Alex Luger, recently returned from Squamish, recalls his first encounter with an offwidth on his ascent of Boogie 'Til You Puke.
Squamish is social! Sleep until 9, make breakfast accompanied by the upcoming sun, go climbing at 10 and be back at 7 for bitching around in the free www at the library. Later on buy some nice food, cook dinner and have a beer while listening to the guitar. Take your eight hours of sleep, stand up at 9; go climbing at 10… as I said Squamish is social!
Darkness surrounds me; I am sweating like after a six kilometer run in the burning midday sun. The drops of sweat are running down my forehead, my eyebrows can't hold them off, they've lost their function. The salty liquid is burning in my eyes; I barely see the shy light rays coming in from outside. I lost my natural sense of movement, my body is disoriented, he is getting more and more sore. I take a deep breath to jam my body between the walls. It's kind of a 'relaxed' position but the disadvantage is that you're hardly able to breathe. In this position I try to find a clear thought for a solution of my situation. My personal archive of climbing moves isn't really usable, 15 years of experience useless. No technique seems to fit for gaining height up the slot. The brain tries to recollect every climbing experience: crack climbing movies, offwidth climbing advice of friends...
The aim!? Get higher! The implementation: F*** the style! Do everything to get higher, it doesn’t matter how much it hurts or how bad it looks!
I let the breath go. Supported with the hand on one side while pressing with the elbow on the other side I can build up some friction so I can scramble up a little higher and stick in my feet again to get the weight of my hands. With double fists, chicken wings, legs bent, heel to knee jams, ass to hip jams and some other weird movements which I cannot explain. I am able to make some centimeters of height just to take again a deep breath for getting my body stuck. I am looking down. F*** I am just 5 meters up the slot. I feel wasted and there is still 30 meters of new climbing type terrain which is waiting for me. I am telling myself: Stop thinking about the pain, switch off the thoughts, up, up, up. Again I let the breath go and start up. On the next few meters the crack narrows so my body doesn't fit in anymore but the size of the crack is still too big for my repertoire of fist techniques. I am trying to push my body in the crack but the crack pushes me out again and again. Accompanied by this feeling I 'survived' this section. I lost the sense of time, just fighting up my way. My mouth is dry, my eyes are burning, my ankles are bleeding and my t-shirt is not a t-shirt anymore. In front of me a slightly overhanging section- too small to slip in.
So what does a wasted Austrian climber with just little crack climbing experience do in this situation??? Exactly... f*** on the protection and do it on liebacking! Escape out of the crack. After this section the crack narrows once more and easy terrain leads me up to the top.
What a struggle on my first date with an offwidth but finally I sent Boogie 'Till You Puke, 5.11, located at the Cirque of the Uncrackables.
- Freeway, 5.11c/d, 11p, on sight, The Chief
- Boogie ‘til You Puke, 5.11a, redpoint on 2nd try, Cirque of the Uncrackables
- University Wal, 5.12a, 8p, The Chief
- Flight of the Challenger, 5.12c, redpoint 2nd try, Pet Wall
- Daily Planet, 5.12b, 4p, on sight, The Chief
- Midnight Run, 12b, 10p, Tantalus Wall
- Alaskan Highway, 5.11d, 5p, on sight, Zodiac Wall
- The Calling, 5.12b, 6p, on sight, Zodiac Wall