Yesterday a friend and I went to Exit 32 looking to climb in the 5.10s mainly. Knowing 32 quite well we stroll up to Human Foot the 5.8 on the corner of Blackstone crag. Minding my own business I continue to flake out the rope so Holly could lead. I glanced over to the left of me, only to find myself double taking. Like what hell is going on. I felt I was at the circus. The man was belaying someone in the mid 20s with a dulfersitz, with out hesitating I exclaimed “ Do you need a belay device?”
“No”, the man said “I don’t like using them it is just extra weight.” I turned my head shaking going back to what I was doing. At first I wanted to get the hell out of there I thought shit was going to hit the fan soon. Holly started to climb, as she was working her way up the right I took a look at the man's harness. It looked older than my grandfather who passed away in the 80’s. I ask him, “ Do you know who Todd Skinner is?” he reluctantly said, “Yes,” then I pressed on “yeah he died of a harness failure.” He went on to say “I made it myself,” my upchuck reflexes couldn’t keep up with my ears. Eager to move on Holly made it to the top of the climb and I lowered her.
I pulled the rope to pink point the fun little 5.8, as I climb up this 5.8 I hear a bantering going on from, well from the father and son combo ekkkk. I dance up the 5.8 the son is still on the 5.9 just to the right of me taking his leisurely time with his father belaying him with a dulfersitz. I just approach the chains to the 5.8 to hear the son yelling, “lower,” then a pause from below. “I can’t I am going to have to build an anchor.” The father yells up.
I am at the chains quickly trying to get off the route so I can be at the bottom just in case I need to be a runner or assess the sons trauma. The son then asks to be lower five feet to a small bench and yells down, “off belay”. Before I go on rappel I ask him can you anchor into a bolt. The son looks around and says “no, I am fine.”
I gulp and rappel. The father and son are now yelling at each other about how far the rope end is off the ground, with shear luck the kid made it to the ground.
Now the father son team start acting like they are packing up, but they don’t.
They continue to climb a little more on this 10b top roped, which is the chains that I plan to use next. I start racking up to lead the 5.9 and look down the crag to the north to see this old man pounding in a bong in the crack. No, no, not the type you smoke out of the type you climb with. I don’t know maybe in the 70’s you did smoke out of them, whatever he was doing it was messed up. I ask the father with the messed up harness, “is he with you.” He shakes his head and his eyes open brightly to say, “No”.
I look closer now at the man pounding the bong in. At first all I could see was he was setting up an anchor to solo lead this 5.10a. But he had a canvass tarp setup with tricams, knife blades, angles, big wall hammer ect.
I ignore him thinking wow I have another oh shit head to the left of me. I normally don’t wear a helmet sport climbing but I put it on just so the father and son team don’t pull the rope on top of me on this traversing climb. The father and son pull the rope respectively as they ask me for permission. I continue up the climb and Holly lowers me down.
As I am lowered down, I am staring at this old man pounding in another bong. I walk over to our stuff ignoring the old man at this point still minding my own business. Holly follows the 5.9 because of the traversing nature of the climb. She cleans the draws and gets to the top and yells off belay.
I walk over to the old man and introduce myself just to find out what he hopes to do. “Excuses me sir what are you climbing over here?” He responds, “Oh I am going to do this first ascent on this aid line.” I hold my breath in laugher, FA what, yeah right. I take a closer look at his gear now. Yeah, he is serious; I look at this thin seam two feet from climbing bolt lines left and right. “You know this is a sport climbing crag?” I ask him. “Yes’, he answers, ‘but how do you think these climbing routes where put up he asks” I go on, “not by aiding, they are free routes, go to index if you want to go aid climb the rock is crap here and you are just going to ruin the rock,” The old man got uber defensive, “ are you the climbing police what right do you have to tell me what to do. How old are you? I have been climbing longer then you have born.” He adds, When you pound in pin it make new holds.”
I exclaim, “Well you have been climbing longer then I have been born, but I am a climbing guide I do this for a living so I believe I know something about this sport,” I say sarcastically. “Well do you have a card or some thing to prove who you are, well it doesn’t matter.” He goes to say. “You don’t even know how to place gear that’s why you are sport climbing.” “Well, I am climbing and having fun clipping bolts I don’t need a rack here. If I wanted to trad climb I would have gone to index. And how many mountain guides do you that don’t know how to place gear?” “Even so the line you are climbing is two feet away from a bolt line how can you call that a first ascent? Go to the Pickets if you want to get a FA.” “But that’s a 4 day hike in just to get there,” he adds.
By now both of us are heated and about ready pop. I wanted to knock him. I had to leave and get away before I did something I regretted. The old man continues to yell at me, how about Royal Robbins and Harding how they pined and chopped routes and apologized latter. Trying to ignore him I pack my stuff up and leave to another crag.
It was so hard belaying and hearing the hammer pounding away. I shirked in despair.
On the way out I asked him how his climb went and his name he refused to give me his name. I thought about this if he thought what he was doing was right why wouldn't he give me his name?
I never knew that exit 32 would be so scary to climb at.