July 2012

Seneca Rocks, WV. The most incredible weekend I can even remember.

July 27

We got down with enough time to get the tent up before the light left us, though it was close. At 9 we went to the restaurant in town – Front Porch Restaurant. We grabbed pizza and brought wine to share. Delicious. There was a clear Bachelor Party behind us – pizza, beer, stories of the groom-to-be. We offered them the rest of our pizza and got to talking. They invited us out on a night hike with them.

“I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to ruin the Bachelor Party. I am decidedly female.”

We joked about us being the girls they’d hired for it in good fun and they were still open in their invite.

Mom and Faith wound up going back to the campsite and I went with the guys I’d met 20 minutes ago. Lucky for me I’d brought my headlamp to dinner. Steep hike! But fun. Good guys. We talked and discovered many os us actually live and work very close to each other – some even work across from my building!

We hiked up to the overlook summit. Pretty! We then went further – to the real summit. Careful footing, past the sign that said “STOP! It’s not worth the risk!”

We lived.

There wasn’t as much vertigo at the top as I thought there would be. It was dark – nothing to see down! We took some pictures and they will send me some. They asked me to be in one, and then I took one of the whole party.

Pretty steep climb, overall. Cool night. One of them dropped me off at the campsite when we got down.

July 28

The climbing! We got up and put our stuff together for the day. Lunch: pine nut hummus and brie cheese in a tortilla wrap, a boiled egg. They had a light breakfast at the Gendarme – bagel, yummy crumb cake. There were peaches and apples, too.

We split into groups based on interest for the day and skill level. I went with one of the Gendarme guides and three other women, and we hiked up the same trail I’d done the night before. Tough. But we made it, and then spent a lot of the morning going over top rope setups, setting up 2 top ropes and reviewing it all again. Quick lunch and we were finally up the wall.

We were at the North Summit, East side. First climb was a 5.4, Isadora’s Run. It was a good warmup – I had to get over my fear of falling and get used to being outside again. It’s funny, we spend all this time making sure the anchors are secure and redundant, and on the wall I spend so much energy just trying not to use it! Anyway I finally just let go and someone had me. I didn’t fall. When I finally got to the top, suddenly, I said, “I seem to be here,” which amused the crew some. So I got my climbing legs back, mostly, and we moved to the second climb.

A 5.9, Streptococcus. Hah! A 5.9. The highest I’ve climbed is a 5.8, once, years ago, in a gym. Totally different. Note: climbs are rated 5.1 – 5.15 or so throughout the Americas.

“You’re all nuts,” I thought.

But I tried it.

I was tempted to give in but the other women pushed me. Yes, you can do it! It was incredibly warm and supportive – something a bit new to me. I think I like this climbing with women thing.

Shaky legs. Exhausted arms. Pinched fingers (some serious crack climbing).

The hardest climb I’ve ever done.

TODAY! TODAY, at one of the rocks people say is always rated tougher: I did it! A 5.9! IT felt awesome. Really really great.

We packed up when everyone was through, trying or retrying. One woman scrambled up it not once, but twice. Pretty awesome. A slow walk back down, some water, hummus, cheese, wine. We drove back to the campsite and I made pasta with a cheese sauce mix I like to make, all on the camp stove, and the three of us ran to the shower.

We brought the pasta to a big, delicious potluck. So much yummy food after a great day of climbing. We wandered, chatted. I ran into some of the guys from the Bachelor Party checking out equipment for sale in the Gendarme.

But really, this climbing with just women today was awesome. The kind of support, the kick-butt attitude, something about it. Really cool.

Okay. Great day. One more!

Tent time. 🙂

July 29

Went up with Mom, M, and Y (two girls I climbed with yesterday) and learned more top rope. It was a bit of an adventure – tie in, anchor, go around. Even the approach to the slabs had some missed turns – oops.

Getting to the anchor location had a narrow ledge I was NOT happy with. I got over it, and we began the setup. Geez. We tried over and over. To no avail.

Then we had to come to someone’s rescue. Another woman called out for us to throw her a rope. She was leading and didn’t trust her next move or her equipment to keep her from a 10-15 foot fall. We ran over and hurriedly flaked out my rope, anchored it, set up a belay, anchored my mom, and then me as an assist belay. My mom belayed her down. Whew. All good. Some excitement.

We finally gave up on the top rope setup but learned a lot. We broke for lunch. I freaked again at the ledge but did not fall.

We then split – Y and Mom learned/taught gear placement, respectively (though originally we were going to do another mini top rope). The other group of women up there wonderfully let us have their rope to use while they set up another, so I belayed M up Scuttle (5.7, apparently), which she rocked, and then they traded out their gear for ours as the anchor but left us their rope to climb on. M then belayed me – a tough 5.7 but I did it! More serious crack climbing, with a tree growing right in the middle of it.

Mom and I headed back to break down camp, and M and Y continued, then brought our remaining gear back the the Gendarme.

What a weekend!!!

I know, I’ve totally been neglecting this thing. Life’s gotten in the way, mostly in good ways.


Guess what? Tomorrow is my dad’s LAST day of radiation! Done! That’s it!!

Happy dance 🙂