Eugene invited us out to Devils Lake to climb on Sunday. It was too gorgeous a fall day to pass up – the weather was a balmy 70 degrees, and the trees resplendent hues of fiery orange, red, and green.
Because we had anticipated throngs of climbers in the area, Eugene selected a more remote spot for us to set up ropes, which unfortunately also meant a more committed hike. The foot of dry crackling leaves and twigs underfoot made our trek a little treacherous, since it was hard to see whether we were putting our feet onto solid soil, or unstable rocks. Eugene moved about an enviable surefootedness though, while the rest of us gingerly felt our way along, often peppering the hike with muttered curses or full out shrieks.
The climbing itself, once we finally reached our crags, did not feel as exciting in contrast. Well, three of the climbs didn’t at any rate. But they were still really fun ones – part cracks and part slab. I doubt I could trad lead the routes though… trying to essentially free traverse one section of the third climb saw me break out into cold sweat, and it was a full ten minutes before I could commit myself to making the moves.
The real adventure started as the light started to fade. Because we were adamant about not trying to scramble out of the crags in the twilight, we decided to climb up and out to the main trail instead. So while Jeff and Eugene tried to clean the other route, Si belayed me up the last climb where I set up anchor and hauled up our gear.
Heh, I got a taste of multi-pitching there and then. Laboriously dragging up 20 pounds of gear and three climbers in the rapidly dimming light was exhausting enough work, and it’s somewhat scary to imagine big wall climbers doing so hundreds of feet above the ground, in freezing conditions.
By the time Eugene and Jeff hoisted themselves above the anchor, it was pitch black. We had only the piercing lights of our headlamps and the twinkling stars above to guide our footsteps down.
Definitely made for an exciting adventure! Though the drive back was quite painful… by the time we rolled into bed, it was already 230am.