My left arm was asleep and my face was mashed awkwardly in my pillow as I woke at 5 AM this morning for no apparent reason. Although I brushed, flossed AND rinsed, my breath still tasted of french-fries from Pickle’s Place in Arco. Idaho is a place you really have to stay a while to fully appreciate. Each weekend on our drive to The Fins we pass through the small town of Arco, ID known for being the first community in the world to be lit by nuclear energy. As you exit Arco toward The Fins to the East you pass a sign depicting a giant talking pickle inviting you in to try the “Atomic Burger”. What in this world could be a better way to celebrate a monumental send than this? I logged this information away and vowed to return.
Arriving at our camp, we had far more to look forward to than normal. Ben was making the drive to meet us for the weekend, the temps were perfect for all-day climbing and strangely enough, we had the whole crag to ourselves. Anxious to get Ben on some classics we warmed up on Yellow Man 5.11b, and EBR-1 5.11a both of which Ben got quick redpoints on. While warming up on Yellow Man I decided to work the extension to Shaken Not Stirred recently FA’ed by Jonathan Siegrist dubbed Make it a Double 5.13a. I hung at the first anchor to try and recover before setting out to hang the well spaced draws of the bouldery extension and completely surprised myself by figuring out all the moves on my first working go. This thing will be challenging to link from the ground but I am excited to get back on it and give this 100’ monster route another go!
On our last visit Robyn hung the draws on Martini 5.12a and was immediately hooked. She was able to link the first 60ft of the climb clean only to reach a thin reachy move to a gaston followed by some insecure feet and another long reach to a good pocket before the chains. This time on top rope she figured out new beta and sent the gaston crux clean and was inspired to give it a lead burn.
On day two we made the long trek to the Upper Head Wall where Ben sent a techy, thin, 5.11a that Robyn and I top-roped to warm up. From there we made our way to a super cool 5.12b called Ghost in a Shell. This route has big moves between good pockets through the first half of the route to a great rest. After the rest the heat is on through a mandatory mono and several small 2 finger pockets before pulling a bulge and reaching for the clipping jugs. On my onsight attempt I was one move shy, but was too indecisive and pitched on the last move before the jugs. DAMN! Ben made an awesome flash attempt and reached a similar spot before pitching. Ben was absolutely in-the-zone this weekend, emanating a confidence and psych that was contagious. On top of that he worked both Ghost in a Shell and Martini in short order down to one hang each. The good news for us is, with him so close to sends like these he HAS to come back before too long!
Back at the base of Martini and the Discovery Wall a tired body and growling belly turned my thoughts toward the giant green glowing pickle, and an Atomic Burger. I made a pact with Ben and Robyn, “If one of us sends our hardest climb of the year on this trip, we all go to Arco and get Atomic Burgers!”
As Robyn laced up for Martini 5.12a I could practically feel the energy radiating from the kitchen of Pickle’s Place not 20 miles away. As Robyn pulled the crux and moved to a small rest before the last hard move her legs were shaking, and her arms pumped beyond recovery. With sheer will and a couple agro girl shrieks she stuck the last big move and pulled through the underclings to a reassuring clipping stance. Ben and I erupted in hoots and hollers as she clipped the chains and secretly my stomach rejoiced. Robyn had achieved a goal many climbers aspire to. A goal she set at the beginning of the summer, and a lofty goal by any measure. It has been incredibly inspiring to watch her progress over the summer and her first 5.12 send will be one we will remember forever. Congrats Robyn on an EPIC SEND!