Thursday, May 21, 2009

Long John Wall and Yellow Spur

I met Tom in Eldo at 5:30 a.m. and we were hiking towards the West Ridge by 5:36 a.m. South Boulder Creek is really high now and we could barely make the traverse over to the West Ridge trail. Pretty soon Morning Thunder (5.9+) will be the approach to the West Rdige.

We hiked up to the Long John Wall with our 100-foot rope and I took the lead. I simul-climbed the 5-pitch route as one pitch, slung a horn at the top, and immediately started downclimbing the backside. I've simul-climbed this route many times. There is such nice climbing on it. I put in one Ropeman, but it wasn't necessary. Tom wasn't going to fall.

We cut across the gully to the base of the Yellow Spur and this time Tom took the lead. We had a rack of double units, but we didn't need them. Tom mainly clipped fixed gear. We placed no gear on the first pitch, two on the second, one on the third, zero on the fourth, two 0n the fifth, zero on the crux pitch, and two on the last pitch. Seven total placements. He did use 13 of the 14 draws that he carried as well.

I felt super solid on the opening 5.9 roof, but I knew I was protected by a Ropeman above. Tom climbed a variation to the second pitch, continuing straight above the tree instead of traversing left. It worked out fine, but following it took me a bit of time to realize that I needed to move right at one point.

I've simul-climbed the Yellow Spur many times, but always as the leader. This was my first time seconding. The pressure is on the second. He cannot fall. The Ropemans loosen this rule somewhat, but it still isn't a good idea. On the crux pitch, to keep things rolling and add a bit of security, I grabbed the draws on all the pins. It worked out well.

We downclimbed the East Slabs and were back at the car by 7:35, getting both routes roundtrip in under two hours. We've done them considerably faster before, but we didn't need to push it today. It was a bit overcast, but still quite warm - well into the 50's. We both went in long pants, but shorts would have probably been fine.

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