Sunday, October 10th, 2004

Cookie Cliff, Elephant Rock, and a Transformation

By Friday, my back was hurting so much that I planed to read my book at the campsite over the weekend while Allen climbs with other friends. It started with me rolling on two tennis balls on Tuesday. The exercise was recommended by a friend and was supposed to help loosen up those tight muscles in my back. But after the exercise, one spot in my upper back to the right of my spine started hurting and got worse and worse during the week. On Friday, simple tasks like breathing, lifting a grocery bag, and shifting gear became painful. It felt like a rib was constantly poking me in the back. I managed to drive to Allen’s place. It was too late for a thorough X-Ray examination, so he adjusted my ribs, my upper back and lower back, and massaged some tight muscles — basically, he did everything he could think of that might help. When we were headed to the Valley the same night, the pain was still there, so I was suspicious if his adjustment had helped.

On Saturday morning, I woke up to a much lesser degree of pain at that spot. I was surprised, but remained doubtful. But I set off with Allen to Cookie Cliff anyway. The pain started fading after I moved about, and it disappeared altogether later during the day. I was really thrilled. This instance alone transformed me into a firm believer of chiropractic.

Cookie Cliff was crowded on Saturday. We started on the first pitch of Meat Grinder (5.9). Allen then led Red Zinger (5.11d) with one fall, but he toproped it twice without any trouble. I also toproped it twice but had to hang both times. Liebacking is hard. I tried to lead Outer Limits (5.10c), but had to back down two thirds way up when I found that I didn’t have big gear to protect the wide section. But I onsighted Beverly’s Tower (5.10a), which was the highlight of the day for me. The day finished off with Allen redpointing Butterballs (5.11c). That was the highlight of the day for him.

Oh, when we were at Cookie, a group of women showed up and Sue Mcdevitt and Katie Brown were among them. I was lucky to witness Katie Brown onsight Crack-a-go-go (5.11c). What can I say? She made it look really easy, but I knew the truth. Sue cleaned a cam for us which walked deep into the crack on Outer Limits, and left it with our pack when we were high up on Butterballs. I didn’t even get chance to thank her.

The 7-pitch climb Hotline (5.12a) on Elephant Rock is in the shade. Allen insisted we should climb it on Sunday. I didn’t know what I was getting into until I had to pendulum the 5.12a traverse section in Pitch 2 and aid the 5.11d roof in the sixth pitch. Other than that, the route is very likeable, especially the sustained 5.10 crack on the 3rd pitch. Beta #1: the route is a rap route now. You can do it in 4 rappels with two 200′ ropes. Beta #2: The climb looks shorter in the Reid guidebook than it actually is. And the roof is pretty hard too. We barely made it back across river just before dark.

I came home with extremely sensitive finger tips and sore shoulders and back, which are signs of a good weekend — a good climbing weekend.