Lots of high-altitude hiking this week. After doing Gang Bang Arete, I decided a change of scenery was in order. Unfortunately Boulder got rained out on Wednesday so it was off to the Spot and a good session there, doing more 5-spots in one session than I have done for a while. I felt reasonably rested by Friday so this time I headed up to Upper Chaos. I really wanted to look at Barbed Wire Beard and Golden Rows of Flows and get a better look around up there. After an epic boulder-hopping hike with two crashpads, I found myself at the base of Pterodactyl, an amazing looking V12, but also a sign I had gone a bit too high so I dropped down and made my way to the meadow. After bumbling around a bit, I managed to orient myself properly and found Barbed Wire and also two crash pads. Uh-oh moral dilemma time here. But actually I didn't think too much about it. Opting to be a hypocrite and also preserve my back and head I moved them to the base of the El Jorge Boulder to try to the right problem. Right around this time Ryan Y from Boulder showed up so now the landing was pretty safe. After some intense inspection, I tried R El Jorge and flashed it.
I was quite surprised to do this, especially as it had taken me at least a week of serious attempts and literally dozens of tries to do GBA, rated V8 and only one try to do R El Jorge, rated by many at V9. While I put it down as V9 on my 8a scorecard (hypocrite again, I know), really V6 would be appropriate, V7 tops, if I judged by how it felt. Then I wanted to try Golden Rows of Flows. This is essentially a two move problem, hitting a very small edge LH off a sloping undercling and grabbing a decent edge from there. Stepping off the ground felt pretty easy and within a few goes I was hitting the crimp. After some frustrating attempts, including slipping off both holds simultaneously, I stuck the crimp and did the rest of the problem. This presented another dilemma. Again if GBA took numerous attempts and days and GRF took about 45 minutes and maybe 10 tries, should it be given V7? Grades. Sigh...
Sunday I went up to Upper Chaos again on a very quick trip to try to do Barbed Wire Beard. This is essentially a nice v3 traverse into a hard V10. Very cool thin edges and a crux near the very end. Lots of rain, a bit of wind and thunder; it was feeling like October up there. I was under a tight time deadline here, made worse by a twenty-minute rain-induced timeout on the hike through the big talus. When I got to the problem, there was water dripping down it and things were not encouraging. Even a paper towel stuffed in the good keyhole slot couldn't keep it dry. The hoped-for quick send was not to be. But I did most of the moves quickly and hope to be back up there when I return from a vacation trip to the East Coast.
So back to the stashed pads. Someone commented in a previous post, and obviously the gossip train rolls quick in Boulder, that I had used the two stashed pads (by the end of the week, the word will be I used four and I will have left my own up there as well) and hence was "all talk." This is a tough call, and related to some issues that I had recently been discussing with Jamie Emerson. Jamie urged me to moderate my comments and tone and after some consideration, I have agreed with this approach. To be doctrinaire on the point is to be unrealistic. If you are alone up there and can add to the safety margin, would you be a hypocrite for using stashed pads after you had denounced their use? Sure, why not but then again so what? Does carrying two of them up there with you offset the sin? Maybe, in part. But the truth is they are up there, just like the many improved landings, and it is common sense to go ahead and use them, unless you are really trying to make a point. I have tried to make my point already by carrying more than most other boulderers ever will. Will I rely on their presence? No. Will I haul them out of there? Again, no. It is far too much effort with the load I already am bringing up and will only annoy people I know who they may belong to and who do rely on them. I am not going to play law enforcement on this issue. If this makes me inconsistent and a hypocrite, I will just have to try to live with myself. I know that a. I am not stashing pads myself and b. I am carrying far more up there than others. If you have constructive comments on how to resolve this point, please feel free to contribute.