April 18, 2012

Frank Zappa Appreciation Society

So after months of trying, four to be specific, I finally finished (sent) my Escalante climbing project.

It's name as the title of this post is The Frank Zappa Appreciation Society. The climb is located in the middle of the Zappa Wall and is the most prominent overhanging feature of the wall. It was named that because we had the actual society at my high school, also because I ended up spending so much time on the route, I felt like I really was appreciating the wall and climb for what it really was. Historically, I was told it was called the cobra crack, but there are a million of them and since no one knows or has claimed aiding it first, I am gong to rename it to something that sets it a part from other climbs and something that is more personal to me.
It was unique and a challenge for me because it is short and bouldery, which are normally not the things I look for in a rock climb. I typically like climbs that are more suited towards endurance, but this one ended up consisting of two powerful crack sections. The first relied on under clinging crimp strength and core tension where the second relied on my ability to campus one finger ring locks and even more core tension.
After my first day on the route I couldn't do all the moves, but I knew deep down that the climb could be freed.
It took me ten attempts to really figure out how to do the upper crux and I still was not consistently climbing through the low crux. I was able to work the route one day over the weekend if the weather was good and we didn't have any family obligations. I ended up getting sick for three weeks, having to go to Vegas for the Red Rock Rendezvous and a number of other things prevented me from climbing on the route as much as I wanted. In the end it was a blessing in disguise because it turned out that had I been on the climb as much as I wanted that I would have destroyed my two pointer fingers from over stressing them. As of now they are both tweaked and I am in pain when I crimp. It was from the torque that came with the campusing ring lock sequence.
By the time I had gotten into the twenty attempts range my fingers were really feeling sore after each time on the route. But my strength training at the gym was paying off. I could now easily climb through the low crux and almost complete the upper crux going to the anchor. I could give the route multiple burns a day and come close each time. It kept me up at night just thinking about failing on it after being so close to sending.
I would have to say that without developing the specific strengths required to do the sequences on this route that I would have never been able to free it. I had serious weaknesses in my game and this route pulled them out of me and forced me to work on them through training. I am happy to see the growth of my own ability in addition to my head for sticking with the route.
I just wanted to thank everyone who came out to climb and trade belays with me. If it wasn't for you all, I would have never been able to give this thing a shot.
I am interested in seeing what others think of the grade. I have a feeling that for those strong at my weaknesses will think that over graded it and others will think it is right on. For my personal experience, once I reach 30 burns on a route (I include every single time that I climb on it) I know that it is past the easy 5.13 range and into the hard. At my best, I was able to send 13c in 4-5 tries and 13+ in 7-10. I have not been in that shape for a while, but at my current strength 30 goes on a crack project means hard 13 climbing.
In the end it doesn't really matter too much other than for campfire banter and pissing contests. I don't pay my mortgage from being a climber and for those that do, this route is too easy for them anyway. I am proud to say that I figured out how to climb it and that I stuck it out when the going go tough. Keep on the look out for images from the climb.

piz : )

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