Sunday, May 06, 2012

Zion Day 6: Confluence Area Cragging

Crimson King

Photos Map

Opie arrived a bit after 7 p.m. yesterday and the weather report looked grim: an 80% chance of rain. So we didn't expect much out of the day. We had originally planned our wall climb for this day, but moved it to Friday because of the forecast. It wasn't raining in the morning so I was running up canyon by 7 a.m. to get in 9 miles. When I got back, after second breakfast, we piled into  Opie's car and  drove up to the trailhead at the last turn-out before the tunnel. This was quite a bit easier than the biking approach we did two days earlier. The Confluence area has some of the most moderate climbing in all of Zion, including a 5.7 sport route. I offered leads to my partners, but they were content to let me put up the rope.

We started by climbing a one-pitch 5.7 crack (had about 3-5 total moves of 5.7) called Ghetto Booty to a big ledge with a bolted anchor. From here we climbed in succession Barely Legal (5.7, sport climb), I'm No Sports Climber (5.9, mostly bolted, two pieces of gear), the Battered Wright (5.10+, sport climb), and The Tribute (5.10, sport climb). Of these the best route is the Battered Wright. It looks spectacular and everyone agreed was a blast to climb. I thought it was quite a bit easier than 10+, maybe 10a/b. Opie thought there was a touch of 10c.. The Loobster felt it had to be 5.9 because he didn't fall off it! 

The first three routes all allowed us to lower back to our ledge with our single 60-meter rope, though the Battered Wright did req uire us to start from a ledge twenty feet higher. The Tribute was a different deal. Since it was rated 5.10, we figured it would be easier than the Battered Wright. This is not the case. The Tribute has an intermediate belay just forty feet up, but this isn't used to make the descent easier, since you can't easily rappel back to it. I suspect it is just so you don't need so many draws to climb it. I started up this route with 16 draws, intent on combining the pitches and fell 5 or 6 draws short, having to skip some bolts. I found the first section very hard with a huge reach left to a bucket, but then I had to heel-hook my right foot, not a move I do often, outside of the gym anyway. I made the move, hung on to clip the next draw and then burned out before I could continue. I hung from the rope. I think this section was 5.11.

After a brief rest, I moved on and made the first belay. Since neither Opie nor Loobster wanted to follow this pitch, I figured I just put the two pitches together and lower off. This would have been a good plan if the route wasn't 150 feet long... The climbing on the upper section was fun, steep, super well protected and not very hard (5.9?), but it had so many bolts, that I ran out of draws and had to start skipping the bolts. Also, I ran out so much rope and the route ascended at an angle that it was going to be impossible for me to lower off and clean the route. Someone would have to follow it.

Opie stepped up and tried in. He cruised past the crux section with a couple of quick pulls on the draws and rambled on up to the top of the pillar where I sat waiting for him. We rapped once down to the anchors at the top of the Battered Wright and then from there back to the Loobster. I then led around the corner to the anchors at the top of Crimson King and we rappelled to the ground. 

I then worked Crimson King a couple more times, eventually almost getting it completely clean, but missed a foot switch and knocked myself into a barndoor fall. This is a really fun crack to work. I'll probably be back next year with a goal of redpointing it. 

Opie and Loobster weren't interested in giving the crack a try, so once I was spent, we packed up and headed for beers.

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