good, and then the traverse under the roof is really nice. Kathy thought the traverse was kind of thin for 5.7 and I think I agree. The final climbing up a vertical crack system over a couple of crux bulges makes for a beautiful finish. Silhouette has great, varied climbing all the way from the ground to the GT Ledge. I think it is one of my favorite 5.7's.

(Photo: Kathy just over the little roof on Silhouette (5.7).)

Once we were both on the GT Ledge we could see where we needed to go. I quickly led up the start of Andrew's second pitch, moving the belay up about 40 feet to a good ledge directly beneath the big cavern behind the Twilight Zone buttress.

Then Kathy stepped up to explore Erogenous Zone.

(Photo: Figuring out how to get into the wide crack of Erogenous Zone.)

For Kathy the biggest challenge was figuring out how to get started. She had to work her way upward into this bottomless crack. She turned herself around a few times and tested various holds before committing to the wideness. But once she went for it all hesitation disappeared. She slithered into the gap and squirmed her way up inside of it in what seemed like no time at all.

(Photo: Kathy fully swallowed by Erogenous Zone.)

After she finished the hard bit Kathy moved up to a ledge near the top of the cave, where Chris had suggested belaying by an old ravens' nest.

Now it was my turn, and I had the benefit of knowing which holds Kathy had used to get on the wall beneath the wide crack. Still, it took me a little while to get myself in place and commit to hauling my body up and into the crack.

Once I did so I realized that this isn't really an off-width. Technically, I would call it a squeeze chimney, since you get your whole body into the thing. As I pulled up into it, I quickly found myself firmly wedged inside. I knew I wouldn't fall out, which was nice. But I wasn't sure that I could move any further, which was not so nice.

Eventually, with a substantial amount of thrutching and grunting, I managed to move a little bit higher. I heard Kathy laughing at the ridiculous, involuntary sounds I was producing. I'd like to say the indignity of my situation made me even more determined to get the job done, but really I needed no additional motivation. The prospect of spending the rest of my life stuck in this stone coffin was reason enough for me to give the pitch my maximum effort.

I scrunched my way up some more, but then my progress was abruptly halted because my head got stuck. I was wearing a helmet, which (in retrospect) I do NOT recommend for this pitch. I panicked for a brief moment but then I got unstuck somehow and with a move slightly to the left I was able to get my head not just unstuck, but entirely out of the squeeze. Soon my whole body had escaped the chimney, and after I stopped hyperventilating, with victory in hand, I said to Kathy:

"That was awesome.... but I'm never doing that again!"

(Photo: View of the ridiculously overhanging territory ascended by Twilight Zone (5.13b) and its variations.)

Once I joined Kathy at the belay we tried to figure out where the next pitch was supposed to go. It appeared you could traverse out an overhanging orange face on one side of the cave. There was a sloping rail for the hands (but no feet to speak of) and a thin horizontal seam containing a couple of terrible ancient pitons (perhaps a sign of an old aid pitch or an unfinished project?). Chris had said something to Kathy about a single, desperate 5.11 move on this pitch, but to me the entire face looked desperate. And the pro appeared very thin and hard to place.

On the opposite wall of the cave we could easily traverse about fifteen or twenty feet to the v-notch of a different route called Moby Dick (5.8).

Kathy got on the orange wall a few times to see how she felt about it. It seemed very challenging, and we weren't sure this was where we were supposed to go. Maybe we were supposed to do the traverse higher, or was it lower? Was this the correct route or would we be discovering our very own Erogenous Zone (so to speak)?

Eventually Kathy decided she wasn't feeling it and we escaped to finish on Moby Dick. I was relieved. The orange face seemed like it would be scary for both the leader and the follower. Later I took a look at Chris' photos and realized that we were looking in the wrong place. Chris had traversed above, out the ceiling of the cave, which we never considered. When I told Kathy that we were looking too low, she responded with her typical enthusiasm: "Now we have to go back!"

(Photo: Kathy trying to make sense of the orange face after moving to beneath the notch on Moby Dick (5.8).)

I'm not sure I'll ever go back but Erogenous Zone was something rare in the Trapps: an unknown. I was glad we did it and I was pleased Kathy didn't have to hire a crane to haul me out of the squeeze chimney. It was also a good shady choice for this hot day.

We already had four pitches down and the day was slipping away. I needed to get on with my plan. I really wanted to go knock off Frustration Syndrome (5.10c), a climb that had given me fits during the last weekend in June. I figured the Slime Wall would have shade for us and we'd find some other good stuff to do down at that end of the cliff.

We arrived there to find no one around. We had the whole area to ourselves.

I felt strangely nervous as I started up the route. I don't know why. I knew exactly what I had to do. I wanted the red point and knew I could do it. I think I was just worried I'd do something stupid and blow a sequence somewhere unexpectedly.

(Photo: Climbing Frustration Syndrome (5.10c) in June.)

Everything went fine despite my shakiness. Once I got through the initial traverse and stood up in the main corner I calmed down a bit. I got my crux gear and then the hard move up to just beneath the final roof went well. I got a little pumped placing a nest of pro at the roof but when I stepped up into the finishing sequence it was never in doubt.

I felt very satisfied and not frustrated at all this time. Frustration Syndrome is a really nice little pitch with some good technical moments. And if you take the time to place the nuts it is very safe. I have it totally worked out now and I'd lead it any time.

(Photo: Kathy at the technical crux of Frustration Syndrome (5.10c).)

After we were done with Frustration Syndrome, Kathy took a look at some of the 5.11 climbs to its left. The Slime Wall has a whole bunch of these short 5.11 pitches. Kathy had previously led what looks to me like the best one, The Stand (5.11a). So she and I examined the other ones: April Showers (5.11a), Golden Showers (5.11a) and Comedy in Three Acts (5.11a). I was intrigued to see what these climbs were all about.

Though we were by now totally in the shade of the mid-afternoon, both of the Showers climbs felt pretty slimy in the heat and the opening moves seemed just about impossible. Kathy tested the holds a bit but then shifted her attention to Comedy in Three Acts.

(Photo: Kathy approaching the initial rooflet on Comedy in Three Acts (5.11a).)

Comedy in Three Acts is short. The hard bits are really hard. The opening rooflet is challenging and then the real crux comes above at a vertical cleft through a bulge in the rock. At this final crux you have to find a way to use the sloping edge of a little corner and some tiny crimps above it that face the opposite direction. Kathy didn't get it clean but I admired the way she worked at this hard lead. It is a bit heady, since the final crux is protected by a tiny nut and even assuming it holds you could hit the ledge below.

(Photo: Kathy entering the upper crux of Comedy in Three Acts (5.11a).)

After Kathy finished the pitch I hoped there was a chance for me to send it on my first try on top rope but I wasn't even close, sadly. I struggled on Comedy, much more than Kathy did. I needed more than one go at the initial overhang and then the final balance move up the cleft was a toughie. Eventually after several tries I found a way to make the last move and we were done.

(Photo: Starting up Comedy in Three Acts (5.11a).)

I'd like to think I could lead Comedy some time but I'm not even sure I care. I didn't enjoy it all that much. I know there are some spectacular 5.11's in the Gunks. Comedy in Three Acts isn't one of them. It's no Yellow Wall, that's for sure. It is a 45-foot scramble to a ledge with two brief hard sequences on it. And the fixed anchor is pretty manky, with some okay slings tied to a bunch of very rusty fixed nuts and hexes.

Still, even if I didn't think that much of the pitch, it was good to work on some moves above my level, something I should do much more often.

It was time for us to head out. It had been a good day, not too overwhelmingly hot and not at all crowded. I don't mind these summer days when the temperatures are in the eighties and the crowds go elsewhere. If you look for shade it isn't too bad out, and by mid-afternoon, when the sun goes behind the cliff, it can be perfectly pleasant. The only downside is the chiggers, and ugh, they seem to have been out in force for us. I was wearing long pants and I'm still covered in bites.

I'm so glad Kathy and I finally climbed together. I got some good experience in wide crack climbing and we had a very nice, easygoing time. I hope it won't take years for us to do it again.

UPDATE: Check out Kathy's blog post about our day together!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

On-Sighting is Hard: Frustration Syndrome (5.10c), Precarious Perch (5.9+) & More!

(Photo: Starting up the crux corner on Frustration Syndrome (5.10c).)

Last Thursday the kids finished school for the year. To celebrate, we rented a house in the New Paltz area for the weekend. I planned to climb for a few hours in the mornings and afterwards I would spend the afternoons relaxing with the family by the pool. It was going to be pretty hot in the afternoons anyway, so I was content to cram in a few pitches early each day while it was still reasonably cool outside.

Summer was officially upon us. 

I knew that soon it would be beastly hot all day in the Gunks. Prime early season was ending. And what had I done with the Spring? I had tried a few new climbs here and there but during the first half of 2014 I'd put barely a dent in my Gunks 5.10 list. I had City Streets (5.10b) in the bag, and I had attempted Try Again (5.10a), but that was about it. I did on-sight Turdland (the 5.9 way). And I red pointed Proctoscope (5.9+). 

Not exactly a hero's resume.

I wanted to try to get on something ambitious this weekend. When Gail and I met up on Saturday we decided to head out to the Slime Wall at the far end of the Trapps. We could warm up on something easy and then I would tackle something BIG. Maybe Falled on Account of Strain (5.10b)? Maybe Frustration Syndrome (5.10c)? Maybe even 10,000 Restless Virgins (5.10d)? 

We trooped down to the end of the cliff and in our enthusiasm we went too far. We passed the Slime Wall and headed up a trail to find ourselves at Almost Pure and Simple (5.8). And then instead of heading back down to the carriage road we stupidly bushwhacked our way back along the broken-up base of the cliff to WASP (5.9). We probably wasted 25 precious minutes stumbling around among loose rocks and pine needles making our way to the Slime Wall, when we could have easily walked there in a couple of minutes if we'd just gone back the way we came.

By the time we reached the base of WASP I was sweaty enough that I didn't really need a warm-up any more, so we just did WASP. 

WASP was an early 5.9 lead for me and I remember thinking it had great gear back in 2011. This time around with Gail I still felt the gear was good but it was a bit hard to find for the first few moves. I got a pink Tricam in a little pod for my first piece but it was one of those placements that doesn't seem possible. Somehow it fits. My second placement was also a challenge. Once I got to the little overlap where the right-facing corner starts, about fifteen feet up, the gear became automatic. But for the first couple of tough moves I was less sanguine about the pro than I was the last time I led the route.

Concerns about gear aside, WASP remains a great climb, with several awkward hard moves up to the rooflet about 25 feet up and then nice cruiser climbing above. We also did pitch two, which I really liked. It is allegedly 5.5 but the crux roof felt much harder than that to me. It is a long reach past some sandy/slopery intermediate holds before you find the jugs. The second pitch ends in a clean white V-notch that appears utterly blank from below, but which turns out to be easy. Nice climbing at the finish; I think when I did this with Vass three years ago we may have skipped the V-notch and climbed up dirty rock to its left. 

Watch out for loose junk above the GT Ledge in this part of the Trapps. It's a lot like Millbrook up there: seldom traveled and with lots of lichen and fragile flakes around.

(Photo: At the roof on Frustration Syndrome (5.10c).)

After we finished with WASP it was now or never. I decided to attempt Frustration Syndrome (5.10c), which is just left of WASP and which follows a shallow left-facing corner up to a little roof. 

My biggest concern was safety. I told myself not to get committed too far away from my gear. I thought the pro was supposed to be good, with nuts available all the way up the corner. I just needed to make sure to place enough of them.

I enjoyed the early going, traversing into the corner. There are some good moves and protection is available when you need it.

Once you reach the corner the first steps up are casual enough but then the hardest technical sequence on the route (in my opinion) comes as you leave a stance on a small ledge about halfway up to the roof. After I spent some effort working it out, testing holds, moving up and down and placing more gear, I made it past this move.

So far, so good, but then it all came apart. I got under the roof and the stance there was terrible. The handholds were hard to use. I wasn't willing to move up any further without more pro but I couldn't arrange myself so that I could place anything. I went up and down and then eventually took a hang, and then a fall, rather than go higher without gear. I kept moving up to just beneath the roof, failing every time to find a way to get stabilized. I wasn't even trying to make the moves over the roof, I was just trying to figure out a way to hold on with one hand and slot a piece.

After what seemed like an eternity and countless efforts I realized that I had completely missed a crucial jug hold. It was so obvious. I felt like such a moron. If only I'd bothered to look around the first time. Once I found it I stepped up easily to the roof and placed gear.

The roof too was a challenge. I didn't get the sequence right at first but eventually I figured it out. 

(Photo: Gail moving up to the corner on Frustration Syndrome (5.10c). She sent it on the first try! Of course she was helped by watching me try all the wrong ways first...)

Frustration Syndrome turned out to be aptly named. I was so frustrated by this pitch. It really brought into relief for me how many ways one can fail in on-sight leading. I got tunnel vision and ignored a crucial hold. I misdiagnosed the crux sequence over the roof. I was tentative, afraid to move above my protection. Each of these factors contributed in its own way.

I tried not to be disappointed. 5.10c is hard. I was very safe about how I approached the climb and that was the most important thing, right? There is great gear on Frustration Syndrome. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Mostly small nuts but they are bomber. I know, I tested them.

I walked out of the Trapps on Saturday wishing I could come back in the evening just to get the red point on Frustration Syndrome. I know that now I could fire the sucker off. I want to do it soon, too, before I forget all of my beta. 

(Photo: Gail making the traverse on pitch one of Maria (5.6+).) 

On Sunday, Gail and I decided to stay close to the parking lot so as not to waste any time. We were early enough to have our pick of lines so we began with all three pitches of Maria (5.6+), one of the best 5.6 climbs in the Gunks.

(Photo: Gail starting up Maria's pitch two corner.)

Every pitch is good but I especially love the roof problem on pitch three. Many have called it a sandbag but the holds are all there. It is just a little weird, moving left out of a corner and into an overhang. It is thrilling, and not just "for the grade." Great moves on beautiful white rock. 

(Photo: Gail finishing the roof problem on pitch three of Maria (5.6+).)

After we were done with Maria I wanted to hit another tough climb. I suggested we try Precarious Perch, which isn't a 5.10 but is something worse: a 5.9+. Oh, that dreaded plus sign.

It was nearby and it was sure to be open.

No one ever seems to do Precarious Perch. As with Frustration Syndrome the day before, I knew basically nothing about it. I knew that like its neighbor, my old nemesis Jean (5.9+), it was supposed to have a hard roof problem. I read Dick's entry in the guidebook and hoped for the best.

(Photo: Investigating the roof on Precarious Perch (5.9+).)

I was familiar with the starting face and corner, since it is shared with Jean. But then after a funky move into the corner, Precarious Perch does a delicate traverse right instead of heading straight up into the Jean roof. This thin traverse is very nice. I really enjoyed it.

Then there is a good stance at the roof. There is ample gear there too, and then Dick says you are supposed to move up over the roof slightly to the left. I thought I spotted the correct route upward, using a couple of improbably long reaches between crimpy holds, but when I explored it a bit it seemed too hard. I didn't really commit to it. Gail seemed to think I was looking in the wrong spot and I started to think she was right. Looking around, I could see other options in either direction.

I should have trusted my first instincts.

It turns out there are sucker holds to both the left and the right of the correct path on Precarious Perch. They seem better than the correct holds but lead nowhere. I found out through much testing and eventual falling that I couldn't get over the roof using them. It seemed like I tried a million things, taking a long long time and leaving Gail down there belaying me forever, again. Eventually I thought about giving up. 5.9+ wasn't supposed to be this hard. 

Finally I went back to the first path I had considered and rejected. I committed to the big lock-off and reach and made it over the roof, feeling like a moron for the second day in a row.  

(Photo: Gail making the delicate traverse on Precarious Perch (5.9+).)

On Precarious Perch I had fallen victim to some of the same errors as the day before. I'd been afraid to commit to a hard move above my gear. I had misread the route. Once I figured out what move I was supposed to make and really tried it everything worked out.

This is a hard roof! Much harder than Jean. I think it is the better route of the two, as it has the nice traverse before the roof. But in my opinion this is a solid 5.10. The move over the roof is quite difficult even when you know what to do. 

I was exhausted by the long effort on Precarious Perch but we still had a little time left so we ended our morning by top-roping Jean next door. 

(Photo: In the midst of the roof on Jean (5.9+).

After Precarious Perch, Jean felt pretty casual. It made me tempted to lead it again one of these days. I never did go back to get it clean on lead. 

I have to admit I was pissed off about how Precarious Perch went down. I should have gotten the on-sight but instead it was an epic siege. I hope in retrospect I've learned the right lessons and will do better on similarly hard on-sights in the future.

I need to do a red point day in the Trapps to hit all of the hard climbs I've failed to send. It is getting to be a pretty big list. We could move down the cliff, going from P-38 to Jean to Precarious Perch to Try Again to Balrog to Simple Suff (currently closed) and finally to Frustration Syndrome. 

Actually I think that would be a pretty fun day! Maybe I'll do it soon if it isn't too beastly hot out.