Climbing in less-than-ideal conditions…

The Ovens 20 May 2017

Hahaha!  Yesterday was a blast!  AJ played our song – “Malaguena” – as we left Billings on our adventure.  While enjoying climbing at The Ovens, we encountered hail, rain, pouring rain, snow, and partly-cloudy-ness (which also means partly-sunny-ness) that would dry the dolomite out in between bouts of precipitating weather.  Fortunately, AJ brought a tarp to cover our gear with while we sat in my truck and stayed warm down below the crag’s approach when it was really pouring rain, but everything ended up being soaked and muddy by the end of the day, us included!  We had great fun, though!  AJ sent a project on lead that he would grade 5.11 in the rain and 5.10b/c dry.  Emily sent a 5.7 with an undecipherable name and a 5.8 called “Black Ass” on toprope, the first one in the hail and the second one in the rain.  All of those were onsight, so that was incredibly cool!  I climbed on toprope in the rain on my 5.7 because I was not going to risk leading in the rain.  AJ said, “Just find a foothold.  It doesn’t have to be good.  It just has to be good enough!”  Ironically, I made it three feet higher (and to a major hold) in the rain than I had the first time I tried it two months ago when it was dry!!!  Hahaha!  That figures!  I think the words “good enough” resonated with me enough that it made that difference, actually.  I know that’s what it was.  That dolomite was so slick when it was raining!  I really fought for the gains I made and was very proud of the progress I made!  Later, I found out that GriGri’s don’t feed worth a darn when you are working with wet rope.

A NOTE:  When someone is toproping and you belay with a GriGri, you hook into the rope coming from the anchor (the opposite strand that has already passed through the anchor).  When someone is leading and you belay with a GriGri, you hook into the rope that the climber is on directly (the strand that the climber is tying into with their figure-eight knot a few feet from you).  I knew that, but I wanted to reiterate it here.

Faith, a fourth party that AJ knew and a beginning climber (as in first time climbing outdoors) showed up around 1300 hrs.  She was a really nice gal and climbed really well for it being her first time on real rock!  She sent a 5.7 and a 5.8 on toprope with AJ belaying her.  We were all very impressed!  Finally, as the real storm descended upon us and a long spell of pouring rain was imminent at around 1620 hrs in the afternoon, we grabbed all the gear and high-tailed it to the truck!  We invited Faith to come have pizza with us at the Red Lodge Pizza Co. and it was delicious!!!  The best part was that we had persevered despite the weather and had photos, courtesy of Emily’s camera, to prove it!  Some of them turned out really well!!!

On the way home, AJ was racked out in the back seat and Emily and I talked and listened to music in the front as I drove us all home.  After dropping Emily off at her house, I drove AJ home.  I thanked AJ for taking us climbing and told him I trusted him.  “You’re one of only three people in North America that I trust to belay me on hard leads,” said AJ.  I was honored to have made the cut!  That is quite a compliment coming from AJ.  He was still somewhat sick from food poisoning the night before, so we decided we would sort out gear later and he would bring mine back with him when I pick him up for route setting this morning.  Sounded good.  The man definitely needed to go lie down and get some rest.  I am so grateful for my climbing buddies!!!  What a fantastic day!  These outdoor climbing adventures are the best days of my life!

The end of my day was hauling in all of my wet gear, laying it out in the living room to dry some overnight, showering, taking my medication, and going to bed.  That was all pretty simple.  And I went to bed happy!!! 😁

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