Each year I try to do a challenging birthday challenge. I started this when I was 58 and like the 24 hours of Horseshoe Hell, I have learned a lot about what is possible and have tried to up the challenge each year. The following is more for my own records (I am getting old and the memory isn’t what it used to be) but some may find it interesting.
Past Challenges by age:
58 – 10 x 5.8 in the dark at HCR
59 – 59 leads of routes at HCR but multiple laps were allowed
60 – lead 60 different routes at HCR with nothing less than a 5.7
61 – 61 routes 5.10 or above in a gym with laps allowed – some lead, some toprope (in Phoenix)
62 – 19.3 mile hike/run up Mount Charlest on in 5hrs 1 min followed by 62 toprope laps in the gym on 5.10 and 5.11 with up to 10 laps on each (in Las Vegas)
63 – goal to lead 63 pitches of 5.10. On my 60th birthday I had a crew following and cleaning anchors but this time I only had my devoted wife as my belay slave. Therefore, doing laps made it so that the time cleaning the anchors would not be as much of a factor.
Every lap would be leading. If I fell, pull the rope and start again.
Five laps max on 5.10a
Ten laps max on anything harder than 5.10a
An added challenge was to do most of the laps on routes Nat and I had just on-sighted the day before. So, first up was a 5.10c, Sonrisa Loco, on the Kindergarten Boulder.
Ready to start with my official Cole Fennel stag party t-shirt!
Overhanging with sharp holds, it was much like the routes on Magoo Rock. All went fine until lap number 4. WHIPPER! Hmmmm. Maybe I bit off more than I could chew. The fall calmed me down and got me to focus more on the task at hand. This was going to be a challenge! I finished my 10 laps and moved on to the Land Beyond area.
Ten laps on Tembertantrum (5.10b), Five on Sendtember 5.10a, and finally a tough 10 on Dog Crap Broken Fingers (5.10c).
Dog Crap Broken Fingers - pretty burly
Dog Crap Broken Fingers 5.10c
Reed sending one of his three 5.11's (Brat Hole) for the day including Taliban Soup!
At this point Nat jumped on a toprope on a 5.11 that Reed had just lead and flashed it!
Nat tr flashing a 5.11 (Brat Holes) that she lead the next day.
So, stupidly, I thought I would try to lead it and add that to my challenge. FAIL (we both did red-point it the next day).
Optimistic start to the Brat Holes but reality set in and I went back to my original plan.
So, I moved around the corner I did five on Panty Moth Invasion (5.10b). It was tough so I kept it to only five laps.
Keeping track. It's easy to loose count after three or four laps.
Panty Moth Invasion
Panty Moth Invasion
My dedicated belayer and wife, Natalie
Big thanks to Reed "Bubba" James for shooting all the great shots in The Land Beyond
With the new routes behind me, I ran up five laps on Sons of the Soil (5.10a) to get ready for the real test.
CRIMP SCAMPI (5.10d) was to be my real challenge. I planned on trying to get three laps in. Laps one and two were number 46 and 47 in my challenge and they were tough. I took a break before the last one and got in five laps on the neighboring Private Property (5.10a). That is a pretty sustained and strenuous route so it might have been a mistake to not do all my laps on Crimp at once.
Mid crux on Private Property
But, I got back on for number 53 on Crimp and barely got through the crux.
Last lap on Crimp Scampi
Crux of Crimp Scampi
Lap 53 and I'm running out of steam but reach through to the jug
Thank God forearm rest after the crux
I knew the next 10 laps would be easier and realized that I could achieve my goal
Nat gave me a break and took a lap on Crimp
My superwoman wife.
Nat demonstrates the short-girl beta on Crimp
Her method is much better technique than my tall-man stretch method.
With the hard stuff out of the way, I did 5 laps on Towely (5.10b – but not the way I do it) and was thinking I had to now do either Season of the Storm or More Better. But, I forgot all about Count Chalkula (5.10a). I was happy to use this as my final set since the crux, though hard, was short. The last lap was uneventful and the Ozark Café beckoned.
Last lap on my last route. Count Chalkula was my 63rd
DONE! I'm getting too old for this! Thanks again Nat
Guess who was belaying!
5.10a – 20 laps
5.10b – 20 laps
5.10c – 20 laps
5.10d – 3 laps
Time: 9 hours 30 minutes
Special thanks to Nat for giving up her climbing day for me (she did climb 3 routes including a lead of Crimp Scampi and a toprope flash of Brat Holes 5.11a) and to Reed James and his son Reed “Bubba” James for taking pictures.