I decided that the OR should be my first route on Whitesides, and coincidentally mine and Bennett's first multi-pitch together. An 800 foot 5.11a R Grade III with a 140 foot 5.8 free solo for the the first pitch seemed like a fine test for my gumption. As we hiked down the trail the darkness began to give way and the sun peaked over a silky layer of clouds and turned the cold night sky into a warm ambient light capable of inspiring men to great things. We turned a corner and there it was, the monster from the stories. As I looked in amazement at the wall for the first time I felt something unexpected. I did not feel like I was standing at the feet of a monster at all but rather at the door of a welcoming mother eager to have me home. I knew at that moment that I would spend many days of my life on this wall.
|Top of the crux pitch|
Once at the top we briefly celebrated, took some photos and answered a few questions from a couple hiking to the top. I can only imagine how we looked to them as we crawled out of the void and over the fence to the overlook where they stood. We began our hike back to the car satisfied and proud of our perfection. I was excited about the future. I have my hopes wrapped around the harder lines on the headwall... the Arno lines especially. Lines with stacked 5.11 and 5.12+ pitches. As my mind raced I made my one and only mistake of the day. In my haste I placed all my weight onto a wet step on the hike down. I was shot into the air and my full weight came down on my lower back with a carabiner to break my fall. I laughed and groaned wondering if my back was broken. I stood up and hobbled down the trail with a firm reminder that I'm not invincible. A good thing to keep in my mind as I venture into more difficult terrain on my new favorite cliff.