Peekaboo at Table Rock – North Carolina

The climbing bible of North Carolina describes PeeKaBoo as a one move wonder and without a doubt that one move lives up to the lore. That one move was also the scene of my first climbing scare which made the dangers of climbing ‘real’ instead of ‘potentials’.

There really isn’t all that much to say about the first pitch of the line except that it is long and very exposed to the beating sun. I was unfortunate enough to climb it under a searing mid-September sun without any water. After a full 60m pitch I was out of sweat and was literally baking at the bolted hanging belay.

Soon enough though my partner seconded the route and it was time for the namesake PeeKaBoo move.

The move is a full high step into a swing around. It is 100% committing and just when I made my high step, negative thoughts seeped into my head. I scrambled to find a hand hold that wasn’t there and took my first real fall. Normally a fall on second is no big deal but on this move I can can say without a doubt that it is tremendously more dangerous on second that on lead.

When I fell I had already unclipped the pre-move bolt and because of this I took a vicious pendulum swing. Still, a pendulum fall is normally not that bad but here is the kicker, on the PeeKaBoo move you pendulum around an overhang and the rope drags across the sharp edge of the ledge. So there I was freely hanging on the far side of the a bulge, below an overhang, with a rope that just took a core shot. Yes, I said it, a core shot.

I didn’t have any prussiking gear so my only option was to swing and try to wedge myself in a body width chimney that to my great dismay had no hand holds. I must have swung for ten minutes before I managed to pull an awkward heel hook and find a sloper to hold onto dear life for. With my heart racing I stemmed my way back to the belay and desperately tried to get my head straight. All I wanted to do was to get off that face but my one and only option was to top out.

When I finally got my shit straight I stepped up to the move and found a finger pocket sent from above. I committed and made the step with my Elvis legs at full bore. Cautiously, I swung around with my finger buried in that divine pocket. At the time I wouldn’t have cared if my finger broke in a fall. I was not letting go, period.

The rest of the climb went uneventfully. I didn’t notice the scrapes and bruises I took during the fall, nor did the cotton mouth phase me. The adrenalin coursing through my veins blocked all that. I was singularly focused on getting off that rock.

I know someday I will have to lead this line but right now I am perfectly content with it being at the bottom of my must climb list.

Moral of this story: Protect your second!

4 thoughts on “Peekaboo at Table Rock – North Carolina

  1. Pingback: Recall on Maxim Ropes | OnTheSharpEnd.com

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  4. Mark

    I read this this blog, the recall, and the criticism of Maxim ropes. I think there is more to learn here than “just protect the second”.

    – the picture of the pendulum move clearly shows the the rope running over a sharp edge because the runner is too short.
    – always bring enough water. We get stupid when we are dehydrated. Mea culpa.
    – always have a free cordelette or piece of webbing to use for emergencies or tough spots. Belay escapes, prusiking, assisted rappels.
    – whenever there is potential for a pendulum, there is a real risk of shredding a rope. This is not the rope’s fault. It is the user’s fault.
    -As mentioned before protect the second, break up the route into another pitch, use two ropes. Or if your leader made a mistake by failing to protect you, bail if you can. There are options.

    Bottom line, if there is a pendulum, you better protect the hell out of the second. No rope can save you from that hazard. If you can’t, call it a day and bail.

    I have used maxim ropes since 1995, and I like them. I feel completely safe on them. I have owned the exact rope in the pictures. I am on my third one. Yeah they are a bit kinky at first but uncoil them correctly and stack them 2-3 times they are fine based on my experience.

    Every company has recalls. No one is perfect. I am surprised by the response because that is not my experience with them.

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