530am. Alarm goes off. It's dark outside. I slowly rolled out of bed, my eyes tired from a restless night's sleep. I dreamed many dreams, but overall I felt an odd feeling foreshadowing the day to come. I was excited though! Ryan hadn't done much trad climbing. In fact he had just learned a few days before on some single pitch, and a short multi-pitch. This would be a decent day. Black Orpheus, while not difficult at 10a, was 11 pitches and over 1,000 feet of climbing. The decent worried me most, with it's long decent on slabs, into a riverbed, and from there an hour back to the car. The weather predicted 10% chance of rain around 3pm, so I wasn't too worried. And besides, what could go wrong with such a beautiful sunrise to greet us?
We cruised the hour long hike, and finally found our way to the base of the climb. We took our time, enjoyed some tea and a granola bar, and off we went. Ryan climbed so well, being his third day placing gear, which in turn helped us stay on schedule. I led the eleventh pitch, and made my way up an intimidating 5.6 layback, up right clipping a few bolts, back left with no protection for 40 feet, then around a corner .. with terrible rope drag. As I topped out, it started to rain a bit, and I shouted down to Ryan, hoping he could hear me 240 feet below. When Ryan reached me, it started to pour buckets of rain, and we were soaked within minutes. Plus, the wind had blown us off our feet on multiple occasions. Rain and rock don't mix well, but we cautiously made our way to the rappel stations. I forgot to mention I'd only worn a thin pair of leggings, a tank top, and a puffy, all of which rendered useless when drenched. Soon, I was shivering, climbing shoes soaked, rope soaked, everything wet, the wind chill making the temps feel near freezing. Ryan packed an extra wool layer in his pack, which ended up saving me from near hypothermia. Ha, I remember insisting that he not bring a backpack, because they can be silly and bulky, but he wanted to carry some extra things. Thank goodness.
Once we arrived at the base of the three rappels, we looked out onto the thousand foot slab decent we had to cross. Imagine a steep rock face, one that can easily be descended during the day, now covered in a sea of waterfalls. Those waterfalls suddenly filled every step, and every place we could put our hands. I tried to keep my cool, but things started to look grim. I was worried one of us would slip and continue to fall hundreds of feet to the base of the cliff. Or we would become hypothermic, or trip and break a leg or an arm. But, Ryan was patient, helpful, encouraging, and I felt a bit better about the outcome. Whatever it would be.
Somehow, we made it to the base of the cliff. It was dark now, and we had one good headlamp. Soaked, we slowly made our way back to the car, still about 90 minutes away. It felt endless, and we were exhausted. The amount of boulders we had to meander through seemed to never end. Then, suddenly, I heard a splash and an "Oh F***!!!!!!! What the F***!!!" I looked over and Ryan was neck-deep in a pool of water. He thought he was jumping onto the ground (it looked like the ground). He was completely drenched, phone-in-pocket, colder than ever. Haha, we were a huge mess. Soon, we see 5 rescue guys hiking towards us, asking if we were Daniel. Then, we look up toward the Solar Slab gully and see a headlamp about half way up (600ft). We weren't the only ones to have an epic adventure that day.