Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Jules Verne

This morning at 6 a.m. I met Stefan in Eldo and we went and did the lower half of Jules Verne, just to the Upper Ramp. The first pitch of Jules Verne is really good, but it requires you to do the crux of T2 (5.11b/c) and this is a super burly sequence of moves that always stymies me.

Stefan onsighted the crux of T2 with aplomb. All the deadpoint points, he does casually by locking off with one arm. He then led a runout section, but it was only 5.7/8, though he was looking at a ground fall. Next is a cool, rising traversing section where you uncling along this mini-roof that is about 10 inches deep. He thought this section was 5.9, but it seemed more like 5.10- to me.

The final difficulties are surmounting this bulge, protected by a fat bolt. This section is rated 10c, Stefan thinks. I found this to be feel pretty reasonable and didn't think it was any harder than the traverse to get to it.

But the bottom section is different. This is just brutal. It is so overhanging. It starts with a couple of positive holds, but you have to pull up and pretty much hang from them, with your feet tucked way underneath you. Then a big move to this edge, which isn't that good. Now you have to do some foot shenanigans and it might be best to heel hook the right foot on a big hold to the right. Now the left foot is completely dangling and you have to match on the edge. This is the hardest move on the pitch. But the next hardest move is immediately following where you have to much a huge reach up to this flake that you grab in a lieback/undercling fashion. If you get high enough on this flake, you can pull up nicely and reach even bigger holds. If you don't get it good, you're off.

I fell off once trying to get the match and had to be lowered to the ground to try again. The next time I made the match and the reach to the flake. Now I was at the single piece of protection, a drilled pin. Stefan was able to clip this before making the next move, which is the 3rd hardest move. He grabs a small hold, then moves his feet way right and then reaches through with his left hand. I can't hold that tiny hold and I have to bump my right hand up to a better hold after moving my feet to the right. Once this is done, you're on easy ground and can shake out. I fell off once doing this move as well.

I followed the rest of the pitch clean, but found the traverse challenging with some big reaches. I led the beautiful second pitch all strung it all the way to the Upper Ramp and I belayed at the base of the Naked Edge. Stefan followed and we did three single rope rappels back to the base.

We TRed the start a few times. I got it clean from the ground once, but then couldn't do it again. It is so burly! I'm too weak and too heavy, but Stefan makes this thing look like 5.8...

That was enough humility for one morning. Great, fun climbing.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Two fast trips up the Bastille

I climbed with Ben Hoyt this morning after a long run. We simul-climbed two laps on the Bastille. One up Werk Supp/Bastille Crack and the other up Bastille Crack/Outer Space. Details are here: trip report.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

More Wind Tower. This time with Tony

Last night at 9:30 p.m. Sheri said she was working at home and I could do something in the morning if I wanted. I was sitting at my computer and five minutes later I get an email from Tony Bubb about climbing tomorrow afternoon. I responded asking if he wanted to climb in the morning. He did.

We met at 6 a.m. and it was the same weather as yesterday. Very windy and 50 degrees so pretty unpleasant if in the wind and the shade at the same time. This wind seems to stop a bit after 7 a.m. We headed down to King's X again since I knew it was sheltered and I knew I needed to lead it. Tony mentioned a route called Futile Laments that breaks left after the first crux of King's X. This route was rated 5.9 and I viewed it as a possible bailout.

I tied in and led up to the crux move. I backed up the pin with a small Alien and shook out a bit, psyching up. I then proceeded to botch the sequence, wimped out, and called for Tony to take. I neglected to switch my right hand from the horn-jug hold ot the undercling immediately above it. The second try I got it right and completed the move.

Since I'd already blown the redpoint, I took the opportunity to wimp out further and explore a new route. I traversed over to the traditional first belay of King's X and then continued up and left into a cool dihedral and up to an intimidating roof with a hand crack in it. This is Futile Laments. I really enjoyed the stemming up to the roof and after locating the pin that was hidden behind my back, I got up to the roof itself. I jammed in a #2 Camalot and didn't even have to jam the roof at all. In fact, the crack is only about two feet long. I could just stem up high enough until I could reach over the roof to numerous jugs. Further stemming got me over the roof without ever really having to lean over backwards. This is a very cool section of rock and a pretty easy 5.9 for Eldo.

I continued up the easy fact above to the ledge at the start of the West Overhang and Left Out. Tony followed and led the West Overhang to the Lemmings (a short 5.8 wide crack variation at the top of the pitch) to the anchors. I followed and we rapped down to the ledge. Then I led Rastaman Roof, a 5.9+ variation of Reggae that goes right at the crux of Reggae and through a roof via a short crack. This section is considerably harder than Futile Laments, but is also very short. It is a bit contrived as you can easily tunnel under the boulder and avoid this roof, but it was a fun problem.

We called it a morning and headed to work.

Monday, June 06, 2005

King's X

I met Stefan in Eldo at 6 a.m. this morning and it was windy and cold (50 degrees). The combination of two was too much for us to try March of Dimes since it was fully exposed to the wind. Instead we went down to the base of the South Face of the Wind Tower did King's X (10d, S). My climbing in Eldo had been going quite well, but this route remains a nemesis for me. I've never led the second pitch, which is nearly always combined with the first pitch these days since both pitches are very short and link easily and naturally. I've redpointed the 1st pitch, which involves some tricky climbing to one very hard section that consists of only a couple of moves. This is rated 10d and is probably the burliest move on the route, but the real meat of the route is the very tricky, very Eldo, climbing above that goes through the A-frame roof.

Stefan geared and led this pitch combination nicely. He had to do a bit of a dynamic move on the first bulge, but was really solid on the upper section. This upper part is continuous and doesn't have any good rests or stances to place gear, at least until you get into the key stem that marks the end of the crux. Until there, you are hanging off one hand to place gear. The climbing is classic Eldorado: tiny holds, pinches, slanting holds, small, technical feet, smearing, complex. It's a very compelling problem to solve. The gear looks dicey when previewing the pitch from below, but some key fixed gear makes the lead reasonable safe. The problem is the gradual deterioration of your forearms as you place the gear and try to decipher the sequence.

Stefan set up a hanging belay about 15 feet above the roof and it was my turn. I cranked the difficult bulge and then shook out and tried to warm my cold hands. I then moved past a couple of pieces of gear until I couldn't get a yellow Alien out of the crack. I worked on it for about five minutes before I placed a red Alien and clipped into it to work the piece. The problem was that his red Alien made it impossible to remove the yellow Alien. I couldn't communicate with Stefan because of the roof and the wind and therefore couldn't call for tension. I could have just fallen off and got the tension I needed, but I decided to unclip the piece and continue up. Once I turned the roof and could talk to Stefan, I'd get him to lower me back down to get the piece.

I moved up to the crux section, which is so cool, but difficult to deciper. I eventually solved the first section and I knew I had to get my right foot high and right onto a good edge, but I couldn't figure out how to get this done and fell off. I was now high enough to talk to Stefan and lowered down, got the piece, and reclimbed up this section, only to fall off yet again. Dang, this is a tricky area. There is one good hold and that's it. One hold for one hand. The feet are terrible here and there is nothing for your other hand. You have to sort of lockoff on this hold and heave your foot out to the right. I'm sure there's a better way to do this, but I couldn't figure it out today. I eventually got something to work.

Once your foot is on this edge, you should have the pitch, though you still need to turn the roof. Some judicious chimney technique, complete with body and head (wear a helmet) scumming got me up to the lip, where I could grab a jug on the right. The key here is to not proceed upwards, since there still isn't much for feet, but to push out into a big stem and get your left foot out onto the lip of the downward sloping roof. Then you can grab another jug on the other side of the "A" and from there it is easy to finish.

I took over the lead and led straight above the belay, which was a different finish for me. I'd had previously gone to the right and to the left. This led directly into Left Out (5.8+, S) and I linked that pitch into a 160-foot lead to a tree. Left Out is an exciting, runout, exposed, fun climb that I highly recommend.

Stefan followed easily and we downclimbed the Bomb to the Boulder Direct back to the ground. It was after 8 a.m. so we decided to call it a morning and headed to work. I need to go back to this climb early and often. I want to learn it's secrets.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Speed climbing 5.10?

Okay, this wasn't exactly speed climbing since we didn't use any speed climbing techniques and just tried to move quickly through some classic Eldo 5.10's.

I met Bill Briggs in Eldo just past 4:30 p.m. We put on our harnesses and climbing shoes right there in the parking lot. Our first objective was Diffraction (10a/b) to Metamorphosis (10b, S). I led the first pitch in 11 minutes and Bill followed in 10 minutes. We re-racked and Bill was headed up Meta 3 minutes later. He led this tricky, scary pitch in under 17 minutes and I follow in 11.5 minutes.

It took us awhile to climb up to and over to the rappel anchors, rappel, and downclimb back to the ground and over to the start of Tagger. 14 minutes after I finished Metamorphosis, Bill started leading the first pitch of Tagger. He dispatched this with just four pieces of gear and in under 14 minutes. I had just climbed this route five days ago, so I zip up the first pitch in under 3 minutes, grab the rack, and head up to the big roof.

It probably only takes me 2 minutes to get up to this roof, but then I arrange a good deal of protection and then mess up the start once, having to downclimb back to a rest. The next time up I struggle mightily, but don't come off. I'm pretty pumped climbing the final 5.8 section. I set up an anchor and call "Off Belay" after less than 13 minutes. Bill follows in just over 10 minutes and we coil the rope and head down the trail, over the bridge, to the base of March of Dimes. At first we think we won't climb anymore and our pace over there is casual. We change our minds though and 13 minutes after finishing Tagger I head up March of Dimes. I led this 40-foot 10a pitch, clipped the top anchors, and lowered to the ground in 4m43s. We had only been climbing for 1h57m.

I want to link four, 2-pitch 5.10 routes in four hours and this first practice session confirms that this is possible.

As Bill cleaned March of Dimes, Rololando Garibotti stolls up the road. I say hi and we talk for awhile. Rolo is out for some casual, evening soloing. Bill lowered off and we packed up and headed for the car. There we meet Jim Collins and Jim Logan. Collins has been working the Rainbow Wall (13a/b) for the past five years. Today he decides that is it now too warm and too humid for this route. He'll call off the project until the fall. I've met Logan before, but this is the first time I've met Collins, the legendary climber who put up Genesis (12d) and unrope soloed the Naked Edge (7 pitches, 11b). He takes one look at my thighs and says, "Those legs were not built for overhanging sport climbing." I think he means it as an excuse for while I'm only climbing 5.10. Earlier that day, Steve Z beat me in a sprint on the bike and says, "Look at the difference in our legs. How can I be beating you in a sprint?" My quads are big, but apparently not very powerful - the worst of both worlds! :-)