Sunday, August 2, 2009


How appropriate I thought when Goat suggested a climb called "Anguish". I thought it appropriate because it is a feeling that I have felt all too often lately. I won't whine about why I have felt that's just the way it's been.

After working 12 hour days all week, I sat like a Zombie watching the Red Sox game Friday night. Goat and I had tentative plans to climb on Saturday, and the weather was looking quite good (i.e. - No rain). We could have climbed locally, but the weather forecast seemed too good to skip a chance at climbing at the Gunks. So, we made plans for a 6:30AM rendezvous.

I was tired and dozed as the Goat drove toward the motherland. I was hoping a day at the Gunks would be what I needed to get my life back in balance.

Things started out poorly for me. Goat led a moderate climb called "City Lights", a climb had had lead many times. Today, I struggled to pull the crux move. I'm getting old...I thought. After several attempts, I finally figured out a way to make the move. I led the second pitch easy enough, and then we looked for another climb. Goat asked if I had ever climbed "Anguish", and I had to laugh. "Doesn't sound very inviting!", I commented. Goat told me how he had met Bert Angrist, the person who had made the first ascent and for whom the climb is named. Bert, evidently, had hit his thumb pounding in a piton and lost his glasses in the same move while attempting the climb. Sounds like a rough day!

After a bit of scouting, we thought we had identified the start of the climb. It didn't look like it was climbed much, but the book gave it two stars. I decided to take the first pitch. The climbing was moderate and seemed easy enough, but it was my first on-site lead (a climb I had never attempted) in awhile so I was cautious. We combined the first two pitches as the book recommended, and I set up an anchor below the crux pitch for Goat. It was very hot out and the pitch looked steep and intimidating, but the grade was moderate and Goat was climbing well. I figured we would get through it.

We talked about the easiest line and then Goat started up. He set in a few good pieces, and then went for the first overhang. After a second or two, he said he didn't feel good about it and was coming down. Before I could take in much line, the Goat was swinging about a foot above my head. Whoa! I lowered Goat to the ledge, and he decided to give me a shot at the lead.

The climb looked straight forward enough, but did look hard. I geared up and started to climb. I was able to get an extra piece of gear in below the first overhang to minimize the swing and length of fall, and then went directly for the move. After pulling through the first overhang, I realized why Goat retreated. There was no place to set in gear. I, then spotted an old rusty piton to the left under a big roof. This must be the famous Bert Angrist piton, I thought. It looked horrible, but I clipped it anyway. Then, I was able to get a small piece of gear (black alien) in next to it. I felt better, and looked up at the work still to be done. It looked hard, but doable. I thought about how I would approach this if I was 1,000 feet up, and decided to rest on the gear before attempting the next section. I knew I could have climbed it clean, but didn't really care if I rested. My main concern was safety, and I didn't really want to fall on an old piton and tiny cam, so I played it safe.

After a few minutes, I moved up to the next roof, and set a big cam in. Now, I felt confident, and pulled the roof move without any trouble. The climbing got easy until rope drag and a poison ivy patch made life interesting. Luckily, I rarely get poison ivy, and am not showing any signs of it right now :-)

Goat topped out, and we retreated to some shade. It was Goat's turn to lead, and I was happy to take a break for a bit.

The sun went behind the cliff, and we started feeling better. Goat led Snooky's Return and I led the first pitch of Columbia. We both started feeling better as the temps cooled. Goat then led Sente and I wrapped up the day on Absurdland. We both seemed to climb better as the day went on, and part of me wanted to keep climbing. It was getting late though, and there were other things to do.

We stopped for pizza on the way home, and life was good again. We worked through "Anguish" both literally and figuritively, and were back in balance again. I can't wait to go back and do that climb again!