Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The "Wrong" Mountain

"Maybe it is a good thing we didn't make it onto Storm Mountain".

Alik and I agreed we had fortuitous misfortune when I got us lost at the Twin Lakes. Twin Lakes. Imagine, there are two of them.

I had jogged up the trail a few days earlier with Corinna.  Something had seemed a little different than I remembered but memory is not my strong suit. Last year at this time I approached Storm Mountain for an enjoyable alpine outing.  I shrugged off this year's faint impression of non-familiarity. With Alik we repeated the approach and began the traverse around the lake.  It got a little steeper than I remembered.

The next morning, looking closely from above the opening slush pitch I realized that indeed, we had contoured the wrong lake.  Upper Twin Lake leads right and to the north face of Storm Mountain, home to the infamous unrepeated Wallator route we were aiming for. A year earlier we had approached our first ascent Canoeing to Cuba from Upper Twin Lake. We found an easy route with some spectacular settings. It was about 100 meters to the start of the Wallator route; you'd think a year later I would be able to find my way back.

 Contour the wrong lake, the Lower Twin Lake, and you get to the base of an unastounding wall. So unastounding that the Dave Jones Rockies guidebook just calls it Unnamed 3021.

At this point I was profusely apologizing to Alik. I had finally spotted the south ridge of Storm Mountain a kilometer to our right, and realized we were faced at 6 pm with a very unappealing traverse.

"Honestly, I don't understand how we got here.  Last time we just traversed around the right side of the lake and it led right below the face."

"Twin Lakes though hey.  I guess there are two lakes.
Maybe we went around the wrong lake?"

"I've been to Upper Twin Lake and it's not below the north face, but on second thought that might have been Arnica Lake.", pondered Alik. "So many lakes!".

"Well, thanks for not losing it on me for getting us lost"

"Yeah, maybe I should be more goal oriented now that I work half the time", Alik ruminated after his recent adoption of a somewhat normal work schedule, a relatively uncommon thing for him.

"Well, should we just climb this namby pamby gully, or do you want to try to traverse over?"

"There's no way we are going to make it to the base of the wall in two hours."

The lassitude of being lost caught ahold, and we settled under our little tarp as there was snow in the forecast.

Seconds later, we were glad to be under cover. Monday night and winter was flashing its presence.

The next morning we had a leisurely 6 am start, as it was an easy snow gully we were aiming for.  I'd already dismissed a couple of much more intimidating route suggestions as too "namby pamby", a British expression my younger friend was unfamiliar with.

It is never a good idea to form the idea that a route is going to be a push-over.  How I didn't guess the ice strip would be slush I don't know.  Then again, I got the wrong lake so underestimating the difficulties of a pitch is a minor misjudgement in comparison. It was easy enough that I wasn't too worried about Alik coming up on a dubious slush based anchor I described as "probably good enough for top-roping." When three out of five pieces are in slush, the integrity of the two nuts placed in choss is essential.

 "I think it's good as long as you get a solid piece in before whipping."

"Oh, I have no plans on whipping."

Well, no one really ever plans that.  We also don't plan on drytooling around 5 meter steps of showering slush on downsloping feet with questionable cams and a "cammed" angle looking "reasonably solid".

Luckily Alik is an expert on camming angles.  Who else have you ever seen stack a leeper and an angle to make an anchor?

We were being drawn onward by a mysterious force. There was no astounding climbing, just plain snow gully slogging.  

"Take a photo. No, hold on, put your helmet back on, photos with people standing on ski terrain with their helmet in their hand just doesn't look hard core."

Near the top of the gully we spotted the black hole that had been sucking us upward. And, incredibly, an ice pillar.  

On closer inspection the pillar wasn't so climbable. We could have gone around but we figured we might as well climb something vertical.  The rock step was surprisingly fun with good hooks and pro. There's even photo proof that it was steep enough I had to drop knee.

"Time to go spelunking"

"I don't know, looks pretty tricky. Let's traverse and see what happens."

What happened was a trip to the ridge, an epic view of a storm blowing in over Storm Mountain, and an easy descent to the larch filled valley.

Spot the climber.

The story of the traverse back to the bivi spot is not documented due to darkness falling.  There was a debate over the presence of a cliff (Alik was right), its traversability (Alik found the way) and its potential lethality (high in my estimation).

By midnight we were squeezing tighter under the tarp as thich snow crowded us. By morning 4 inches had fallen and winter was on.

We had gone winter climbing, maybe not on the right mountain but in the mountains none the less.

Friday, 16 September 2016


You know when you are posing this hard at The Back of the Lake in the "weekend warrior look" that you likely are not sending any time soon.

Of course, we all want our climbing exploits to end in situations like that pictured above. Sometimes, and sometimes for an entire summer, that is not possible.

Sometimes weeks are spent like this.It's not all roses.

When all is said and done, and a summer has passed and I haven't climbed anything worthwhile, it is time for excuses. So, without further ado, and quoting widely from The Art of Climbing Down Gracefully by Tom Patey, a summary of my summer.

One great excuse is The 'Ice-Man' Ploy.
 "I'm a Snow and Ice Man myself!" is a fairly safe assertion...Show me the Englishman- Yes; show me the Englishman, I say- who can stand upright in his steps, square set to the slope, and hit home hard and true, striking from the shoulder! There must be a few of us Ice-Men left around. Ice-Manship may be a forgotten craft but it's still the Cornerstone of Mountaineering.  Never forget that! Any fool can monkey around on overhangs...

It was unmistakably not summer but the three weeks I spent in Scottish conditions last winter likely set back any summer plans immeasurably. Goggles, gore gloves, and wet pants.

This fear of the weather, and its concomitant usefulness as an excuse is neatly summed up as The 'Fohn Wind' and other Bad Weather Ploys

the next time I went up to a hut I determined to follow the advice of local Alpine Guides. If they don't know , who does? Thirty two Guides slept at the Couvercle Hut that night, and they all got up at 2 a.m. like a major volcanic eruption. One Guide, with an attractive female client in tow, walked out, prodded the snow with an ice-axe, sniffed the air, and without a word retired to bed. It later transpired that this was the celebrated Armand Charlet. Thirty one silent Guides looked at each other, shook their heads, and retired likewise.  We woke at 8 a.m to find brilliant sunshine. ....
The last time I saw Charlet he was headed for the valley with the attractive blonde in close attendance. It was the first day of what proved to be a ten-day record heat wave.

Returning from the immaculate rock of southern Spain I decided it was time to reassert myself on the limestone of the Bow Valley.  Fish out of water? Is this 5.8? Am I going the right way? How do I protect a second on this pitch?

There is The 'Greater Ranges' Ploy

Historians tell us that Frank Smythe only began to function properly above 20000 feet. This adds up to a pretty considerable handicap, when you consider how much of his time he spent at lower altitudes. It is all part f the mystique which surrounds The Men who are expected to Go High. 
For this ploy some previous Himalayan experience is essential... Once the aura has formed, you can hardly go wrong. You can patrol the foot of Stanage with all the invested authority of an Everester. No one expects you to climb. It is enough that you retain a soft spot for your humble origins.
"This is all very different from the South Col!" you can remark crisply, as you watch bikini-clad girls swarming over the rocks like chameleons.

As the aura never seems to die, this excuse can be used even if your last trip to altitude ended somewhat short of the summit.

On a few occasions I employed The 'Chossy Climb' Ploy

'Poxy', 'Chossy', 'Spastic' and 'Rubbish' are all terms characteristically used climbers to denigrate ..routes which they have either failed to climb or failed to find(without searching too minutely)

This is of course very useful in the Canadian Rockies.  In the photo below I am well established at a belay stance on a Yamnuska classic.  Solid.

Then we get to the crux of the matter, the 'Responsible Family Man' Ploy.

The little camp-follower who cooked the meals and darned everybody's socks is suddenly transformed into an all-demanding, insatiable virago whose grim disapproval makes strong men wilt in their kletterschuhe. Climbing weekends become less and less frequent...In many cases this is the natural end of all things, but a few diehards still put in an annual appearance- pale shrunken ghosts, who glance nervously over their shoulders before they speak.

Now, in my case it is not marriage or kids that is making me responsible, but I do have a girlfriend and a dog. I seem to go running more days than I go climbing.

Fatefully I took the decision to be responsible and move into a house.  Of course, when the basement, which is going to be a suite and make it affordable to own, ends up looking like a war zone, days climbing seem like they could be better spent.

When you get friends' daughters who are in grade two to wear masks and wield crowbars, you know it has gone too far.

And then there is the decision to forsake a life of selfish climbing and take up the noble profession of rock guiding, letting me legally share my love of the rock and rope trickery with others.  With this amount of rope-work, it is a push to fit in time in the mountains.

Finally, when I did make it through all the choss wrangling, the rope twisting, and the responsibilities of becoming an upstanding citizen, I was bowled low by the dreaded
'Weak Member on the Rope Ploy'

A Past-President of the Aberdeen University Mountaineering Club used this ploy with such remarkable success that he was never once crag-bound during his entire term in Office. "
No hard climbs for me today, Tom," he would sigh heavily. "I'm afraid I've got a weak member on the rope- can't afford to extend myself."

I had it all lined up, a big trip to the big mountains, to make up for this summer of climbing trade routes. Even announced it to my classmates in the Apprentice Rock Guide Exam class of 2016.  My one partner called in sick with a sore back.

The second decided to go climbing in 30 degree 90 percent humidity, technical slab at that.  Currently assessing whether he'll be up for the 25 km approach, we'll see.

At the least I am having fun working on The Art of Climbing Down Gracefully.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

El Botri, Spanish Travel, and Questioning What I Know.

Mad genius who did the FA of Niagara Falls and half of those other routes too? We are not in Chamonix but this definitely is El Botri.

I recently attended the Mashup exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery with Sam Eastman (thanks for the brief tour Sam!)  Let's just say this post is not about alpinism in Chamonix.

Corinna and I visited southern Spain in January for the first time.  The trip was so full of new experiences that it has taken until now to process.  Stephen King says any good writer should write 4 hours every day, so that stories do not get old and stale.  For me it has taken a month and half to order my impressions.  As memory is a subjective faculty it is not surprising that the story has become murkier along the way (a link which perhaps explains why my memory and my campusing are so poor?).

At 10 am, sat on bar stools, in the Mari Jose in Redovan, I didn't pay particular attention to the stubbled wirey Spaniard with the statuesque, made up blonde on his arm.  This was our second bar stop of the day.  We were surrounded by older men who were hand-poured various licors along with their java.  All before a brief day sport cragging at El Rut.  From many trips to Mexico, and from the literature of the greatest Latin American writer of our generation, I should have known to be aware of my surroundings in such an unassuming venue.  I didn't put two and two together when my friend Sergio said that El Botri had done half the first ascents on La Pancha.  The legend has two routes named specifically for him, La Botri 1 and La Botri 2. He used his fortune made in Spain's building boom to climb the world over when he wasn't on his local cliffs.   

 " I think of the Botri, opened in only one day during the fiesta of the patron saint and in infernal temperatures (the only time I thought I would die of dehydration).  45 celsius and only one liter of local vermouth to drink."

We headed to El Cantalar, a small seaside crag developed by Javier Cos Baviera.  Amazing that in Spain you can climb 8b and be humble as pie.  We were warned about the long downhill approach.  A half hour, at a very nonchalant stroll. The locals don't really visit too much, but for us guiris they made an exception. To the north of Murcia are Sierras, covered in forest, but the locals figured we would be more intrigued by the Med.  They weren't far wrong, what a view!

The giant bay of Cartagena is one of the most important harbours on the Med.  Now, as two thousand years ago, it really is the new new thing, as the Romans humorously named it. All we are waiting for in Canada is for our prices to deflate like the tech bubble did, and the Spanish real-estate boom has.  Then we'll be enjoying tapas and drinks at $5 a person too.

 Corinna is a champ, from recovering from death defying accidents, to putting up with lots of guys talking way too much about climbing, in Spanish, and for suggesting we come back the next day to run from Cartagena (the mid-point in the photo) to the Castillitos point.    That evening we were regaled with Javi's paella, his high bottle pouring antics with local ciders (essential to "add air" to get the full flavor), and his next climbing project.

Only in Spain:

"My next project, it is with a boat, it is 15 kilometers long, it is a deep water solo.  But it takes me 4 days, so I need a boat driver."

 "So, if you fall, you fall into water? Really, deep water solo?"

" Yes, I fall between, mmmm, 1 meter and 7 or 8 meters."

This photo shows the more familiar, garden variety type of Spanish climbing scene.  It's sport climbing, and it's what all North a'mericans think of when the think os Spanish rock. I am above Mullas and Bullas, home to lots of vineyards, at El Ferrari.  Later we would sample some fine 1.7 Euro quality vino tintos and 4 liters of the finest vermouth served up in plastic juice bottles.  Plenty of the famously unemployed Spanish youth were pulling down in shocking style. Just down the way is another crag with "a couple of" 9as.  

The diversity of climbing available in the Iberian peninsula is amazing. Pictured is a popular guidebook to climbing areas in Spain.  Each area only gets a brief few sentences to describe the overall aspect of the area.  There are 900 zonas, and it is a select guide. Sergio pointed out that all the visitors go to the crags in the latest Chris Sharma videos.   I was quite happy to have locals to show me around some of the lesser visited areas, where we rarely saw other guiris. 

One of the locals we had to show us the lesser visited treasures was Jose Luis Clavel.  Here he is on his route Eiger on the south face of Leiva.  Jose Luis is a doctor.  He works one 24 hour shift in an ambulance making house calls.

"It saves money on hospital bills" he wisely noted when I mentioned house calls don't happen in Canada.  

Then he takes 4 days off and goes climbing, and lives. I told Jose Luis about the standard 23 on 4 off patch shift in Alberta. His reaction reminded me of the footage of euros in disbelief in Michael Moore's latest movie.

We visitied the adjoining summit, saw wild sheep, and were on our way out when I thought I'd ask Jose Luis about his climbing. 

"Jose Luis, Sergio said you had done some first ascents on the face."


"Which ones?"

"Well, the one I was on, Eiger."

"Any others?"

"Well, the one you were on too."

"Any others?"


"When was that?"

"40 years ago."

It was heartening to see how well people climbed, that it is a part of the culture, and that people don't seem to need to boast about it.  Something else to learn from Jose Luis was when I asked him about bolting natural features.  He said all the routes were put up in the 60s and 70s using aid. Then in the 80s they started to free climb them, and they thought they needed to bolt them.

"But now we don't bolt them so much, we have learned we don't need to."

This is Jose Luis on the crux pitch of Rockabilly on the Tozal de Levante.  The pitch has a few bolts, but it also has in situ pitons, and slings, along with crazy huecos and steep shattered rock pillar pulling.  In the Rockies, can't imagine it.  Put up in 2012, it shows the progression of Spanish climbing, weaving an intelligent line through huge roofs at a reasonable grade.  And the Rock, if only we were so lucky!

Having done one great adventure climb Corinna and I went and climbed above Finestrat, where we narrowly avoided the British climbing scene at the Orange House.  The orange groves of Valencia glistened in the fields below, as we basked above the very strange sight of the towers of Benidorm.  Remember, 

"Only Guiris eat the oranges growing in the streets."

 Only Guiris would ever want anything to do with Benidorm, like a pustule of the worst of UK and Spanish culture exploded on a beautiful sandy coastline.  Just a touch further north, slightly downsized, and preferred by the Russian oligarchs, is Calpe, home of the impeccable  Penon de Ifach.  It was very nautical.  There were seagulls screeching, fishing boats passing.  Our route was called Pirates, and earlier I had climbed Navigantes.  All very enjoyable! 

On the summit I had one of my traveler's misunderstandings. An older Brit couple were descending, accompanied it seemed by their couple of domestic house cats.  I knew a woman in Canmore who would take her house cat ice climbing.  Stranger things have happened.

"Are those your cats?"


"Huh.  Will you take our photo?"

So that is how we have some summit shots of the Penon with cats, and some without.  

The traveler's misunderstanding was truly realized when I saw the following sight.

From decades of traveling, I have become familiar with the following scenario.  The first time one experiences something new, totally out of one's sphere of reference, the conscious mind does not know how to classify it, and one is prone to overlook it.  Then by the third or fourth experience, one's mind has begun to construct a pathway which can absorb and deal with the experience.  It is at this moment that one first becomes aware of the new experience. Only on reflection does one realize this is not the first experience with the new thing, as memory flashes back to previous unconscious memories.

When we first saw these flocks of brightly colored birds we thought a load of parrots had escaped.  My Spanish is quite good, but Sergio's explanation escaped me at first. On one of the last days in Spain I was driving along a small rural road when I spotted both a flock of bright birds and a motley collection of men of various ages, some in cars, some on scooters, others on bikes.  I raced to get my camera, but by the time i returned all trace of the sighting had disappeared.  Returning to Sergio's I heard a faint cooing over the fence.  Lo and behold, next door was the scene depicted above. 

It turns out there is a cult like sport in Murcia and Valencia.  The game seems simple.  Men get a load of male pigeons, and paint them bright colors so they can discern one from the other.  Then they scent the males on a single female, whom they release.  The human males then bet on the prospects of their male pigeon counterparts.  And whichever male first "covers" the female wins.  Like an allegory on life.

The other inexplicable sighting, the roundabouts, are a sign of that other truism of human existence, political corruption.  From the looks of things something needs some explaining.

That is the great thing about traveling.  One's mind gets expanded by trying to absorb new concepts and experiences.  The town, Al Cantarilla, which in Castillano (there is no language named "Spanish" I learned) means "the sewer" named such by the Moors as to them it meant water container.  The oldest boat in the world, to be found off the coast of Cartagena. The "nun's bush", a prickly plant which it is best to avoid touching. Rock climbers who climb 9a and above who are not known by sight, and are mere unsponsored amateurs ("lovers of", in french).  Tapas at $3 a plate, fine vino tinto at $3 also, and vermouth by the plastic jug.  55-year-olds who have been establishing routes for 40 years and now laugh at their mad bolting sprees.  

And one mad rich construction boss named El Botri who says the worst thing about climbing in Nipigon was that he had to lead everything in his duvet, but that when he climbed Niagara Falls as a lark it was only grade 4.

Amazing the things one learns when one travels somewhere new.  So much more than climbing, so much of interest.  

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Trying to Climb with the Big Boys

Jeff making the key chossy moves to the right

I'm sitting on the couch licking my wounds after spending a week trying to climb with the big boys, Jeff Mercier and Marc Andre Leclerc.  It has been a while since I have been so obviously outclassed, but it's good to get a harsh reality check once in a while, and good to get out with such humble and naturally talented senders.  The highlight was Jeff's first ascent of an awful new variation in the Whiteman Falls chasm, a mini venue which packs a mighty punch.

Jeff was at Glenmore lodge a month ago when Raphael Slawinski and I were at the BMC International Winter Meet.  In the question and answer period after a slideshow he gave, Raphael was asked about the future of climbing in the Rockies.  I interjected that I thought climbing was advanced by the injection of fresh blood when visitors came to our home range, giving the example of Ueli Steck putting up the unrepeated Cock Fight, and Josh Wharton rampaging around the range.  To top it off I said, in an off hand challenge, "Now we just need Jeff Mercier to come and visit."

It was only a brief week later that I received an email from Jeff asking if I would want to get out as he was headed over.  I'd really put my foot in it.  For years I've associated with the type of climber who can win Ouray and enchain multiple routes in Kandersteg in a day.  Now Jeff was on his way over and I was going to have to step up to the plate.

The perfect storm came together at Jesse Huey's condo in Canmore, when Marc Andre Leclerc, fresh back from Scotland, also happened to be in the Rockies.  Jesse's buddy David was only on his 5th day using tools and didn't seem to have any problem with the mixed game, and I'm a local, so again I thought I'd better step up.

Jeff was eager to come along as Marc and I avoided terrible avalanche conditions by going to the Real Big Drip.  Marc onsighted the first mixed pitch, and admitted that there were some "powerful moves", the secret to which I couldn't quite grasp.  With Jeff as the second party I had to motor along after falling off, just in time to fix the static line for his photographer.  It was quite revealing that neither of the world class athletes along that day seemed to have much trouble with a pitch that seems to spit off most of the local senders, leading to significant griping on conditions forums.
Marc was kind enough to wait til I wasn't hanging to take the photo.

The safety conscious wouldn't be on the Real Big Drip anyway.  Alex Lowe climbed with no helmet, and it seems like Marc is the one having the most fun, so he's doing something right.

Maybe what I enjoy about climbing with total crushers is that they don't seem to mind my minor foibles of self doubt in the face of failure.  Marc did have a certain note of surprise in his voice when I quietly asked for a take on my lead when I couldn't see how to proceed after about 5 minutes of hanging about.    Neither Marc nor Jeff seemed too bothered by my effort. Jeff even encouragingly noting that I was "only a few moves away" on the RBD.  Well, a few moves and about ten minutes of hanging on the bolt.  Maybe I like the fact that the rope goes up in record time when climbing with world class athletes, and that I get to climb outrageous things, but it's also nice when people don't make fun of you for not being as good as they are. It often seems the best are comfortable with their abilities, while it is those struggling to keep up who make the most noise about how good they are

The same went for the next day when we headed in to Whiteman Falls. I kept asking Jeff what he thought of the climb, and he kept things positive by noting what an incredible venue it was, what amazing ice formations, and how impressive the ice was. I've lapped the icefall a load of times by now, but seen through fresh eyes it was fun to hear Jeff's appreciation for it.  It was a good thing too that he was in a good mood once again, as it was the second day in a row I had forgotten my helmet. 

Down on the ground I mentioned that Steve House had an unrepeated variation connecting the top of Redman Soars with Whiteman Falls, named Whiteman Soars.  It's interesting how Jeff refused to be baited by any challenges I threw out, rather choosing to follow his own intuition.  For example, I had mentioned that Will Gadd had a few standing hard cave routes. I thought Jeff might be just the man for them.  Seemed he hadn't traveled half way around the world to drytool drilled pockets as they have loads in Chamonix. He'd eyed up a new natural line. I couldn't believe I'd never noticed, it was staring everyone straight in the face.

The red route line is Redman Soars, The White line from the top of Redman's to the top of Whiteman's is Steve House's Whiteman Soars.  And the tricolor, the red white and blue is in honor of the nationality of the ropegun on that day.  

I was enjoying watching Jeff's skilled climbing as he started up the initial layback thin crack, making it all look so easy.  But even Jeff had known what yellow rock usually means in the Rockies, and the fine thin crack led only to a chossy roof.  Suddenly a stream of rock came cascading down as he made the most athletic moves of the day.  He had the presence of mind to take out the piton hammer and swing away at the choss, clearing the way to pull over the roof.  Balancy crampon smears gave way to a bit of burliness.  I prepared a joke about super strong Frenchmen who tag up half the rack mid pitch and are sponsored by Totem cams, but the climbing was obviously too serious for that.

I loved the first 20 meters of the crack on top rope.  Just enough feet and some techy pick torques.  At the traverse the feet blanked out, but there were amazingly mouldy patches which accepted steel, fed by the sand coming out of the chossy roof.  It was a sandy "hold" which defeated me as my pick dragged through as I made the crux pull.  Joining Jeff I had to admit he'd done a great job linking about 10 meters of rope into enough gear to make a solid belay.

Now, Jeff works as a secouriste in Chamonix.  Usually he is rescuing tourists, though he has mentioned that some of the rescues are a little more daring.  So it was really not my intention to back off my lead on the second pitch. I really should have trusted the 000 that I put upward in a chossy crack, but I just couldn't.  The ice which would have made Steve's traversing pitch appealing was useless, and the rock it left behind was abysmal, even by Rockies standards.  I went right, I went left, and almost found a neat escape route back to Whitman's, but I just couldn't commit to the moves given the pro.

Not only did Jeff have to take over, I had to give him back his helmet.  With a hop skip and a jump he took a quick glance at the rock, judged it correctly to be horrible, and took off hard left on the traverse around the arete I had balked at.  At the end of the day I had to admit that I was too scared to do it.

"I was just too scared to do it given the pro".

"Well, I didn't look at the pro and I just didn't think about it".

One of the most endearing things about Jeff was that he would race down from the climbs in the evening to get news from his family.  His three sons are at various levels of involvement with their hobbies, and Jeff just couldn't wait to hear their news every day.  So, how you manage the risk when you have a full fledged family I don't know.  I guess the simple truth is that if you climb M14, a short unprotected 5.6 traverse is no big deal.  Still, impressive mind control.

If the cam had come out there would have been about 10 meters of slack in the system, enough to cause some serious problems.  At Jesse's that night I looked up the guidebook description of Whiteman Soars.  It reads in part, "If the ice half way across the traverse is not thick enough for screws, then the pitch gets an X rating because rock gear potential is minimal."  

The ice wasn't in, I wasn't in, and that I guess is what differentiates me from the big boys in this game.

A big thanks to Jeff, and an apology for making him work on his vacation.  As he muttered as I apologized for my performance, "This is what we do for work".  I'm not sure if he meant as a sponsored climber or as a securiste, but it was none the less very impressive to see, and fun to participate, if only with the rope safely above my head. Seems the police in Cham know how to have fun.

The next day I did something I have never done before; I hung on a screw.  By the top of Drama Queen my arms were useless.  Rather than fall on ice, I took the safe way out, again.  Poor Jeff, I'd been hoping to get him onto a genuine Rockies dagger, but he was so cold after my molasses paced lead that he declined the delight.  

I was done, done like dinner as they say.

Thanks to Leonhard Pang for some of the photos he took while on Whiteman's.