Thursday, October 20, 2016

Syked again

With last Wednesday's Carderock trip showing me that I can do slab/vertical routes with little pain, I made some sensible toprope plans on Saturday to catch a bit of the gorgeous Fall weather we're having.  When those plans fell through, I figured maybe my equally damaged friend John Brunson would want to meet at Gretna for a tour of the finest easy boulders in the new guidebook.  As it turned out, he was feeling uncharacteristically whole, and had his sights set on Guillotine at the Jam Boulder in Sykesville, which he had narrowly missed finishing last year.

Nothing on the Jam Boulder seemed like a good idea for me yet, but I hadn't climbed in that part of Sykesville in probably two years, and any day with John is a good one.  With the also sidelined Mike Bowman on paparazzi duty, we were all set.

Seeing the telltale flash of pads through the remaining green of the woods, we realized that we would have company at the Jam Boulder, and turned the corner to find Sean and David already working Guillotine.

John never managed the send, but he came really close.

The only thing more impressive than the arms-flailing mini-fit he threw was the fact that he got that close to finishing, and still resisted the urge to give that "one more try" that brings climbing seasons to an end before they've even started.

Wanting to keep climbing, or start in my case, John took us over to the Gorsuch Switch boulders, which Mike and I had still never seen.  Among other established climbs, Gorsuch is home to Smitty's outstanding Riot Time, an overhung arete/compression line with perfect slopers and a landing area that makes you think twice.  I didn't think it would be a possibility for me, but as we warmed up with a bunch of variations on one of the lower boulders, I realized that my back was loosening up enough that I might be able to at least try Riot Time.

I spotted John as he gave it a couple tries and worked out his Big Man Beta, somehow not ripping the boulder down on top of him in the process.  While he was resting, I shoed up and gave it a go, hitting one of the slopers a little too low and peeling off.  After feeling out a couple alternate possibilities, I pulled back on for a static send, and then a fully rested John threw his shoes back on and crushed it.

Here's some video of John's send, with his Guillotine wobbler and a few Catoctin boulders added in for good measure.

I was a little stiffer the next morning than I'd been in a few days, but I'll take it.  Between getting on new rock, doing things that I hadn't thought I was ready for, and watching John throw away self doubt and commit to a scary move, it was a damn good day.  Fingers crossed that healing and weather will continue to coincide for more!

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