Tristan Hechtel leading pitch two on Easter Island
“Let’s climb Easter Island,” my son Tristan suggested. “You lead the crack and I’ll lead the face pitch.”
Things had changed since last year. Instead of me leading every pitch, like I had a year ago on South Six Shooter, Tristan offered to lead the 5.10 second pitch and leave me the easier 5.8 first pitch.
This climb would not qualify for my “Fun Climbs” book either, not only because of the second pitch, but also due to rather significant rockfall. On Easter in 2002, we watched from our campsite as the large chockstone that previously bridged between the two towers fell down. About the size of a grand piano, many climbers used to sit on the chockstone to belay for the second pitch. Ironically, it fell out early Easter morning.
After hiking for 20 minutes on a good trail, we reached the base to find an obvious large crack.
“Oh, good thing that’s your lead,” Tristan laughed. Though his hands were now as big as mine, he hadn’t climbed many cracks and remained hesitant on the bigger sizes.
“Hey, maybe it’s the first mother-son ascent of Easter island!” I suggested. I thrashed up the crack, placed two BD #3 camalots and wished I’d brought a #3.5 camalot. Just where the crack got too large for my gear, I could no longer get a good jam.
I jammed my foot in, stuffed my arm in up to my elbow, and thrashed my way up. No delicate, graceful, balancing moves here! At the end of the crack, I stepped right onto an insecure sloping foothold and blindly reached for what looked like a sloping hold just out of reach. When I finally let go of my left hand hold and moved right, I found a good flake! I grabbed it and pulled my way over the bulge.
Tristan looked up at the next pitch. “That looks hard,” he commented.
“You can do it,” I encouraged him. Despite his apprehension, he fluidly moved up to clip the first bolt. He’d recently grown another few inches, weighed very little, and had strong fingers, making him a great face-climbing partner.
I followed him up to the top of our second tower, happy to sit in the warm sun again after freezing in the chilly, shaded alcove below.
“That was really fun,” Tristan said. “Let’s climb another tower tomorrow. Towers are a lot more fun than one-pitch cracks.”
We walked along the base, scoping out the climbs on Thumbelina and Sunflower Tower.
“Do you want to try Sparkling Touch?” I asked.
“Sure,” he replied. “The 5.10 face climbing was easy.”
Rappelling down from Easter Island