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Davis Sends Moab Testpiece

Steph Davis on the first female ascent and third ascent of Concepcion (ungraded, 220′), Day Canyon, near Moab, Utah, on April 6, 2008. Concepcion was established in 2003 by Dean Potter, and is the free link-up of the two-pitch aid route Acromaniac (5.10 A0). [Photo] Peter Mortimer / Sender Films

On April 6, Steph Davis made the first female ascent and third ascent of Concepcion (ungraded, 220′) in Day Canyon, near Moab, Utah. Established in 2003 by Davis’s husband, Dean Potter, Concepcion was the first free ascent and link-up of the two-pitch aid route Acromaniac (5.10 A0). Concepcion received its second ascent earlier this year by Alex Honnold (whose recent free solo of Zion’s Moonlight Buttress was reported in the April 7, 2008 NewsWire).

Davis described Concepcion as “definitely one of the most striking splitter cracks I’ve seen.” She added that it was her most technically demanding project ever–the crack is off-size for her in both the finger and offwidth sections.

A hard boulder-problem start involves long reaches to small finger locks for the first two moves; above, it slowly widens from a thin seam to offwidth. “In the final crux section of the rattly splitter I was actually falling out of the crack as I jabbed between ring locks,” Davis said. “So I just started yelling, and somehow flew back into the rock, doing move after move at maximum exhaustion, almost in a warrior trance state.”

Davis said she placed only two cams in the last 70-80 feet, which is the second pitch of the original route Acromaniac (5.10 A0).

“Since [the upper section] was that cupped hands/almost fist size in loose, steep, sandy rock (rather than sinker hand jams, which would have been safe with no gear), I decided it was worth the weight to bring two cams and run it out a little less, rather than risk a 150 footer onto the old pin anchor if something broke,” she said.

Davis on Concepcion (ungraded, 220′) in the lower section’s rattly finger locks. [Photo] Nick Rosen / Sender Films

Having successfully weathered a sprained and crushed ankle, seven stitches in her thigh, and a sprained knee due to BASE jumping and other winter activities, Davis’s training was plagued by injury. However, Davis credits BASE jumping and her lower body injuries as reasons why she was able to climb Concepcion, mainly because they pushed her into a regime of lifting weights and fingerboard training.

“This climb was really physical for me, and in the end, I needed to just get stronger to be able to let go and place gear and have the weight of that much rope out below me through the rattly fingers section,” Davis said. “So hurting my legs in random accidents was actually good.”

She added that BASE jumping made her comfortable with falling, feeling afraid and responding to fear with deliberate action instead of hesitation. “Finally getting to climb Concepcion, after being mostly benched from rock climbing all winter, made me feel so grateful,” Davis wrote in her blog. “The sudden revelation of what I have learned from BASE jumping in these months, and realizing that those lessons fit directly back into climbing, is a flip I never expected.”

Sources: Steph Davis,