Don't Be Late

The Heckubus' Guide to Bouncing

Or "How not to climb 5.9"

When William first told me that he was going to revamp his page, I was truly excited. He had plans for adding all sorts of new photos and links to other cool sites. He also decided to include a page on The Crash Kings--pointedly reminding me that as a junior member (I've only bounced once), I would be expected to contribute.
Stable With Attitude
At first, this didn't seem to be daunting in the least. But, over the insuing months, its become harder and harder for me write an account of my first ground fall. I'm not really certain why this should be, it just is.

But despite all that, damn the torpedos and broken bones; here goes:

It was in mid-December sometime. I forget the exact date at this time. If I still had my climbing journal I guess that I could tell you that useless piece of trivia. Bill, Edward and myself had decided to climb in the Castle Wall area at Crowders Mountain, south of Charlotte. We picked an unassuming route called "What else is there to do".

Bill was all queued up to take it. I've since learned from Bill that there are days when you could solo the Nose and days when you can't walk up a set of stairs without being roped up. It was one of those latter days for Bill. He made a couple of moves up and was probably at the crux of this 5.7. He didn't feel comfortable. In fact, he looked downright sick at the time. He backed off and sat at the foot of the route looking it over for a few minutes. After a few more minutes of careful consideration, he untied and asked which one of us wanted to finish it out. I won the toss, tied in and started up.

The first two moves were pretty easy. I got to where Bill had backed off, popped high and got a killer jug. I'm not sure what I plugged in right then. I just remember that it was bomber. Once I pulled the crux, there was a ledge suitable for parking a Ford truck on. I quickly finished the route and even ran out most of the middle section.

I've always considered Bill to be a better climber than me, and to finish a route that he didn't complete made me pretty cocky. (It's probably pertinent to let you know, at this time I had led only one 5.8. A route called "Ooga Chocka".)

I quickly grabbed the climbing guide and found that the next route over was a 5.9 called "Sadistic Rhythm". Hell I was all for it. I wanted it as my first trad 5.9 lead. What a dip shit I was.

Eddie was all for letting me go at it. Bill, by this time, looking even sicker, didn't much comment one way or the other. I tied in, got my gear situated and started up.

Three moves up, I knew I was in trouble. Even though it was a crack climb, for God's sake, I couldn't find any good gear placements. There were placements all over the place, I was just getting wigged. I had been dicking around with trying to place all of this gear and sew it up, that I was quickly wearing myself out. But, I had already commited the sin of cockiness, so why not go for stubborness too?

I hung for a few minutes on a stopper I placed about 10-12 ft. off the ground. By this time I was just bound and determined to finish it. After much grunting, groaning and jugging, I managed to pull over what was probably the crux. There was a small ledge that I could sit on and get some blood back down in my arms. I plugged in a 1.5 camalot and sat there for a minute or so. I was still pretty wigged over the route.

If I had waited a few more minutes and allowed myself to rest, I might have finished it. As it was, I decided that my best course of action was to "Get the hell outta there". I started moving right along this ledge (off route of course) and found what looked to me like a do-able route over a small roof. By this time I was about 10ft. to the right of the camalot and maybe 22ft. off the ground.

I reached up to the short headwall over the roof found a good left and right hand. By this point, I had completely lost whatever sense that I had previously claimed. I tried to campus the move. Didn't move my feet once. As you can guess, my arms being as blown as they were, didn't work. It served to wig me out even further, if that was possible. I tried it again and actually almost pulled it off.

Of course, this attempt caused me to loose both of my feet. Since I was already on a small roof, I was dangling outward and couldn't get my feet back on. I realized that this was pretty much it. I was going to take my first lead fall. I yelled down to Edward to take up as much slack as he could without pulling me off and I let go.

I think you can see where this is headed: here I was at 20 or so feet up and I suddenly had 17 or more feet of slack in the rope.

Yep, bounce time.

Bill, Edward and I reconstructed what happened after that but, at the time I was astounded to regain my senses and realize that I was on the ground. It took me a full 30 seconds or so to absorb that fact. Besides that I found myself trying to help Edward get up from laying on the ground. You see, I had landed directly on the poor guy. Maybe one of the reasons that I didn't sustain any more injuries than I did.

As near as we could tell, my first piece blew out as soon as I weighted the rope. The camalot gave it up at that point too. I ended up with a couple of fractured ribs and a sprained ankle. Not too bad actually.

Needless to say, we didn't do much more climbing that day. I managed to walk down on my own (no mean feat considering that the walk down from Crowders sucks even when you aren't injured).

Since, I have led a few trad routes and a handful of sport routes. It has affected me quite a bit. My mental state when I try to lead is, to say the least, somewhat screwy these days. But, I will lead at my old ability and beyond if its the last thing that I do.

Cya, on the rocks.

The Heckubus

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