Communication is key in any relationship. Especially when your partner is 35 meters above you setting up the next belay station. The problem is my voice only turns up to 11 when I use my mom voice on Aspen as she takes off after an unsuspecting chipmunk.
Route led us up my first multi-pitch at Lover’s Leap on East Wall. Haystack is a 5.8 with three to five stars, depending on who you ask. At the time of the climb, we were using Mountain Project and California Road Trip: A Climber’s Guide To Northern California. Don’t do that; get South Lake Tahoe Climbing by Chris McNamara – Lover’s Leap is 30 percent of the book. Plus it has a helpful perspective on the crux of the climb I could have used, “When climbed perfectly, the roof feels like a 5.7, but done wrong the roof feels like a 5.10.” Apparently I was doing it wrong…
At least I did one thing right for sure, I invested in comfortable climbing shoes! My feet were so happy in my new Scarpa Helix, sure they were orange at the end of the climb, but the color bleed will fade with every route.
There is already plenty of information available on Lover’s Leap, so I’ll touch on my usual question – is it dog friendly? The only dog-friendly climbing are the boulders at camp. However, bouldering is not why climbers travel to Lover’s Leap. Though there are enough problems to keep one busy for the day, most climbers just use them as a side note.
Rattlesnakes are another reason to enlist in a dog-sitter for the day. While sitting at the first belay station I watched a snake encounter unfold in the talus field below and heard one of the climbers inform the rattlesnake that he was supposed to rattle! After hiking off the back of our climb, Route and I made our way to his pack at the base and spotted the stealthy rattler still basking in the sun.
However, Lover’s Leap can be a great adventure with your pup in the spring. Last March we did a quick day trip to play in the snow and hike Hogsback, which was very dog-friendly for our part-mountain goat pup.
Back to our latest issue to work on – multi-pitch communication. I can either pretend Route has developed a new wildlife chasing habit or we can try other communication methods besides yelling. Climbing magazine had a couple of interesting articles about communication. Learn This: Effective Multi-Pitch Communication had suggestions about how to direct your voice, minimize communication, handheld radios, and the full description of the Marhold Tug method; which sounds too complicated. Their piece on Silent Communication stripped it down to the essentials – belay off, belay on. I also found an interesting point of view from someone who has no other option but silent communication when their partner is out of site, Multi Pitch Communication With A Deaf Climber. We’ll try a few of these methods out and report back.
In the meantime, I’m torn. Lover’s Leap has so many climbs to try; but I really want to make that roof feel like a 5.7, or at least a 5.8.