Back in October Ana and I were talking about our lists for the year. Ana has been climbing at a very high level for a long time, and I think of us as being in different leagues, so I was stoked that we had a few projects in common this season. She had somehow never done 1969, a popular west mountain hard 2-hander that doesn’t see as much action as it would if it were anywhere else. We had both had the experience of going there a few times over the years, learning the moves, feeling super close, leaving without the send and promising ourselves we’d get back, then it doesn’t happen. It would take a very particular tour and a commitment to get over to 1969, stay there for as long as it took, and possibly have to go back again. Luckily, Jackie is up for anything, anytime, and the three of us headed out one day when the office was overflowing and there were 25 cars at the gate.
The session went pretty badly, but we got some nice pictures.
All three of us felt like we had 1969 dialed, but the day wore on, our skin wore off, and I – for one – was not mentally strong enough to pull it out. Jackie lost interest. Ana and I committed to going back day after tomorrow.
Then Ana bailed. BUT she came back around and the day after the next day after the day we were suppose to go back, we went. We took Jud with us this time. She’d never tried 1969. Austrian whoracle did the thing in 20 minutes or something after we showed her our respective betas. But Jud knew what she signed up for and commenced to chill in the hole with us for what turned into…4 hours.
I got through what had previously been the crux for me every go on this fresh day – a silly, one-foot cut then place a heel move. I started falling well into the “top”, my left hand just flying off a small slippery sidepull undercling. It was devestating. My pinky started bleeding.
Ana pitched off higher and higher pretty much every time. She’s a tiny thing so she had to make a difficult foot hike on a really bad hold near the end. She came off in a place that I didn’t think coming off would be a possibility. Twice. Her finger started bleeding too.
Both of us had scraped up right ankles from this critical heel hook situation. Mine was bleeding, I was wearing a leg warmer over it. Ana was just going bare ankled. We were brushing blood off the start holds every go. I fell again, same way, and sat on my knees on the pad, my eyes and forehead shuddering, completely crying in my voice. “I’m. having. a very. hard time.”. It passed, sort of.
Ana took another go, came off the last hold, flew off to the right where Jud caught her. I saw her face, she was about to burst too.
Crying is something I’m fine with in myself usually, but Ana and Jud are strong, chilled out climbers who seem to either do everything or know they will soon. For some reason I didn’t want to be crying over this problem in front of them. But when I saw that 1969 had gotten to Ana’s soul too, I moved on from my insecurity. We commiserated for a few minutes, then relaxed. Jud wandered around the corner to p. Ana turned to me. “WTF?”
“I know. I dunno. Maybe we’re just not good enough?”
We decided we could not do 1969 today, and swore to come back, no giving up!
Jud came back and wandered up the other way to the top of the boulder to sit in the sun.
“I’m taking another go, and I’m only going to focus on holding the heel,” I said, and pulled onto the start moves that I’d done probably 50 times all told. Jud was talking to us from above, asking about something or remarking on the weather. Then she started whistling. Just keep going, I thought. This is no big deal. I got through the original crux and stuck it, moving into the new crux thinking only about holding the heel. I adjusted the slippery left hand into position, and the strong attention on my heel kept me close enough to the wall to get it better than I had before. Well, I thought, this is an educational burn.
“COME ON ANN!” Ana said, to alert Jud that something was happening.
Slap slam slam, I got my fingers into the final hold, held on with jus the gnarly texture of the rock, and toped out. “Nice!” Jud said. “That was not from the bottom, ya?”
“No, it was!”
Then Ana pulled on for one more, and asked us to whistle since it seemed to work for me. We spontaneously chose a song from the Nutcracker. It worked. So relieved and so psyched. WTF.