Monday, October 14, 2013

Nervified: To Be Nervous

Annie has been on a theme lately, making up her own words and tenses to embellish modifiers.  She likes to take a word like "dirty" and transforms it to something such as "dirtified" - Example in a sentence: "Darn, I got my shirt all dirtified!"  This has become almost a fun game we play, although admittedly, Annie is winning.  Recently we were driving up towards some road construction and there was a bright orange warning sign
that read "Scarified Pavement Ahead"
You might imagine the laughter which ensued as we considered how SCARY it would be to drive on this pavement - or better yet, how sorry we were that the pavement felt so afraid of something!

As climbers, we tend to set personal goals for ourselves by working towards climbing a certain grade (difficulty) or classic route on a big cliff.  A "Tick List" might be created to record our accomplishments and keep us motivated.  I have had my sights set on doing a classic, beautiful and challenging route in the Adirondacks called "Upper Partition".  This route is a large and prominent dihedral feature (inside corner) high on Upper Washbowl in the Chapel Pond pass.  I love how this cliff towers above the pass - you might climb only 3 or 4 vertical rock pitches but once up there you feel (and are) much higher and remote.  I've posted plenty on this blog about the climbs I've completed up there including Hesitation and The Wiessner's route - and the photos tell the story of the beauty from that perspective.

Having been on the list for years now, the time came to finally tick Upper Partition.  I tried hard not to get myself too worked up about it (it is rated 5.9 and looks steep and intimidating despite its magnetism - it begs to be climbed.)  I've gotten myself over-prepared and hyped for challenging routes by studying forums, guidebooks and talking to other climbers who have done the route.  This only builds the anticipation and fear (AKA "nervification"). It can also set you up for disappointment (I was quite disappointed when I first climbed High Exposure in the Gunks. I had made it too big a deal in my mind prior to the onsight).  But I digress.....

I had this on my schedule for a long time, hoping for the right conditions. The day was right. The weather forecast perfect. The climbing partners (Annie and Valerio) both willing, able and excited to go and climb it.  And at the end of the season I am climbing about as good as I am going to get this year, so strike while confidence is high.  A very early morning rise was mandatory to make this work in a day trip - but it was worth every minute.

We made record time on the approach (usually 30 minutes, we hoofed it in closer to 20 minutes for fear the parties behind us would beat us to our desired route).  The plan was to climb the Wiessner's route to the big slanting ledge, then finish on Upper Partition.  In short - the plan worked. Flawlessly.

Valerio took the sharp end for pitch one of Wiessner's. The infamous block move 40 feet up is awkward and strenuous - the stuff I hate because it is rated only 5.6 but feels MUCH harder when you are in the thick of it!  When Annie and I climbed this route earlier this summer we found that crux move very unpleasant. I tried to the left of the block, then the right, then back left (see August post Back to School).  Valerio did a nice job of climbing up onto the block from the right. Annie followed suit. My turn - with the benefit of a top rope I had nothing to lose. I still could not get comfortable with that strenuous movement so I found another way! I don't mean "going off-route another way", I mean I found a different technique to use to climb up onto the block and it worked beautifully! Not awkward, not especially strenuous and eliminated the need for the dreaded "belly flop"!  I won't give it away here in case there is a reader/climber intending to onsite this route.  But I look forward to going back and leading it again with my new technique - a welcome relief! But I digress.....

Upper Partition!!! Well I was plenty worked up, but worked hard to keep calm.  In Annie's language, I was nervified.  I knew this corner would be challenging, but I embraced it.  Knowing it has protection throughout is a comfort.  Even if it is harder than you anticipate you can keep it relatively safe with good and plentiful gear placements. I would say this climb packs plenty of 5.9 punch - there are rests on small ledges and stems between featureless sidewall sections - perhaps even a little more so than Frosted Mug (Beer Walls), Dark Shadows (Red Rocks), Hospital Corner (Lover's Leap, CA) or Recompense top pitch (Cathedral Ledge, NH). But the moves felt hard and there were no "easy" sections.  And although the technical crux is at the bottom third, the toughest section in my estimation is the top out through an overhanging offwidth crack.  The protection was excellent though, with smaller gear deep inside the offwidth.  The higher I climbed the less nervified I was. It's a little like stage fright or fear of speaking in public - once you get started the jitters work themselves out.  I think feeling  "nervified" serves its purpose - keeps you paying attention and prevents complacency.

Valerio got some photos with his phone and I will update this post when I get more from him.  I've posted the 2 best ones I have for now.

To Valerio and Annie: THANKS for being there for me and helping to squelch my nerves - what an honor and pleasure to climb the route with you on such a gorgeous day.  The climb is now checked off on the tick list and I no longer have to suffer being all nervified!

Valerio just before surmounting the block crux on Pitch One of The Wiessner's Route

Pretty good perspective of the huge corner of Upper Partition.
Annie belaying (or pretending to?) and Jean near the top, almost there!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Jean, So for the Wiesner route, the blocky part, did you finally go over the block from right or left? I tried the right side and was not sure. So I backed down and did a belly flop from the left. Is there any pro on right side after where Valerio is going? Thanks! Jane