On the eve of a free weekend, I began trawling the lurid
taco waters for a ditch partner. The fish were nibbling,
with intimations of pick-a-partner at the Reed's pull-out.
I remained firm and waited for a commitment. Years ago I
got myself in over my head on territory I wasn't ready for,
going to the valley without a partner. On this day I decided
to honor the lessons learned.
But I was sick. Sick of not climbing.
And I was saved by The Nurse.
She was eastbound, I was ready, the wide was calling. Woodfords seemed right.
The Nurse took care of our prescriptions, a stack of topos bundled with care.
After several "oooh! look at that!" car-stopping diversions, we settled on The Fortress area:
Parking is conveniently across the street near the campground:
Without delay we saddled up:
But first the Nurse diagnosed my critical lack of wide hardware and treated the condition:
We slogged up the sandy hill, two steps forward and one slide back, aiming for these tasty treats:
Some other denizens tempted us to start with a 5.8/9 lieback that the Nurse took care of:
'Twas a fine afternoon and we were both enjoying a great spot:
WE saw some dudes on this interesting 5.10b with a cool pod down low, and that brought out the wide mojo:
Just around the corner to the right we found a perfect trio of wide cracks and chimneys. Truly wonderful stuff, and not a one of them in the guide! Well don't pay it no never mind. It looks like 5-dot-fun to me.
You can't tell by looking at it, but I recall quite clearly hanging out in this position, swinging the rack around to try it a different side in, feeling like my face was pointing mostly toward the ground in this rest phase before the commitment:
The beginning was clearly the crux for me. There's probably a prettier way to do it, but it's a good thing that my thrutching between the last pictures and this next one didn't make it to film or pixels:
It felt like the most technical wide crack I've done, with some horizontal body-English rotating back down to matching tip-toes on face to cheat past a tough section, then back into the beast for more grunting but easier ground. All in all a character-building and pride creating effort for me. Another shot of the beast:
Before I can get too full of myself, the Nurse just shimmies up all casually and chimney-like; at least she was sweet to demure with comments like "maybe it's a body size thing" or something like that. Even so, I was stoked, no real blood was spilled, and we were both sufficiently satisfied to call it a good day and get back for a little campfire.
The next day, we lose the proper trail and have ourselves a little adventure on the way up:
It's a glorious morning, but little warning bells start to sound.
Looking down into the east-side desert getting some weather from the south:
Looking up-valley over the course of a few minutes:
But we were in pleasant moods, patient, and willing to see what would happen.
It was the right move! Here's that trio of wide cracks:
It sure was exciting for a few minutes as the Nurse attempted to extricate a cam that I drove hopelessly out of range while trying to clean it the day before:
Note the melting snow streaking down the face
For the rest of the day, little cells blew past us with brief blizzards that had us laughing out loud, and then the skies would clear up like this:
Here's looking straight up another yummy crack that we'll save for another day:
We opted instead for another fun one that seemed more practical in light of the snow flurries:
This picture perfectly captures our mood for the day. All smiles!
The spirit of Brutus was smiling down on us, giving us just enough adventure to keep a twinkle in our eye and a spring in our step for the hike back down