I had shoulder surgery early spring last year and missed a whole season of rockclimbing. There were two winters in there, about 17 months all tolled. Longest stretch of not-rockclimbing since 1971.
Naturally, it was ten degrees cooler than yesterday and it’s spitting on the windshield as we drive down the Arm. Also: we had this big earthquake last November and there have been piles of rubble at the bases of all these crags. Loose rock is on our minds. Mine anyway. We add a puffy upper layer.
Charlie leads. He’s so damned measured. Watching him I can’t tell how hard the climbing is. Whatever the move is, he’s through it both unhurriedly and unhesitatingly. Whereas hesitation is the name of my game.
Charlie keeps the rope fairly tight as I follow. I hadn’t asked him to, he just knows. I want to holler out for tension at a couple spots, but contain myself, settling for blurting out “watch me” a couple times.
It’s high tide and the waterline comes nearly to the road here. The water is roiling below us. From high up it feels like if you launched yourself off the rock you’d hit the water, but that’s not remotely true.
The upper pitches are all easy and it’s windy as hell so we rap down and do another pitch from the ground up. This one I’ve done many times before and it’s a tad easier anyway. It’s almost as if I know what I’m doing.
We wander back to the car looking for signs of fallen rock and commenting on the routes, walking under Garvey and Sweeney’s Road Warrior, one of my favorites. They put it up in the rain.
My toes are smooshed and my hands are scraped up and bloody. We weren’t out too long, but my god it felt good to be back home.
Photo: Climbing above the Seward Highway with Joel Chasteen on a nicer day!