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Upon arrival on friday afternoon, we set up out new, spartan Mountain Hardwear Bat-Ray 2 shelter. Large, hungry mosquitoes abounded around the camp area, so we knew this trip would be an important test of the Bat-Ray. We first met Dave, who was nursing a nasty hangover, and then Bob, the executive officer of the squadron, who supplied the Jack Daniels the night before!
Dave, Kim, and I set off for Trapper Dome, the home of many popular moderate Courtright routes. First up was 5.4 Drill Instructor, aptly named for many reasons. Apt for us because we were climbing with Marines, but the real etymology surrounds the bolts; there are ten of them! Single-pitch sport routes don't get much longer than this one, which takes nearly every inch of a 60-meter rope. I led it, but had to borrow a few quickdraws. I trailed a second rope and rappelled, whereupon Kim started up the slopes for her first lead. Dave suggested that I tie in about ten feet behind her on a bight of rope. This kind of freaked me out, but Kim was very solid on the incredibly uniform low-angle friction. She didn't mind my presence at the anchor, but I'm sure she would've been fine had I not been there.
From Drill Instructor, we went over to 5.5 Good Deed, a short route just around the corner, which shares D.I.'s 3-bolt anchor. Dave led it in his approach shoes. I led it, and immediately could see a big difference between 5.4 and 5.5. The moves to the first bolt were over some pretty steep friction, but the rock is good, and it's not hard to stay pasted. Nothing like a pure friction lead to demand one's concentration. The route is well-protected, with 5 bolts, and boasts some really nice climbing. Both Good Deed and Drill Instructor are ideal first leads.
After a night of tasty dinner, warm fire, and smores, we hit Tiger Wall, a popular toprope spot. This time we were joined by Clarence (Commanding Officer) and Bob. I forgot "CO"'s name when he introduced himself, and nobody called him by his first name for the entire trip, just "CO", "skipper", or most frequently, "sir". For a "popular" place on a nice Saturday, Tiger Wall sure wasn't busy. In fact, we saw nobody for the entire day! Beats the hell outta the Yosemite crowds, I say.
We climbed many routes that day. The leftmost route (5.8/9) on the wall (not in the guidebook), which I call "Lieback Crack",
has, not surprisingly, a great 25 feet of liebacking right off the ground, followed by another 40 feet of
steep friction. I led the 5.8 route which is directly right of 5.7 Ebony, my hardest lead to date, sport
or trad. The last route of the day was 5.9 Tiger Tiers, a challenging vertical crack/face climb.
Everyone performed well. The CO scampered up 5.9 routes like they were nothing; amazing for a beginning climber.
The XO didn't want to climb anything, but seeing the "old man" perform so well drove him out of his comfort zone.
He climbed both the 5.8 that I led and Tiger Tiers, and looked good doing it. Kim, of course, got up
everything quickly and fluidly. Though I had done quite a bit of climbing in the past, I undoubtedly looked
the least comfortable on the wall.
Department of Geophysics