(This was posted on Tom Lambert’s Site, Ergophobe.com, back when it was new. That site is not the same anymore, and the story was missing. I found it on the Interent “wayback Machine, and have ccopied it here. It was written by Tom, not me)

Warning: Your humble correspondent can only report what he witnessed, heard about, or invented out of thin air, so much of what happened will necessarily be left out.

1. Day One: The Storm

Brutus of Wyde and Nurse Ratchett made it out of the Bay Area early and nailed down two sites in Hogdon Meadows on Friday. Ergophobe and RopeGung showed up shortly thereafter, but decided to tour the Hwy 120 corridor for a while before pulling out a map and finally finding Hogdon Meadows. This was fortuitous since it gave Brutus and Nurse Ratchett time to put together a pre-Halloween dinner that couldn’t be beat, which they shared with the new arrivals. As punishment, however, Nurse Ratchett pulled out a two-liter bottle of amaretto-flavored cough syrup and made everyone drink it.

Others dribbled in over the course of the evening: Bill Folk, The Texas KiloNewton (everything’s bigger in Texas, even the KiloNewton), Chickselius, Sumo, Jens, Pat, Chris. By morning Hari Ram Dass Gurcharan Singh Khalsa Karlee Baba had showed up. Brent Ware and Andy Gale appeared at some point in the course of the day. Bill came bearing a present: he gave Chickselius her very own Talkabout, which he had found at the base of some climb. Chickselius was ecstatic: “Oh Bill, I’m so happy. That’s one less of these things up on the crags! Thank you!”

The team roused itself and was up and out of the campsite in something just under four hours, a mere hour and half of which was spent in the parking lot with people saying things like “I want to go to the Cookie. Does anyone want to come with me?” RopeGung was in an amped-up cat-herding mood and finally recruited Chickselius and Karlee to head over to Lunatic Fringe. Ergophobe recruited Jens and Bill to attempt Reed’s Left. Chris and Pat gathered Nurse Ratchett and ultimately ended up going to Knob Hill. Finally, shooting for the world heavyweight climbing title, the Texas KiloNewton and Sumo teamed up for Reed’s Direct.

Ropegung got the team out on Lunatic Fringe. Karl, ever-ready with beta, was politely told to hold his peace until disaster appeared imminent. After much pondering at the two cruxes, Ropegung claims to have smoothly and handily led the Fringe, but there is mitigating evidence as will be seen. Chickselius followed and “slipped but didn’t fall.” The Ethics Committee is still reviewing her eight-page dissertation on the ascent and going through the official rule book, the Oxford English Dictionary in hand, to determine exactly how many style points to award. A ruling on the slipped/fell distinction is expected for February 30th, 2001. As for Karl, his behavior suggests that Ropegung exaggerates how smoothly her ascent went. It was apparently so frightening and shaky that Karlee couldn’t even look and was forced to climb blindfolded and chanting Om Mani Padme Hum all along, trying to get the frightening sight out of his mind. It is rumored that blindfold and all he followed the bottom part as fast as Ropegung could belay, but some observers feel this wasn’t a true blindfolded ascent because his Third Eye was uncovered. It is also rumored that he found it wonderfully relaxing to be babysat by two hot babes, rather than being responsible for everyone’s safety and fun.

Down the cliff a bit, the heavyweight team was working it’s way up Reed’s Direct, pitch one. KiloNewton led the first pitch and loved it, but Sumo described his ascent to this reporter as “Climb a few moves, rest. Climb a few moves, rest. It was too much for me, or more precisely, it was too much crack for me”. Looking up at the steep enduro pitch above, they decided to head over toward the Fringe to TR Old 5.10 (a face climb).

Meanwhile, around the corner Ergophobe racked up for Reed’s left, wearing not only the heaviest rack of his life, but the heaviest rack he had ever seen. Brutus of Wyde had assured him that he would want two each of #4, #4.5, and #5 Camalots, as well as some Big Bros, so he didn’t dare to lighten the rack (though it was overkill in the end, one each of the cams and no Bros for future reference, perhaps 2 #4.5s). He was teamed up with Bill and Jens, both excellent climbers, well-prepared and extremely good-natured, which was good, since by days’ end Ergophobe would prove to be none of those.

For the previous couple of weekends, Ergophobe has been practicing off-widths and squeeze chimneys, some with Brutus in the Peanut Gallery yelling advice, insults and imprecations from the ground. The most important of that advice was: 1) never have anything on your harness, but rather tow your rack, belay device, etc; 2) tie in with a long knot that won’t get in your way; 3) if you can still talk, you’re not as far in as you can get; 4) and above all, “be patient”, as in: “Look at that Em! God he’s impatient! No wonder he sucks at offwidths. It’s not a face climb! Slow down!”.

Armed with this info, Ergophobe chanted, “slower, slower, slower” all the way up Reed’s Left and, in fact, that made his wide-crack climbing experience a lot more enjoyable. There wasn’t even one time when he thought he was going to throw up. Bill and Jens seemed to have a different mantra since they flew up both pitches in a quarter the time that it had taken Ergophobe, perhaps less. As the trio got to the ledge, however, the weather seemed to be deteriorating and, as icing on the cake, the #5 Camalot was stuck a few feet from the top. Since there were no rap anchors at this belay, Bill headed for the top and Ergophobe went down to work on the cam. Then the heavens let loose with rain and hail. Ergophobe made a few more wild tugs with the nut tool and then pulled on the trigger until he broke the cables, finally giving up. Unable to see with rain on his glasses, he climbed the 5.5 pitch above yelling “Keep me tight, Bill” after every move. While Ergophobe shivered uncontrollably and slipped and fell on the 3-4 inches of hail collected on the ledge, Bill looked on skeptically, worried that Ergophobe would hurt himself while sliding around. Though Bill was apparently calm and collected, Ergophobe was able to pull two snowballs worth of hail off Bill’s shoulders and out of his collar. Just to top it all off, the rope was now caught under the fixed Camalot (due to Ergophobe’s excellent ropework) and Jens had to lower himself down in the driving hail to get it out. While Ergophobe shook, cursed and looked progressively less steady, his partners seemed to be doing fine, taking all in stride and letting him go first down the rappels. Ergophobe was met at the bottom by Ropegung who literally gave him the shirt off her back, as well as Darcy from Canada, who lent him a jacket. He kissed Ropegung in gratitude and went to kiss Darcy, until Darcy made a fist and yelled: “Back off dude. Right on. Wicked” and other phrases in Canadian that Ergophobe didn’t understand.

One last pleasure to the outing, the rope got stuck and, given the conditions, had to be left behind. After warming by the fire back in camp, Ergophobe and Ropegung went back to Reed’s and had the pleasure of climbing up the corner by the rap route in sneakers (oops!), on wet rock, in the dimming light. Ropegung was treated to the full-on headlamp ascent. It was calm and quiet in the darkness though, and if not for being thrashed by the hailstorm experience, would have been one of those wonderful quiet climbing moments. In fact, it was pretty nice, but as it was, they were happy to be down and off.

That night a fire was deemed necessary by all. We heard tales of the day, stories from the life of Mister Lonely, and got to know each other, which was the point of the whole exercise. It was a lot of fun. Without exception, everyone who showed was really nice and it was a great evening around the campfire.

2. Day Two: The Sun

In the morning the entire crew descended on Pat and Jack’s Pinnacle in beautiful weather. The only exceptions were Ergophobe, who borrowed Chris and Pat’s two pound sledge and recruited KiloNewton to go back to Reed’s for gear retrieval. Reed’s Direct being occupied as usual, KilonNewton generously offered to do Reed’s Regular in order to get up to the piece. Ergophobe is a loud-mouthed pipsqueak while the KiloNewton is a giant from Texas. Reed’s involves three pitches of tunneling/spelunking and the incompatibilities of the team soon became apparent. Ergophobe walked along the bottom of the flakes, while KiloNewton wouldn’t fit. This wouldn’t have been a problem except Ergophobe went *under* some chockstones. KiloNewton had to go over them, pull a bight of rope over the chockstones, tie an eight, untie from the other end and so on. It was quite fun, though. Ultimately, it seemed impossible to get the #5 out without seriously damaging it, so in gross violation of rules against fixed gear, it was left in place.

Meanwhile, the crew descended on Pat and Jack’s. Also, Kelly Rich was sighted in the parking lot, getting ready to go up on Crimson Cringe. Ropegung and Bill were taking turns on Cherrie’s Crack, one of the nastiest 5.10cs in the Valley. Nurse Ratchett followed Ropegung, and presumably someone followed Bill, though that information was kept secret from your correspondent. Jens was also ropegunning up various short climbs thereabouts with Chickselius in tow. Sumo, Chris and Pat were meanwhile busy on Nurdle and Gilligan’s Chicken (I think). Ropegung was very happy about dynoing for a knob on a particular route and Ergophobe decided to do it too. He was followed by Kilonewton. A crowd gathered in anticipation of KilonNewton’s dyno. “I want to see big Geoff lunge” said Bill(?). “I want to see little Tom catch big Geoff” replied Jens. Ultimately, KiloNewton climbed it statically to loud jeering and hissing from the crowd. Bill ran up a variety of other climbs and I believe both he and RopeGung did Knob Job. KiloNewton tried to get Ergophobe psyched to try the Tube:

E: “No, I’m not mentally there for any more cracks.”

K: “Come on, just try it”

E: “I’m tired.”

K: “You’ve hardly done anything today.”

E: “I’d like to have my own rack.”

K: “What do you have on your rack that’s so special?”

No one knows what happened exactly, but it is said that thus badgered, his ego grew three sizes that day, and he agreed to give it a go. It went pretty well but the crux seemed thin. He finally worked up to the locker finger jam at the end of the crux and looked longingly at the rest foothold, just above his hands. Then he looked down at his last piece of gear all the way down in Whoville. And up at the rest. And down into Whoville. Everyone knows what happened that day. His ego shrunk three sizes that day: he gave up the jam to throw in a piece, pumped out doing so, but got the clip just in time to yell “Hold me tight Geoff!” KiloNewton for his part fought his way up the climb too and, though fatigued, seemed to really enjoy it. Jens finished off the day’s climbing on Skinhead, with a reluctant and tired Bill following.

It was about then that word came through that Nurse Ratchett had, in gross violation of a still-disputed rule made by a self-appointed member of the style committee, used the Talkabouts to radio down to Brutus to tell him to make burritos and rice and beans for everyone. We all headed down to another pre-Halloween dinner that couldn’t be beat. In the dark, we said our goodbyes, and drove off leaving finger jams for traffic jams with sore hands and good memories.

Dramatis Personae

Ergophobe �played by:� Tom Lambert
Ropegung �played by:� Theresa Ho
Nurse Ratchett �played by:� EM Holland who is played by Elaine Holland
Brutus of Wyde �played by:� himself
Chickselius �played by:� Identity unknown – currently in the Federal Witness Protection Program
Texas KiloNewton �played by:� Geoff Jennings
Sumo �played by:� Jeremy the Sumo Climber
Pat �played by:� Pat Caruthers (sp?)
Chris �played by:� Chris Kant….. (help?)
Jens �played by:� true identity witheld
Bill Folk �played by:� true identity witheld
Brent Ware �played by:� true identity witheld
Andy Gale �played by:� true identity witheld
Hari Ram Dass Gurcharan
Singh Khalsa Karlee Baba
�played by:� himself

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