Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Birdland 5.8

A Gunks local dropped by the gym one day.  Leo asked him about a stellar route that was off the usual tract.  Before Leo had the question out of his mouth, he said Birdland.  It had a different quality to it than most Gunks climbs.  It was slabby, a little thin and...a sport route!  Well let me qualify that, a Gunks sport route.  Back in the day, pitons were used freely for protecting routes.  On frequently travelled routes, the pitons were just left in place.  Here there were 6 pitons protecting about 100 feet of climbing.  Leo had certain trust issues with the pitons, he had everyone of them backed up. 
We were just packing up were this older thin wiry guy arrived and began getting ready to climb, but he didn't have a partner.  We started chatting and I asked him what he was going to climb out of curiosity.  He said he was going to free solo Farewell to Arms (5.9) to get to the anchors of two other routes, both mid 5.11's, and do 10 laps on each (top rope solo).  I wished him luck and we left.  Leo and I figured he must have been blowing smoke.
Back at the hotel room, Leo was flipping through my new "Gunks Guide" and there was a page on this fella, Mike Sciacca.  He was a Gunks regular and would frequently do 10 to 20 laps on Gunks test pieces.  He is well known for delivering amazing beta.  He had talked a newbie through a 5.10!

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