In 2009, I decided to finally check out a cluster of boulders/rocks that were visible from the combined NYS RT29/10A in Caroga Lake, New York. Upon initial inspection, the rock didn't seem all that promising until I made my way around the backside of the largest boulder. It was on this side of the massive glacial erratic that got my attention very quickly. This side was tall, slightly overhanging, had actual holds, and was impressive to look at. Over the next couple of weeks I returned with friends Ken Murphy, Nyle Baker, Ryan Pooler, and Eric Pooler to start working on establishing some boulder problems. In a short period of time, a handful of high quality problems were established with one really stellar traverse that started high on the right arete and finished on the left arete with some really cool movements and a big move high off of the ground. Murph claimed the first ascent on the traverse and named it Luck of the Irish (V8). I wasn't able to send the line on the day of the first ascent but returned in the same week to repeat the classic.
After putting up the stand start, Murphy began throwing himself on the difficult sit start moves and was eventually able to unlock a very stout sequence. After a handful of sessions and countless attempts, he topped out the problem from the sit start and name it Pot of Gold (V11). To my knowledge, his problem sat there unrepeated since his 2009 ascent.
In 2013, I began to invest some time in trying to unlock my own unique sit start beta because I could not even move off of the holds that Murphy had used. After a couple of sessions, I was finally able to make some upward movement by utilizing a heinous pinkie-lock with my left hand in a very thin vertical seam. The pinkie-lock was so brutal that I only got a few tries on it each session until the skin would tear off of my finger and the resulting blood would end any additional sit start attempts. After weeks of battling the pinky-lock and the difficult moves that followed the sit start sequence just to get back into the high stand start, I was able to top the boulder out but I stayed on the right arete and got the first ascent of the sit start to Conjugal Visit (V10). At that time, I was so psyched to get through the sit start and so uncertain as to whether or not I could do it again that I just wanted to finish something...and the complex traverse moves and big move finish on Pot of Gold (V11) seemed like it was way past my ability.
Fast forward two years to two weeks ago. After my successful sends on Overburdened (V11), Salamander Slayer (V11), and There Are no Salamanders in Hueco (V11), I decided that it was time again to focus on the elusive Pot of Gold problem. On my first session back on the boulder in a very long time, I was able to do the painful sit start move and had some really good links up higher on the boulder. I was even able to do the high stand start a handful of times as I rehearsed the moves to gain that all so important muscle memory. I left after that first session confident that I could send the problem. I returned the following week, on Tuesday November 10, 2015 to again test my luck on the climb. After a couple of hours in that session, I had gotten all the way to the last difficult move three separate times from the sit start before the skin on my pinkie finally tore off. That last difficult move shut me down each time due to a lack of endurance and strength so I spent the remainder of the session working on the big move with some newly refined beta and left that day confident that I could make the move even if I was fatigued with my new approach.
Yesterday I returned after over a week of taking a break from the painful pinkie-lock and was psyched to give the problem everything that I had to offer. After a thorough warm-up, my confidence quickly hit a wall when I could not do the sit start move. Attempt after attempt after attempt and I could not make the pinkie-lock stay. This went on for quite a while and eventually the back of my finger was gushing with blood yet again. I was forced to take an extended rest as I tried to stop the bleeding and think of a way to protect my pinkie. The major problem was that it I wrapped my finger with even a single layer of tape, it would no longer fit in the crack. So the solution that I came up with was a dab on super glue over the wound and then I applied a small square piece of tape over the wound and the glue that it would adhere to my skin. The new technique worked and on my first attempt after the extended rest I found myself off of the ground and moving through the next series of very familiar moves. Before long, I was right back at that final difficult big move, a decent height off of the ground and again feeling fatigued and pumped. This time however, I was confident in my new beta and ended up sticking the hard move. From there, it was a series of big moves on good holds which lead to the the top of my most memorable send to date! Pot of Gold (V11) had finally gotten its long awaited second ascent. I know that Murphy wouldn't have wanted it any other way...