Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Bastille with Mike Alkaitis

I met Mike in Eldo today at 6:30 a.m. I thought we were going to climb the Naked Edge, but when he asked "What do you want to climb?" I didn't suggest it. I said, "What ever you want." My hip was hurting, presumably from the fall the day before, and I wanted to get into work earlier. We decided on the Direct West Buttress of the Bastille (10+), which I had never done before.

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.


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