As climbers we all have certain routes that give us a spanking, and then get under our skin. We return to them again and again, only to be rejected time after time. Sometimes we eventually send the route/problem, other times we never do. I think it would be fun to hear a short report about YOUR vendetta climb. Here's one of mine:
The summer after my third year of college, back in the days when EBs ruled and feet paid the price, I took a Greyhound bus out to Boulder to drop in on a friend and mooch away the summer in true dirtbag fashion. Living off food stamps(don't worry, I've repaid society many times over since then) and money earned from donating plasma (did I mention I was dirtbagging?), I would hitchhike into Eldorado everyday where I was eventually welcomed as a temporary local. Sitting on the pumphouse, I would meet up with other locals and climb the days away, however, if no one was available, I would often boulder to kill time.
The king of boulder problems in Eldo was called the "Half Mile Traverse" and it girdled the base of the Bastille for a long long way; maybe not a half mile, but you get the point. Starting on the left hand extreme, I began to work the problem. Sometimes it moved down close to terra firma, other times you were 20 feet off the deck with crashpads having not even been invented. At first I would work a section until it spit me off, walk past the troublesome bit, and get back on. I continued in this fashion for days until I had connected the whole traverse with the exception of one spot, a desperately thin 80 degree slab with minimal smears for the feet and razor thin crimps for the hands. The gauntlet had been thrown.
I worked the hard spot, which came about 1/5 of the way through the traverse, every day of the summer. Sometimes first thing in the morning when I was fresh, other times in the afternoon when I was good and warmed up. My climbing progressed rapidly during the trip, I even led my first 5.10, then 5.11, but could not get through the crux of the Half Mile. I put on a big push in the days before my scheduled departure, but to no avail.
On my last day in Eldo I did the beautiful Green Spur route and descended to the hang at the pumphouse to say my goodbys. Not wanting to miss anyone, I hung around as long as possible, but the routine afternoon thunderstorms rumbled their approach, and I recognized this as my last chance at the beast.
Lacing up my shoes, I began the traverse at the extreme left end. The moves flowed effortlessly as I approached the thin slab, where the universe came together and exploded though my fingertips and non sticky EB rubber. A couple of body control moves and a stab at a pocket later, I was past my nemesis and onto the rest of the well reheased traverse, which I sent. Within ten minutes, the rains began and I was off for good.
I often retell this story to the kids that I coach at the Dover Indoor Climbing Gym when they hit a route that they think they can't get. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, but they always have fun trying.