Monday, May 18, 2009

Training for 50-pitch day in Eldo

My buddy Buzz and I want to do 50 pitches in one day in Eldo. Many years ago I did 40 pitches with two different partners: Trashy for 25 and then Homie for 15. It was fun. This time Buzz has set some rules for us: Each climb has to be rated 5.7 or harder, though pitches can be easier. Pitch count is whatever is in the Rossiter guidebook. Downclimbing a route counts. We'll also probably limit things to 5.9 at the hardest.

To get a bunch of pitches we needed to get familiar with a couple of classics: Great Zot and Rewritten. One morning we went over and did the Great Zot on a 60-meter rope. I led the entire thing as one pitch with Buzz following. We did 5 rappels down the Dirty Deed Chimney. It went fine, but not super fast, as I was learning where to go.

Next we showed up late on a Saturday morning to do rewritten - bad idea! This area is super popular. There were two parties gearing up at the base for Rewritten and another party on the third pitch. This time we came with only a 30-meter rope and were going to simul-climb again. The party most ready go noticed that we had a short rope and asked if we were going to speed climb it. I said, "As a matter of fact, we did hope to simul-climb the entire thing." They offered to let us go in front and we took it.

I cruised up Rewritten's first pitch and into the second pitch. Buzz couldn't get my second piece out (a 0.75 Camalot) and had to leave it. Already we look bad. I got to the base of the third pitch and the party was still there. The woman belaying was freezing and her partner was nearing the end of the pitch. It would have been too complicated to pass them and I didn't even ask. Instead I moved along the rotten, loose, red ledge trying to climb up a big crack to avoid the Rewritten party and a party on the Green Spur. Even though I was moving slowly and very carefully, I dislodged a couple of microwave-sized blocks! I screamed "ROCK, ROCK, ROCK!!!!" It was a horrible mistake and I feared I had killed someone. I heard one person cuss upwards, as I would have done. Then nothing. I yelled down to Buzz, "Is everyone down there okay?" He said they were and I carefully moved left and joined the guy belaying on the Green Spur. I stopped and brought Buzz up. We were off to a horrible start and it put a damper on the rest of the climb.

We simul-climbed the next two pitches of the Green Spur and finished on upper Rewritten. We walked off the top and back to the base of the climb where I admitted my mistake and apologized to everyone I could find. I learned that one guy and fallen escaping the rocks and had a cut on his face. He wasn't hurt badly, but it ended his day. I never found this guy. Not our best outing.

The next week we met early in the morning and climbed Green Spur. Unfortunately it was 36 degrees out at 5:30 a.m. when we met and Green Spur is tricky, rated 5.9+ and fingery. We were on the 30-meter rope again, but the hard section of the Green Spur is shorter than this and we were fine and belayed this section for both of us. I backed down twice from the crux before doing it. My hands were numb at the belay and thawing was incredibly painful. I also did the right varation at the wide crack portion and after figuring out a key foothold, worked out great. This avoids and awkward, physical wide crack that I had always climbed before.

We did the third and fourth pitches of Rewritten as we hadn't done them before and then finished left of upper Rewritten (which I assume is the top part of Green Spur) to complete all pitches of both routes. By the time we got back to the base of the climb it was already 7:50 a.m. and we decided to call it a morning and go to work.

Finally, this morning I got out with Hardly. We headed to the Green Spur again, since I wanted to get this route wired. We only had the 30-meter rope, but I climbed with two Ropeman's and protected the lower crux and the upper roof with these so that I wouldn't have to worry about Hardly pulling me off if he fell.

This time the crux of Green Spur went nicely. Warmer temperatures and knowing the tricks helped a lot here. I put in the Ropeman above the crux and continued climbing. In fact, I led the entire Green Spur as one pitch (no re-gearing) and Hardly simul-climbed behind. We topped out, hiked down, and it was only 7:10 a.m. so we headed back to the car and then over to the Bastille Crack.

Here we found a party. The leader was about halfway up the 40-foot first pitch, which everyone combines with the second pitch. We didn't want to intrude so Tom led up Werk Supp's first pitch (5.8+) and then cut over to the Bastille Crack at the top of the second pitch. I simul-climbed behind Hardly and we did the roundtrip in 20+ minutes or so. When we hiked by the base of the Bastille Crack the second was still belaying and his leader was still 50 feet below the end of the second pitch (he was linking the first two, as usual).

We were driving out of Eldo by 7:50 a.m. The morning was a complete blast. Very nice temperatures, great climbing, and super solid partner.

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