Peter and I needed some aid climbing practice, and we knew we could do this in the rain. We headed to Index Sunday morning, and were soon racking up below the climb “City Park,” rated C1 as aid, or 5.13c for alien free climbers. Peter had the dubious task of getting to the first bolt of a 6 bolt ladder. With admirable composure, he felt his way up the dripping slabs, fingers mingling with the spiderwebs in little pockets of granite. He clipped the bolt, and continued up, soon realizing that the “two aider system” wasn’t the best for sustained aiding. I gave it a try with my “four aider system.” Of course, this was a breeze! Soon I approached the long, very thin crack that characterizes this climb. One by one, I left thin stoppers in the crack and continued up. But with a long way yet to go, I was out of thin gear! I was able to traverse left to a 2 bolt anchor (very reachy traverse!), and belay Peter. We only had about 5 nuts small enough for the crack, which stretched for another 70 feet above! Time for some shopping. Peter climbed the route and cleaned gear, enjoying the deluxe four aider system. We rapped from the bolts, and couldn’t wait to go back!

On the Lower Town Wall Peter looking reflective The first pitch from below

In the following weeks, Peter had purchased about 15 small nuts, and I had three more. Peter led pitch one, doing a marvelous job. I followed the pitch, re-climbing it and cleaning gear. Sadly, 3 nuts couldn’t be cleaned, no matter how hard I tried. Feeling pretty bad, I continued on to the second pitch, and aid climbed that. To make things worse, I dropped one of my aiders at the belay, having to borrow one from Peter. On the second pitch, my spirits improved as I enjoyed the straightforward but exciting aid climbing. After a few free moves, I reached the belay, and Peter re-climbed the pitch. Index, Gunn, and Baring Peaks were beautiful. Many trains went by. Much shooting occurred at the gun club below. We did a single rappel, then a double rappel to the ground. We were surprisingly sore!

Peter couldn’t bear the thought of losing those 3 nuts, so after chewing on that for a while, he sent me email: “Want to go free our poor brothers from the crack this week?” That was Monday, so Tuesday morning I started the first pitch at 7:15 am, reaching the belay at 8:20. My goal had been to climb it in one hour, so I felt pretty good. How much quicker can I possibly aid that climb? Sadly, a clever individual had come up the day before and removed the nuts. Today we had a hammer, and Peter found that a few light taps help to remove welded nuts. So, we learned something else. Peter jumared the route. We were back at the car after 2 hours, and off to work.

Together we’ve made some good strides in our aid climbing. Now it’s time for A2!!