One of the most exciting prospects of moving home to Hailey was the ability to head back to The Fins with regularity; a short 1.5 hour drive gets us from our door to the lower campsite. The Fins represent more than a place to recreate. It’s a place to challenge ourselves mentally and physically. It serves as motivation to eat healthy and to train hard. Why? Simply put, you will get your ass handed to you there if you don’t. This is exactly what happened on a return trip in late summer, after several weeks off from climbing. Pumped, flustered and battling a flare-up of tendinitis in my right elbow, I lowered to the ground feeling deflated.
Eager to follow up on last seasons training and sending, we got to the Fins early. Maybe a bit too early, as we sat out a few late spring snowstorms and pushed through numbing conditions. All the while trying (and occasionally succeeding) to climb at our limit. At one point Robyn and I spent 7 of 8 weekends in a row at The Fins including 6 straight. The hard work paid off and we quickly hit our stride sending new routes and re-visiting old classics. Robyn found herself engaged in a great new route that Tom put up on the Jet A Wall called “bees? BEES!!!” (5.11b). This technical face climbs a variety of interesting sequences to a thin spot near 3/4 height. Here, Robyn added a few thin moves to navigate the reachy crux and eventually hung on tight to fight the pump to the anchor. She also put time in on another new Jet A route called “Mr. Long Arm” (5.12c). As the name suggests, it’s got some reachy moves near the top and the send on this route will have to wait for a new sequence and a new season. I set my sights on re-establishing myself at the 5.13 grade by attempting some of the new 5.12+/5.13- additions to the crag including: “Hapacholo” (5.12d/13a), “Gulag Dance Party” (5.12c/d), “The Thunder Rolls” (5.13a), “Outnumbered but Not Outgunned” (5.13a) and “Viva Mantequilla!” (5.13b). With these successes, I was encouraged to up the anti a bit and ended my Fins season with a send of “Yellow Brick Road” (5.13c).
Our Fins season was much different then than those in the past. There is a new guidebook, tons of new faces and dozens of new routes and even a new crag! With that comes pressure, less solitude and a bigger responsibility to protect a fragile and finite resource. As mid-summer arrived our annual trip to Ten Sleep was detoured to Wild Iris due to fire. Returning home Robyn and I hung up the shoes for a what we intended to be a short break but turned into a shift into other adventures for the remainder of the season. I’m thinking that this schedule will be a bit more of the norm for us from here on out. Climb hard in the spring; hike, fish, climb mountains and mountain bike in the late summer and fall; ski in the winter, repeat. Despite being sorely out of shape for climbing I can’t help but get that twinge in my stomach, pulling me back to the Fins. Inviting me back to test my mettle. For now, i’ll push that feeling down and wax my skis, but in just a few short weeks it’ll bubble up again, just in time to train for spring.