20 October 2010

My First Whipper

This summer I took a Whipper.  As defined in this previous post, Whippers are NOT awesome.  Mine was no exception.

On July 30, I headed out to Exit 38  to meet some members of The Group for a little Friday-after-work climbing action.  I was traveling with Jere, one of my more experienced and most-definitely awesome buddies.  We met the group around 2ish, climbed for a bit, then headed east to Vantage

Here's Jere and Tony showing their best "hip-pop" stance.  Or they're just checking out the route.  You decide:

Jere leading the 5.9.  Really fun climb. 
Me leading the 5.9 after Jere, technically I'm on Pink Point: when you lead a climb, but the draws are already in place for you to clip into

Vantage is about 2 1/2 hours from Seattle and is a series of hexagonal columns which make for some very fun climbing.  It's pretty common to drive out, camp, and climb the next day. Jere and I arrived after dark, but we were greeted by clear skies and an incredibly warm evening.  We each pitched our respective tents, and when he decided not to put his rain fly on, I thought "wow, what a FANTASTIC idea, that way I can look up at the stars as I doze off!" 

Yeah.....that turned out to be a bad call.....I awoke about 12:30 to an awesome display of lightening DIRECTLY ABOVE MY FACE!  I realise I'm prone to exaggeration, but this was the biggest lightening show I'd ever seen.  I was so scared to be in a tent, but I was scared to get out of the tent, so I just laid there, watching the lightening creep ever closer.  Finally, I made my move to the car!  I sat there for a while, until the skies opened up and it started pouring rain!  Jere finally dove out of his tent (he had been in there laying awake, apparently Googling "is it safe to be in a tent in a lightening storm" [the answer is no]) and hopped in the car. He was seated for no longer than 30-seconds when it REALLY started to rain.  Then he dove out and grabbed his and my stuff from our tents and saved us from being completely demolished.

It rained for another hour or so before we were able to extract ourselves from the car and dry out our stuff.  There was at least 2 litres of water in the bottom of my tent!  Ugh!  We dried off as best we could, but my sleeping bag was in pretty poor shape, so it was a long, sleepless night for me.  Luckily, in the morning we were greeted by Vantage and all it's beauty.  We were out by 8am to climb.

View from the top of 'Clip 'em or Skip 'em", 5.8 
Looking down at  Jere
Sending like Pro's

We did a few routes in Vantage, then decided to leave becuase it was just too damn hot.  Plus another Thundercloud was looming, so we didn't want to push our luck.  We took a quick dip in the river, then hopped back in the car.  We had friends climbing at 38 again on Saturday, and we thought it would be pretty awesome to hit up three different climbing spots in 24 hours, so before we knew it we were back on rock.

By now you are wondering, when am I going to get to the Whipper story already???  Right NOW!  We walked up to Neverland wall and met a few members of The Group.  I was feeling strong, and decided to start off on this 5.9 slab climb. 

Here I am starting off
I should have spent more time studying the climb, but was just too darn excited to be climbing again.  Somehow I got off route.  I went left when I should have gone right. 

You can see here I'm about 4' up and 3' left of my last quick draw here.
Then disaster struck!  I reached up with my left hand (below) and all the sudden I was upside down!  My hand just completely came off the hold, and the momentum propelled me backwards and upside down.  There was some debate as to if my foot got tangled in the rope, but I didn't have any rope rash (which I would have gotten), so we decided the rope was just running under my foot. 
At first, I only felt like I had knocked my head a bit (this is why I wear a helmet, probably saved my life!) and twisted my ankle.  Once I righted myself, Jere lowered me down and I felt mostly fine, but everyone was really concerned.  Only then did I realize that I was covered in blood! It was all over my arms and legs, on the rope, on my harness, and on my shirt...not to mention on the rock!

Somehow I had put a pretty major gash in my elbow and it was bleeding like crazy (warning, gross pictures coming up).  Thumbs down fo sho!

But, I am also someone who is strangely proud of my injuries.  I like that I'm smiling in this one...
 The elbow didn't really hurt at the time, to be honest, but it certainly was very sore for the next few weeks.  The picture below is of one week after.  As you can see, there was TONS of bruising, and I probably should have gotten stitches.  Oh well.  It's now three months later and I still have a pretty impressive scar =)
I must say a BIG thank you to Jere for doctoring me up after my Whipper, and for expertly cleaning the route like a champ after witnessing, what I am told, was a pretty horrendous looking fall!  Thanks Jere!

Also, just as an FYI, Jere's car was broken into while I was busy taking a whipper.  We were very fortunate (if you can call it that) that the theives only took his rope and my bag of clothing.  They DIDN'T get either of our tents, our sleeping bags, or our various other items worth $100's a piece!  Just a reminder, when climbing secure your stuff!  Hide it under a blanket if you have to!  As always, safety first!

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