Hot! Learning Curve


Fortunately, my learning curve on the Finale rock is better than that for my Italian. The Italsider wall does its job to bring me up to speed. There is a mix of 5 and 6 grade routes that are anything but my style of face and crimp climbing on Arizona granite.

I start leading a 5a and get the feel for the limestone pockets, sometimes sharp, but always available. We have a different grading scale in the US, so I have no real reference on how difficult the routes should be. We move on to a 5c: Non Ci Posso Credere (I Can’t Believe It) and I begin to find out. The small jump in the rating is a big jump for me. It starts with two big pulls – something I am never good at – but once upright on the face, you still do not have time to rest. It is a sustained climb, and I am glad I have decided to follow rather than lead.

I rest several times on the way up, my forearms and biceps burning. We move on to a 6b+ for Heinz. He is very skilled, but this one gives him a challenge two moves from the top. He hits the wrong sequence and pops off for a short fall. It looks dramatic, but he is alright and everyone is cheering his work on the difficult problem.

It has only been a few hours, but we have moved through 4 or 5 routes already – the advantage of a short approach hike and so many choices in one space. Heinz leads a 6a and encourages me to follow. It has amazing flow, moving across the rock on side pulls and up the face, then ends with an overhang pull. I am toast. I cannot make the move. I come down and Heinz climbs the neighboring route to clean the gear.

We are finished – for the day – but I have my first project in Finale.

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