Saturday, June 06, 2009

Climbing in Eldo with the Loobster

The Loobster was in town this weekend and on Saturday we headed out to Eldorado Canyon to do a little rock climbing. The Loobster hadn't done any climbing for a year or more.

We started on Allosaur (5.9) and I led it as two pitches, combining the 5.7 first pitch with the 5.8 second pitch. The 5.9 pitch went well, though the Loobster slipped off once. We had one 60-meter rope with us and rappelled from a two-bolt anchor just up and left of the top of Allosaur. I rapped on a Gri-Gri with the knot jammed in the rings. I had just read about this, now obvious, technique for rapping with a Gri-Gri on a doubled-rope. Unfortunately, I didn't know where I was going on the rappel and went down a chimney thing and then had to make a big traverse to a tree with slings on it. Then the Loobster didn't untie or unjam the knot and we couldn't pull the rope down. Bummer! Eventually, I tied into the rope and climbed the overhang above us to re-route the ropes and free the knot.

We hiked up to the Long John Wall and found a party at the top of the first pitch, but no one at the base. I led up the first pitch and before I got to the end of it another party came in from the right. Apparently it is common to climb the first pitch of Break On Through (5.8) and avoid the tricky and dangerous 5.5/6 first pitch of the Long John Wall. This created a bit of a cluster.

Thinking quickly, I told the Break On Through leader, "I always combine the first and second pitches. Is it okay to keep going?" Actually, lately, I've simul-climbed this 5-pitch route as one pitch, but the Loobster and I wouldn't be doing any simul-climbing today, which was a good thing as it turned out. Anway, the dude was really nice and let us go by and I followed the first party's second up the next pitch.

The party above us strung the next two pitches and I did the same, but when Loobster arrived at the ledge we were missing a yellow Alien. Bummer. I rapped down to the last belay ledge thinking that the Loobster failed to pull the piece out of the anchor. I asked a guy down there if he saw the piece and he said that it fell by him while he was leading the second pitch and that it fell all the way to the ground. Bummer.

I climbed back up to Loobster and we did the 4th class variation to the fifth pitch to pass the other party and then downclimbed off the back and over to the Yellow Spur. While the Loobster rested, I ran down the trail to the bottom, hiked west to the West Ridge trail and then hiked all the way back up to the base of the Long John Wall, retrieved the dropped Alien, and then returned to the Loobster.

No one was on the Yellow Spur and we had a leisurely ascent, doing it in six pitches and taking a couple of hours or so. The Loobster fell twice on the opening 5.9 roof, once on the 5.8 second pitch, twice on the 5.7 third pitch, and once on the hand traverse of the fourth pitch. On the pin ladder pitch I did the 5.10 direct finish and the Loobster availed himself of the numerous quickdraws for additional handholds. He did, however, completely free the final 5.6 arete pitch!

We scrambled down the slabs and headed for the couch. The Loobster's hands were not functioning as well as when we started and he requested a day of not climbing in Eldo on Sunday.

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