I knew I had been here before, maybe years ago but the feeling was rushing through me like hot acid in my veins. All at once the familiarity combined with the fear that I was way off route and this may not have been the first time caused my knees to almost buckle. But I couldn't lose it right now, or it would be a 90 foot fall on to an 80 degree rock face with the rope only good for retrieving my body. I yelled down to Jordan that I was off route (he agreed...) and there was no way to down climb or pass through the featureless roof above me. I tried to stay calm and focus on the task at hand, I needed to get some protection in (an anchor of any kind) as soon as I could. Strangely the familiarity I felt was nagging me to look about 6 feet to the left below the wall so I gave in and leaned as far as I could. as I leaned out I began to see a piton creeping out past a small flake so I quickly and deliberately side stepped a dime sized crimp and moved within reach. It felt good to clip that sling to the pin (piton) and then clip the rope and especially for the blood to rush back into my extremities. I could now move past the simple 5.6 bulge with confidence and some classy moves. Keeping my shit together again made a potentially bad situation manageable.
At the next belay I reflected on what happened and remembered I had been off route there before when I had done this climb (East Face of Chinaman's Peak, 13 pitches 2100' face climbing) with another partner about 7 years before. Maybe that was a good thing as in the back of my head I knew there had to be a pin close by. I also thought about how far my run-outs seem to be since the plane crash and wondering if it is just confidence, the need for speed (fast is safe), or an appreciation for the risk. Not sure right now but it turned out to be an amazing climb and it was great to get back in to that vertical world where everything in my life gets put into perspective. I always appreciate that focus when I am up there and I think maybe I even need it.