Most of my trip to Mexico has been spent climbing in Guadalcazar, Mexico. This place has captured my heart and has been an area where I pushed myself the hardest. There are so many great memories from every aspect of living in this little town. It feels very strange to leave after being so comfortable in one place. I have learned so much about myself through this part of my trip and several projects have forced me to really evaluate myself as a person and push myself to success.
Final Days in Guadalcazar - Urs Moosmuller
Every project is different and one of the most unique things about climbing is no route is the same. Unlike baseball or basketball, climbing is always random and you can always learn something new. My last few days in Guadalcazar were a little rushed, but that forced me to try hard to complete two more routes before leaving.
A few weeks ago I spent several days bolting a new route that climbs the blankest and steepest part of the cave. I was feeling particularly strong after winning a climbing competition in C.D Valles so I decided to dedicate my last two weeks to attempting the new route. Immediately I realized the route was a step up from my current climbing abilities. The opening boulder problem is somewhere in the V12/13 range and I spent several days working the moves. I tried over and over again, but I was still unable to climb the main crux of the boulder problem. After several tries I ripped three fingers open on the crux crimp and called it good. The boulder problem was to hard for me. After you pull the boulder problem you get a good rest then 6 bolts of 5.13 climbing leading to the base of a horizontal ceiling. Three bolts of 5.13- climbing leads to a V10/11 boulder problem guarding the lip of the cave at bolt number 15. Overall the route seems to be in the 14d or 15a range and a future project for some mutant crusher.
With only a few days left I set my sights on two routes in two different areas. The first route, Zion is located in the small cave of Las Candelas and was for several years the hardest route in the area. The route climbs out the blankest and longest part of a dead horizontal ceiling. I have always looked at Zion as a route I could potentially on sight, but the grade of 13d scared me away. Every time I visited Las Candelas I took some time to study the route searching for the rests, cruxes, and sequences. For the most part it is a guessing game, but having a plan is better than going blindly. After several days of studying Zion, I had a pretty good idea of the route layout and with only a few days left I decided to give it a what ever burn. I warmed up very well on the 5.12 classics in the cave then started getting mentally prepared for the route.
I started the route nervous and a little shaky. My body felt off and I tried to focus on the moves coming up rather than my physical condition. I reached the best rest on the route and spent several minutes trying to shake out the nervousness. Finally it was time. The first blank section felt around V6 and I quickly cruised through it to a quick shake before the next blank section. I started climbing this section and felt the pump building. I barely pulled off the V8 crux and made it to the next rest. The next section proved to be a V7 section and I made it to yet another rest on a bad knee bar. I could feel the pump in my forearms and I forced myself to relax. After a minute I climbed forward through another V6 section on stalactite under clings to a rest hole. At this point my arms were very pumped and I could barely hold onto the rest holds. I forced myself to breath and relax. Focusing on calming myself down to get ready for the final sprint to the anchors. I rested there for what seems like an eternity and got ready for the final sprint to the anchors. I focused all my energy on the final crux guarding the chains and made it through to the final hold. Forcing myself to hang on as hard as I could, I went for the clip and missed. Panic flooded through my body and I had to fight to clip the chains. Coming down I was very shocked that I had completed such an accomplishment. My arms were rock solid with lactic acid and my muscles ached, but I felt a wave of happiness and relive. I didn’t blow it at the end after climbing through 19 draws of horizontal roof climbing. Zion had been confirmed at 5.13d by several climbers from Mexico, but after completing it onsite and hanging 19 draws I don’t think I have the strength to onsite the grade. Grades are completely subjective and for me this felt upper end 13c rather than the proposed d. Overall the route is extremely unique and one of the most impressive lines in Guadalcazar.
The second route is an open project recently bolted by my friend Christian in San Cayetano. The route climbs a very blank wall in between Enki and Gilgamesh. The estimated grade for the project was in the 5.14b range and after onsite Zion I felt confident I could complete it before leaving. The route is a pure endurance route with no move being harder then V8, but no place to rest for the whole route. The route follows a blank but natural looking line through one of the larger roofs in the cave. Christian and I had looked at this route before and we were both hesitant to bolt it at the time due to the many blank sections between features. Even the features didn’t appear to have any places to rest.
I started working the route and progress was very fast in the beginning and every burn I pushed a little harder to highpoint further up the route. On my first two days working the route I experience wet holds through the main crux and I struggled really hard to fight past it. By day number three the holds were dry and I was very psyched. Finally with two days left, I reached the final bolt and was falling over and over again. Every time I was so pumped at the final rest, my fingers would just let go. I tried to fight harder, but it just wasn’t happening. I decided to take a day off to give it one last burn on the last day in Guadalcazar.
The last day of my trip came and I knew this would be my last chance to send. Several friends from northern Mexico came down during the weekend to check out San Cayetano and I felt psyched to have some support for this route. I started the route calm and composed. The first half of the route went very smooth and I reached the bad rest at the last bolt pretty pumped. I knew this was my chance to send and I went for it. The final crux involves an all out throw off a sloper pinch to a three finger pocket. Your feet cut and you have to squeeze as hard as you can to stay on. It is an amazing finish to a hard route. I fell on the last move to the pocket and cursed myself for missing the last move on my last day. I spent an hours sitting at the base of the route going over my mistake and what I could have done better. I forced my mind to relax and my body to recover to give it a last ditch effort.
My final burn of the day felt like a disaster. I could feel the aches and pains from the previous burn, but for some reason I was more psyched on this burn and I gave it everything I had. I made it to the final rest more pumped than usual but determined. I spent 15 seconds to force myself to focus on the final throw. I set up perfectly for the throw and went for it. I was trying so hard my feet nearly stayed on to the wall and at the last second they cut. I thought I was done, but I managed to squeeze a little harder and stick the move. I Clipped the anchors and lowered off completing the first ascent of Ninkasi.
Looking back on previous ascents and the training I have been through in Guadalcazar, I started to evaluate my performance during my training for each individual project. During this evaluation I still didn’t feel good about the grading on the harder routes in Guadalcazar. I have always been bad at grading routes especially since it is extremely subjective to each individual. On my previous ascents I didn’t have a comprehensive idea of the climbing style in Guadalcazar and after climbing 90 percent of the routes, I have decided to adjust some of the grades. Enki and Intento are two routes that I previously sent in San Cayetano and after climbing Ninkasi and Zion, I feel they deserve the downgrade to 5.13d. Ninkasi forced me to fight harder than the other routes and it feels like a proud 5.14a. Hopefully someone will come along and confirm the grade, but there are very few strong climbers who are psyched to travel to Guadalcazar. Overall my training and experiences have helped me in my climbing career and I am looking forward to having a change in style from steep sport climbs to bouldering and trad climbing. Now I am heading north to my hometown in the states to focus on two opposites. Technical endurance climbing on trad lines and powerful boulder problems.