Thrown into the aid-climbing deep-end (photo edition)

Lots of photos for a change…

Chad happened to catch me when I was actually smiling.

Chad happened to catch me when I was actually smiling (Photo credit: Chad Hussey)

I do not remember how Chad and I ended up arranging to climb together in North Conway this past weekend, but I am very glad we did. I first met Chad at my very first climbing experience (on any medium) post-accident: a Paradox Sports ice-climbing event in February 2013. For some reason we have kept in touch and Chad has been a steadfast supporter of mine since then.  Chad was aware of my NIAD plans, so he put forth the possibility of doing some aid-climbing together. The weather forecast was not looking good: a long weekend of straight rain. But we were committed to going, so I mentally prepared myself to spend two straight days being pretty miserable in the rain.

The weather forecast improved but we still decided to get on Mordor Wall with bail options. The route gets a C2-A2/A3 rating, depending on the condition of the fixed copperheads. This was my first time following and cleaning post-accident, and it was pretty disheartening to see how much I had forgotten and how slowly I moved. But, I learned a ton. The second pitch in particular contains a section known as the “Terror Traverse”; which teaches you how to get good at following and cleaning near-horizontal traverses quickly. “Traverse” is, like, two 4-letter words in one. I went with the “deucy” method and had a slow time with that. The combination of my slowness and some separate personal worries really made me think about calling off my NIAD attempt. But, while hanging out on the wall, somewhat miserable and trying to regain circulation that had been cut off by my harness leg loops and belay seat, I knew I would just beat myself up even more for not even trying.

Who knew I looked so focused? (Photo: Chad Hussey)

Who knew I looked so focused? (Photo: Chad Hussey)

The

The “Terror Traverse” on Mordor Wall (Photo: Chad Hussey)

Yay, rope management (Photo: Chad Hussey)

Yay, rope management (Photo: Chad Hussey)

Cleaning the Terror Traverse (Photo: Chad Hussey)

Cleaning/lowering out on the Terror Traverse (Photo: Chad Hussey)

Chad did an awesome job hooking his way across/up p2; the copperheads that were in place were not the most reassuring sight.

“CopperNest” (Photo: Chad Hussey)

Chad cruising the traverse (Photo: Wendy, enhanced by Chad)

Chad cruising the traverse (Photo: Wendy, enhanced by Chad)

Precautions (Photo: Chad Hussey)

Precautions (Photo: Chad Hussey)

Chad provided a lot of useful feedback on things I could perhaps improve on/eliminate/try. I will be trying to find the time to experiment with some different set-ups that might work for me and my gimpy leg. All those one legged squats will be great training for ski season, if nothing else.

Fortunately I redeemed myself by being the rope-gun on Saturday. I had never gotten on the North Conway ultra-classic Recompense, so we hopped on that.

While only three pitches long, each pitch is quite long. I'm getting quite high up on pitch 1 already.

While only three pitches long, each pitch is quite long. I’m getting quite high up on pitch 1 already (Photo: Chad Hussey)

Chad coming up p1 of Recompense

My favourite pitches were p2 and p3, by far. Fortunately, it only started raining hard and blowing when I was past the harder sections of p3. Nevertheless, things got quite atmospheric and I was plugging in a ton of pro at the top in case of slipping and falling.

First moves off the deck, p3.

First moves off the deck, p3 (Photo: Chad Hussey)

Surprisingly easy time, even though I can't stick my left foot in cracks any more.

Surprisingly easy time, even though I can’t stick my left foot in cracks any more. Small fingers help here (Photo: Chad Hussey)

Thanks to Chad for being great company and a patient and safe climbing partner. And for taking so many cool pics!

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