With temps in the low 60s and crocus finally blooming in my yard, it's crazy to think I was scraping snow off my car just three days ago! Combined with the extra hour of afternoon daylight, it was the perfect weekend to make my official return to climbing.
Yesterday after playing five hours of Lego Lord of the Rings as I recovered from a bit of a late Friday night, I hopped in the car and went down to Northwest Branch to enjoy a bit of the sun. Thinking it would be best to stick to familiar climbs, I decided to warm up on Snowflake Traverse and Mikey Likes It, and on arriving at the downstream slab was shocked to see how much the graffiti had increased in just the last two months.
Whether it's a legit MS13 tag or just a bunch of suburban wannabes trying to scare people, they were definitely thorough in making sure that all of the holds were as covered in paint as possible. Fortunately both of those traverses were still perfectly climbable, but I have a feeling Seam Nightmares will be a good bit tougher now.
I took a couple shots at Genetic, which was still a bit much for my shoulder, then walked back up the trail to see how Crimps felt after almost two months away from it. Surprisingly I managed to stick the crux on my second or third try, only to pivot off the next move and scrape my hand and arm really nicely as I grated down the slab behind me. Wish I had video of that! Fortunately others were a little better about having their cameras out yesterday, and we have a great video from Dan Michels of his latest sending spree, including the first footage I've seen of Curtain Call and the first known ascent of a right variation to Crimptastic since Vince broke off the awesome hold a couple months ago. Hope it stays intact for a while!
Today Emily and I went down to Carderock to join Chris Irwin and a few other friends for some sunny slabs and riverside lounging. As we arrived, Chris was about to lead a route to the right of the nubble face with the crux conveniently located about 15 feet over a microstopper.
Given the fact that I always freak out on my first roped climb of the year, I'm glad I was on toprope for that one! After doing that and a flake to the right of it, I grabbed my pads and walked down to work on Buckets of Blood for a bit. For future reference, attempting the start without my fingernails cut is a terrible idea. It still feels within reach though, and the middle moves felt much more static as I worked them than they had back in January. Still a possibility before the hot weather comes back? Who knows, but it's fun enough to work on that I'd happily put in the time whatever the outcome.
At Chris's suggestion, I put my harness back on and finished the day on Incipient, one of my new favorite routes at Carderock. Thin and balancy with well polished crystals for feet, it's a perfect example of both Carderock climbing and the classic 5.9+ grade. It also made me realize how many classic routes there are down there that I haven't gotten around to trying yet. Will have to fix that soon.
It's good to be back!