Ava and I just finished up our summer climbing road trip. Since my last post, we spent a couple more days at Lovers Leap, finishing off pretty much all of the classics at and below the 5.8 level as well as The Line (5.9), a line so amazing it is called "The Line". Imagine a pill so amazing it is called, simply, "The Pill" . . . I digress. We also climbed for a day at Smith Rock on our way back to Seattle.
Anyway, I had been thinking about "The Line" and using it as motivation to climb and lead at a more difficult level for the last couple weeks of our trip. I chose this particular 5.9 because it has a reputation for being very protectable (easy to place gear anywhere on the way up to prevent a long fall) as well as having amazing and sustained climbing. The climb lived up to its reputation. In two long pitches, of sustained 5.7 to 5.9 climbing, we ascended the most striking vertical crack that splits the East Wall of Lovers Leap. I placed gear frequently but efficiently and managed to climb the whole thing cleanly, and most importantly, felt solid the whole way up. All the way up, the route demands a mixture of crack, face, and lie back techniques. It finishes with a 15-foot overhung section with great holds, many of them hidden.
After our last stint at Lovers Leap, we met up with Ava's dad in Truckee before heading north. We drove up to Smith, climbed hard for a few hours the next morning before it got too hot, hitting a few of the classic sport routes such as: Phone Call From Satan (5.9), 5-Gallon Buckets (5.8), Outlaw (5.9), and Light on the Path (5.10a). This was a great intro for Ava as she had never been to Smith Rock before, and it was fun to finish our almost entirely trad climbing trip with a little sport climbing. I was happy with how good I felt leading the harder climbs at Smith.
We stayed a night with Jake in Eugene before heading north to Seattle. The next morning I woke up early and made it to Conway, WA to begin briefing for my next NOLS course at 8:00 am. It's been a great road trip! I'd be more sad for it to end if I wasn't looking forward to the next month so much (teaching a mountaineering course, followed by archery hunting with Jake)! It's nice be back in the Northwest after being gone for almost 4.5 months.