We went back to the Cookie on Friday (May 23) for our respective projects and then we spent the next day watching Yuji on his project. It was pretty instructive all around.After I onsighted Red Zinger (5.11d), Theresa decided to project it herself and Yuji suggested that Cookie Monster (5.12a) would be a logical step up for me. We waited until late in the day so we could do some stuff at home and then climb in the cooler temps. As we were getting ready, Yuji asked if he could come. We warned him that it was going to be a slow day and he said it was his rest day and he just wanted to do a little climbing on “easy” stuff, so that would be fine.
Theresa's main goal was to get up on Red Zinger and push herself to the point of falling instead of just giving up and resting on gear. She hadn't taken a leader fall since shortly after she started climbing and that was in less controlled conditions. It all seemed like such a good idea until she got up to the crux. Then she clipped a fixed stopper and placed three pieces in about five feet and went up then said “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy” and started downclimbing. I figured at that point that she would not have the strength for the onsight, but figured if she could just go up there and take the fall, it would be a big step towards the redpoint (an ascent without falls, but with rehersal). After about four times climbing up and climbing down, she finally went up and popped off for a nice short fall with the gear near her feet. Once over the shock she went up and tried a couple more times, taking a few more falls and then finally deciding she was too tired to keep trying. It was a huge step for her, I think, getting comfy with falling on gear. I think next time she'll hit it with a lot more confidence.
She lowered off and then it was up to me to rescue her until Yuji, who seemed anxious to climb, offered to rescue me. Good thing too. Having onsighted the route, I underestimated the difficulty and found it much harder following him on toprope than I had found it on lead (I actually fell 2-3 times). Yuji, naturally, climbed it like it was 5.7.
About that time we met Bob from El Portal (not our roommate Bob K), who comes up to the Cookie to do laps on Red Zinger. He led it in about five minutes, lowered off and set up his line so he could do laps on self-belay.
After that we headed over to Cookie Monster. I was tired from bouldering the previous day and Mindahoonee the day before that, so I was not that excited. Still, once I got climbing, I felt good and the bottom was easier than expected. Eventually I took lots of falls at the crux, but finally dogged my way through. 5.12 is sort of a psychological barrier for me, so it was cool to get all the moves and to feel like I could definitely get it once I get the hard parts wired so I don't waste time (it's fairly pumpy).
The next day we went up to Lurking Fear with the housemates to watch Yuji work it. It was sort of inspiring to watch him struggle and try and try and try. It made me think that I need to keep getting on hard stuff and working it and working it. Even if it seems impossible at first, with work a lot of things can go. Yuji pulled some impressive moves, including a five-foot sideways dyno from micro holds to a sloper. Still, it was more watching the process than watching the result that was instructive.
Nick has asked us to go up and take some photos of him and Yuji on a speed ascent in a few days and that should be instructive too…. We're curious to see how it is folks go just that fast.