Do you have that ONE route that stands alone in your memory. I have climbed so many pitches that they blend together in my mind. Recently, I revisited a line which could never be characterized as forgettable.
Although most of my favorite lines reside in the Uinta Range, one cave in American Fork always captures my attention. Black Magic crag offers techie movement to burly boulder problems on 45 degree solid limestone. This tucked away place serves up an ample dose of humility. And a major contributer in crushing my climbing ego is the epic route, Simian. I feel it is one of the best 13b/c routes I have ever climbed. Its’ first few bolts on the vertical face give you a serious case of false hope. By the fourth bolt I found myself looking up and trying for the life of me to find even a single crimp to clip off of. Never mind a crimp, there is a half a thumb pad undercling to delicalitly clip from. Then, all hell breaks loose. Throwing for a dime sized nub and a nightmare of a undercling. Switch gears from technical climbing to rugged under hanging boulder moves. The opening section on the bulge is a stout V9. Power over the bulge and cut your feet as you throw to a shallow pocket. Hope the best for your foremans and grunt to chains. Beautiful.
I look for inspiring routes to project. Like all of us, my time is very limited. So I want to choose wisely. At first glance, I thought Simian was going to be a mellow project to work on for a few weeks. After throwing for tiny crimps and missing burn after burn I realised this line was no laughing matter. I was pumped, bleeding, and very inspired. My friends and I sat dumbfounded looking up at it. I felt defeated. Once I get to that point on a climb my mind clicks over to a maniacal freak. An Einstein quote always comes to mind when I feel stumped “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”. So throw away your beta and do what feels natural. For me, thuggish moves mixed with technical feet worked perfectly. Moral of the story, Simian is very hard but not impossible. The challenge and shutdown is half the fun. Go try it. Embrace the inspiration of obsession. It will go.
Photo by Jay Dash.