I was climbing Ellie Memorial Buttress on the East face of Table Rock North Carolina, a neglected 5.10 mixed line that is currently being overtaken by lichen. It had rained earlier that morning and each piece of lichen I stepped on felt like a slimy snot booger under my climbing shoe. I had gotten through all the 5.10 moves, and was now making my way up through what seemed to be nearly unprotectable 5.7 slab moves. The lichen was getting thicker and my anxiety was increasing. I looked down to see my last piece of good pro 20ish feet below me.
I began scanning the rock for gear placements but could only find super shallow flared cracks and a few small horizontals. I placed two Metolius double-zero TCU’s in a thin crack, then linked them together with a sling, forming a magic-x I clipped my rope in. I now had something that I could surely sit on, but I still felt anxious about these two pieces catching a lead fall.
I’m 3 bolts up on this 10c “sport” line. Hanging by my left arm, I shake out my right while looking up at the next bolt. It seems so far away, but yet clearly provides a marked pathway along the otherwise bare rock face to the two rap rings 80’ off the ground. I try to remain calm, thinking, why are the bolts so spaced out? This Mountain Project “sport” route should really be listed as a mixed route, and honestly the bolt at my face is right next to a perfect 0.5 c4 placement and a sweet rest jug.
I am sure at some point in our lives all of us have either asked or answered a silly question that perhaps we didn't quite think through before it came out. Have you ever thought, "Did you really just ask that?" Or, "Did I really just ask that?" I can promise if you're that guy or gal then you are not alone. We've all been there - at least we had the courage to ask and gain knowledge. In the end I think most will agree that it is better to have asked and know, rather than to have not asked and not know. When we're in an unfamiliar situation, sometimes asking a question could mean the difference between life and death. The act of asking a question isn't stupid, but yes, sometimes the question itself could have had more thought behind it.