…before you go climbing and forget a critical item. “Critical” as in the outing is either completely unsalvageable or at the very most, extremely uncomfortable. Like realizing you forgot your water when you’re three pitches up on a sunny fall day in Red Rocks, Nevada. Or forgetting to toss that bug repellant in your pack when climbing at Rumney, New Hampshire in May. Or how about our most dreaded worry of forgetting our climbing shoes when headed to Hueco (where there are no gear shops in El Paso). No, we didn’t forget our shoes. It was worse than that. We forgot our food bag while out bouldering for the day!
Ahem, let me clarify – PAUL forgot the food bag. And this just happened to coincide with Paul’s first day climbing again after his broken finger hiatus; the day we decide to get all crazy and venture up into the Maiden Gully on East Mountain for the first time with the kids. Now, as if the Maiden Gully itself isn’t epic enough with children due to all the scrambling and tunneling through the gully’s labyrinthian jumble of boulders, we had accessed it via the steep slabs at the end of Water Dog Wall which required shuttling of heavy pads and kids. And then to top it all off, once we had arrived at our destination (a boulder problem called Beer, Pizza and a Three Foot Toothless Girl, v6) we were essentially in a windy icebox. It was here, once we’d arrived after a good 40 minute approach, once we’d dropped all our heavy gear down, bundled up the kids in their winter clothes and let out a sigh of relief that we’d made it without mishap, here, that we realized……Paul forgot the food bag.
Great. Now what? Plan B? IS there even a Plan B? Or was this a case where the outing is completely unsalvageable and we had to turn right around and head back to the van?
We decided we had about an hour or so before the kids would realize the severity of the situation. We sprung into action: Paul quickly threw on his shoes and started warming up while the kids and I got out the toys. Off to a good start, they were warm and happy. Soon though it was my turn to warm-up and sure enough they started inquiring about the forgotten snack bag. Luckily Paul was able to divert them back to the toys. Whew. We both ticked off Dreamy, v2 and felt warm enough to check out Beer, Pizza…. So far so good? Eh, not quite. The demand for the snack bag started to escalate and Ivan began tearing through all our other bags looking for it. (Note, it *was* still before noon and we had had an enormous breakfast, so it wasn’t like they were starving). Re-direct, re-direct. I managed to get them interested in a make-believe band. I was on drums, Silas played trumpet and Ivan played whatever instrument it was he was trying to play, we never did quite figure it out. We jammed on and off while Paul worked the moves out on Beer, Pizza…. Yeah baby, we’ve got this. Now it’s my turn to climb. Ivan immediately protests and heads for the gear, beginning his quest for the snack bag again all zombie-style. Sigh. Thankfully though Paul is a freakin’ genius and contorts himself into a human junglegym. The kids go wild. I put my shoes back on and start sampling the moves on Beer, Pizza…. By this point though I’m chilled to the bone and finding it very hard to climb hard. I decide to call it quits on this climb for the day. Paul is able to give it a few more tries while the kids and I sing songs. And finally, alas, finally….just as we’re all about to reach our tipping point but with juuuuust time enough to spare for the hike back…we bail and head back to the van (where we then gorge in a back-to-back lunch/dinner combo).
When all was said and done we put in about a half-day of climbing. The kids never quite broke down (beyond their usual crankiness here and there). And we were psyched to have gotten to climb on some new boulder problems in an area we hadn’t all been to before. We got out the next day too (WITH THE FOOD BAG loaded to the brim!) and enjoyed some good moderate climbs. This was Paul’s first weekend out, I was battling a cold, and we both still had plenty of Christmas cookies to work off after a 3 week rest so no hard sends to report. Despite my slight lapse in fitness I did get on Better Eat Your Wheaties as motivation to get back in tip-top performance shape quickly. Let’s just say I’ve been training like mad all week. 🙂
In the windy icebox of the Maiden Gully trying to look all cheery despite the forgotten food bag
Paul warming up. First rock climb of his comeback!
Paul part-handjamming and part-laybacking the first section of Beer, Pizza and a Three Foot Toothless Girl, v6. Next comes a roof and then a headwall which we failed to get photos of
Day 2. Me gettin’ all spiderwoman on a warm-up
An owl in a tree
Silas was more adamant than ever about wanting to climb on this trip
and so we go with it!
It’s when he’s not climbing that we really need to watch him. “Here Ivan, just touch this little pokey right here. That’s it, right here. It won’t hurt at all I promise.”
Me sending The Mini Bathtub, v2. Excellent climb! I can’t believe we’d never come to this one before
Paul on Meddle Detector, v6
Soon after these shots were taken another tour came up and gave us some better beta – going right hand instead of left on this move, for one
posted by arr
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