July 1999
Pinnacles - Return to "Rat Race"
Steve "Fitz" Fitzmorgan

Gina was looking to do some climbing this weekend, just a day trip, so she asked me if I'd be interested. Of course I said yes to a chance to get back out on some real rock, and more importantly, an opportunity to help a friend out with her greatest nemesis - "Rat Race".

On the way to Pinnacles we were catching up on what's been going on, and talking about what we were going to climb. The mood was cheerful and full of anticipation of the great day ahead, until I mentioned that her first climb was going to be none other than "Rat Race"... (For those of you who didn't read about Gina's previous experience on Rat Race, she took a real nasty fall). The mood suddenly changed. Gina had that deer caught in the headlights look and was obviously very nervous. She said that she has lived that climb/fall over and over in her head, and that she didn't know about it being such a good idea.

We continued on and the ride was pretty quiet. I knew she was thinking that she really wanted to face her fear, but her hands were telling how she felt on the inside. They were very fidgety, and if they were sweating any more we would have had to hang them out the window to keep them from shorting out the electrical system in the truck.

We arrived at the park, Gina had settled down and was ready for the challenge ahead. We packed up our gear, put on some sunscreen and off we went ... directly to "Rat Race" that wonderful 5.7 climb with a 5 foot roof. We set everything up and she was off, she put her first piece in about 20 feet off the deck, then wrapped the tree for the second, a third about 10 feet above that, now she was at the roof. She stemmed out onto the right wall and stuffed a cam into the crack just where it needed to be, clipped and away she went. She pulled the roof with little to no effort and found herself on top moments later. Even though I couldn't see her, I knew she had a smile a mile wide. She set up the T/R and I lowered her back to the ground, where I gave her a big high five. I was right - she still had a smile a mile wide!

We gathered our gear and headed to the Monolith to let me have another shot at "P.O.D", an overhung 5.10d/11a sport route. When we arrived the climb was just like all the others, empty with no one around. I set out the gear and off I went. I felt pretty good, and I was cruising up when I felt my left arm getting pumped out. I was at the fourth bolt before I had to hang (much better than my last attempt), then continued on and finished. It still wasn't clean, but much better than my first try. Next time I'll get it for sure!

We packed up our stuff and headed back to the Discovery wall where Gina was thinking about doing "Ordeal", a fine 5.8 with a twist. Once again we got there and there wasn't a soul to be seen. We set out the gear and off she went. Once again very smooth right until she got to the twist. Its a spot that you have to move from a very comfortable corner out to a face. She took a few minutes to do it, but once she decided that she could, she did, then up and the climb was over. Another fine lead!

Sometimes you need to help people face their fears. This was one of those days for me. It was very rewarding for me, but much more important for her!

Congrats on overcoming your nemesis!



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