The Battle of Power Windows 8b/5.13d, Mount Potosi

Power Windows

The start to Power Windows (8b/5.13d), Mount Potosi

From short 6 bolt beasts to mega-long enduro roofs, Mount Potosi has some fantastic, powerful climbing. Power Windows is one of those short boulder fests made up of some awkward and spanny moves with decent holds. For 4 of the 7 bolts, you climb a series of tiered roofs. Only the start and the finish are just off vertical. Nearly every move from the start to the finish is tenuous and for me, there were distinct cruxes all the way through to the actual crux. This cliff has never been my strong suit but I looked at Power Windows a few years ago and knew it was a climb I wanted to do eventually.

Euros at Potosi

Random climbing partners enjoying a day at the cliff.
Pascal, Ronnie, Alex

For me, the entire opening sequence through to the crux was the most challenging to unlock, link and consistently repeat. I suppose the time between attempts didn’t help. Some days it seemed I had to re-learn how to do the lower moves because I’d find myself suddenly falling in the roof, or falling at this block at the mid-way point. I called these moves ‘faith-based moves’ because I could not pin point what specifically I did to stick the move that would work sometimes but seem to fail me others.

Partners thinned, conditions deteriorated, and my mental psyche started to ebb. I began to question my ability to send this route and not because I was not strong enough to do it but because of the probability of my actually making my nemesis move.


Hiroshi on Countdown to Ecstasy 7c+/5.13a

The block move, mentioned earlier, drove me crazy. 80% of the time I would fall there and I couldn’t figure out why. The hold itself is blind and the move is big. It seemed that it was possible to scrounge up a partner, have good conditions and waste my day falling on that move every single time. Temps began spiking up to 100, which meant the weather window was closing and I was disheartened but not prepared to step away. I would continue to seek out partners but I was losing the obsession.

Climbing is about fun. Climbing is my stress relief. Climbing is what I do that brings me great satisfaction from the experience. To continue to try this route if an opportunity arose, I had to change my mindset and accept that walking away was a real possibility.

The idea of leaving this project for another time was not about the lack of climbing partners or the lack of good conditions or the question of my ability to perform, but more for my sanity. If the stress of finding people to go up there, have the timing sync with good weather conditions and then make no progress on the route was getting to me, then I realized maybe it was time to step away.  After all, if I couldn’t enjoy the route, then I shouldn’t be climbing it or putting my heart into it like I was. It was time to step back and take stock, maybe this route would have to wait for another season.

Corona Arch
Fun in Utah, hanging out at Corona Arch

With this in mind, when the opportunity arose to explore some rock in Utah, I went. I rappelled this beautiful arch twice, at night. I got to hang out with 2 fun friends and had an incredible weekend that included a quick jaunt over to Rifle. After another week away from Power Windows, I had resigned myself to accept the limitations I have with that route: limited climbing partners, lack of time, weather window closing, and my 20% luck on that block move.

With a bit of effort and a lot of support from my Vegas peeps, I was able to recruit partners and get back to Potosi. The long holiday weekend afforded me an opportunity to head out there and with very little idea for what would come of it, I found myself pleasantly surprised by feeling incredibly solid on the warm ups. I actually knew this was my best, possibly last, day to go for it. Trying not to put too much pressure on myself, I worked my psyche to focus on each of my mini-cruxes until I found myself at the top!

My first go was solid, just as I had predicted based on the warmups. I stuck the block easily but hesitated into the undercling, which marks the last move in the crux. I clipped the hold too short to latch and fell. Two thoughts crossed my mind: 1) I’ve done this before on all of my hardest routes – fallen on the last notable move that makes or breaks the send of the route and then sent the route on the next go and 2) what are the chances I can stick the block, again?

Clear Light Cave

Clear Light Cave, Mount Potosi

Second go: I rest, tie in, pull the roof moves and fall throwing to the block. Dangit! I lower, pull the rope, leave my shoes on, re-tie in, wait a few minutes then get right back on the route. I’m a little more fatigued (the lower half of the route tires me out, a lot) and that means I am fighting harder for the moves. Nothing looks solid, but I stick the block and I’m psyched! The crux boulder problem doesn’t go smoothly but this time I don’t hesitate to the undercling and finally find myself with my newest high point.

Multiple times I had linked from the block to the top and had been doing that as the last burn of the day so when I found myself at this junction, I knew I could do the last section tired. While the last move is just another big Potosi throw, I had no trouble going big and snagging the finishing jug.

I was both excited and relieved when I clipped the anchors. I knew it was just a matter of time for things to come together for me, but time was running out. Now, I was finally free. Free of this route, free of Potosi partner scrounging and free to wrap up my Vegas life and migrate North to focus on new adventures. J

Thank you to everyone who supported me on and through this journey. I had a blast and will miss the good times.  Bye, bye Vegas. It’s been fun!! Until next time…



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About Audrey Sniezek

Audrey Sniezek is a rock climbing athlete and computer software/technology enthusiast.
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