Last week we had some incredibly nice weather so Molly and I decided to head up to Lumpy to try a crack called George's Tree which I spied on an earlier trail run. Now, it should be noted that the climbing at Lumpy has always intimidated me. The routes tend to be long and slabby with flaring cracks, which spotlights my two weaknesses: slab climbing and tricky gear. I have climbed at Lumpy a handful of times, all of which have ended with bailing early. Plus the approaches tend to be a major workout on their own! However, there is something about Lumpy that keeps me coming back. I can see the Twin Owls taunting me from my front yard. Somehow I feel that if I can successfully climb at Lumpy then I can successfully climb anywhere, which is probably pretty accurate. The grades here are very stiff and traditional. Anyway, on with the climbing.
The approach was as we expected, long and steep. I think it took about 1.5 hours of toiling under heavy packs. I knew setting off that I would likely aid the route so I packed a ton of gear: 3 full sets of cams, 2 sets of stoppers, two ropes, etc. Very heavy! Here is Molly getting through the steeper section.
At the top I asked Molly what she thought of the approach. Here was her reaction...
We had planned on keeping it pretty casual, so the first priority was to make some lunch. Here is Molly making my favorite sandwich of all time. Tomato, basil, mozzarella, and kalamata olives. Oh so good!!
Our lunch view
Basking in the warm sun with an awesome sandwich.
After lunch there were no more excuses so I started to rack up. The plan was to aid up 70 feet of classic Lumpy flared crack to a pair of bolts, and then work the route on top rope. Aid climbing is when you place a piece of gear in the rock, then clip some webbing ladders to it, climb up as high as you can in the ladders and place another piece of gear. Repeat until you reach your goal. I have never been a big fan of aid climbing. In fact, this was to be my first actual aid climb. I prefer to free climb. This is when you climb the rock itself without using gear to move upwards. The gear is just there to catch you if you fall. However, aid climbing is a good skill to know in case you get stuck on something that is over your head. Plus it helps you learn how to place gear and what will hold you. Here I am racking up
The climb itself went slow. It took me about an hour to get to the bolts. However, in that hour my confidence in Lumpy rock grew exponentially. Molly did a lap on top rope and also learned a lot about climbing this new type of rock. It was fun to watch her progress. The first 10 feet involved much flailing and grunting but then she started to develop her technique and by the end of the route she was cruising. Once down, she rewarded herself with one of Tom's homemade shortbread cookies.
I jumped back on it and climbed it again on top rope, this time free and felt surprisingly secure. Cookie for me!
By this time the shadows down in the valley were racing up towards us so packed it up and headed back to the car with high spirits.
It felt so good to finally leave Lumpy feeling successful and I have to say that I am even more hooked. I finally found the confidence I needed to have fun climbing at Lumpy. Everything feel possible now and I anxiously wait to head back out there and climb some more. Unfortunately, the weather has turned back cold so I have to sooth my jitters with trail running and skiing. But when spring hits.....