We went rock climbing this past weekend. We picked Marlow. It is close. It usually doesn’t have many people. And it doesn’t have as many mosquitoes or black flies as Pawtuckaway. It was still hot, though. No avoiding that. One other group of 3 climbers showed up while we were there. We easily stayed out of each other’s way.
There are three easy climbs on the main wall:
- a series of zig-zagging ramps that leads to the far left anchor bolts
- Almost Alpine up an off width gully. Mountain project rates it 5.4
- Sunny Slab on the far right which Mountain project rates as 5.6
Isaac attempted all three of those two years ago, and they ended up being the climbs we set up again this year. We started on the unnamed left most climb. Isaac climbed it quicker than two years ago. Being taller helped. I probably spent more time setting up the anchor such that the rope didn’t drag than he did climbing. Tyson and I also warmed up on the climb. The very start has the hardest moves for adults, then it is easy.
Next we wanted to move to Sunny Slab, but the other group was on it. They were looking for easy climbs too. So we set up on Almost Alpine. Someone has bolted a route on the face outside the gully. It goes to the same anchors. So I tossed the rope out to the face and attempted to climb it. I did pretty well until the very top section where I couldn’t see any hand holds or foot holds, but I could see a lot of lichen. That means not many other people were climbing the top part either. I finished in the gully. The lower off was a bit tricky between the rope pulling sideways and the constraints of the gully. Isaac climbed next. He skipped the face climb at the bottom by traversing along a ledge from far right, then he climbed the gully. This time being bigger was a disadvantage. He wanted to shove deep into the cracks to reach hand holds in the back like he had last time, but his shoulders wouldn’t fit. None of our suggestions were acceptable, or understood. Eventually he figured out a shimmy that wiggled him up the crack into the next open space. He was feeling both frustrated that the moves had been so hard, but also proud he got himself out of the jam. The transition at the top from climbing to lowering proved too difficult. Tyson had to walk around to the top and coax Isaac to let go of the rock and swing his weight onto the rope.
By this point the other group had left, so I moved the anchor over to Sunny Slab. For future reference, on a hot summer day, Sunny Slab is best done in the morning. We were all sweating in no time. Tyson climbed first. He had opted not to climb the gully to save his knees for something more fun. I helped Isaac analyze Tyson’s moves. Two years ago Isaac hadn’t been able to climb the slab. Then it was Isaac’s turn. He got stuck at the same point as two years ago, but this time he was able to figure out how to use the nubbins and cracks on the slab. With a little coaching he made it all the way to the top. And he lowered off in style. I climbed last. I opted for the slightly harder left side of the slab. My main concern was that two years ago I had been stung by brown hornets whose nest was in a hand hold. I got to the spot where there is one two-finger wide hole and not much else. I stuck my fingers in and search for a second hand hold. Then I heard buzzing. I pulled my fingers back out, and sure enough, there was a wasp nest. I grabbed a different marginal handhold and ran up the wall. Nothing stung me. Phew.
On the way out, we stopped by the lower wall. It has fewer climbs, so it won’t support multiple groups as well, but several of the climbs look interesting. For next time.