|Cottontail Tower - The Fisher Towers|
In climbing there are always a thousand reasons why you haven’t succeeded. In the mountains success is measured by a summit. It’s easy to beat yourself up over those times when you didn’t quite make it and disregard the entire experience.
Last weekend I set out to the Fisher Towers with a good friend who has climbed there a lot. I met him in Loveland where we got the rack together, a rack unlike anything I had ever seen. When I thought for sure it was too much, Chris came in with a few hexes, threw them into the pile and told me “We’ll need those, they are for pounding into holes sideways.”
We were headed to the Fishers to try and repeat a route Chris put up about fifteen years ago and remembers as the hardest route he ever climbed. I was nervous at his vivid memories of the route, with the first pitch taking him several days to lead. Despite having a good number of El Cap routes under my belt I was nervous, I had never climbed an aid route on anything but granite.
|Thar' she blows.|
So when we got to the Fishers in the dark and hiked a load of gear to the base, I stood looking up at the wall above with my headlamp. Bulges and undulations shot up from the ground, rising dead vertically high over head and out of sight. The wall was covered with a layer of sand and under every large bulge it looked like someone had dripped huge sand castles of mud onto the small ledges. I could see the line the route would take, but I couldn’t see any features just thin seams leading to and from piles of sandy mud.
|Not So Soft, Right of center and straight up.|
The next day we started up the route, two bolts lead to a beak that barely pounded into the wall. Moving carefully I climbed onto it while breathing deep. The next placement sank deeper into the rock, providing a little more security; I laughed and joked with Chris to keep psyched, because what else can you do?
|And were off.|
|Beak, beak, (definitely not a cam hook), free move|
The pitch went on like this, beaks, arrows, blades, free climbing over sandy mud hummocks, up and up. At the top of the pitch below the final roof I found the crux. Chris claimed there was a bolt, but after raining down thirty or fourty pounds of dirt onto myself I gave up looking for it. A thin, terrible beak allowed me to reach a good cam and relief. The pitch was over.
|Hey, it's over.|
When Chris got to the belay, despite both feeling pretty good and excited, we decided we were slightly crunched on time for this mission and made the call to head down and do some less committed things for the next day and half.
So we didn’t repeat the whole route, but we did the crux pitch, we didn’t summit the tower, but yet I don’t feel like I failed. I showed up to a new area with bizarre and different rock and climbed a hard, intricate pitch.
You don’t have to summit to have successes, you don’t even have to finish a pitch to learn. We didn’t repeat the route, but I learned to climb at the Fisher Towers.
|Is that whole flakey blob thing loose? I believe it was...|
|Double down and free climb off it.|
|Pull down not out.|
|The final beak. Look real careful and you can actually see the bolt|
that I couldn't find...I still am wondering how that happened...
|Maybe I'll do this next time.|
|After bailing we still squeaked in Ancient Art.|
|Chris and an obligatory summit shot, something I did not do.|
|More pretty things in pretty places.|