But last Saturday he was still roaring long after I yelled, “Take!” and came to rest post diving backwards from the chains of Chips Ahoy. Staring down from what can only be described as that “Spiderman” pose (you know the one he uses to lower off buildings and make out with chicks), it was pretty clear that we were both pushing the limits of human psyche. Yes, two dudes alone in the woods were straight up blissing out shirtless in harnesses while tied together with a strong rope.
But …. ahem…. of course there’s an explanation for this.
Chips Ahoy is more than some 12d drilled out sport climb at a crumbling sandstone hell crag. Shit. Elijah will tell you it’s the best route in the world. In his words, “I’m jealous of anyone who’s getting on Chips.” Yes, almost every hold on the route is obviously manufactured, but I have to agree with Elijah. That line of pockets up the steep blank side of the Owl Tor is some of the greatest climbing in the world, and I’m not just saying that because I sent this weekend.
|Elijah caressing the fantastic 2 finger pinch
Most sport climbers will tell you that they love the building momentum of good sport routes and the thrill of the fight to hang on as energy is released into the holds. None of the moves on Chips are really that hard. I contend that some of the 12a’s in Santa Maria have harder moves. The thing is, I wouldn’t call many of those moves easy either. The perfectly crafted two and three finger pockets that litter most the route are deceptively draining, and forget about shakes until you get to the jugs near the top. You gotta move on Chips, and if it’s anywhere near your limit, you gotta fight. Everyone likes watching redpoint burns on Chips. The route is brilliant.
|Moving fast through the "easy" section
It’s also considered the entry into “hard climbing” at the Tor. Chips is sort of the pre-test piece, and many a strong climber have logged hours trying to tick this one. Somehow however, I limped my crippled ass into the Tor and sent it in 2 days of work this season (7th or 8th burn ever), and yes, this was the first 12d I’ve ever redpointed. I (and especially Elijah) don’t like giving myself too much credit for doing physical things with a mangled left ankle after surviving almost 2 years on crutches. Yet redpointing well beyond my pre-accident limit THIS quickly felt pretty damn good.
So perhaps this explains our “moment” together out in the woods.
And the good times kept on going. The smart chap that he is, Elijah took advantage of our psyche and jumped on Better Than Life (5.13c) and sent it…. again. I say again, because he’s the only person who’s ever sent the route more than once, and he’s now done it 5 times. He looked so good on this recent send that for a moment I thought he might be on a different route. It is fully rad to watch someone cruise 13c.
Elijah also put in a few burns on his new route (the Rubble project), which he’s currently calling Dawson’s Creek. Earlier in the day he finished fixing up a few holds. The steep, bouldery route is currently only 5ish draws long and ends at the chains of Auto Magic. The moves remind me of the steep cobblestone routes of Box Canyon up at Maple. Its nothing like any of the other routes at The Tor, but Elijah looks pretty damn good on it. It’s probably in the low 5.13 range.
One can’t speak about work at The Tor these days without mentioning Tom. I don’t know Tom’s last name, but I won’t be surprised to learn that it’s something like Sledge, Foreman, or Stone. The guy REALLY likes doing work and has recently focused his obsession on The Tor. Anyone who hasn’t been to the Tor in a few months is going to be BLOWN AWAY by the landscaping this guy has done. Its unbelievable and the routes are beginning to benefit. The sit start to Anchor Punch has become the standard, and as soon as Phil adds a hold or two, When The Sea Doesn’t Want You is going to be at least a half dozen moves longer.
|Hard to see in the back there, but the landscaping is good
So, like two cattle dogs with an endless reservoir of energy, Elijah and I put in some more work on the new channel that is going to direct this winter’s waterflow just where we want it.
Then, somehow we managed to NOT die on the drive home. The 166 is especially dangerous after a Blue Ribbon Day.