Sometimes You Have to Play

After belaying my friend Brendan on this super overhung 12b route in the Red called The Samarai, he said I should give it a try on toprope. This was way above my ability at the time, but sometimes you just have to play and see what happens. I started up the route and was making good progress up to about the 2nd bolt when I peeled off and went flying backwards. I swung out and nearly collided with this large boulder directly behind the route.

Brendan put me back on the ground and I thought it went better than I imagined. I would give it another try. I chalked up and started up again. This time I made it past the earlier fall, up to the crux around the 3rd bolt. I couldn’t get the move and after several attempts I came flying off, swinging out and this time landing on top of the large 10 foot tall boulder behind the route.

At this point I had a brilliant idea to get back onto the route. I’ve seen something like this done in the movies, so why not try to swing back to the rock and hook myself on. Brendan tossed me up a quickdraw. I took a few steps back ran towards the edge, lept and quickly dropped like a rock as I swung toward the wall, well short of my targeted bolt in the wall, I grasped as I got close to the wall, but couldn’t hold on and swung back to the boulder. We both laughed hard and set up to try again. This time Brendan was going to jump down when I jumped off the boulder to give me some lift.

Clenching the quickdraw in my right hand I gave the signal and ran towards the edge. What happened next you would only believe if there was video evidence, but alas no one was filming so you’ll have to trust me when I say I floated over to the wall in some Peter Pan like fashion. As I neared the rock I swung the quickdraw out and snagged the bolt, just as planned and stopped abruptly. Success! I probably squealed with delight (I’m not sure since there was no video evidence). I then reached up and grabbed this awesome layback flake and made my way to this cool blocky ledge. A short rest here and I made my way up to the next blocky ledge.

I then had to make this huge move over to this big horn to the left. I remembered watching Brendan literally swinging with only his right hand on a small hold, both feet off, to make the move. I looked and what he held onto and gave him mad props. It was nothing. I tried the move, but failed in quick order. I swung the rope over to the horn, bypassing this move and finished the last few moves to the top to clean the route.

Climbing that route made me feel like a kid again, just playing around with no cares in the world. It brought me back to the simple love of climbing again and reminded me why we drive hours and hours to go play outside. It is pure joy.

I hope all of your adventures bring you that kind of joy, whatever they might be.

Me climbing a different route across the valley from Samarai

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