Penitente Canyon Climbing

It’s likely to get too hot to climb at Penitente this time of year, and we resolve not to sleep in too late to catch the cool morning. That translates to about 8:30 in practice. Dave, Lisa, and Dyson were waiting for us at the campsite last night, and Dre and Serena join us in the morning. Ann and I attempt to “warm up” on a crack across from the virgin wall that we can’t find in any guides, but has anchors and looks pretty easy. We almost can’t do the start. I spot Ann through many falls, then fall a few times myself before fighting through it. Thankfully, the rest of the climb is much easier. We spend the remainder of the day on some of the area’s prime sport routes.

Sport routes:

Not My Cross To Bear 5.11a
Lisa inspires us with a clean lead of this striking dihedral. I have to fight hard to make it up with only one fall on toprope. Everyone in the group puts up a similar fight, milking as much as possible out of a sweet toprope. Dave even gets up it after a dramatic back seizure that had him flopping in the dust.
Concupiscent Curds 5.10b
The only remaining route we can find that is shady. The holds are good but stressful on the fingers, and the moves feel balancy and dependent on finding more decent holds above. I do it twice, then we head back to camp for a lunchtime siesta.
Los Hermanos de la Weenie Way 5.11c
The weenie way nearly proves too burly even for our ropeguns. Dre and Lisa both take a shot at the lead before Dre finally pulls through to the anchors. I get to take a swing on toprope. The crux section on shallow pockets at the top of a sloping edge throws me over and over again, but I finally find a workable move. The steep, sharp moves following wear me out a few more times, and I count it as a victory to reach the anchors at all.
Whipping Post 5.11a
Lisa flies up another hard, thin route, then tells Serena it’s 5.10c so she’ll try it. Serena does great after figuring out the low, pinchy crux, then comes to tell Dre and me about it. I nearly try the lead, thinking I may still have a 10c in me, but I’m grateful that I choose the toprope instead. I keep saying, “This is hard!” as I grip up one thin move after another. I don’t know how Ann kept quiet below. Finally Dre walks up and promptly pulls the rope. He earns my respect when he stays solid all the way up after a few tries at the crux. He worked a lot harder than I did on the Weenie Way. Finally Lisa reveals the real grade, and we all laugh (perhaps a little feebly).

3 responses to “Penitente Canyon Climbing”

  1. Oooo, looks like a lovely weekend of camping and climbing. Must be really nice to have hard-ass rope guns around in your party, I’m jealous!

    We climbed Not My Cross to Bear four years ago when we drove across Colorado for the first time. I made Mark hang from a bolt about half way up so I could go take pictures of him pretending to climb. 🙂 It was an awesome route, still one of my all-time favorites.

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