Byron Chronicle #2

Contributed by David Funatake

It has been raining for the past two weeks. Two weeks of thought turned to obsession and obsession turned to hunger with no relief. No food for the soul. I longed to climb at Byron Glacier, to explore, to project, to succeed, to fail, to share this place that has essentially been my own. I watched the forecasts and webcams everyday looking for a break in the weather, to no avail. The valley hung in the sway of the tempest and beneath its dark and dismal shadow it rained. Higher up the slopes, the fresh snow on the peaks was a stark reminder of the impending change of seasons that is soon to come, but not yet. For now I only need it to be dry. And so it became.

On Friday I left work early and hit the highway around 3:20pm for the hour long drive to the the trail head. As the seasons change, the days get shorter and shorter and light becomes a fleeting resource. I hiked for 45 minutes to the last boulder in the field, one that I had seen and been inspired to climb several weeks earlier. The boulder has one short steep face about the width a a large refrigerator that looks like a rhino’s head rearing up from the talus. At 5:00 pm I climbed the Lonely Llama V2 on the left arete of the block. The problem starts in the mouth of the rhino, a large sharp undercling in the middle of the face and topped out on good holds and an easy mantle. I then turned to the other arete with the sharp side pulls on the face. While cleaning the side pulls of dirt I slid my finger across a sharp chip of calcite in one of the holds. The cut was so quick and clean that i wasn’t sure if my tip was cut at all, until it began to gush blood. I  wrapped it tightly with tape and  went back to cleaning the problem. After a few goes to figure out the beta I sent Rhinovirus V5.

Rhinovirus V5

I was decided to go back to a boulder near the Bear Claw Boulder and do a V1 that I had seen and wanted to climb since I had seen it. I quickly sent King Shaman V1 and then turned my attention to the Goliath Boulder, definitely the largest boulder in the talus that is still without any problems. I cleaned out the landing beneath an amazing face with incredible sloping rails beside an overhanging arete. I worked out beta with toe hooks and heel hooks on underclings and pinches for an hour eventually I  ran out of energy to try the problem. This project is probably a V8 for me because I just cannot reach the good holds beyond my finger tips. It could go as easy as V5 or V6 for someone taller who can skip some of the moves that I am forced to make. I cannot wait to try it again.

As the light and strength faded I returned to a project on the Bear Claw Boulder. This problem is perfect for me because the start is impossible for anyone taller than myself (I booged/dabbed my knees on the pads every time, but not heavy enough to warrant starting over). Also, the next reaches would be very hard for someone shorter than me. After multiple attempts and a bit of praying I managed one last ditched effort to send Do it in the Dark V6 and ended my day. After adding four good problems to the area I hiked out by headlamp looking for beer and a warm bed. I was able to feed the hunger that I have been feeling. But I am still hungry and it isn’t winter yet. More to come.