Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tempest Shrugged

Submitted by Ken.

Tim starting up the "new" Tempest.
The old hold is in the foreground.

Have you ever been climbing on your favorite trade route, the one that's seen thousands of ascents, the one you have so dialed you know every single hold, only to discover one of those holds is missing? "Whoa!" you say, "What happened here?"

That's likely to be the scenario for anyone heading up the Tempest on Kootenai's First Buttress following Saturday afternoon. Only this time around, I can answer the question of "what happened" along with who did it. Because I was there and it was me.

If you're familiar with the route, you know that at the beginning of the main crux section about halfway up, you're standing on a ledge and you have to work your feet up a little with your left hand on small chalked bulge and your right probably on a smooth sloping hold that you push on or use as a semi-gaston. Next you have to reach left or right hand up to a softball sized rounded chalked hold that's not too positive, work your feet a little higher, then go for a second, good chalked softball hold a half move higher. 

Saturday, all nice and relaxed, congratulating myself for how solid my feet felt, I reached my left hand up to the first softball hold and started to go for the good hold with my right.  Next thing I knew wind was whistling in my ears. I heard Tim, who was off to the side watching, cry out, "Rock!" and I had a vague awareness of my belayer, Kurt, ducking in toward the base of the wall. Then I came to a stop a couple of bolts lower (thanks Kurt!) and tried to process what had just happened.

And there you have it. With a gentle pull of my left hand, the intermediate softball hold at the start of the Tempest crux popped off and sent me airborne. In it's place is a shere vertical edge. The difficulty remains about the same, or maybe a tad easier.

I don't know why a hold that's been used thousands of times chose to detach right then. If I have to blame anything I'm going to say it's Freestone Gym's fault. I've been bouldering in there since winter and I guess I just didn't realize how much stronger it's made me.

Now if only that were true...