Trial by fire

Day one: Up early, which wasn’t a problem for either of us for the few days prior to the start, we were always awake and waiting for the sun to rise. Awake, with that feeling you used to have when you were a kid and your mom dropped you off at the first day of little league. Nervous, a little cold, and wondering if you were at the wrong field.

We got my sister Julie packed up and off to Camp 4 where she’d wait in line and see if she could get a spot in the climber camp. With Dave’s van all packed we headed out to go bang on some tents and see if we could get one more helmet on loan. It only took a few minutes and then it was finally time for the moment of truth, get the haul bags on our backs and make our way to the base of the Triple Direct route, and start jugging.

We got our first taste of the change in mood when the bags were out and being sorted to haul at the base. You don’t really realize it, but Timmy’s demeanor kind of woos you and makes you comfortable. So, when he gets into business mode and Dave starts cracking down, you realize it’s time to get serious.

Sorting clothing. Pack a separate stuff sack with the food we’ll need for lunch. What do we need available on short notice? Where’s the sunscreen? How am I going to carry all of this photo gear on my harness? Stuff your pockets with bars and shot bloks. Am I hot? Am I cold? What’s the temp going to be like up there? Who’s going first? Are these ropes new? They look kind of old.

Dave was the lead climber for the first day, and after he quickly went up the first pitch, our lines were fixed and it was time to learn how to jug. Right jumar on. Right aider, or “etrier”, on. Left jug on. Left aider on. Carabiner’s are all locked? And just like that, Heath was off. As I look back at the video of us learning to jumar up the rope, it’s kind of funny how awkward we look. It’s a pretty basic concept that you get your head around in a short amount of time, so watching us jerk all over the place is a tad embarrassing.

Once you get going you’re like “ah, man, this is gonna be easy.” Jugging IS easy, when the rock is still at a nice angle, but when it over hangs it’s pull up central, a whole other story.

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