“So, what are you projecting Heather?”
“Uhhh, it’s called The Gayness. Yep, The Gayness. It’s an extension of Gay Science and it goes at 14a.”
As more people inquired about my climbing interest, I began to really wish my project had a cooler, more stout name. How bout Annihilator, The Beast, Huge, The Violator, Scarface, Kill for a Thrill…then it would sound like I was actually trying something hard and intimidating. The Gayness? The name just doesn’t do it justice.
So this is why I have quite happily renamed this route The Happiness. Why not? It’s more PC and it is, well, much more happy…how could you get more happy than The Happiness? I sure found happiness today as I sent this rig unexpectedly.
I climbed Gay Science, 13d, and full Apocalypse, 13c, last fall at Rifle. Chris recommended I try The Gayness, uh hmm, I mean The Happiness, 14a, as it links the two routes together with a mean ten move boulder problem. He thought it would be perfect as my first Rifle 14, as it had many knee bar rests and trickery which I tend to excel at.
There are many people that scoff at the knee bar trickery and some even (sigh) don’t use them so they won’t become “weak.” I even ran into a climber recently that didn’t believe it was ethical to wear knee pads. Let’s just say he doesn’t climb at Rifle.
This was the perfect route for me in part because I embrace knee barring- I counted 21 in total (bars and scums). I know how to rest and use all the tricks (ie knee bars are my friends) and need all the help I can get.
Yesterday morning Chris and I woke up at 5am to start climbing to try to beat the heat- it was wicked hot outside. I warmed up on the upper 2/3 of The Gayness, and amazingly it felt miles easier than it ever had. Unfortunately, the first 1/3 is the most powerful and steep. My first attempt I fell on the first boulder problem. Discouraged by my performance, or rather lack of performance, I rested up and belayed Chris. I would try one more time for the day. It was about noon when I headed up and it was so hot and smarmy. There was another climber on the top of my route but I didn’t have any expectations of getting that high up so I didn’t even think to wait until he was done. I somehow got through the bottom cruxes and found myself at the knee bar rest just below my high point. I shouted up to the climber that I’d probably fall, but in the odd chance I don’t, my route ends on the climb he was on. He graciously lowered and pulled his rope and it was game on. I made it through the tough boulder problem traverse of The Gayness and into the top of Apocalypse. At the last knee bar rest I had to literally pretend I was not on the redpoint to keep it together and not fall off due to nervous sending tremors.
And so it happened…I sent The Happiness, my second 5.14, and I am so, well, happy!
A huge thank you to Vikki Weldon (sweetheart and Canadian Crushette) for the opening and following photos.