A few weekends ago, I was informed of a new offwidth that had recently been put up. Erogenous Zone (5.11b) begins from the GT ledge, just up and left of the first pitch of Andrew (5.4). Intrigued, I messaged Seth Gross and asked, “How do you feel about an adventure? Bring pants!”

I met Seth at the Stairmaster lot. I followed him up Silhouette for a warm up. It was a great first pitch, but I continually thought to myself, “If I were a 5.7 leader, this traverse would have me pooping my pants!”

We climbed Andrew and then attempted the offwidth. Check out Seth’s awesome post about his experience on Erogenous Zone!

Completely engulfed in the offwidth. Photograph by Seth Gross

The day continued on. Seth and I went 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 directly underneath the roof where I have watched many climbers (myself included) build a little bird’s nest of gear. Seth sent it with composure and some really good technical movement—it’s a great 10c pitch we would both recommend to anybody!

Next, we tried Comedy in Three Acts (5.11a). It’s a short fifty-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. As I stood above the smallest nut I own, all I really wanted to do was to down climb and ask Seth to take.

I mean, I really wanted to fucking 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, I released a sigh of heavy relief.

Preparing to try the crux of Comedy in Three Acts (5.11a). Photograph by Seth Gross

I remember last year, climbing with Scott Albright. He had suggested climbing Never Never Land (5.10a). I was balancing myself on the thin face and suddenly, in a small voice, called down to Scott, “You know…maybe I could take here?”

I will never, ever forget his response:

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

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

Before taking a winger on Comedy, I had a nanosecond of uncertainty. When I pulled back to the piece I had fallen on, I fired it out. I’m glad that I didn’t take and I took the fall, and in the end, I made it to the anchor because I didn’t let that feeling of uncertainty back in. I kept listening to the voice that told me to keep pushing.

I want to be the kind of climber who knows how to listen to that inner voice–it can dictate so much of what we do, what happens next. Never shouting, it isn’t angry, it just calmly guides us. I also hope that, eventually, that voice will guide me someplace amazing. I really hope that it’s on top of a mountain somewhere.

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