Monday, April 2, 2012

New Jack City - 03/16/2012

Finally, a post that's not about Riverside Quarry! Unfortunately, I didn't bring the camera on this trip so it will be a post with word only.

So I am a Varsity Coach in Boy Scouts which means that I am the leader of a group of 14-18 year old Boy Scouts, and for the last couple of months we have been doing activities centered around climbing which all culminated in a trip to New Jack City so that they could try out their new skills on real rock.

We arrived at New Jack City on Thursday night, set up tents and hung out around a campfire until the leaders all got tired and went to bed while the Boy Scouts sat up all night talking and doing who knows what else. In the morning we got up, made breakfast (burned pancakes and bacon), and headed over to Boy Scout rock to do some climbing.

I started out by giving a belay lesson to the boys and had one of the other leaders who has done a little bit of climbing before belay me up "Jack Be Nimble", a supposed 5.8 that feels like it's really 5.5 or 5.6 to a final move that might be 5.7. I ran up and set up a rope for the boys, so that they could start climbing, then I moved one route to the left to "Sam I Am" which is another supposed 5.8 that feels like it might be a 5.7 in a soft area. Again we got some of the boys started on that route, and I moved one more route to the right to an unknown 5.7 that feels like it might really be 5.7. I set up that route, then the leader who has done a little bit of climbing before wanted to try leading so we headed to the furthest route on the right of Boy Scout Rock (Blitzo's Pile - 5.5) so that he could try leading. He lead the route without any problems, but the route didn't really look like it was worth climbing, so I didn't worry about climbing it.

The boys all had the chance to try climbing the four routes that we set up, and they were curious about if it is possible to climb without a belayer, so I explained to them that roped soloing is possible, but it is an advanced practice that they shouldn't try until they are very experienced if ever. About that time, one of the boys was having a really hard time with "Jack Be Nimble" and wanted me to point out holds to him, so I decided to TR solo "Sam I Am" so that I could help him out and show the boys how TR soloing is done as well.

After everyone was done climbing and ready for lunch I headed up to take down all the anchors. I started at the right and worked my way across the top of the formation taking down the routes as I went. Once I got to "Jack Be Nimble" I removed the anchor, but then instead of hiking off of the formation, the leader who has climbed before offered to lower me off (I hadn't brought a rap device with me). I cleaned the anchor, tied in, and asked him to take me. He took, I removed my tethers, and asked him to lower. He started lowering me really fast, but I assumed it was just because he wanted to mess with me a little bit in front of the scouts. By the time I was about half way down the route and had just kept gaining speed from the top I realized that something wasn't right so I started to get ready to deck. I basically just made sure to keep myself from flipping backwards, and once I was about 10 or 15 feet from the ground I jumped out and got my feet under me to absorb the impact. I landed, absorbed the impact, and was just fine. I asked the belayer what happened, and he said that I was going too fast and he was afraid of getting a rope burn so he just let go. Luckily, the friction through the ATC and the shuts at the top was enough to slow me down a little bit, and the landing was nice, flat, and padded with carpet. Needless to say, I didn't let him belay me with an ATC anymore.

After that we headed back to the campsite to have lunch, and most of the boys were done climbing, but a few of them wanted to try some harder stuff so I decided to take them to the White Face since it was right by where we were camping. I showed my belayer how to use a Grigri so that hopefully I would live to see another day, and started by climbing a 5.6 called "Winter Shade of Pale". Although the rating was easier than the climbs we had done earlier, "Winter Shade of Pale" is a bit more technical so it felt harder for the scouts. While a couple of the scouts were climbing that route, one of them was interested in learning if you can lead solo, so I decided to show him how that is done and lead soloed a 5.7 called "White Flight".

Since the couple of scouts who were still climbing wanted to do something a bit harder we moved on to a 5.9 (solid 5.9) called "White Head". I ran up it and set up a TR so that the scouts could try it. the 5.9 was hard enough that only one scout was able to finish it, but he still wanted to try something a bit harder than that, so I knew that there were a couple of 10s on the wall (I had left the book at the campsite a couple hundred feet away and didn't want to go check), so I decided to try the one that was furthest to the right. I made it up the route without any real problems, but I did have to hang once while I figured out the moves (mostly because I didn't trust my belayer enough to risk taking a fall). It turns out the route was the harder of the two 10s, a 5.10d called "Snow White". The route was hard enough that none of the scouts were able to make it up, but a couple of them had a good time trying.

Some of the scouts wanted to just do some rappelling as well, so I set up a rope from the anchors of "White Head" since they are easy to hike around and access, and we let them all go down a few times. By that time it was starting to get dark, so we made dinner and got a campfire going. We were planning on doing some climbing the following day as well, but that night a strong wind came up which completely destroyed a couple of the boys tents. Between the wind and the temperature, no one was in the mood to climb in the morning, so we just packed up and headed out.

Overall I guess it was a pretty good climbing trip for being with scouts. No one died (all though I did come pretty close), I actually did get to climb quite a few routes for being on a scout trip, and all the guys had a good time.

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