Pushing Away Comfort, October 19 2015 - Mark Rafferty
Climbing Joshua Tree 2015

The rain finally came to a hault here in Yosemite for the next week or so... hopefully. Although seeing the clouds being sucked into the valley made it very cool to watch and just added to the amazing scenery. Today turned out being full blue skies with lots of sun. Which was torture because normally that would be perfect but since it rained to much we had to wait a while for the rock to dry. Being awake and finding nothing else to do Hannah and I decided to go and hop on a Boulder near Curry Village and learn how to aid climb! The boulder we went to was known for beginner aid climbers learned the motions. The Boulder was a bolt ladder so basically your just clipping bolt to bolt, seems easy enough right? No. Not that easy. There's a whole lot more than you think that goes into play with aid climbing. The technique was weird to figure out not to mention the Boulder is a 20+ft overhanging rock. Thinking I would be able to fly up it it took me about 30+ minutes to go about 20 something feet. Which makes sense when people say that climbing aid takes about an hour or more per pitch if your experienced. Thank god Jake showed up to show us what to do because it made it a whole lot easier.


As the weather started to get warmer we headed back to camp so that Hannah could meet up with this girl from Austria to climb. So with jake, Kellie, and Hannah being gone I needed to find a partner. That's where I met Rachael. Rachael is a Canyoneering guide in Zion and is here for another week! Still waiting for the rock to dry we both went back to out camps to make lunch.


Meeting up we decided to go to a place called "Five and Dime Cliff." Which is named after a route there. The route is so good that the named the whole cliff after it. The route Is a 5.10d trad climb that is said to be the hardest 10 in the valley. Once you get this route clean apparently your able to tackle any 5.10 the valley throws at you. This got us super pumped so we headed out.


Getting to the crag we decided to warm up and an easy 5.8 route called "Keystone Corner." Which Rachael just being introduced to trad I decided to lead it. The route follows and easy ramp to a series of cracks for about 50ft. Every time I went for a hand jam it was as if a hand full of sand was thrown in my face. Due to the large amounts of rain the grains of sand above had been washed into these cracks. After the short section of the sand castle cracks you have a choice between the normal route up a stemming chimney or to take a 5.9 finger/hand crack variation. Making it more fun I went to the 5.9 variation. Which was awesome. Luckily wasn't as sandy as below. After Rachael made it up we went to set up the top rope for the Five and Dime crack. The only thing is that the whole top of this cliff has no bolts to Rachael and I had to rappel off out trad anchor. Which sketched me out because I've never rapped off gear before.


Getting at the base again I set off to go for the 5.10. As soon as I for about 40ft up the hands crack turned into fingers and I got shut down. Because of my fat fingers I was unable to get the proper jams I needed so time after time I kept working to hard and got pumped and gave up. Luckily for Rachael the finger section was a perfect hand jam section for get tiny hands and was able to cruise up it but struggled when it came to normal hand size crack. Trying it again I still wasn't able to muscle through the crux. Now I found my project her in the valley for the week.Goal is to run up it a few times then finish it once and for all with a lead. Time to get my finger strength up from bouldering.


Getting back at basically dark I run into Hannah, Jake, and Kellie. While cooking dinner we were going over the plan tomorrow and decidedly r all of us to hop on "Voyager." With Jake and Kellie following separately behind Hannah and I. Hannah has been obsessed over this route and has sent it more than once. To her she still fells that she hasn't truly sent it the way she wants. Which is a quality I admire a lot of bout Hannah, the commitment is something I need to follow. I'm excited and also nervous for this climb because of the fact that it's a 7 pitch 5.11c trad route and I just got shut down on a 5.10d, plus I'm going to be leading half the pitches. Which is hard to read because the first day we did a 5.10d that felt way easier than it was rated. So I guess we will see. I'm excited to really push myself on trad climbing and to see how we it goes. The main goal is to basically get my ass kicked and to have my body worked so I can start gaining that strength I've been looking for. Can't wait to see you how it all plays out! Aah! I love my life! Wouldn't trade this lifestyle I'm loving for anything else. Which probly isn't what parents want to hear but if they were here with me they would feel the same. I know they would.