Cathy visits the Gunks

I asked Cathy what her favorite route was and she picked rapping Madame G’s in the freak hail storm.  Yeah, it was memorable.  We were finishing Madame G’s as the thunder got serious.  We knew we needed to get down fast or get soaked, but I’d assured Cathy that people didn’t die from lightning strikes at the Gunks and the worst that would happen was we’d get wet.  The occasional bolt of lightening touching down in the valley below was saying otherwise.

The rain started just as I was about to launch over the edge on rappel.  It came towards us quickly in a visible wall of mist.  Going down seemed like the right choice.  In fact, as I rapped over the lip and got under the overhang, I called up to Cathy that it was better down there – somewhat protected.  Then, seconds later, the hail started.

As I rapped, the hail, and the rain as well, kept coming down harder.  The hail was about pea to marble sized, which hurt.   The rope and I were soaked before I hit the intermediate rap station.  When I took the rope out of my belay device I was shivering and jittery and I lost control of the ends.  I could see the rope ends moving and knew Cathy was testing it to see if I was off but I didn’t want to call up to her to rappel until I a) regained control of the ends to at least give her a fireman’s and b) decided if she should really join me at this crazy, unprotected stance.  I was thinking maybe I should duck into the side of the wall and wait it out there while she found cover in the trees but I couldn’t talk to her because of both the noise and the fact that turning my face up towards her meant getting smashed in the eye with hail.  Thank God for helmets and for having them on.

I managed to grab the rope ends and went ahead and yelled Off Rappel since she was clearly working on rappelling whether I thought it was the best plan or not (and honestly there wasn’t really a better one).  She came down in a hurry and we pulled like mad, trying to spot the pattern change on a rope that was almost black with water.  Suddenly mud and leaves started coming down the face in a torrent.  The rain must have washed out the top.

Cathy let me do the final rap first since I was the one shivering violently.  I struggled to hold the brake with one hand while fishing the rope out of the gully with the other.  It might have been a good day for a rap backup, but spending even an extra thirty seconds putting it on and taking it off was unendurable.  The gully had become a muddy waterfall but luckily only my feet needed to be in it.  At least I was out of the path of the water running down the face.  Once I was down, Cathy wasted no time joining me.  On the ground we were met and muddy but relieved.  I was sure glad the rope pulled clean .  The week before it had gotten stuck at the top of the gully.  What had been an easy solo up to retrieve it then would not have been possible now.

Then nearly as soon as we got the rope coiled and our coats on, the hail stopped and the rain let up.  By the time we hit the parking lot, the sun was back out.  The carriage road was covered in downed leaves and pellets of hail and there were cool spots along the walk back where the temperature felt almost frosty.  We were glad to have a car full of dry clothes, shoes, towels, and even bedding with us (It was the last day of the trip and we’d checked out of the hostel that morning).

Definitely a rap to remember.

Bunnissima, 5.6 (Dawn)
Horseman, 5.5 (Dawn)
Classic, 5.7 (Dawn)
City Lights, 5.7 (P1: Brien, P2: Dawn)

Disneyland, 5.6 (Dawn)
I’m OK, You’re OK, 5.9 (TR)
Akiddleeativytoo, 5.7 (Brien)
New route, 5.8 (TR)
Far From the Madding Crowd, 5.8 (TR)
Live and Let Die, 5.8 (TR)
Layback, 5.5 (Dawn)

High E, 5.6 (P1: Cathy, P2 & 3: Dawn)
Madame G’s, 5.6 (Dawn)

September 14, 2010   Posted in: Gunks

One Response

  1. gunks - December 21, 2010

    The occasional bolt of lightening touching down in the valley below was saying otherwise.

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