Playing Hooky from Work: A Solo Ascent of Geochronology Wall (I, C2, cl.3)

Lightweight aid rack - perfect for bringing to the office.

On August 30, 2011, I had a carpe diem moment. I had just acquired my first set of aid hooks and was desperately wanting to push myself in a crash course on hooking. Hooking seemed like pretty scary stuff, so I needed to work myself in stat for some climbs I have hopes to do.

Now, for those that don't know me, some might say that I have no shame when coming up with new & effective ways to train.

Attempting to start the new sport of "Snow Bouldering"
Drytooling at Skull Rock. I highly recommend wearing gloves when doing this.
Drytooling at Skull Rock on the hardest line that I've found to TR so far.
How to warm up over an hour for a 2 hr gym climbing session - and for alpine climbing on the weekend!

Sometimes I can even talk others into joining me with my crazy ideas.

Pinar learning the value of pre-rigging a heavy pack to be shed in the event of falling into a crevasse. Not fun to prussic!

I also can't resist seizing chances to document unusual training regimens for an excuse to practice multimedia productions, such as obsessive Photoshop annotations or productions in Premier (e.g. PG Presidio Offwidth).

So an idea came to me one day at work to bike up into the north Berkeley hills during my lunch hour and practice hooking in a rather unusual way.

Geochronology Wall
Geochronology Wall solo aid route. My trusty photographer is eating lunch at the descent route.
Tentative start to the long hooking traverse . . .
and we're off!
Trying out the BD Talon
Defying gravity on the solo hooking traverse
Easy & bomber hook placement
Making the next placement, using the rock features for stability.
Testing the placement carefully. Watch that face!
Another hook placement
And still another hook placement
Hooking is serious business. Tourons look on, concerned, but they just don't understand.
Hook placements begin to get sketchier
Keep that face clear in case one pops!
Finally holding onto the aiders, and the hooks aren't pulling out. Steady now!

It was at this time that I started getting tired. I had foolishly neglected to bring my daisies, and now I was precariously balanced on the steep wall with gravity pulling me back toward the abyss.

Tiring out, I need to find a rest! But without daisies, how can I get relief?
Gotta improvise fast! Here's an idea!
That ought to do it!
At last! A hands free rest!
However, my improvised rest became too relaxing, as I began to doze off.
I'd better not fall asleep on my solo ascent, though. It could be dangerous, and onlookers might become even more concerned. The last thing I need now is an unnecessary rescue.

Rested, I gradually warmed back up to the rigors of the route.

It was good I rested, because here was the hooking crux of the route!
Testing the questionable hook placement.
I'm still not sure about this. It seems pretty unstable to traverse onto . . .
Stay, hook! Stay!

Fortunately the thin placement held. By now I was nearly halfway across the route, and the moves were getting routine as the exposure eased off.

In order to work the mental training of the terror of extended hooking, I needed to improvise with my imagination. Don't fall here!
But then things in my mind took a turn for the worst. This was getting to be too much . . .

I figured the rebellion of my mind was a result of me bonking. It was now well past 1pm and I had yet to actually eat lunch during my lunch hour! I needed to refuel, stat!

Fortunately I was able to get some provisions dropped off for my solo traverse. However, the run-in with the authorities almost ended my climb prematurely.

I appealed to the authorities, giving a heartfelt defense of my lofty goals in hopes that they would allow me to continue reaching for the sky. Fortunately my explanation of what I was doing worked, as the concerned grounds manager eventually relented, saying "eh. I guess this is Berkeley."

And so, refreshed from lunch, I pressed on with renewed vigor.
It was getting late in the hour, so I rushed on. Time was short to finish the route!
Smooth hooking carried me across the wall.
I'm getting the hang of this now!

Nearing the end, the route began to get tight and awkward.

As hooking options diminished, I had to take care
A slip of mere inches could spell failure for the solo traverse
It appears that I'm about to run out of viable hooking options. I'm going to have to suck it up and move back to free climbing soon.
Class 3 mantel to finish the route. Perhaps one day with smaller aiders the route can be pushed further, but for now the early exit will have to do . . .
Fortunately the descent from Geochronology wall was straightforward walkoff. I needed to get back to the office!

Special thanks to Ryan Pintar, who was willing to go along with all of this silliness and take pictures.

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