Pullharder had been readying itself all winter for the battle, and this spring we came from all directions and launched a full fledged attack on the best crag in the USA, Indian Creek. The most interesting element of the trip was that Nath, who had sent 5.13 on gear before sending childbirth last year, this time brought Éloïse, her newborn, and got back in shape enough to onsight 5.12! There is not much in life more humbling than watching somebody cruise some climb you struggle on, then come down and nurse her baby.
Though many of us have moved away from Pullharder's birthplace, San Diego, we still meet up at the best climbing locales across the globe. A full dozen Pullharder files and another dozen of our friends came together to storm this amazing crag, known in the Appa-latch-iansas "The In-Jun Krik." We also made a video to promote Pullharder's recovery psychology and pay homage to Vytautas Mineral Water's ad.
Nath came from Quebec, Canada and brought Matthias and her new baby Éloïse, teaming up with trad superstars Peewee and Sylvai. Lindsey came from Oregon, and introduced Pullharder to send-machine Lee Anne. Gil and Ian proved the Pullharder spirit is alive and well in Colorado. Ben rolled with a UC-San Diego crew of Doug, Greg, Mark, Lauren, Rob, William, and Aniela, then rendezvoused Angela and Cheyne busting it in from Boulder. Josh rolled in from SoCal with Adam and teamed with Nath's posse and Lee Anne. Finally, Andre, Michelle, Angelina, Ben and Konstantin came in to celebrate Konstantin's birthday and his last weekend in the USA. Most of the insane details of that last shenanigan are not printable, even on the Internets...
Greg on his onsight attempt of Less than Zero, 5.13-; William later went for Death of a Cowboy, 5.13-. Friends of Pullharder pull even harder than Pullharder!
A few select highlights: Gil sent many towers; Nath and Josh both onsighted Slice 'n' Dice, 5.12; Lindsey onsighted Excuse Station, 5.11 (after 7 years, it counts again as an onsight, right?); Greg onsighted Coyne Crack 5.11+ and Slot Machine 5.12- with all the wrong gear (but no worries, he just ran it out and repeated Doug's mantra "we don't fall out of handcracks"); Aniela in her first year of climbing got Slot Machine clean on TR, and William onsighted oodles of classic 11's like Battle of the Bulge and Torque Wrench. Actually there are too many sends to mention (25 people for a week-plus each) so here are a bunch of pictures and one motivating story about Nath and the baby.
Summit of North Six Shooter, the highest tower in Indian Creek; note Lindsey and Ben in Pullharder Marathon t-shirts. Pitch 3 of its Lightning Bolt Cracks route (5.11-) is exactly like the 3rd Pillar of Dana's last pitch, except a 5.10 version. Requisite!
Andre captured many shots like these of Angelina...which allows us to appreciate these views of Angelina!
Ben looking desperate at the crux of The Sicilian, 5.11. Are you ready to catch a whipper, Konstantin? Or distracted by the "view" next door?
Since Nath's experience at the Creek this year was superlative and three weeks long, the rest of this TR is the account of the trip in her own words:
The primary goal of my trip to Indian Creek was to "get back in climbing shape after delivering." So I didn't send a whole lot of routes, but I believe I reached my goal since I went from taking on 5.10 routes on my first day at Blue Gramma to on-sighting Slice and Dice (5.12) at Way Rambo on my third and last week out there.
Although friends thought we were crazy to go to IC with a 5-month-old baby, I am so glad we didn't change our mind. I had climbed at IC only once, two years ago, and it is the perfect place to get back into climbing shape. Yes, our friends were right, the logistics were very complex, but we did it and we had a blast!
Obligatory Michelle shot. Now you know why it was so hot in IC while we were there.
Difficulty number one: driving from Sherbrooke, Canada to Moab, Utah. We simply adjusted to the baby's schedule, i.e. we drove when she was asleep and stopped anywhere when she would wake up to feed her and play for a couple hours. Thanks to the Sprinter van, stopping in the middle of nowhere in Nebraska and spending fun time with family was possible! We made the 38000 km drive in 36hours over 4 days. Once at the Creek, well we had to load up a very heavy backpack: four to six racks of gear, one or two 70m ropes, lunch, water, clothing for warm and cold weather, plus all the baby gear: clothing, diapers, toys, crib, blankets, etc. Oh yes, and don't forget we had to also carry the baby!!!
Well, the heavy weight would not stop us from climbing at IC. I already had nine months of practice carrying a heavy weight 24h/7 while pregnant. And fortunately, my bf Matthias is used to alpine ice climbing and thus, carrying heavy loads on his back. Finally, the last issue was "what to do to keep the baby safe at the base of the cliff" and still climb? Again, we found an easy solution to that: meeting up with friends! You know teaming in twos makes climbing most efficient, so with a baby it's the same-- the baby also counts as a person!
Getting worked on 5.10 routes on my first day was a bit discouraging. I had more to do than I thought to get back in shape. But rather than being discouraged, I analyzed the situation and came-up with a plan. The reason I was calling for takes was that my head wasn't strong enough. So one could have think that I should lead as many easy routes as possible. But, in fact, my head was weak because my body was weak also. I was climbing with a new body, totally transformed after giving birth. It is really difficult to have a strong head when you don't have the strength and endurance to send. So I decided instead to TR as many moderate and difficult routes until I would find confidence in my new body. And it worked!
We started the trip with Ian. Taking advantage of Cat Wall still being open and in the sun for the cold weather of mid-March, we worked on a big weakness of mine: the 0.5 purple Camalot size! I spent a whole day on Johnny Cat, a hard 5.11, until I understood how to jam that size. But once I understood, my fingers were too sore and my body to tired to redpoint the route. It didn't matter, I had learned, I was working on getting back in shape, and Ian did the RP for us!
North Six Shooter at sunset
The second week we climbed with Lindsey, Lee Anne, Ben and the others of the SD crew. Having spent a week with my friends Peewee and Sylvain who set-up TRs for me and took good care of the baby, I started to feel stronger and started to lead again. One of my favorite climbs was the onsight of Jane Fonda Whole Body Workout, 5.11. The name says it all, since you start in a weird off-width which tires you for the rest of the climb.
Lee Anne and Lindsey take breaks from sending their 5.11's to occupy Éloïse while Nath sends 5.12!
Finally, Josh and Adam met us with us for our last week. Again we had so much fun working on all kinds of routes. My best climbs were probably onsights of Slice and Dice, 5.12 and Way Rambo, 5.12-. Josh also onsighted Slice and Dice. As our final day, since we had another 4 days of driving to "rest" we left the remaining skin we had on Big Guy, 5.11 ow. It was our first pure offwidth route. Mathieu got the redpoint in two tries and I made it to the top with double-fists most of the way. Again I had learned so much and was very happy.
Josh onsights Slice 'n' Dice, 5.12
The crux of the trip was the lack of sleep at night due to the baby. After 3 weeks we had accumulated too much fatigue and couldn't climb hard anymore. Good timing to get back home. I now feel almost as strong as I was before being pregnant...now just wait 'til I sleep all night!!!!!
Stone beer, Pullharder girls, and rock: we daresay better than drugs, sex, and rock 'n' roll!
Evolution? Or the Beatles?
Splitter sunset. So who wins, Pullharder or Indian Creek? IC, obviously. Everyone who climbs knows that "conquering" something in nature is journalistic slang for "I know nothing about what climbing is really about."