Big Fall at Seneca

Two weeks after climbing hard at Seneca with Turtle, Apryle and I headed back down for more fun. I wanted to put things a bit, so Apryle agreed to belay me up Orangeaid – a heinous 5.10b finger crack up desperately steep terrain high on the east face. I cruised the bottom section, loving the deep finger locks and steep rock. About 45 feet off the ledge, though, the climb got interesting.

I found myself clinging to a face hold, trying like mad to wriggle in a black Alien. I got half of the cam engaged and clipped one of the doubles just as my fingers slipped and I took flight.

Falling…falling…falling some more. I pulled up my feet just before reaching the belay ledge and bounced to a gentle rest, very much like Peter Pan coming in for a landing. I had fallen nearly 50 feet and landed amongst a crowd of beginner trad leaders on Conn’s East and similar climbs. My eyes were the size of saucers, and so were those of the crowd.

Apryle had performed like a champion, holding my fall despite being pulled tight against the anchor and the skinny ropes burning two 8.4mm lines down her palms. Two good lessons – anchor strongly against upward pulls and use high-friction belay devices with skinnies.

Apryle was unsure of her ability to catch a fall, so we found a party that was rapping past the route to clean my gear, then took off. Enough for one day!


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