So with a good nights sleep under out belt and a good breakfast to start the day, off we speed to the Chocolate Factory. I do a series of 5.10+ routes over the course of the day including two five star classics Oompa 5.10a (20) and Loompa 5.10c (21). I realise as I am finishing up the former route that I am so fatigued from climbing so much that I have about one route at best left in me so I jump on “the glass elevator” 5.10d (21) fall off the first shot at the crux and on the reappoint attempt fall off a little higher up….Fuck I am so toasted and I need to stop climbing for today.
Monique only did a couple of warm ups and then we went around to where “Silky Smooth” is. As we approached the base of the root Monique stopped so quickly and said quite loudly “SNAKE!” and there about three feet from where she stopped was this beautiful little Copperhead sunning itself in a gap in the rocks.
I had never seen one and have always been a little tentative about snakes. We left the snake to its own devices as it was just waiting for the sun to hit it to warm up its muscles and feel a little more like it could move.
Monique did a lap on the route to get the moves a bit more dialled and then rested for a while. She was feeling toasted as well and felt that it was going to be a tall order to tick this route today. We checked out our climbing buddy just sunning itself and then I wandered over to what I thought maybe a possible route that I wanted to look at. Mon followed me over and as she got close to where I was, this little black snake flew out from under her feet and into the bushes and scared the shit out of Mon and she slipped over and landed on a very flat rock, it was a good fall and she sort of caught herself. I couldn’t move quick enough to stop her from hitting her bum on the rock. She got up and I asked if she was ok. She said yes and came tentatively over to where I was and we eyed off this route. It looked like it might go but it was just a whim.
We walked back over to the base of Silky Smooth and checked on our little buddy to confirm he hadn’t moved into the rope bag, off to the base of the ledge where Monique would be lowered off. We are satisfied that the snake is still there and very very stationary. Mon ties in and gets her shoes all sorted and goes through her process, smiles and steps onto the wall. I say go for it sweetie, you got this thing. She pulls on and swears as her fingers are stinging like crazy and the holds are feeling sharper because of this. She punches through the first ten moves relatively easily and finds her rest spot. She talks to herself about what’s coming up and we discuss the foot placement she found. Shakes out and tries to regain some of the power that she has expended on the first part of the route.
First move off the rest is a tough and long move to a shit hold and then again moving upwards to the crux moves. this sequence took a couple of shots to figure out and it needs to be executed flawlessly to get through. As she pulls up and her foot placement is lower than it needs to be, this adjustment could be the difference between sending and not sending the route. She adjust quickly and yells out to push through the pain and lactic acid build up that is now occurring in her arms. Breathing hard and fighting for every inch she completes the crux and pushes to the rest.
There is only a few moves to complete now but as they say “its not over until the fat lady sings!” Recovering a little with the rest and beginning to move again, I say you’ve got this now Mon, c’mon…..focus and finish it up. She pushes up through her legs and reaches the head wall holds, shifts her feet up and relaxes, moves through the last section of climbing and it is done. From thinking that it may not be possible today, to one of the best smiles I have seen on this trip, it was done. Proud of her and seeing her smile with her success was reward enough for me. She had created this thing with determination and commitment. Bloody sensational I say……BLOODY SENSATIONAL!!!