Saturday, September 24, 2005

Six pitches, five routes - a Tour of the Redgarden Wall

I met Bill Briggs at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and it was a bit chilly. We geared up and headed for Suparete (11a/b). Bill led this pitch and showed me all his tricks. Following, I used them all to good effect and climbed it clean for the first time. His tricks are brilliant and make this route seem quite doable. Now I need to redpoint it. The crux for me now is the delicate traverse to the left after the last bolt.

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.


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