Sending Genevieve

Published 2014

Now that “Genevieve” was finally bolted, I needed a rest day after all the bolting and hiking to the mountain top, so I lazed about the next day, went for a short run, cruised about on the bike and generally tried to relax my tired hands. It turns out one rest day wasn’t enough. Tom and I set off nice and early the next day to climb. I attacked pitch 1 with some nerves, as I was excited to open this wall. But by a third of the way through the first pitch my hands were already cramping, then my pec started. I pushed on but had to rest before the end of the pitch. So I came down and Tom went up and opened this pitch in good style, it is a long, 35m, slightly overhanging line, which goes at about 6c+. This meant pitch 2 was now mine to try, I managed to open this pitch, only about 6b+. Tom joined at the second stance and we were now getting excited, despite the hand cramps. Tom’s turn, pitch 3, the long parallel tufas. These gave us a good run for our money. Tom managed to get the draws in, but this pitch was far from open. I gave it an attempt, made some progress, that is, right up to the crux….I tried and tried, but was just losing skin on my finger tips and not progressing. I really wanted to at least figure out how to do this section, so that when we returned to try again, we would know what to do. After much cursing, I figured out a good sequence, using some less than ideal crimps, but they worked, so did my fingers, and I got through. We descended and went home, worn out.

Another rest day was needed. This meant we only had 1 day to send the climb before our holiday ended. Nothing like a bit of pressure to get things done. We returned before sunrise the next day, everything obscured by a thick mist. I set off on pitch 1, managed to send it, Tom joined me at the stance. He set off on pitch 2, fell at the anchors when I hold broke. I shot up it and we found ourselves back at pitch 3. Tom was hurting, his skin was worn out, not in a good space to be sending the crux pitch, so I geared up for it. I knew I only had enough skin on my fingers for 1 good attempt, but I took some strong painkillers before climbing, hoping that this might dull the pain in my finger tips and allow for a second go, should I make any mistakes.

Fortunately it didn’t come down to this, I climbed it well, made it through the crux, not without a fight though, and nervously cruised the finishing sequence, worrying about a hold breaking and ruining my attempt. I happily clipped the anchors and belayed Tom up to join me. We gave this pitch a grade of 7b, time will tell what it settles at. I offered to climb the next pitch, Tom didn’t argue. This pitch proved to be an amazing piece of climbing, pulling through a small roof, standing on tufas with open air below, great stuff, at about 6c. The final pitch now waited. Tom’s turn, I was expecting nothing more than 6c, hoping for less because we were both pretty damn tired by this point. Tom went up about 3 bolts and it became very clear that my predicted grade was a bit off. He tried various sequences but wasn’t progressing. He came down to the stance and we were both a little quiet. Worried that after all the excitement and work, we wouldn’t get to finish this climb.

I tried to put on a brave face and positive attitude, I think Tom saw though it. We had some whisky with us, so we each had a shot or two and I geared up. Tom said something about it being a time for someone with more experience, someone who really wants the climb, can grit through the hard sections, dig deep. It was a general statement, not necessarily referring to me or him in particular. His words rang true. I fought my way up that pitch like I have never fought for a climb before. Maybe the whisky helped. It was relentless and not obvious, it just kept throwing cruxes at me when I wanted rests. But in the end, after about 30 minutes of sweating and whimpering I clipped the final anchors. Such an amazing feeling. I graded it 7a+, but have no idea what it might really be. Tom dragged himself up, topped out and slugged back the whisky like it was water. Our final bit of excitement was to launch an “AP BOOM!” off the top of the mountain, basically a little stick of dynamite. Our friends climbing in an adjacent valley had no doubt what the explosion signified as they were climbing a multi-pitch of their own.

At about this time Corlie texted to ask if I liked the name Genevieve if we had a girl, I mentioned this to Tom and we simultaneously decided this would be a great name for the climb.

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