| Petit Grepon - South Face (5.8+) For Kevin
This one's for Kevin.
I kept on saying that before my trip on Saturday. When I heard about his accident I was broken. I had never had a good friend and climbing partner die. I had my doubts about climbing again. But I knew Kevin would never want me to stop and that kept me going. Even after the Maroon Bells accident with Kevin, I stopped climbing for a week or two. The growing passion never went away it seemed. Climbing is both a blast, and a stress reliever for me. I got questioned by family why I'm going up after this. I reply simply with,"God has called me to." I really believe that. In the matter of fact much of my family and relatives don't understand me and climbing. They think it's to risky of a sport and "suicidal." They hope everyday it seems for me to stop doing it. But it's something I will never give up.
While planning this alpine rock trip I had Kevin in my mind. He was such a great friend. It's been a very hard time going through this. Sometimes I'm fine but other times I break down crying knowing I will never see him again. I probably will never get why he died on Little Bear. Why we made it through the Bells? I don't know. I do know our video has made a huge impact around the nation! I believe it is my calling now to continue giving presentations with the video. God know's though. He had it happened for a good reason. So many people have been touched by his life. Kevin wanted to leave a legacy and he sure did.
The Petit Grepon is a climb I have wanted to do for a very long time. Whoever has climbed with me before knows that I love the technical alpine climbing. Whether it's ice/mixed climbing or simply rock climbing. I challenge myself everytime I go out and I see progress everytime. Many of you think my dream is crazy and you probably won't believe that I can do it until I summit the first one. I know this and it does not bother me because it gives me more determination. I will continue to just keep climbing. Climbing for Christ is my passion. He is the one that gave me this life by sacrificing his life for my sin.
I called a climbing partner of mine, Danny, and asked him if he was interested and yes he was! He had just got done climbing a 5.11d trad route in Eldo and was phsyched. We decided to go camp there. Of course with my bad last minute time management we didn't leave Boulder until 11. That put us at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead at about 1. We got our packs together. Danny brought a steak I was eyeing out! I could not wait to hit the campsite! We hiked with our 60 pound packs for 4 miles. We spotted a campsite near tree line and put the tent up. Danny started up the stove or wait, the gas had leaked out. We were very sad. So we tried starting a fire but lucky me, I forgot all the fire starting stuff at home. So right when the sun came up, we gave up and ate some cold food and then to bed.
I have read on countless websites to never go on this climb on the weekend because you will be waiting more than any Eldo climb. It made me think that it would be twice as worse as the Bastile Crack in Eldo. Yikes! I wanted to start the climb at dawn but sleep was more important. I overslept the alarm and woke up at about 9. I was freaking out. We got all the ropes and gear together and headed up. After about a mile we finally got to the climb. This thing was huge. I pointed to it and said,"Were climbing this?" Yup we were. The summit looked tiny. I was excited. Plus, there were only two parties on the route.
We geared up pretty fast and I started leading the first pitch. It was easy fifth class with exposure. I got to the top of the pitch and set up an anchor to belay Danny up. He came up but started getting mad about this pack we had to carry to the top. It had all our rain gear, food, water, Kevin's Memorial, and an extra 60m rope for the 6 rappels. It sucked carrying it on all the chimney pitches.
This climb is about 8 pitches with 1,000ft. of rock climbing. It was 5.8-5.9- in the old school rating. Danny lead the next pitch which was a 5.7 chimney. He got up and screamed for joy once at the anchor. This was my idea of a great day out. I followed but starting getting mad at this pack because chimney climbing was not as easy. On top of that to get to the belay, I had to climb a few feet of an off width crack. I thought it was impossible but I did it.
Then I offered to lead the next pitch which was a 5.8. It was such a fun lead. It threw everything at you. Not only that, but the nut placements were all bomber. I stretched it out a little out onto the next pitch and set up a belay to belay Danny up. I looked at the next pitch while belaying and really wanted to lead it. Danny came up soon enough and joined me. I told him I was going to lead the next pitch but that would mean I would not get to lead the crux pitch which was a bit sad. This pitch proved to be the second best lead for me on the route. The exposure was unreal. There was 600 vertical feet below your feet. The moves were all fun. I think this pitch went at 5.7 or 5.8. When I set up an anchor I looked out and there were clouds starting to form. All part of the alpine game. I screamed,"On Belay!" and Danny started up.
I stared up at the crux pitch and was thinking how I could bribe Danny to let me lead it but I had just lead a few pitches in a row and let him have the lead. We chose the direct 5.9 variation which had scant pro. The crux was vertical to a little overhanging but not too bad if you did the right moves.
When I reached the belay with this enormous pack on my back I got it off and clipped it onto the anchor. Three more pitches to the top now. The clouds were blowing east and past us. I thought to myself were going to do this. I have talked to a couple friends who have done this route and they always get rained off. I felt privileged and thanked God for the weather. Danny gave me the next lead on pitch 6 now. I knew these two pitches were quite run out. That's what I read. And it was suppose to be only 5.7 but route finding was quite hard! I starting leading it and it sure was the mental crux. I'm not a fan of run outs but there was no choice. I kept on going and focused very hard but soon I yelled slack! And noticed the rope drag was bad. I was placing pieces wherever I could find them. Even after extending all of them there was rope drag. I yelled and told Danny I was going to set up a belay because I was not going to run it out with it feeling like someone is pulling me down. I soon found a spot for a hanging belay which was not comfortable at all. I belayed Danny up and gave him the next lead. He lead this pitch very well taking the hard variations. I followed with this heavy pack and climbed a couple of the 5.10 cracks he lead up and soon joined him on the ridge.
I was in awe. A 1,000 feet or more of vertical exposure on each side.
I then looked at the last pitch was the best pitch I have ever lead flat out.
You walked on almost a knife edge for a couple hundred feet to reach the summit headwall which went at 5.6-5.7. Pretty easy but the exposure was everywhere. I looked back at Danny after placing a nut. A huge smile was on his face. Looking back at him almost looked like a picture you see in the Himalayas. Right when I stepped on the summit, I thought of Kevin. This summit was only the size of a office desk. I spotted the start of the bolted rappels and belayed Danny up. We both took our turns for the summit picture.
He himself did a handstand and I took a beautiful panorama of it.
I placed a note with a picture of Kevin on the summit. I sat and looked out in the distant about how much I miss him. A tear ran down my face. I got my summit pictures taken and we were ready to get down. The sun was starting to disappear and we wanted to be off by the time it was. It took 6 200ft. rappels and we were off. It was not that easy though spotting the bolts. You really had to look for them. I felt like I was searching for Waldo. We got down and got to our campsite by dark.
The descent was not that fun. After 4 miles we finally reached the truck. It was about 11. I got home in a rush and was very tired. I slept that night but then realized I had to get up that next morning to teach Michael and Jeff glacier travel/crevasse rescue for our trip.
Many of us will always miss Kevin. He will always be on my mind. He inspired me to be a man of God. He was an amazing friend. Through this whole thing I have learned to trust God and draw near to him. It has truly helped me. It will no doubt still be a struggle. It's more for my selfish reasons though. He is in a better place now and I just want him to be on Earth.
In Loving Memory of Kevin Andrew Hayne