Submitted March 29, 2011

Familiar climbing route gets scary

My scariest moment came in the year 2006. I was in Europe in a town called Prunn, Germany. I was climbing with my climbing partner who was in the Army with me. We had been to this area numerous times before. There was a great crack route up the front of the rock but it was 120 feet to the top of the rock. Since our rope was not long enough to reach from the top to the ground. I made the bold decision to climb the backside route to the top free solo with the rope and gear hanging from me in order to reset anchor right above the crack. Although the backside was only about half the height of the front to the ledge where I was able to reach pretty easily, it could have ended in a very bad way. So I started to traverse the route. Remember I had been on it before so I knew the moves, for the most part. Well as I got up about 15 feet above the ledge I had pumped my arms out, I assume from over gripping. So I had to climb back down to a little more comfortable position. So I rested my arms and began again. As I crept up to about 50 feet I started to really pump out. I was one move from the top and had my legs spread across the rock to hold me in place. Well I got Elvis leg at this point and had never experienced this before. I thought my own leg was going to throw me from the rock, but as the shaking increased. I realized I was moments from dropping off the rock. At this time I remembered that there was an old piton still rammed into the crack at the top. Although it was not visible yet I knew about where it was. So I took a leap of faith to reach for it. Luckily I got it and was able to pull myself up to the top of the rock. I was so exhausted by the time I rappelled the rock and reset anchor that I only climbed the crack one time. The adrenaline had depleted all my energy. Very scary, but I will never forget it. So I guess the lesson is no matter how many times you've climbed a route there are still unexpected circumstances that you will encounter and that climbing with a rope is much more comfortable than without to a beginner at least.

- Blake Anderson

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