Index Cragging at Lower Town Wall
August 6, 2010
My friend Marcus invited me to go climbing with him at Index, so I jumped at the opportunity. We had climbed at the gym together but never outside so I was looking forward to getting the chance to top rope some hard climbs. Our co-workers, Andrew and Peter, joined us for the outing!
We got an early start, leaving Seattle at 6:15am, and we were rewarded by being the first at the crags. Marcus and I started out on Thin Fingers a super fun 5.11a crack climb that starts towards the right end of Lower Town Wall. Peter and Andrew warmed up on Godzilla, a pumpy 5.9, hand crack climb just down and left of us. While I was belaying Marcus, I heard an "oh @#$#@$!" coming from Peter and Andrew. It seemed that Peter had logged some airtime! Andrew had taken a good whipper on this challenging route a few weeks before. Meanwhile, Marcus was methodically dissecting the moves on Thin Fingers. The crux move on Thin Fingers is a short, slabby section about halfway up. It requires some balancy edging for a couple moves before it turns back into a crack climb. Marcus had no problem on the move, but when it was my turn I had a lot of trouble with it and ended up bypassing it by climbing out right and then back left. And I had the benefit of a top rope!
My arms were utterly spent after this first route, so I quickly put aside any ideas of leading Godzilla. Andrew and Peter had both climbed Godzilla so we switched ropes and they top roped Thin Fingers while I belayed Marcus on Godzilla. When I asked Marcus how many times he had climbed Godzilla, he said, "Probably in the double digits..." He smoothly lead the classic route and soon it was my turn. Again, I was glad for the security of the top rope in a few sections. I imagined what it would be like to lead the route and there were a few spots where you would have to reach around and almost blindly make gear placements. Definitely not the scenario I would like to find myself in with tiring arms!
While I rappeled down the route, Marcus walked up to where Andrew and Peter were and chatted with them. We switched ropes back before Marcus started up on the very sustained uber classic route, Sagittarius, 5.10a. I could tell from the way Marcus was carefully leading up that this was no run of the mill 5.10a. Laybacks, fist jams, hand cracks, chimney and arete climbing all factored into this challenging route. As a bonus I got to clean Marcus's huge #6 Camalot when I top roped it!
Peter and Andrew had moved down and around to Roger's Corner, a fun 5.9 crack climb. By the time I finished top ropping Sagittarius they came back and we all watched Marcus work on Iron Horse a thin fingertip crack that goes at 5.12a, I believe. It was great to watch Marcus on this route. Once at the top, I lowered him off and we all packed up to head back to Seattle and get Peter to work! Thanks guys for a great morning of climbing!