The Burdo Zone


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tick Tock

5:26 A.M. Turn off the alarm before it goes off- the dawn and the work to be done have brought me to my feet, beginning the process of launching a new summer's day.
6:47 A.M. Goodbyes to Jenn, Tim and Frankie, who will be climbing at Amazonia today, hours to the South. I grab my Camelback (Margarita mix, salt and Stevia), and the freshly charged DeWalt battery and trundle off in the White Rhino.
7:4 A.M. Of course Ed is waiting at the pullout. Ed gets things done, but with an ease and delight of that those who know of their good fortune to be alive and living fully in the here-and-now. I am happy and grateful to have his company today.
8:22 A.M. On lead, I carefully work the 5.8 crux of the third pitch (the "blocky arete") of Prime Rib, encumbered as I am with my hiking boots with a pack carrying 436 feet of static cord, purchased 36 hours ago from Ben G. . It carried no luck for him on the Salathe'; perhaps it's new home will fulfill it's purpose.
8:51 A.M. The Red Rib. Is there a more delightful 5.8 pitch anywhere? Probably so, but I will take this kind of excellence wherever it presents itself.
9:35 A.M. The Boulder Problem pitch has given me pause. Under these circumstances, 5.9 feels fully like 11b. With care I finally commit, and the move is behind me; above, glorious nubbly rock rewards my effort.
10:48 A.M. The anxiety about connecting from Prime Rib over to the top of our objective becomes a matter of a crucial reality: can Ed traverse the head of the gully, which features a 45-degree slope of mud, while wearing rock shoes and carrying a full pack? Years of Cascade groveling pay off, he gets it done and we are freed to emerge out on to the peninsula at the top of this massive rock tower, with thousands of feet of void below our feet. We relish the warmth of the summer mid-day in the shade of the pines before running a bowline around one of them, and launching out over the overhanging face.
12:10 P.M. I am doing a frenzied tapdance at a ledge at the crest of the wall, featuring a large pine and about 10,000 angry red ants. I realize that I have anchored too far East on the summit, and must do a makeshift re-ascent with GriGri and ascender, while swatting vengeful insects from my legs.
1:25 P.M. Finally, the years of scouting, photographing, examining and speculating give way to the tangible reality: 600 feet of pristine, gorgeously sculpted rock pass before me as I descend the vertical and overhanging wall. The Future slides into The Now, and it is beautiful, evanescent even. Our ropes now in place, The Project begins in it's physical form.
2:57 P.M. We linger in the heat of mid-day at the most air-conditioned spot for miles around, in the shade of a massive fir bordering the ascending canyon with it's cool falls and cascades.
4:05P.M. We scree-ski back to the cars, turning to see our nylon trail in it's new place 2000 feet above us.
Here we meet Matt and Bram from Seattle, who are re-organizing after a successful ascent of Liberty Crack the day before. Matt in particular seems to have "The Bug" (and about 200 bolts and hangers), and I fill him in on the state of events in this vicinity. He'll be back.
We roll down the scant 50 yards to the river's edge and soak our poor doggies in the cold Methow, while tiny trout navigate the pebbles around our toes.
5:48 P.M. I watch a few videos of a track meet in Italy today, then crash out for 25 minutes.
8:10P.M. My I-Pod informs me that my battery is "75% full", which is enough for an hour of music-accompanied running Mojo while I accelerate and deccelerate along road and trail, racing the river, charging the hills and easing towards the orange and magenta Alpenglow to the South.
9:45 P.M. 12 ounces of cool beverage at my side, I begin this stream of thoughts. The evening breezes are swirling around in the trees above as I form the words....