Monday, December 18, 2006

The Climb - The SPIRIT of MOKWAI

We make it to the base and scramble around for a bit on the slab. The grant is solid, yet Josh and Ryan both have incidents where small knobs break off unsuspectingly. That doesn't exactly boost our confidence. The lower portion looks very do-able, and very fun. This will be a slab- friction climb.

It's the upper pitch - probably the third or fourth pitch, about 600 feet up, that looks like it will be hard. I suspect it will be steep, run out climbing. And of course, there are the monkeys to contend with.

After some debate as to whether we should just solo the climb or rope up, we decide to rope up. I will climb with Josh. Ryan will climb with John.

I head out first and it feels great to finally be moving on the rock. This is it. The culmination of all the planning, preparation, training, navigation, logistics, travel across the world, blood, sweat, and you name it... I am climbing in Cambodia on an unclimbed route for the first time.

i manage to sling a couple horns mid way through the first pitch. I keep climbing, getting into the groove, examining the rock, the holds and remembering to breathe.

"Twenty-Five Feet" Josh yells up to me.
I focus on a tree that I think I can sling for an anchor. The only problem is that it is more than 25 feet away...

I keep climbing and stay focused on my movement. There is no other choice.
The rope comes tight and Josh yells up. "That's Me"

I bellow back down - "Start climbing Josh - and DON"T FALL!"

We begin to simul climb (both climbers roped but moving in tandem together) and soon i am at the tree for my anchor. This was the best option for the situation at hand - and we make it work with the resources we have available.

I build my anchor and quickly transition. Soon josh is climbing. I look out over the Cambodian countryside, which is beautiful. The sun is hot, and I feel strong. All of our jungle training days in the heat days have paid off.

Josh climbs with speed and soon he makes it to the anchor.

We both film John and Ryan as they climb a similar line. I feel overwhelmed with happiness to be where i am on the planet.

They arrive at the anchor I have built and Ryan looks at me with a bit of question. "This is the anchor?"
Yes, Ryan - this is the anchor. It works. We're solid - no worries.

We transition through the belay ledge and Josh takes off toward on the next pitch. The climbing gets steeper now and Josh remains cool under pressure. The climbing is great. Granite rock, small holds, relatively easy, slabby, and probably in the 5.6 range for Josh's pitch. Again - fairly run out. The most important thing you can do when climbing a run out pitch is to stay calm.

I arrive at the belay ledge and congratulate Josh. "Nice work, guy!"
The four of us have a mini celebration as we look around at where we are. The landscape is absolutely mezmorizing.

I look up at the next pitch - and - realize that this will be the crux. It is my turn to lead again. Ryan will be leading for his team, with John.

The excitement is building and I am amped to be here with my friends.

"Hey, Ryan. Let's lead this climb together!"

Ryan looks back at me and replies, "If you promise not to get competitive and kick me off!" I am not sure what to make of the comment, and I figure some separation wouldn't be a bad idea. It's time to focus.

Without a word, I head out on to the direct face. This is what I perceive to be the pure line, right up the center of the steep slab I have been looking at. The vision of the route from the photos I have seen for months is now reality.

I take a deep breath as I move across the granite slab. I examine the face. it looks steep, and I think I might be able to place a cam a about 25 feet up. Focus. What do i have to work with? Live in the Zone. Feel it.

I climb upward and approach the flake. i slot my favotie cam - Old Yeller - behind the flake and give it a tug test. Seems solid. Sweet.

i lie back the flake and continue upward toward a horn on the far side, about fifteen feet up and diagonal from my cam placement. I quickly sling the horn and clip the mountain draw into the rope. The horn seems fairly solid. It is questionable whether it will hold a significant fall, but something in the 30 footer range should be alright. i should be able to find something up ahead.

I perch on top of the flake and examine the route. The wall looks blank. No protection in the immedate near future anyway. EHT climbing is reasonable. Lots of small holds. I step off of the security of the flake and move up on the rock. i move slowly and with very clear intent. Ten feet... twenty feett... the route continues to steepen. i look back at Josh at the belay ledge. Soon Josh will be out of site. He watches me intently and can sense the situation i am about to embrace. He calmly and confidently offers words of support. "Ya, Tim. You got it."

I look beyond Josh at the sweeting back drop. For the first time I feel a slight breeze. i whisper my climbing mantra to myself: "Let's get lucky."

I climb upward and out of site of Josh. I search for protection to place. Nothing.
I am alone now. I peer toward the horizon - scanning for monkeys - a run in with an angry monkey right now would be catastrophic. I choose my line and continue to move fluidly upward. Breathe. A quick analysis of my situation. The rope attached will keep me on the wall. The last sling i placed is about 50 feet below me. A fall right now would send me scraping 100 feet down this granite slab. I refuse to let death enter my mind. I am at the crux. I have the most difficult moves ahead of me.

My inner dialogue speaks. Be a warrior. Do not focus on what is NOT there (like big safe secure holds). Focus on where you are now, and what I can do with what i have.
The crux seems to be about 25 feet long - a link of about 6 moves. I know the climbing is not that hard. I think about 5.8 moves. I step through the first two moves and pause, perched on dimesized crimpers and friction foot holds. I look down - any thoughts of downclimbing have just been erased. I am fully committed. I take a long, slow, deep, breath. My awareness becomes crystal clear as I realize the situation i am in. I hear the words of so many people as I left on my trip. "Be safe." I hear the words of my mentors rolling through my mind. Visualize. Focus. Strong core. Be strong, Tim. Another Breath.

I visualize my move head. Rock off the right foot. High step with the left too the knob. Right hand side pull. Crimp the small hold with the left.... to the right foot smear and up to the knuckle sized left hand crimp. The goal - move through the sequence - solid feet - strong core and get to the left hand hold.

What Can I bring to this climb? Another breath. I begin the rocking movement to prepare for the crux sequence. Time stands still.

How did I get myself into this situation? This is why I came across the world - to be in a situation like I am in now. If it wasn't challenging then it wouldn't be worthwhile. Life is full of difficult situations. It is ovecoming these challenges that brings me strength. Here I am. BE HERE NOW.

The outcome - unknown. The challenge - very apparent. My body, Mind and Spirit focused. Do I have what it takes? No doubt. All of my years as a climber tells me yes - there is no doubt I will move through this sequence and complete this climb unharmed. That's assuming none of the holds break... Stay positive. Focused. Time to STEP UP.

Another breath.
I rock up and begin the sequence. High step...side the solid left hand... I move through it fluidly - just as I saw it in my mind. Another breath. I feel my heart pounding with excitement. I step through another 5 feet and I am there. I stand on solid holds and an enormous grin overwhelms me. I let out a primal scream as i reward my determination. Success!

I continue on and hear Joah yell out - "Rope 1-0!" Ten feet left. The rope comes tight just as i reach my anchor spot. Quite the run out!

"Off Belay!"

Soon josh is climbing and moves through the sequences just as I had. Josh yells out as he approaches the anchor. "Thin Climbing! Nice Lead!"

We celebrate and chill for a few minutes as we watch John and Ryan moves through the next pitch. The back drop is amazing and Ryan is perfectly silouetted against the Cambodia landscape. We snap photos as Ryan shows off his Bofangs.

Josh takes over and leads the final pitch in style.

The four of us join together unrope and solo the final pitch to the summit. We shout cheers of success and talk a long slow look at where we are. We have made it.

Self Actualization is foremost on my mind...

Is this self actualiztion? Does it occur only when you are challenged to find something deep inside you? Whatever it is - the feeling inside me is amazing.

A dream realized...

We all agree that the name of the climb is...


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice work Tim et all! Sounds like a great adventure that I loved reading about.

You are an inspiration.