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.
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!