While my ego was still feeling a little deflated from Eraserhead (5.12a), I definitely wasn’t going to let it dictate the rest of the weekend. I messaged Seth Gross the evening before we met at the Stairmaster lot and asked, “How do you feel about an adventure? Bring pants.”

A few weekends ago, Ken Murphy informed me of a new off-width route that Chris Fracchia had recently put up. Erogenous Zone (5.10) begins from the GT ledge, just up and left of the first pitch of Andrew (5.4). Intrigued, Seth and I went to check it out. I followed Seth up Silhouette (5.7), which was a great first pitch, but I kept thinking to myself, If I were a 5.7 leader, this traverse would have me pooping my pants!

The start of Erogenous Zone (5.10)
Completely engulfed in the offwidth now. Photograph by Seth Gross

Check out Seth’s awesome post about his experience on Erogenous Zone!

Seth and I continued on to the Slime Wall where he successfully redpointed Frustration Syndrome (5.10c). Frustration has a steep face followed by a roof move to a finger crack. Moving past the traverse brings you to the corner below the roof (where everybody I know builds a little birds nest). Seth sent his climb with composure and some really good technical movement—it’s a great 10c pitch we would both recommend to anybody!

Preparing to try the crux of Comedy in Three Acts (5.11a). Photograph by Seth Gross
Seth, after pulling the small overhand on Comedy

Next on the short list was Comedy in Three Acts (5.11a). It’s a short 50-foot pitch with one dead point move past the crux with weird protection. I slotted in a nut which I fell on a few moves later. The sequence was much more technical than I had expected and involved mega crimps and a very balancing layback. Despite its unpopularity, I really enjoyed this one. As I stood above the smallest nut I own, all I really wanted to do was to down climb and ask Seth to take.

Even though Comedy was a short climb, the last section felt like it went on for miles. Bearing down on those crimps with one dead point move to the final hold, I finally pulled myself up to the ledge and let happiness wash over me in a giant wave. When I made it to the rusted anchor, Seth could sense both my excitement and relief.

Last year, while quivering on the thin face of Never Never Land (5.10a) with Scott Albright, I remember looking down and saying in a small voice, “You know…maybe I could take here?”

I will never, ever forget Scott’s response:

“KATHY. There’s no taking in trad climbing!”

He thinks those words have scarred me for life (they have.)

The first time I fell on Comedy, there was a nanosecond of uncertainty in my ability. The second attempt, I didn’t let the uncertainty back in. I didn’t take. I listened to the voice that told me to keep pushing. Our inner voice dictates so much of what can happen next—what we do or don’t do, what we can do, and what we are capable of. It doesn’t shout, it isn’t angry, but it guides us.

Eventually, that voice will guide me some place great. I really hope that it’s on top of a mountain somewhere.

I also hope that there is ice cream.

Post-send ice cream sandwich at The Last Bite in High Falls, NY. Go there.

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