“Sew it up, girl!”

View from Mt. St. Helena

Day trips are probably one of the best things about living in the Bay Area. Day trips to Tahoe, Auburn, Grotto… and now off to a day trip out to Mount St. Helena.

It was also a first to take Sachin and Chari climbing outdoors. To give you a little background, Sachin took Cham and I on our first backpacking trip to the Lost Coast — where I was close to tears. He also hiked to Everest Base Camp. So he’s not one that’s shy to the outdoors.

When we got there, we didn’t realize what a hefty hike it took to get to the first wall. It was about a 30 min approach all uphill. We started on a pretty scary 5.9 for the first lead climb of the day. I just remembered that I had to breathe my way through the moves. It’s never not scary for the first climb of the day! Sachin learned how to clean gear and lead belay!

Once we warmed up with that, we realized we needed something a little more tame, so we went to The Far Side wall. When we got there, not only is there quite a bit of a cliff drop but you could see as far out to the ocean. It was so gorgeous.

As we put up a few more routes, we met a local, Ed. It was his 15th season of climbing. His favorite areas are what everyone in the bay would say Tuolumne, the Valley, Tahoe… He came solo and was looking for a party to team up with. I told him he could totally come with us. Sachin belayed him as he put up a 5.10a. We had about 3 ropes up sharing between 3 groups. So once I came around to offer Ed a belay, he said, “You can either lead this 5.10a or we can climb this 5.8 arete around the corner that shares the same anchor.” I opted to climb the 5.10a later, secretly hoping I wouldn’t have to do it later. So we pulled his rope. We both lead the arete. Damn those are scary! You want me to trust that I can hug the shit out of the rock?! No thanks.

We clean up that route but I realized that they don’t share the same anchor! I reluctantly agreed to clean up the 10a. I was pretty warmed up by then so I started to climb and just slowly let my breathing take over. It’s surprising how much I realize how I can tell my mind NOT to think about something. It’s also pretty scary as you look down… it’s a pretty big drop and the ledge that Ed’s belaying me isn’t very large. But despite that, I got to the top and realized that was my favorite climb of the day.

I think it was then that he realized that I wasn’t that terrible of a climber. So he offered to teach me some trad. I placed a few pieces on the ground and he handed me his rack and said “Sew it up girl!” I put my first piece in and he said, “You should want to hang a car off of the pieces you put in.” I replied, “I’d hang a bicycle of this one…” I love putting in the smaller pieces…they just feel a lot more secure! The very last piece was a .4 and I yelled down to Ed, “I’ll put a damn TANK on this one!”

As you can see in the photo, I went a little protection crazy! But it was more for the fun of learning what to put where. My first trad route was The Farthing. Pretty awesome and fun and exhilarating.

Solid weekend with solid people.

Originally published on 3/26/16 at lizlizwanders.weebly.com.