LA in Dire Straits. Big Sur, CA xxxx BETH WALD


Years ago I was drawn to an imposing traverse - over water. It sported a long easy approach followed by 4 distinct and powerful cruxes: a blind reach around a corner, an off-balance layback, an upward stab at an under-cling pinch and a very delicate downward "dead point" onto smears. The final move was a distant stem to an opposing friction hold - which if not done in perfect balance would pitch me over backwards. I named this affair Dire Straits because once you’re “in it” you’re committed with very little chance of retreat.

The setting is very Zen with a creek flowing against and below the traverse and then out to sea. The problem was very powerful and exacting and every time I slipped off I went into the creek soaking at least my shoes… sometimes much more. I remember huffing like a locomotiive, grunting with each crux and many, many failures. For months at a time I had an impressive collection of wet shoes outside my door - slowly drying in the sun. The driest pair was the one chosen for the next lesson.

I had become obsessed - day dreaming about the moves and trying to choreograph exactly what the full traverse would demand. However the months of punishment, torn skin and splash-downs were constant reminders of every attempt and the reality that I was student and the rock was my teacher. I was slowly learning and getting stronger but still had an apprenticeship to fulfill… and a seemingly impossible sequence to master.

Then some mysterious force drew me back to the creek….and the overhaang. The sun was shining. The air was still. I was alone, focused on the mission. I don't really remember much else, except that I soon found myself at the other end of the traverse… the other end of the rainbow. Like a Tai Chi dance that I had rehearsed in my head a thousand times, it was performed with one long continuous rhythmic motion.

I could now relax, breathe in the cool ocean air, feel the warmth of the sun and hear the rumble of rocks in the creek.

Larry Arthur
Carmel, CA
© 2013

BIG SUR BOULDERING - 8.9 Garrapata Creek Area
(park in the dirt strip n. of the Stone House) Follow marked trail to stairs and the beach, turn left to climbs. Fantastic sand landings below most problems. Bring a towel or launch pad. Diablo Sandstone is same as Mickey's Beach, Mt. Diablo and Castle Rock with crimpy plates, friction and the occasional pocket or big knob. Some climbs traverse over water which adds to the adventure! Tides and Creek discharge affect conditions - strategic planning and persistence are required to bag some of these routes
Estuary (north side)
Approach to Dire Straits BS7-8, Traverse north side of lagoon on positive holds. Mostly over water with occasional rest spots. Good training in your Five Tennies. Remember you'll have to reverse the traverse or climb...



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