My Mount Shasta
and AMC climbing training experience
proved a most valuable lesson yesterday while climbing Arch and Wrist
combination in the Gunks. Knowing how to prusik knot was a tremendous
help. What a learning experience!
John and I headed to the Gunks mid-day and got there early afternoon. We didn't
have a planned route to climb. When we got to the Trapps through the long steps, we saw
Arch vacant, so we decided to do it.
A group ahead of us was finishing a climb above us so that gave us the way to
start. We did our usual routines, putting our harnesses, flaking the rope, and
setting up my belay anchor. Mistake # 1, I forgot to bring my helmet, that
made us hesitate to do a multi-pitch, but Arch looked inviting.
John started the climb; I gave him a bouldering spot first and when he reached a stance
to place the first protection, I attached myself to the belay anchor. When he placed the
first and the second protection, I put him on belay . I was relieved! I always get anxious
when he's starting a climb with a long gap between the ground and the first protection
like the one we did in Allamuchy. But he's
always gotten through.
We both reached and finished the first pitch of the Arch. Very nice route with
traversing protections. Then came the 2nd pitch, Wrist. We started from the pine
tree belay and from there I could see the "right-facing corner" with a ceiling
where my prusik on-site experience would take place. John got to the top and set up the
belay anchor for me.
I started my climb and didn't have any problem reaching the ceiling and taking the
protection that was placed at the corner. The next thing to do was to traverse as
far left as possible to reach the crux to get to a nice ledge. I did it and - Mistake
#2 -had a second thought and shouted, " John, slack please!" It was a
"wild" traverse; that was what I thought. I got my slack, so I went back to the
corner. I started to traverse again and at that instant I just had to -Mistake
# 3- let go . Now, I really got an intense feeling in the stomach as I was literally
hanging down the middle of the rock and my hands were very stressed.
Thinking that I could not do it without putting more stress on my muscle and pain on my
left wrist, I thought of doing a prusik. John continued to give me a voice communication
asking if I was all right. I relayed to him what I was going to do. He
was belaying me up so it was very important to let him know what I was up to.
I took out the prusik ropes attached to a carabiner from my harness; it took me a little
while to separate them as they were knotted to each other.
In the middle of this, a couple of eyewitness was waiting for me to get through
the stunt as they were also going to the same direction. They were very patient and
kind to wait. One of them gave me further instructions on the knotting.
I attached both knots around the rope - short prusik to the rope and clipped to
harness and the long prusik to the rope below the short prussic loop, not attached
to the harness . To take effect, I sat and stood, alternately moving the prusik
knots. My left foot was on the long knot and that helped me pull myself up. When I
reached the point where I could have a good hand and feet hold, I continued the climb and
reached for the left stance. From there, I continued my way up to where John was
without any "obstacle." I was so happy to reach the top! Way, way happy! John
was saying, "Great job, Margaret!", when he saw my view from the corner.
The climb was truly an experience. I had mixed feelings about it. I was
disappointed to have to use through the corner prusiking; at the same time , was
proud to have used what I had learned from my climbing training; gave me a
refreshing lesson on the knot in an actual experience. Overall, I was glad to
do the climb:-)
July 3, 2005