Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Momentary Lapse of Season: the first ascent of Synergy

First ascent of Synergy, aka, A Momentary Lapse of Season:

Wednesday, January 25th saw the Smoke Hole canyon region enjoying another of its sunny mid-winter days, and the Gypsies made lemonade from automotive lemons to get out and climb with visiting trail repair guru and shredder Jed Page, a one-time resident of the Virgin Islands now living and working in NoVA.

In the last four months, Jed has worked on the Long Branch trail at the base of the Beautiful Loser wall, built steps and laid in support for Wall and Ninja Walls trails old and new, picked up trash and helped shore up problem areas at Reeds Creek. Even when his trip was only a matter of hours, Jed managed to support access while getting in some climbing on the sweet lines of Smoke Hole.

While Jed and Cindy warmed up on the Guide Wall 5.8 Arete, I dropped a top rope on a line we had looked at last week and installed a pair of anchors. Birds were singing in the trees, squirrels scurrying through the leaves as insects buzzed around my face, the river shining like a line of silver and gold through the bare limbs of the forest below. The racket of the drill caused only a pause in the midwinter celebration of life, and then the song of the canyon resumed.

Back on the ground, I warmed up on a TR run of the Arete Jed had already cruised on-sight, always an enjoyable start to the day. Threading the anchor, I visually double-checked the anchor and my set-up and exchanged verbal checks with my belayer before unclipping from the anchor. Jed lowered me smoothly to the ground, gear was gathered, and we three made our way to the project.

Cindy Gray, soaking up the Vitamin D as she moves into the crack and flake section of the climb.

We took turns working on moves and scrubbing, prying at surprisingly solid holds and establishing clip stances. Satisfied with the effort, I took a last scrubbing run, pulled up gear and rapped from the anchors to place four bolts.

Curmudgeon, in production mode; just doin' what he does best

Jed was offered the first attempt as a guest and trail work supporter, and styled the moves to the anchor in short order, grinning all the way.

I pulled the rope and followed his fine example, albeit with less grace and far more effort, with Miss Pinkpants offering encouragement as Jed cheered from the sidelines and snapped pictures.

Two generations of climbers, one great little wall

The old man going for the repeat, with Miss Pink on belay.

Jed finished the day with an on-sight of the 5.9 Hummingbird, one of the wall's first and still best lines, before growling stomachs called us home to pizza and celebration.

Getting in touch with his inner primate, Jed guns for the ledge on the sweet 5.9 'Hummingbird'

Snow came in overnight, and shortcut our plans for another day of climbing and the installation of anchor chains. Instead, I climbed to the top of the buttress and rapped down past the bolt ahnger anchors, retrieving my quick draws and hastily gathering gear for a strategic withdrawal as the blowing rain became snow and sleet coming in gale-force gusts.

Back at Casa Escondido, Jed packed and headed back to Babylon, leaving the Gypsies to plot on other lines and days to come, while snow blew across the mountains beyond their window.
Synergy, 5.8+, four bolts, two bolted top anchors, 36 feet+/-. Starting from the ledge above and left of Native Suns, clip a high first bolt and make a few interesting moves to the second bolt, before gaining a ledge with a bolt, crack and flake. Chase the crack and flake feature past another bolt to jugs and the anchor.

A #7-9 wired stopper and a .75 Camalot can help alleviate any feeling of runout between bolts #2 and #4.


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