|Type:||Trad, 1 pitch, 40'|
|Original:||YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]|
|FA:||Sarah Hayden and Lamont Smith (slim), 4/25/2010|
|Submitted By:||Kenan on Oct 15, 2014|
|Comments on Twenty Too Short||Add Comment|
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Oct 17, 2014
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Thanks for posting this route, Kenan. The name is twenty too short, and probably like most short routes in the desert the story behind, it is longer than the climbing. I had originally thought about posting it, but I figured I would wait and see if anybody else did first. Hard to believe it has been 4-1/2 years, it was put up on 4/25/10 by Sarah Hayden with me along for the ride.
In the early to mid 2000s I spent many weekends climbing in Escalante Canyon with my friend, mentor, and desert warlock Kent Pease. Kent systematically walked every wall in the canyon, climbing everything that looked like a crack, everything that almost looked like a crack, and everything you wished didnt look like a crack, because you thought you might die belaying/climbing/contemplating. During this time period, my old black lab Soma was our faithful companion on the excursions. My friends and I have many memories of Soma audibly snoring beneath a shady alcove, while rattlesnakes hummed about 10 feet away, and we dodged the constant rockfall that rained down while Kent battled upwards on some horrific OW.
In April of 2010, my wife and I met Kent and Chris Parks out there for a 3 day weekend. On the third day, I was pretty wasted. Sarah asked if she could put up an FA. I remembered a short dihedral near the Cabin Wall that would be a good contender. Our friend Stef was looking to do her first Escalante lead, and this would be a good option, particularly considering that most of the routes in the canyon have complications of some sort.
We packed up and I called to Soma in the shade, time to load up, boy. At this point in his career, he was in pretty rough shape. He had a bad shoulder and was getting dementia. He looked at me, and I could feel that he was telling me something. My heart absolutely sank.
I picked him up and got him in the truck, and we rambled down the road to the Cabin Wall. I parked, set up a little shady area for him to relax, and we made the short approach up the hill. Sarah grabbed a couple cams and up she went. I followed her up and made a comfortable seat on the ledge. She asked if she could drill, so I gave her the hammer and drill, reminding her to keep em straight and dont let the bit wallow out the hole. We put our earplugs in, and she set to work installing the anchor.
It was a beautiful day. Blue skies, colors of all sorts filling the scenery. I watched Soma as he looked up at us, overseeing our task, as he had done on so many occasions over the years. We rapped down and decided to call it a day and try to get a head start on the drive home. She could tell I was a little off, and I wanted to tell her, but I just couldnt. She held my hand as we wound through the curves on the drive out.
She asked me, Whats the littlest bullet? I want to name the route to go with all the bullet holes in the walls up there. I said, well a .22 short is pretty little. I thought about it and the wordplay sort of struck me. I felt like Somas journey with us was 20 years too short. I didnt mention this to Sarah, but she liked the name, so it stuck.
After we crossed the Gunnison River, I pulled the truck over at a little beach by the river. I told her I wanted to let Soma have a swim. I realized it would be his last time in this river. I waded out with him and noticed how much he depended on me to keep him from getting swept away by the slow current. When he was younger, he was the Marshawn Lynch of black labs. He swam so many miles of rapids next to our kayaks after work. I have never seen another dog that could swim like he could. He was an absolute beast. I had never thought of him from this fragile viewpoint.
Sarah asked what was going on. She could tell something was up.
Soma, he, he told me I stammered. I just couldnt get the words out. Tears started down her cheeks and she asked What did he tell you? I still couldnt get the words out. "He told me, it's time." She waded out and hugged me and Soma, and we just stood out in that cold water forever.
At some point, we had to begin the painful journey home. We listened to our wedding album and stopped a few times along the way to let Soma stretch his legs out. I think we bought him a hamburger in Glenwood Springs at that little burger shack. We remembered all of the fun times we had with him out in the desert and elsewhere.
I emailed Kent that night and told him about our day. He told me that he had a feeling that morning that it might be Somas last trip to Escalante. He had sent the FA of some heinous undercling arch thing up the canyon that day, and he had named it Somas last stand. He sent me some photos and a topo. It was a really great gesture on his part, and has always meant a lot to me and Sarah.
A couple days later we said goodbye to our good friend in our back yard, beneath the beautiful cherry blossoms. Hardest thing I have ever done. Long may you run old buddy. I still havent ever climbed Somas last stand, but perhaps it is time.
Oct 20, 2014
Thanks so much for that awesome story. Moved me nearly to tears. I'll update the name / FA info accordingly.
Long live Soma!
Oct 21, 2014
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
|Thanks, Kenan, and thanks for posting it.|