OK back to now. Back to 2018. Day 3 had a relaxed start. Jacob and I slept in and then hung out under our shade shelter. The Huber Boulder bakes in the sun from about 9:30am till sunset. You really want to climb it in either late evening or early morning conditions. I read my notes. Yes, I had nearly a full written page describing my sequence move by move, which I had saved for two years and brought back with me. The last words were: ‘Then swing, kick, and fall off.’ That’s how it had been last time… At around 4pm, we started up the few easy pitches to The Boulder. I brushed the holds, ticked a few spots with chalk, lowered down and pulled the rope. Headlamp on, I set off crimping and smearing my way up the first sequence to an OK stance. I didn’t wait long.
Left hand on the sidepull… left foot on the smear… bounce right foot onto the black spot… right hand to the really bad crimp… rotate left foot to bring heel against obvious scoop… suck in against heel and stand up dynamically to snatch the mini gaston with left hand… Intense focus. All other thoughts disappear. All that exists is my body and the sequence it must perform. A precise, memorized dance routine. The 2000ft of space below me becomes irrelevant, I live in the bubble of my headlamp.
A few more moves and suddenly I'm at The Kick. Hands on the sloper, the sugar loaf, I move my right foot up to a higher dime-sized edge and drop my heel to weight it. I look to the left wall - no, I glare at the left wall - focusing all my gaze on a slight dimple ticked with chalk. My foot has to land precisely there. In one powerful motion, I lurch my body leftward and swing my left leg out to catch my fall. Whap. My left foot sticks against the left wall. WTCHA! Ninja Kick. Focus. Shaking, I pinch the bottom of the loaf hard with my right hand, tense my shoulders and reach out with my left, reaching for the jug… reaching… Got it!
I climbed the easy ground up to the chains in a daze. I clipped the chains. I was shocked. Silence for a moment, then “taaaaake!” A huge smile spread across my face. I couldn’t believe it. I let out a big WHOOOOP into the darkness, a shout up to the moon and the stars beyond!
I couldn’t stop smiling. This is going to happen. I can do this. I am going to do this. We rapped down to our bivy and ate a can of vine leaves in celebration. The next morning we took a few gallons of water out of our bag and left them on the ledge - a gift for a future climber. We were ahead of schedule. We jugged our lines and continued climbing and hauling our bags skywards to arrive at the next bivy, The Block, in the early afternoon. Two years ago, Alix and I had spent four nights here, lowering down to try the crux pitch again and again. For Jacob and I it was Siesta Time! We cowered under our shade shelter eating lunch wraps and chocolate. Again my mind drifted back to 2016…