The Bethel Crag
by Josh Hurst / Photos by Eric Eisele and Ian Austin
Finally got the job done! Super psyched! We called it Silent Spring, M12
The real praise goes to Ian who was a patient driver and belayer for the 4 days of redpoint attempts and 3 days needed to equip the route. He never bitched once about the 3 mile approach, would never let me break trail and was always full of encouragement.
Training all fall and winter paid off- just in time! Silent Spring feels harder than the current routes in the Cathedral Cave and is way more powerful. It’s a combination of precise, technical feet and super burly power. I was tearing muscle every time I tried it and could only take 2 tries per day before being totally wiped-out. I would then hurt for the next 2 days. A week after sending it my obliques and lats still hurt. I’ve learned that you don’t just train for strength, but mentally for the pain associated with a pitch like this. The route is 110′ long and overhangs 45′. It’s 14 bolts, 1 cam and a screw. The ice was getting beaten by the sun so I dropped a rope with a draw on it to protect the ice.
Silent Spring starts on a thin slab to a stance where you look out horizontally past 8 draws hanging above the valley. You torque out a flake system to the lip, the crux, where your feet lead above you. Once around the lip it’s M8 to the hanger, characterized by big moves on an overhanging wall. My first go the day I sent I got the crux move for the first time and then dropped my tool- it took a 250′ fall into the trees. Ian rapped down to get it while I took a rest. Ice was crashing down around us and I knew that this was the last burn of the season no matter what. When Ian returned, tool in hand, I turned it on and got the job done! The funny thing was one of my front points was really loose so I couldn’t get the needed heel toe rest after the crux so was left to improvise the M8 moves, then ‘rested’ my way up the final 30′ of M7 to the top. Usually the ice is the easy part but even it overhung 2′! The whole time I was thinking about Jim Ewing’s advise on how to get up hard routes- ‘JUST DON’T LET GO!’ YeeHaa!!!