It’s Okay to Bail!
You’re all geared up with everything you need to climb, ski, hike, ride, or make a trip to the mailbox. You’ve made the 9 hour drive to send that route, camped in places that would give a Goosebumps book goosebumps, and then something happens. It could be one big issue, like an avalanche warning, a pack of feral weasels, or a bunch of small stuff that adds up to turn your outing into a disaster. This is why at OMG we recommend that you’re prepared with the right gear and the right frame of mind to bail.
The other day we drove from Denver to Shelf Road for some sport climbing. We left the night before, with all of our gear fully prepped (including the rad new OMG Beanie!!) and set up camp in the dark. Our stoke was so high, that the dog, who usually hates camping and prefers couches, was even excited to be there. I had this idea of trying to get in ten routes before the sun went down the following day, which may have been overzealous to begin with, but hey, pushing it is what it’s all about.
In the morning we found a “classic” 5.9 to warm up on. About halfway up, though some tough laybacking and bolts that seemed miles away, I realized the true meaning of the word “classic.” At the anchors I was completely pumped, thus negating the whole idea of warming up. On the ground, spirits tattered, we took a long break and decided to find a .10 face-climb. No more awkward jams and cracks! The first bolt looked pretty high, but the jugs were good, so I went for it. “Take!” It started to feel hard all of a sudden. A bit baffled, I continued upward, encountering slopey cimps and mono-pockets. This doesn’t feel like 5.10. “Can you check the guidebook?” I shouted toward the belayer. It was indeed the correct route, so I kept moving, but feeling really crappy about the climbing. Finally at a roof that looked damn near impossible I pulled out my oldest looking biners and bailed. Our stoke had withered and Shelf had fully kicked our asses in two routes.
Later, upon diving into the depths of Mountain Project, I found out that the routes were mislabeled in the guidebook and that route we bailed from was several grades harder than 5.10. That alone made us feel a little better, but the whole experience brought me back to earth in regards to how good I think I am.
Bailing is okay, and even necessary sometimes, but it’s never fun to feel like a wimp. Those bolts will still be there the next time we venture southbound, but I can say for sure that I’ll be approaching the route in a different frame of mind. We’d all like to be Lynn Hill, Royal Robbins, Tommy Caldwell, Catherine Destivielle, or dare I say it, Honnold, all the time. The problem is, we’re all human and forget that our heroes are too. Sometimes we need to follow the dog’s lead and curl up on the couch for a while. No matter what adventure you’ve had to bail from, you’re still an OMG hero in our eyes. Outbound Mountain Gear is cutting edge and badass for the toughest of outdoor situations, but remember, we make koozies too.