Thursday, September 29, 2005
Without a real solid plan, we headed up the trail wearing tons of clothes. Sure enough, it was much warmer on the other side and I mentioned climbing Suparete (11a/b) the other day with Bill Briggs and how I had learned a few tricks while watching and following Bill. We decided it was time for me to redpoint that pitch. We did Mr. Natural (8+) as a warm-up and then I sent Suparete without any problems, doing my direct start as well. This climb is now one of my favorites. Done correctly, this route isn't so desperate and the climbing is so cool.
I used all my tricks to get up to the final bolt, where the climb traverses a bit left and becomes a trad climb for the finishing 5.10 section. It still took me quite awhile to figure out the best way to do this traverse and I found a key right foothold that I hadn't been using before and now I think this section is solid as well. I finished up the lead, placing a couple of small cams and belayed Hardly up.
Hardly froze his fingers solid going up/down at the start of the crux. He had forgotten about the completely hidden hold around the corner that allows you to get your right foot up high in preparation of going for the arete pinch. When he finally found it his fingers were numb and the rest of the climb proved pretty challenging for him, but he didn't come off.
We downclimbed the West Face of the Lower Ramp (5.0) and then Hardly led the marginal, finger-crimping route known as Toys for Tots (11a S). This has two bolts on it and the hard climbing is pretty well protected and then there is a freaky 5.8/9 slab move above where a fall would put you very close to the ground.
I followed without falling off and we traversed right to the tree at the top of Mr. Natural and rapped back to the ground. We were hiking out just as a couple more parties were hiking in. They'd have nice warm weather for their climbing...
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Mike led the first pitch and made the crux 10+ moves look easy. He merged with the regular West Buttress route and continued straight up above there on some fun climbing, before breaking left and up to the first pitch belay. Following, I found it tricky just getting up to the crux move. There is a bolt here on a blank face and you have to lieback off a small hold and reach up and left for a very small hold. The feet suck here and matching on this hold and cranking up to where I could get some feet involved some serious effort and a little deadpoint. I was lucky not to have fallen off. The next hardest section is the crux of the regular West Buttress route. That is just one very insecure lieback move. Thankfully the hold you are doing for is a jug, though it doesn't look like it.
I led the second pitch up the offwidth/lieback to gain the pillar belay and Mike led the overhanging 5.9+ roof via the fingercrack. This is a burly little section. We descended down to the base of Sunset Arete (11b/c) and Mike fired up it easily. I accepted the toprope and was just barely able to claw my way up this continuously steep climb. That gave me a right good pump. I lowered off from the convenience two-bolt anchor and was driving out of the canyon before 9 a.m. Fun stuff.
I was up way too late (12:30 a.m.) on Sunday night and when my alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. I turned it off and decided to rest for just a few more minutes. Then next thing I knew was that it appeared a bit light outside. I had fallen back asleep and don't know how I woke up. I looked at my watch: 6:25 a.m.! I was supposed to be in Eldo at 6:30 a.m. Yikes!
I flew out of bed, grabbed my clothes, ran down stairs grabbed a drink and Poptart and jumped in the car. I sped toward Eldo, watching the clock intently, willing it to move slower. This wasn't just any partner I was meeting. It would be my first time ever climbing with a true climbing legend: Rolando Garibotti! I had met him last year and I had seen him a couple of times since. We talked some via email and the phone and even bouldered once at the Spot, but he didn't know me very well and now his first impression will be that I left him waiting for me in the early hours of the morning. I think it is rude to show up even a minute late when meeting my closest friends and in this situation, I should have been there ten minutes early, waiting for him, and ready to go. I was mortified. You only get one chance at a first impression, as they say, and I just blew it.
I looked at each car coming the other way, hoping that it wouldn’t be Rolo leaving in disgust. I pulled into the lot ten minutes late and there was one car in the lot. The trunk was open and a rack and rope lay draped across it. It was Rolo, ready to go with his harness on. I jumped out, apologizing profusely, as I struggled to get my harness on, bungling it once in my attempts to quick get ready. It was a bit cold and overcast, but Rolo was unfazed about our plans and I didn’t have time to do any rethinking. Before I knew it was we were hiking into the Naked Edge.
Rolo is an Italian born, Argentina-raised, world-class professional climber. He guides full-time, year-round, everywhere in the world. He is the foremost authority on climbing in
Rolo also climbed the Infinite Spur on
We crossed the bridge a little before 7 a.m. We walked to the base of the
I climbed up the ramp, around the corner and then up the steep 5.6 hand crack. Once I gained the ramp above, I could see that Rolo had continued clear up to the base of the Naked Edge. Cool. I was simul-climbing with Rolo! Rolo is also famous for bringing short-fixing to
I scampered up the ramp to Rolo feeling very self conscious about looking like a dork or doing anything wrong. He suggested we climb the Naked Edge after an email I sent out describing it as my current project. He just wanted to help me succeed, but I found myself wishing we had chosen a route upon which I was more competent. Alas, it was too late for that. It was time to lead the first pitch. We carried a small rack, but it was quite sufficient, even for me on the pitches I led. We had a single #2 and #3 Camalots, two #1 Camalots, five or six smaller cams and some nuts. We never used the #3 Camalot, which says something about how solid Rolo is on the final pitch, but of course we already knew that: he solos this route.
I climbed up the first 5.10 section to the sloping stance below the final obtuse corner. Rolo pointed out some tricks on this lower section and I tried them out with good results. He also gave me beta on finishing off the upper section before I left the belay. It was to no avail however, as I fell off early! I made a mistake low down and took a fall. I got back on and established myself on the rock. Rolo calls up, “That’s a no-hands rest there, so you can still get a redpoint.” He was just trying to be positive and encouraging and I appreciated the thought. I climbed up, desperately, to the crux section where I placed a marginal blue Alien. I tried Rolo’s trick of reaching out to the arête, but I had the feet wrong and it seemed so far. I struggled for a bit, searching for something that would work, trying to move my feet up, before I fell off. The blue Alien held and I took a small fall. I got back on and made it to the belay. Rolo followed with style and I watched carefully, hopeful to gleam some secrets. His move out to the arête looked effortless and I silently vowed to try it again next time.
Rolo led the second pitch and I followed without incident. I led the third pitch up to the ramp below the fourth pitch and Rolo soon joined me. He asked if I wanted him to lead the last two pitches. I hadn’t been on the Edge for two years and had never led the tricky, 11a fourth pitch and here I was with the biggest rope gun in the world. Yet I resisted the temptation and racked for the lead. Rolo prepped me with all the knowledge he had about how he climbs and protects the pitch. I followed his beta and got up to the pin. Enroute I had clipped a couple of fixed pins, placed a bomber .75 Camalot and what I thought was a good RP. I got into a backstepped rest and placed a tight cam in a funky crack off to my left. I then struggled to get up into the chimney and was nearly there when my foot popped and down I came. The funky cam ripped and I bounced off the wall with my shoulder. The rope pulled tight and popped the RP out of the crack because I failed to put a long enough sling on it. Thank god the pin held or I would have hit the ledge. I fell about fifteen feet or so.
I climbed back up, replaced the RP and added a longer sling to it. I then backed up the pin that held my fall with a green Alien and then replaced the funky cam placement, this time with a slightly different piece – a yellow Alien this time. I did the same, funky foot maneuvers, but when I got up to the same position as last time, I immediately pushed back into the chimney. I used a healthy amount of body scumming as I inched precariously up the chimney into I could get a more secure foothold. I stood up and clipped the pin. I backed it up with a small cam and then made the final 5.10 moves out right to the belay.
Rolo followed and racked for the final pitch. He performed the boulder problem off the belay in a very cool, unique manner. He climbed it further to the right than I’d ever seen before. It helps to be tall for this solution. Rolo is just six feet tall, which should put him only a half inch taller than me, but he walks tall. He appears two or three inches taller than me. He makes me want to stand up straighter when I’m around him. He stretched to the right and then back left. He walked up this boulder problem easily. He went up the ramp and ducked under the point and around to the other side of the edge. He calmly waltzed up the very overhanging, burly crux. He even stopped mid-crux to yell down the exact sequence he used. When he finished the difficulties he looked down over the edge and explained it all again. Then he ran up the easy stuff to the end of the route.
I did the boulder problem okay, albeit with lots of effort, but didn’t fall off. I ducked around the point and then proceeded to get absolutely crushed. I just didn’t have the power, strength, technique, endurance, right approach, whatever. I just didn’t have what it took. It was ugly and I eventually stood in a sling. It was a horrible performance, but I must start somewhere. It is hard to imagine me ever leading this pitch clean, but maybe by the twenty time…
We downclimbed the East Slab descent to the trail and were back at the bridge less than three hours after we left it. This is a reflection on Rolo’s speed and certainly not mine, as I fell and hung on every 5.11 pitch. It was a great morning, though, and a thrill to climb with Rolo. Now if I can just borrow his arms…
Saturday, September 24, 2005
I then led the first pitch of Superslab. This pitch is rated 10c, but for me it is 5.11. There is no harder 5.10 pitch in Eldo and plenty of easier 5.11 pitches. The crux is short, but it requires some serious finger strength and good balance. Despite it being a short crux, I seem to go from feeling okay to super pumped in the span of just a few seconds. It is just a very hard piece of rock for me to climb clean. I've redpointed this pitch once and I've led it at least 7 times. I fell again on this attempt. I first grabbed the draw to clip the rope, thinking I couldn't clip without falling. Then, just above it, I bungled the next move and fell off. Ugh. It was ugly.
I finished the pitch, which has lots of fun climbing, and Bill followed quickly. He then led the stellar 2nd pitch of the Doub-Griffith route. This pitch is rated 11b, I think, but we both feel it is an easier pitch than the first pitch of Superslab. There is a runout to the first bolt, but the climbing is only 5.9. The crux climbing is well protected and really fun. I need to try to lead this pitch.
I then led the final pitch of Superslab - the super slab itself. This is rated 10d S and my neighbor had recently taken a 20-foot fall on it. But this is my style of climbing, meaning: not steep. I got up to the bolt, clipped it and then climbed up to where I needed to move left into the tiny dihedral. I felt around the corner and was able to place a blind black Alien (the smallest size). It went deep into the crack and I thought it was good. This was the same piece that pulled on my neighbor though...
I patiently figured out the footwork on this section and fired the crux. At the start of this section you use one of the smallest edges for a foothold I can imagine. It is so small that at first I dismissed it, but the angle of the slab allows this to work. The upper 5.9 section of this pitch is quite fun and the final, very steep and runout flakes are exciting on moderate climbing.
We were now on the upper ramp and Bill led us over to the base of the Direct South Face of T1. This is an old Chris Reveley route and rated 5.10 S. The climbing doesn't look too bad or serious from the ramp, but there is a very sustained 20-25 of 5.10 climbing that will certainly get your attention. Bill styled the pitch and I was able to follow it cleanly.
This put us directly under Smoke and Mirrors (5.10a). Mick Fowler onsight soloed this route and then got permission to bolt it. He put in just three bolts and it would be a very runout lead with just those for gear. I placed a number of other pieces and found the climbing to be at least 10a. It was fun, though, and I ran the pitch clear to the very top of T1, where the Yellow Spur ends.
We had climbed six pitches, all in a line, continually up the Redgarden Wall. Six pitches, but parts of five different routes. This is a nice linkup.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Since I did all the leading on Wednesday, Hardly would do most of it today. He elected to do the 10b/c S direct start and had his feet slip off twice before he got in any gear. At one point both feet were dangling. I thought he was going to take a nasty groundfall, but he hung on. This section is very tricky and much harder than it looks to climb and to gear. Stiff and serious.
Hardly strung the first two pitches together and I followed, also finding the start hard. You really need to bear down on this. I zipped up the rest of the pitch and the 2nd pitch and grabbed the gear. I led the 3rd, 4th, and 5th pitches as one and you should never do this! The rope drag is ridiculous. The 5.8 moves at the top of the 5th pitch felt like 5.10. Stupid and slow.
Hardly led the 6th and 7th pitches as one, taking the 5.10b direct finish. I followed and found this section a bit trickier than the last time I was up here. There is definitely one hard move to reach a decent hold before you can turn the corner to the right.
After struggling and failing to remove an abandoned cam a bit down from the summit, we coiled the rope and downclimbed the East Slabs back to the bridge. We had taken it very casually and done the route, bridge-to-bridge in 2h14m. I've done this roundtrip with Hans, simul-climbing in 1h15m, but this seemed pretty good for a conventional ascent. This was one of my first attempts at speed climbing. Back in 1995 or 6, Trashman and I met at 4:30 a.m. to try and get this route down before work. We tried to go as fast as we could (though no simul-climbing, as we weren't into that at the time) and did the roundtrip from the bridge in 2h25m. Now a casual ascent is faster than that... Cool.
I was driving out of Eldo by 9 a.m.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
The Naked Edge is probably the most famous Colorado climb and certainly the best line of any route in Eldorado Canyon. It was first ascended by Layton Kor and then first freed by Jim Erickson and Duncan Fergusson. The route starts 2-3 pitches off the ground and there are various approach options with the most popular being Touch and Go (5.9) to the ramp and Cave Pitch (5.8), but the fastest being the Ramp Route (5.6) to the Cave Pitch (5.8). Then the Edge consists of five pitches: a 5.11a finger crack, a 5.10b face/crack pitch, a long 5.8+ crack/face pitch with a tricky mantle move, a 5.11a corner/chimney pitch, and the final 5.11b boulder problem to overhanging hand crack. Most people combine the first two pitches into one and some hardmen combine the last two pitches as well.
In 1995 Bruce Bailey took me up this route, leading all but the third pitch. I fell on pitches 1,2,4, and 5, and grabbed tons of gear on the final pitch. Next I did it with Mark Hudon (2000?) in the same style. This time I climbed pitches 2,3, and 4 clean, but fell on the first pitch again and had a horrendous time on the final pitch. Finally, I climbed it with Hardly Manson (2002?) when he onsighted the entire route and I climbed all pitches cleanly, albeit just following. I went back with Hardly in 2003 and led the first pitch with a couple of hangs and TRed the crux a bit, and then rapped off.
Today I met Hardly in the Canyon at 6:25 a.m. Roger Linfield was there with his partner as well. We were both surprised to see another party there. Hardly was shocked to be the fourth car in the parking lot, as he is almost always the first car. Roger and his partner went off to do Neon Lights and we headed for the Edge.
Hardly led Touch and Go to the anchors and I followed and then the Ramp/Cave Pitch to the bottom of the route. Hardly joined me and I started up the pitch. I got up past the first difficulties (rated 10c in Rossiter's book) without too much trouble. There is a fixed stopper and a fixed Blue Alien on this pitch, which come in handy. I climbed cleanly through the last piece of pro before the finishing crux, but then fell off, hardly dropping at all since I filled a key fingerlock with a green Alien. We forgot the blue Aliens, but next time I'll have them to avoid filling this slot.
I hung briefly and then finished the lead cleanly. This pitch is continuous, but never desperate. The fingerlocks are uniformly bad and so are the feet. There is just enough to make this pitch go and I haven't figured out the optimal route yet and don't climb it fast enough. Placing the gear saps energy as well. It will go, but will take a couple more tries, I think.
The weather was absolutely perfect and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. We decided to continue since I had never led the 2nd pitch before. This pitch is absolutely stellar! It starts with a runout slab, but the holds and friction here are great. I clipped two bolts and a fixed pin before ducking around to the left side of the arete, where you hit the crux: a tricky corner with marginal handholds and technical feet. The key is a nice hold above that is somehow easy to miss because it is near a very chalked slot in the crack. This slot is marginal, but the unchalked hold below it is great! I didn't use this hold my first two times up this pitch and I thought this section was very hard, but if you use this hold, the pitch feels 5.9 to me. When Hardly followed he failed to notice this hold, like I did my first two times. I suspect others might miss it as well. It is so big and so useful, but you get tunnel vision on the chalked up crack.
We rapped back to the top of the first pitch, as it was time to head to work, but then we couldn't pull our rope. Hardly re-led the pitch in less than 10 minutes and I followed quickly as well. I didn't have to follow, of course, but it didn't take long and it is so fun!
We got the ropes to pull this time (make sure you pull the rope next to the rock so that you don't pin the other end of the pin against the rock) and continued with four more single rope rappels to the ground. We were driving out of the park by 9:30 a.m. with plans to return on Friday morning. I'm not sure if we'll head to the Edge again. I don't want Hardly to get too bored. I told him we can alternate the Naked Edge with whatever he wants to climb.
So, progress was made. One hang/fall on the first pitch and the 2nd pitch is clean and basically wired. The third pitch is moderate and I've had good success following the 4th pitch. The 5th pitch is going to be a big issue, but I need to get up there and start working it.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
I led the first pitch, which is actually a bit of an adventure pitch and involves some heads up climbing and gear placement. We did a variation (forget what it's called) on the 2nd pitch. It's rated 5.9+ and off to the right. It's got one hard section and it might be 5.10- to lead (only followed it). We then set and anchor and rappelled the second pitch so that we could do the variation to the left of the second pitch. This one is called Semi-Wild (5.9+) and I had backed off it before because of lack of gear and hard climbing. This time Tony backed off it because of some wasps, so we did the regular second pitch of Anthill Direct.
I strung the next two pitches together and these are super high quality, airy pitches. I'd rank these as some of the best moderate (around 5.7) pitches in Eldo. Stellar stuff. Tony led the final pitch up the 5.9 lieback exit. This is a cool, burly, committing exit, but is over pretty quick.
We downclimbed the East Slab descent and I went back to the base to retrieve Tony's back and shoes (I bought my shoes with me and left no gear). Tony had a very slow, painful descent in his climbing shoes. I've done enough of that and carried my shoes this time. It was a fun time out.
Friday, September 02, 2005
We hiked up to the base of the route and I led the 5.9 approach pitch to the base of the classic dihedral. The guidebook describes this approach as two pitches, but it is commonly done as one and even then it is only about 120 feet long or so. We climbed this route back in March and I had really struggled with the overhanging crux on the approach. This section is a bit awkward, but I remembered the key, huge foothold on the left that is very difficult to see when in the midst of the struggle. I got us up to the ledge without too much monkeying around this time.
Stefan than sent the dihedral, looking pretty relaxed with the desperate fingertip/body scumming that is required at the crux. He cranked up the rest of the dihedral, finding a nice stemming solution to the final bit. He then linked it into the very overhanging Direct finish. This overhanging burly climbing is his strength and he made it look trivial.
On my turn, I fell off the crux a couple of times, but got it on my third try, though it was a very low percentage move for me. I then fell off the next section as well, which involves using some bad fingerlocks to stand up on a shelf. After falling off, I found a very cool way to do this section involving a handhold on the left wall that I had previously ignored and some cool stemming. I finished up to the ledge and took a rest.
I then started up the horrible roof that gives me so much trouble. I thought things were going well, as I got to the lip and, with Stefan coaching me, even got my left hand on the jug at the lip. At this point, the climb is over for Stefan, but it is the beginning of the crux for me. I just don't have the power to lock-off on this hold. I can't do anything, but hold on. I slumped on the rope and tried a couple of more ways, but I couldn't find a solution that I could do, even on toprope. I'm just too heavy and/or too weak. This is frustrating because it isn't just easy for Stefan, but trivial at this point. If it's trivial for him, I should be able to struggle through at my limit...Apparently not true. Dang.
We finished up and rapped off and then toproped Call of the Dodo (super sandbag 5.12a). Stefan had hopes of a clean ascent, but fell far short today, though he did finish it. I climbed up the lower section (supposedly 5.11-) clean, but didn't get far on the overhanging finish. This is very hard climbing here.
We headed back to the car, arriving a little past 9 a.m. Fun stuff, but oh so humbling.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
We ran up at a casual pace, but I was still breathing heavily and dripping in sweat. Eric seemed hardly fazed. This guy could be a monster on the trails if he wanted to and next year he wants to: he's signing up for the Pikes Peak Marathon with a goal of breaking five hours. Heaven help him...
We pulled on our shoes and Eric immediately and casually sent the first third into the rest. He said his fingers were screaming, but it looked effortless and he took his time doing it, as it pump wasn't a factor. Getting out of the rest proved troublesome for him, though, mostly do to his long legs.
I went next and sent the entire traverse, with the exit seeming to be particular easy. The final reach to the jug was so easy I wondered how it could have ever been a problem for me.
Eric climbed into the rest and this time wrestled with the second third a bit before coming off. I sent the entire traverse a second time. Now Eric started from the rest again and got at least halfway to the kneelock rest at the end of the second third. He'll get this entire traverse in 4 or 5 more sessions, I'd think.
I sent the traverse a third time and Eric did the opening third again before we put on our shoes and headed down into Gregory Canyon to complete our loop. That was fun.