After our Nose bail, I rested for a day or two before getting my free-climbing on. My first warm up climb was Superslide, still one of my favourite easy climbs, years after doing it as one of my first Valley leads.
Later, I was pleased to lead my first Valley 10c routes since my accident. The routes/grades in themselves are not noteworthy; but what is, is the kind of climbs these were i.e. climbs that target all my physical deficits. They were super thin (could get my first finger tip of two fingers in) right leaning lie backs, left-ward climb (my left leg is the one that doesn’t cooperate); they were run-out (because I did not have the right sized gear); hanging off just two right finger tips as my left foot dangled and I cut my right foot out of the crack to inch it up. It felt like a non-trivial milestone (or at least a small road-sign).
I later partnered up with Michael, a buddy I had not climbed with in over 7 years. I wondered how he would feel climbing with me and seeing me move slowly on approaches and descents. I asked him about this; did he feel sadness in seeing me not be able to do some of the things I used to be able to do? Or was he just psyched to see me outside and climbing, especially since the last time he had seen me was when he visited me in my temporary apartment near the facility I did my acute in-patient rehab in, shuffling around slowly using crutches, when I was not using my wheelchair. He confirmed it was the latter, especially since I climb harder than him on vertical terrain and get the hard(er) pitches. It seemed like a fair enough trade, since he carried the rope and most of the rack on our approaches.
We hopped on routes I had not done in years, such as Commitment to Selaginella, and Kor-beck. I remember waltzing up Commitment in my early year climbing. The crux roof move, which I led, was a bit more daunting this time round. Liebacks just aren’t my forte any more, because I can’t exert much pressure with my leg or walk my left leg up. I led it clean, but it certainly wasn’t as easy-peasy as before.
We decided to head over to the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral on our last climbing day together, hoping that the shade would provide a respite from the heat. I led the 10a variation to Kor-beck, which was quite spicy! It is a left trending series of moves, and at one point, I had to commit to just one hand/pull-up to bring my right leg around the corner. Again, I was pleased to have led those harder pitches clean. Kor-beck is a fun route, in that stout, wide, kinda awkward Valley kinda way.
It was nice to get a bit of objective feedback that I could climb some non-trivial (in terms of difficulty) classics that I had climbed before my accident. And, again, it was nice to know that I am not the weakest link in a climbing partnership. I feel like, if anything, my experience and emphasis on being a safe and competent climbing partner, makes me a better climbing partner than before.