All progress comes at a cost. It might come as fatigue, relationships, injuries or whatever. This time the cost for me was in my toes and right hand use for a few days. Fortunately, I was not injured due to a fall or rock fall. It was just cold temperatures. I was naïve that I (my body) could handle the cold temperatures that my north facing route was going to deliver at the end of December.
So it snowed quite a bit and the ledges and cracks were covered in snow and ice. My partner Darren and I headed up hoping to make progress on the big wall. It turned out that it was COLD! I was wearing my climbing shoes with a pair of wool socks hoping to manage the cold on day one and after my first push of mixed free and aiding up the icy cracks, my feet were cold. I had to stand in over a foot of snow on the new belay and after getting the ropes fixed, hauling and ready for Darren’s lead, they were not staying warm. After Darren cruised up the next pitch and unleashed more snow and ice down the wall, they were numb.
I began to lead another pitch and it kind of felt like my toes were regaining feeling but at the end of it. They were numb and frozen. I had lost feeling.
The next day I ascended the fixed lines with hand warmers and extra socks and was not going to wear the tight climbing shoes. I knew that the only way to make sure that my toes stayed warm was to keep moving and have hand warmers and to keep moving. So as Darren took the first lead of the day I marched in place, did mini jumping jacks, and played pretend hacky sack with my aider. I kept my hands warm by clapping and organizing the rope and cleaning off loose material from the belay.
At the end of the day my right hand had become immobile. I don’t really know how that happened. It could be from the jugging, it could be from the dancing at the belay and it could be from the cold. Not really sure but I could only open it with pain. It constantly tingled was cold and maintained a steady throb. So here I am hanging at the hotel hydrating and trying to figure out how to get my hand to become useful again. Typing has been slow due to the fact that I am only using one hand. On a good not opening and closing has began to feel better and the overall pain associated with that motion has decreased. It was a tough decision not going up the wall today to attempt to move closer to the summit. Darren went up like a champ and we decided that cleaning some of the junk from the crack and placing the anchor bolts was the best decision.
So the progress we made this trip was good. But the effect will last for… who knows how long.
Until the next short Zion adventure on this big wall.