My idea was to climb thirty-three 5.10 sport routes at Rumney in 24 hours. On El Cap, The Nose traditionally has 31 pitches and The Salathe has 35. So 33 seems a nice number. I thought thirty-three 5.10 sport climbs might be possible. I called my friend Adam and put forward the idea. He had the weekend free, just before heading off to Colorado for a week of cragging. So we drove up from Boston fairly early Saturday morning, and pitched our tent amid the gaggle of tents in the field across the road from the crag. As it happened, the weather was absolutely the best. Dry conditions the weeks before had left all the Rumney crags in perfect shape, and the weekend itself could not have had better temps or lower humidity.
We decided that we would both free climb every route, the first climber leaving the draws in place for the second one, but pulling the rope so that all the ascents by both climbers would be led. If the first climber fell on a route they would lower to the ground and the second climber would go at it. We led the routes in blocks, the numbers defined by the quantity of 5.10s on each crag. This looked to be a kind of cool endurance/stamina game and I was psyched to go at it. On the drive up, Adam seemed less committed to the idea as he wanted to conserve for his upcoming trip, making comments like “well, maybe twenty but I’m game to support you in this project”. As it turned out, we were having so much fun that he progressively got just as psyched as I was, and we just kind of went at it.
On Saturday morning (9/16/12) we hiked up to the Jimmy Cliff and I started the game with the route Lonesome Dove 10a at 9:15am. Setting the standard operating procedure, we went right to left across the six 5.10s located on that crag 10a, 10d, 10d, 10b, 10b/c, and 10a. Although we seemed to be climbing thoughtfully and with patient focus, and even though some feelings of worry over how well we would hold up for a day of this reared their head, this group was sent very fast and we felt relaxed and well warmed up as we hiked up to the Crow’s Nest- the highest crag on the hill.
Adam took over and led four routes 10b, 10b/c, 10c, 10a, plus a bonus route 9+ that he had never done before and that is harder than some of the 5.10s we did. The 10c is the route Crow’s Nest and has some of the best movements of its grade at Rumney- really fun. It was beautiful up there- only one pair of climbers shared the crag with us - a French Canadian couple- and we chatted, had some snacks, and generally enjoyed the beautiful moment and place.
We hand-over-handed down the fixed rope to the crag called the Hinterlands and I led again, going right to left starting with Tang-10d, and continuing with 10a, 10c, 10a, and finishing, as the sun went down in a luminous display of golden fire at the long cruiser lines of Dolt and Jolt, both called 10a. On the 10c- our 13th route, I fell at the crux, after much wasteful effort trying to stuff myself into its scrunchy mid crux section- but Adam tied in and had no problems with the route or that section, sending with a neat froggy movement. At this point, seventeen routes were in the bag, one of them 5.9+.
By headlamp, we hiked down through the woods, walked back to the tent, jumped into the car, and drove in to Plymouth where we chowed down at the Salty Dog on combo meat dinners washed down with a couple of glasses of wine. By 10:30 we were back at the tent, crashed and slept until 5:00am. In the middle of the night, a screech owl let loose with an outrageous fusillade that woke up all the climbers in the field and just about gave me a heart attack.
I woke up at 5:00am. We got ourselves together and hiked up to the left end of the Main Cliff. It was obvious at this time that we would not complete the thirty three. After some discussion we decided to see how long it would take us to get to twenty five.
Adam started the morning session by dispatching our warm-up 10a by headlamp, then sashayed with rhythm up Armed & Dangerous 10b and Underdog, 10a. On Goldbug 10d, he accidentally z-clipped and snagged himself right at the moment of trying to sort out the crimpy technical slab crux- as a result, he took a pretty good winger. So this gave me the opportunity to clean this route up, as he had done previously for me.
Down to the Meadows, I went back to it, and just squeaked out the thuggy No Money Down, 10c. At this point we were starting to enter into a little bit of a different mental zone. While belaying, the fatigue would come on and we would get silent and spacey, yet while climbing and upon completing a route we would be all jazzed and chatty- it was weird. We climbed the Rhino route 10a, and then walked over to the Parking Lot Wall. I gave the lead to Adam and we both did a route that we then realized was not the 10b we thought, but the 5.8 to it’s right. So Adam led the 10b neighbor we had come for. I went at it and although was still climbing well and precisely, I ended up getting lured to the right just beyond the crux and could not figure out how to get back to a stance left of the clip- after some considerable effort, I gassed out and grabbed the draw, then clipped and finished the route.
That was it. In 26 hours- but only 15 climbing hours- we did twenty-five routes: 23 @ 5.10 and one 5.9 and one 5.8. So I guess that was more like a Half Dome day. A Rumney challenge like this has more to do with dealing with multiple episodes of power based cruxiness than you would find on pure endurance routes. In some ways this challenge is more suited to a boulderer than a route climber.
I’m sure way more than what we did is possible for any climber who is reasonably fit and experienced. Have at it!