I saved all these blog posts thingies for after my trip this time. I wanted more time to think about how to transfer my experience into words. Some things seem more clear in retrospect. I showed up in the Tanks this year in early December. My main goal as usual was the Martini Right. The ultimate endurance nemesis for me. In the beginning of my stay there I took the advice of my good friend Kiel. He suggested that I do something different than I usually do. Usually I just go to Hueco and camp out on the Martini and just assault it until I leave successful or not. He suggested that this time I leave that one on the back burner for a bit and try other things that might interest me. I decided to take his advice. I figured, this way if I don't send the Martini at least I will have tried some other rock climbs that are cool. Kiel recommended two lines that he was sure I'd like.
I heard some rumors about the history of these lines. They seem complete with allure, difficulty, and an underground feeling that I really liked. The Rhino was the first of these. This one was put up about 7 years prior by Chris Schulte. For years after the FA it sat unrepeated. It seemed as though most people, me included, didn't know what this cool prow was behind the famous slab Hersey's Symphony. About 5 or 6 years after the FA, it finally saw a repeat by Tim Doyle. He confirmed that this line was hard and of course, rad. Now we're at 2014 and a good friend and I were going for the 3rd ascent. It was great working on this line. It fit me really well in both body and style. I had no excuses this time yet it was still really damn hard. We kept at it for days and days and eventually my friend got the 3rd ascent. I was inspired to see that his hard work and determination pushed him through to the summit. It gave me hope and made me realize that I just have to keep falling with a straight face. Then you get up, dust yourself off, and give it another, and REPEAT. This is projecting at it's finest. One day I was there and it wasn't going particularly good that day. I wasn't even hitting the individual moves that consistently. I decided I wanted some real burns from the bottom. A few flails later, I started going and didn't stop. I did something on the send I hadn't done in a while, I screamed and yelled. I wanted it. I wasn't bored. I was excited and confident, and it worked. It was really exciting to do a hard climb like this. I loved it. Good eye by Chris to see how cool this thing was. The Rhino became my first hard climb of the year.
The next line Kiel told me about was a James Webb line called Pull the Plug. Anyone who's been to the Ghetto Simulator has likely walked right by this thing and wondered what it was. This line has an odd dilemma. All that separates the boulderer from getting to a v8 starting feature is about 2 feet. Somehow the 2 feet seems like a mile. Bad start holds and all around funkiness made this line an ass kicker. This one had allure as well. It had seen only 2 ascents in 3 years or so. The first few days left me baffled. I've never dry fired so many times in a row off of slopers. The beta the other ascentists used wasn't working for me at all. I had a strange theory about how a short person like me would do this thing. It involved high feet and a move that tested the durability of my shoulder muscles. The move was so shouldery that I was actually scared to try the beta. On day three out of nowhere this beta worked like a charm and got me to the top. Again, I was so psyched to be the 3rd person to complete this one. I was feeling pretty good about the trip.
At this point, I was about 3 weeks into this Hueco trip and realized that I hadn't even been to the Martini cave once. Of course, I was feeling confident and spiffy. I started to go in there and get to work. First try I pulled from the start and went all the way to my high point right away. The problem was exactly how I left it and so was I. I worked it a bit over the next few weeks. I felt better on it than ever before too. A milestone for me was this particular try where I was able to link the big reachy move to the hueco from the undercling start. This was the first time I had linked that many moves into the crux. I knew then that I was in better shape for this thing than ever. However, as confident a climber as I am, I'm not too delusional. I can recognize what it takes as well as what I have to offer. It felt so good to feel that I was better and closer but, with all my experience and intuition I also knew that this wasn't the year for me to do this thing. At the same time, I realized that this was ok. We do what we can. The joy of bouldering and projecting has to be in the process. The product and fulfillment of sending is a great feeling and, in its deepest roots, stays with you forever. But, ultimately I have to find happiness in the process. I think this is why there is always a lingering feeling of closure after you finally take down your nemesis. In that sense, I was pleased at what I was able to accomplish. Progress is progress. In the end you have to be proud of the fact that you got your ass kicked with a smile on your face. This was a good way to move on from Hueco. I was beginning to feel the need to move on to a different place, with different projects. From there I decided to head for one of my favorite places to hang out. Cool locals, fun rock climbs, beautiful scenery, nice weather and best of all freedom to roam. It was January 20th. Hueco was hotter, a little more crowded and getting a bit windy. I packed my shit, cranked the S 10, turned on the iPod. Saint George here I come.......