I was thinking what a team game climbing can be sometimes. At its best.
I recently sent my hardest trad route to date, headpoint style, a first ascent of an old top-rope problem at The Columns in Eugene, Oregon.
At first, the route was hard enough for me to get up on top-rope. I bloodied my fingers in the thin crux section. Blood everywhere. My index and middle fingers got too slippery after two or three attempts. Then the higher crux was too difficult when I was pumped out from the bottom. I’d get to the second crux, huck, and miss. Rest, huck, and miss again.
But then Jennie got into it. Encouraging. She kept saying to me, “Let me belay you on your project. I want be right there when you send.”
And Jeff wanted to work it too. He tied in. Tried sequences with me.
And once I had it down on top-rope, my old friend Garrick came into town and helped me wire the route’s last piece of lead gear. I had everything figured out except one placement that required a piece I didn’t own. Garrick realized what it was, loaned it to me, and said it would definitely work.
And finally, the day I sent, on lead go number two, Jennie, Jeff, and Lee were all there. Jeff was belaying while Jennie and Lee were yelling for me to stick the first sequence and, finally at the top, the second crux.
I could have easily failed alone, but I couldn’t fail with all of that help.
All of that encouragement.
All of that love.