Jason met me at Castle Junction at 6am.
I hadn’t been to the Headwall yet this season, and as always, was horrified at the idea that I’d just volunteered for it again. Today, we were looking to climb Suffer Machine, which (like everything on the Headwall) is visually compelling. Jason’s headlamp malfunctioned on the approach, but we’re still gifted with the easiest Headwall approach I’ve ever done. It’s the most donkey.ish track I’ve ever followed in there.
Jason saddled up for the first pitch (M7), and was well on his way to the send, when he popped off above the crux. Unfortunately for both of us, he dropped a tool during the fall, and came down to retrieve it.
Let the yo-yos begin. I racked up and headed out.
Being a fairly shameless individual, I took Jason’s toprope as far as it went. The remainder of the pitch was scratchy and not simple to read. No showstopper moves on there, though. I reached the lower angle section of the wall, and belayed Jason from there. He then went on up the second pitch and took us around the corner on some real tenuous maneuvers to reach the ice.
Seconding the pitch, I had many moments of ‘Oh I’m so fucking glad YOU led this!’. As it was our first outing, Jason has yet to learn the difference between the grunt that means ‘ohshitshitshit’ and the grunt that means ‘found it!!’ He’ll get there. It’s a difficult distinction at first.
The next two pitches are straight up ice, and I thought the final portion was honest at WI5. The last pitch was exhausting and over 70m long. Just went on forever..
We were on the ground shortly before dark, and walking out along the donkey trail safely and in reasonable time. A great route, with a really great new partner. Not a bad last hurrah.
I also thought it was apt that my final route before returning to work was called Suffer Machine.