Last weekend on our first trip to Rifle, we went over to check out the “Project wall”. A large overhanging sector hosting numerous hard routes. To the right of the wall there is an orange face which is divided by a beautiful grey streak. A route called The eighth day comes out of an overhang to the right, traverses on to the grey streak and follows it to the top of the wall. 45 meters of perfect limestone. Immediately when I saw it I thought, “thats a climb I would love to do before moving on from here”. At that time not knowing what it was, I turned to the person closest to me and asked – “I haven’t climbed it my self, but people say it’s a real adventure” said Jen, as in Jen and Andrew Bisharat who was kind enough to host us at their home while we where in Rifle.
I started trying The eighth day this past Saturday, a week after having spotted it and with only two more days to climb in Rifle this trip. I would have liked to do some more milage before getting on such a long route, but with the amount of time we had left before moving on west, I had no choice if I wanted to give myself a proper shot at doing it. So I spent that afternoon hangdogging it a couple of times and also gave it one burn from the ground. But after working the route I was totally emptied out, or “helt blank” as my travelling partner Said would have said. I did not even pass the lower crux.
After a good night sleep I returned on Sunday morning. Along with doing a couple of easier routes, I warmed up by dogging the route past the upper crux once more. I felt much better than the day before, but still doubted I would be able to keep it together all the way. Half an hour later it was time for my first real readpoint attempt. I passed the lower crux which I had thought of as perhaps being the main obstacle for me. Standing at the rest after having climbed out the overhang and traversed on to the streak, the nervousity I felt all morning was blown away. As I set off, laybacking my way towards the upper crux, I enjoyed every move. Without really thinking about it, I found myself at the rest past the crux. However, the route was not finished there. I still had another 15 meters of climbing a head of me, which I had only done once yesterday and by now forgotten how to climb, putting all my focus on the moves leading up to there. It’s such a different experience to climb routes that are this long compared to bouldering which I’ve been mostly doing in the past. Physically off course, but mentally as well. To become better at it I have to practice my abilities to switch between relaxing at resting points and moving without hesitating.
Said has an admireable approach towards climbing. One that you don’t see very often and that I believe many climbers could learn from. My main goal on the rest of this trip is to work on my attitude to why I go climbing and what is important. I think one of the reasons why I made it to the anchors of The Eighth day are some of the talks Said and I had in the past days. I owe him for that, as well as for his patience with me while trying this route. Thank’s buddy, on to the next one(s)!