On Any Sunday

FasterSkierJuly 29, 2009

As I’m sure our avid readers are quickly learning, we of the MOD Squad consider elite-level ski training to be a multifarious, ever-evolving concept. We don’t content ourselves with the standard “Mondays are off, Tues/Thurs are intervals, Sundays are O.D.s…”; rather, we seek out that additional adventure knowing that our abilities as well-rounded athletes are what will allow us to achieve success. So it was last Sunday.br /br /We decided to combine a traditional overdistance workout, rollerskiing up Washington Pass, with some low-intensity strength training by climbing Liberty Bell, a spire adjacent to the pass. For me it would be my first trad gear lead climb, a relatively easy 5.6, 4-pitch route. Scott would belay Erik and Jaime on his rope and I would lead Sadie up mine. The weather for the past several days had been thunderstorms mixed with high humidity and bouts of intense rainfall a la New England. Scott and I had trekked up to the base of the climb two days earlier to give me a quick primer on placing gear and the lay of the route; we were quickly rushed out of the high country when a storm cell moved in and began slamming lightning onto the peak itself. We hoped Sunday would offer better conditions.br /br /The morning held great promise. Zero clouds and 65 degrees at 7am. We started rollerskiing part way up the pass, knowing the approach to the climb was a few thousand feet up and several miles in. A few hours later we arrived at the base of the first pitch. After waiting a few minutes to allow a party ahead of us to get to the first belay we started up. As this was my first gear lead, Scott put in pieces on his lead and then pulled his rope while leaving the gear, thus allowing me to have a clear idea of where to place. At the second belay I took the lead and made my first placements. As Scott said afterwards, “The first one was crap, the second mediocre; the third and fourth would probably have stopped a fall.” Batting .500 thus far. As we moved onto the third pitch though, things began to get interesting. Thunder started to echo in the distance and with incredible speed we saw thunderheads moving our direction. Time to get moving.br /br /a onblur=”try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}” href=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Mg2hQbkHkNs/SnCdvgpfubI/AAAAAAAAAP8/nT1PzAhZKTU/s1600-h/libbell1.jpg”img style=”margin: 0px auto 10px; display: block; text-align: center; cursor: pointer; width: 320px; height: 180px;” src=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Mg2hQbkHkNs/SnCdvgpfubI/AAAAAAAAAP8/nT1PzAhZKTU/s320/libbell1.jpg” alt=”” id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5363960595741653426″ border=”0″ //abr /As we entered the next pitch we heard below us what was apparently a father-son duo making it up the last gully in the approach, screaming at each other about their mutual anger in the relationship. We were glad we weren’t to be anywhere near them.br /br /On the last pitch Scott increased the pace. “We gotta move”, he said, and he and I readied ourselves to “short-rope” our respective followers up to the summit. As Sadie and I got to the top the storms became imminent.br /br /a onblur=”try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}” href=”http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Mg2hQbkHkNs/SnCklzW_gRI/AAAAAAAAAQE/wDE8BgytzZs/s1600-h/libbell.jpg”img style=”margin: 0px auto 10px; display: block; text-align: center; cursor: pointer; width: 320px; height: 180px;” src=”http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Mg2hQbkHkNs/SnCklzW_gRI/AAAAAAAAAQE/wDE8BgytzZs/s320/libbell.jpg” alt=”” id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5363968125547020562″ border=”0″ //abr /Coiling the rope on my shoulder as quickly as possible we turned around and started heading down to the rappel station. What followed was probably the quickest explanation of ANYTHING I’ve heard Scott give as he explained to Sadie, Erik and Jaime how to rappel. He would be at the bottom of the rope providing a back-up belay, ready to place tension on their rappel to halt a free-fall should they lose control of the descent. And with that, he was off the edge. Sadie followed with confidence, and after a quick “addendum” tutorial between Jaime and I, she gained her courage and rapped off, followed by Erik and I. After another rappel station we were on the ground. And just in time. As we gathered our things the sky opened and a torrential downpour ensued, quickly turning a moderately-difficult down-gully scramble into a slip ‘n slide down a rocky river.br /br /We returned to the car and reflected on the day. Eight hours and 4500 vertical feet after we began at the base of the pass we finished our “workout”. Another day in the books.div class=”blogger-post-footer”img width=’1′ height=’1′ src=’https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/2910103639238326543-6111764935815509885?l=methowolympicdevelopment.blogspot.com’ alt=” //div