I’m struggling to begin writing this post, not for lack of material. A lot has happened in a short period of time. Last week, we bought food, got gear, figured out the routes we wanted to climb, packed our bags, stopped at the burger grill one last time and went into the alpine (a day later than planned). Our hike in was uneventful, but extremely draining. A 10 mile hike with over 70 pound packs. We went to bed early hoping to get an early start. We woke up two hours after our alarm and decided we would take our time getting to the route. We were at the base of the route, The North East Face Route on Pingora, by 9. I tied in, got to the top of the first pitch and belayed Matt. Around 3 p.m. we were 800+ feet off the deck.
I would like to take the time now to talk about two of the non-physical aspects in climbing, partnership and the mental aspect.
Every climber will tell you, to climb with anybody you need to trust them. A good climbing partnership is like a well oiled machine. It moves smoothly and efficiently, it fills in the gaps, and if one half isn’t working the machine can’t work.
Every climber will also tell you climbing is all mental. Some days you wake up and you’re just not feeling it. That can be stressful when compounded with the internal dialogue that already overtakes you when climbing. 800 feet up a granite wall is an exposed and vulnerable position. If you are not 100% committed the second you leave the ground it will not be possible to reach the top. And if you wake up feeling off, then the mental fortitude needed to ignore your inner demons becomes that much more strenuous to achieve.
So when Matt turned to me and said he was not feeling it, I didn’t argue. After some water and muscle sandwich bars, it was decided we would bail. We began the long rappels to the base, and eventually made it down and back to camp. The next morning Matt was still not feeling it and believed that the distractions offered in the front country could be helpful. So we packed up and hiked out to reassess our options. While I was sad to be leaving the Winds it gave me a lot reflect on. I had forgotten how much I love spending extended periods of time in the alpine and am very excited to return. Though sad, not all was for not, as leaving enabled us one last stop at the Gannet Grill and a long talk with a Continental Divide Through-hiker named Speedbump. We woke the next morning feeling refreshed, went bouldering in Sinks Canyon, and drove to Jackson.