Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Know your walk-off

Today I completed my first Korean rock climb, and it was quite different from back home. It was a decent length slab of spiky, grainy granite rock that had many small washout pockets and a couple great hand/finger cracks going up the side. It wasn't too difficult either (5.9?) but it had a killer start and some long runouts in between bolts. I started up it a bit shaky, if I fell the rock was low-angled and looked like it was shaped by a cheese-grater, so nerves were high. Also added to this was the fact that the climb was 3 feet off a main hiking path in downtown Mokpo (Yudalsan), so spectators were abundant. After what I later found to be 20 minutes, I was at the top bolt and could see the top of the slab where the route ended. To my shock and awe, on this sport route there were no rap rings, cold shuts, twin bolts, or a clear walk-off on top of the slab to get down. I was stunned. Mainly because people had told us that this route was used to train people outdoors and that the top of this route was the top of two other routes as well. After holding a tiny toe pocket and finger jam for what felt like an eternity of searching for an answer, I began the sketchy practice of down-climbing to my last bolt. Once there I went static, off belay, and set a rappel off of a locking carabiner in a solid bolt. Safely at the bottom, I remarked to Chris that there was no way for him to climb today because there was no way for me to make an anchor for us to use. Saddened by the loss of climbing and my locking carabiner, we headed back down the town. Once in town I headed to the alpine store to replace the carabiner I had lost and to pick the mind of the shop owner. He sadly informed us that the routes were supposed to be walked off of and that there was no way around this without buying tons of cams and build an anchor near the top in the crack. I don't have the $300 to buy cams, so that's kind of out of the question...

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