Abbey Smith: January 2011 Blog
“Alright, let’s go get scared!” Corbitt hollered as he jumped out of the car in Hueco’s Campground Overflow parking lot. I wasn’t as wide-eyed and energetic as Corbett. It was 11 a.m., the caffeine hadn’t kicked in yet, and my skin was still tender from the prickly slopers on 1969 the day before. The sun was shining, but the valley was still cold and the wind was howling. There were eight of us on the tour to the top of East Mountain; I knew the day was going to be thrilling with a crew like Jason Kehl, Ty Foose and Trevor Turmelle. Our agenda consisted of ten problems, ranging from V0-V10, and almost all highballs (only two are in the guidebook).
After a steep 15 minute hike uphill from the Star Boulder we arrived at the Z Boulder, an intimidating 20-foot vertical wall with perfect scoops and curves and six moderate problems that Ty developed in December. With sketchy, ankle-breaker landings, this wasn’t quite the warm-up I hoping for. I managed to loosen up on Zygote (V0), a short wall with positive edges on the far left side, and then took my shoes off to evaluate Zenith (V6/7), the alluring line up the main face. As I imagined the movement from the ground, the boulder seemed to grow taller, the ground dropped out and the holds seemed to move further apart. I imagined missing the big move left to a side pull dish, and bouncing off the rock pedestal into a pit of jumbled pads. While Ty and Jason flowed gracefully through the chalkless edges and dishes, the fierce wind lifted the pads protecting the dicey second tier landing. It was hard to breathe, my chest grew tight and my palms perspired. “You’ve climbed way scarier lines before,” Ty smiled. He was right. I knew I had to just get back on the bull to remember how it feels to ride. So I booted up, focused on my breath, and let it all go. With every move, I felt more alive and my self-sabotaging mental demons grew silent. From that point forward, I was able to keep fear and doubt at bay, and just climb.
From the Z Boulder, Ty lead us to an area near S-Curve with a super fun, steep arête named Raw Hide (V4) and a gorgeous A-frame cave that hosts two quality lines: The Chimp (V8) and Ghost Duck (V10). We also ran a quick ascent up the in-cut flakes on Mr. Freud (V4). In the early afternoon, we moved on to Dirty Deeds, a 15-foot roof of massive jugs and a heady landing that drops out at the crux and continues on for three more moves to a committing mantel finish. The first time I was there, I didn’t even put my shoes on. This time, I was able to turn off my inner dialog and just enjoy the athletic roof climbing. From there we walked directly across the meadow to Three Years Dead and She Still Burnt Me (V6) and finished off the day on The Maiden, a V0 free solo through the biggest, most friendly huecos in the park.
That day, everyone laughed, felt inspired, got scared, pushed their mental boundaries, summited a new boulder, and climbed until thoroughly destroyed. I wish everyday was this good.
(NOTE: This tour is not to be missed.)