Once again, not everything went as planned. I tried to get a crew together for a Saturday session at Arthur's. My hope was that with enough people and pads I could try "Childbirth" in relative safety and Ashley might top out some tallish problems like "Godzilla" or "Syringe." I'd take photos and then put a huge headline on the blog that read "Ashley Climbs Highballs!" There'd be tons of comments, and it would all be a lot of fun.
We woke up to a cold, cloudy, humid morning. At the parking area, Ashley checked out the weather, and declared it a gym day. The weather felt alright to me, and Chase was coming out, so I decided to give the day a shot. Ashley said "Have fun in the land of highballs and sharpness." and drove away. I hiked up hoping it wouldn't rain.
It felt a bit like winter, but there were small signs of spring.
Chase arrived, but a couple other friends who said they might make it, didn't. While we warmed up, it looked like it would be just Chase and I and our two pads, but then two guys arrived carrying five large pads. One looked familiar to me, and introduced himself as Bart. The other boulderer is on a trip from Poland, and his name is Maciek. He pointed at the warm-up wall and said in a most sincere accented voice "I came 9000 miles to climb this problem." His sense of humor and timing was spot on for the rest of the day. I asked what they were planning to get on with all the pads. When Bart mentioned "Childbirth" I couldn't believe our luck. Chase and I headed up to start working out the opening moves. "Childbirth" isn't quite as tall as I expected, but the landing slopes away making it feel airy and sketchy once you begin climbing. I couldn't start the problem using the standard method I watched in "Solutions" the night before. The first foot was too high, and I'm not very flexible. I figured out a jumpstart that is pretty difficult for me, reminiscent of the first move of Pinch overhang. Since no other solution will work, I start on the first holds, and I'm not stacking pads, I think the jumpstart is legit. In this case, I climb right to switch hands before heading back left so I use all the holds.
I got the traverse wired, but wouldn't make the move to the crimp with only two pads under me.
Then Maciek arrived with two more pads. He said "Guidebooks should have pad ratings so you know how many to bring." Sounds like a good idea to me. Most ratings are subjective, but with this rating scale the first ascensionist could just say how many pads he used and then a consensus could build over time with subsequent ascents. With two pads, Chase swung past and hit bare ground once, and I just barely threw the pad under him in time when he took two more swinging falls. With four pads he worked his way up to the crimp pretty quickly. Two more pads changed the game significantly, for us both.
Maciek told us that in Poland people spot by just taking a step back, and smoking a cigarette. "I'm not joking. I have pictures." Most of his finger tips were covered in tape. He said it was because the rock hurt so much. Bart asked "Do your tips have holes?" Maciek removed some tape, looked at his fingers and said "It seems like such a simple question, but it's really hard to tell."
Chase getting up to the crimp.
With four pads I was able to do two more moves. So according to the logic of mathematics, with six pads I should be able to finish the problem. The first jug looked far away, but I ran into Andre and now I have the beta I need for trip two.
Feeling a bit worked, but not yet done, we walked down to "Shot Put." I was getting the feel for it, and having some lunch between attempts. I pulled into the crux and the main foothold exploded off the rock. I hit the pads hard. We were bummed, but instantly started looking for new beta. On my next attempt I broke a low right foot hold. Maciek discovered a new sequence using a crystal out left. I tried it, and that crystal broke. Chase said "I'm never showing you a problem I like again." We laughed, and I grabbed my sandwich. As soon as I took a bite, Maciek looked straight at me and commanded with a strong accent "Stop eating." I laughed so hard I almost chocked. Not much got sent, but we made a lot of progress, laughed a lot, and had great weather by the end of the session. I love this sport.