Saturday, May 31, 2014

Eldo, Eldo, Eldo

I love climbing in Eldorado Canyon. Certainly its proximity to my house (15 minutes away) is a big factor, but the climbing here is so engaging and the rock, generally, so good.

Friday, May 30th: Calypso/Reggae/Wind Ridge with Mark

At the crux of Calypso
Nothing special here, except for stellar rock and moderate climbing. That said, Calypso gives beginners lots of trouble. The protection is either tricky or sparse or both. Best to be very solid at the grade, which is only 5.6. If you climb 5.8, this route is great fun. If not, it is more exciting, but still can be fun.

Reggae is mostly 5.6/7 climbing with about twenty feet of 5.8 climbing. Done the easiest way, there is just one move that requires some pulling, but that's only because I have it wired. Make sure as leader that you run the rope inside the flake. Mark mentioned that he didn't do that when he climbed it with his wife. She fell at the crux and hasn't climbed with him since, though the seven kids they have now is probably more to blame than Mark's rope management.

On Reggae
We did a massive traverse from the top of Reggae and finished with the last pitch of the Wind Ridge. We downclimbed the rappel descent after traversing over to it.

Wednesday, May 28th: Grand Giraffe with Stefan

Stefan on the 5.7 offwidth at the top of the crux pitch
We did the complete Grand Giraffe. Such a great route! I only led one pitch: the crux offwidth (10a). Stefan claims he doesn't like leading it because he doesn't know how to climb offwidths well. That is probably true, but he can climb anything better than I can. I did fine on it. I know what to do there and it's all about the knee lock. We had a #3 and a #3.5 Camalots with us. I placed the #3.5 a bit below the pin at the crux. The pin looks solid but I didn't think I'd be getting any gear higher up anyway, so backed it up. The crux climbing is about four feet long. Seriously. Above the crux the climbing is probably only 5.7, but it is pretty runout. I did place the #3.5 ten feet up, but the last 15-20 feet are unprotected unless you have a giant cam or Big Bro. 

Normally this route is five pitches, but Stefan strung the first two together in a monster lead with a tiny bit of simul-climbing. He did the same with the Upper Grand Giraffe section. The climbing is only 5.6 on this upper part, but it is a bit runout in spots and pretty steep. Once again, super fun for the 5.8 climber, but probably pretty scary for the 5.6 climber.

We had perfect temperatures, as we were in the shade all morning (and back at the car at 8:40 a.m. helped). 

Friday, May 30th: West Buttress of the Bastille with Mark and Tom

Mark, Tom, and I met at 5:30 a.m. today and headed to Eldo. We were at the base of the West Buttress of the Bastille by 5:45 a.m. This route is rated 5.9+ but MP seems to have the consensus at 10a:

I led the first pitch and didn't have much trouble at the crux, but was briefly baffled by the traverse left after it. I finally found the key foothold and it went fine. I thought Mark did great following, but he notified me that he pulled on a draw and stepped on a pin. The latter actually didn't help matters and probably made it harder as that meant he went too high. He'd later rectify this.

Tom led the second pitch into the chimney and Mark onsighted it following. I led the steep roof (really a pitch of Hair City). I climbed up and placed a good yellow Alien and then back down to de-pump a bit. I might not have needed to de-pump, but I've fallen off this before, so I was being careful. I felt very solid turning the roof after the rest. Mark cruised it with nary a pause!

Mark at the crux of the West Buttress
Tom led the last 5.6 pitch and we hiked back down. Mark wanted to clean up the first pitch, so Tom led it again while I went back to the car for a second rope to rap off from the top of the first pitch. Mark dragged the second rope up behind him. Mark nearly had the crux clean on this next go, but he made the crux reach with his right hand instead of his left and I think this got him off balance. He still almost made the move, but fell off. He got back on and on his next try he went with his left hand and got it. He'll get this completely clean on his next go.

Tom lowered Mark to the ground and then belayed me up Rain. This route is rated 5.10d R:

I didn't fall off on TR, but it would be a lot pumpier placing the gear at the roof on lead. I think if you set this gear well (and it looks like solid gear), this climb could be reasonably safe, though scary. If you fall before getting this gear, it could be a ground fall, but it isn't that hard up to there. Above the roof is face climbing that is a bit runout, but protected by two bolts. I felt pretty solid up there, but it could be scary if you were pumped.

Tom rapped and and we were back at the car by 8:20 a.m. A great morning with five pitches for all of us.

Saturday, May 31st: Long John Wall and Rewritten/Zot Face with Tom, Mark, and Mallory

Tom and I met at 6 a.m. Our plan was to climb the 5-pitch Long John Wall and then meet Mark and Mallory at the base of Rewritten. These climbs link-up fine because the descent for Long John is to downclimb to the east off the West Ridge and that puts you in the gully below the Redgarden Wall and at almost exactly the right height.

The night before we had an intense rainstorm which caused some flash flooding in Boulder. This morning South Boulder Creek, which runs through Eldo, was about as high as I've ever seen it (not having been in the canyon for the Great Flood of '13). To get to the West Ridge one usually has to hop across a couple of rocks to avoid getting your feet wet, just past the toe of the West Ridge. Today passage was completely flooded. It was only a few steps though and we were both game to just wade a bit. I thought the depth would be below my knee and the first step was. The next step I plunged into almost to my crotch. My pants were completely soaked. Even my climbing shoes, clipped to my harness, were wet. Oh well.

We elected to climb the first pitch of Chianti (5.8+) instead of the first pitch of Long John. This is apparently commonly done to avoid the dicey traverse above the first roof on Long John. I have that traverse down, as I've done it so many times, but Chianti also avoid the poison ivy on the first pitch of LJ. I know how to avoid this as well, but I hadn't done Chianti in a long time, so we headed up it.

The rock was wet. We climbed on a doubled 60-meter rope, hoping to simul-climb the route as one pitch, which we've done many times before. If you plan to do this, don't start with Chianti, as it puts in two 90-degree turns that you'd have avoid by doing the complete Long John. I paused at the crux lieback move and even backed down. My shoes were wet and I gave it another look. I found an easier way and was soon traversing left to the Long John Wall route. What I found there wasn't comforting. The entire second pitch was soaked. I continued cautiously to a small stance below the roof above and set up a belay.

Tom followed, doing a double take at the wet pitch above him, and then led through for a pitch and a half. I finished off the route and at the top I could see directly across to the base of Rewritten and it was mobbed with people. Two of those people were Mark and Mallory and I yelled over a greeting. I knew we were way late.

We didn't get over to them until 7:45 - about thirty minutes behind schedule. Fortunately, the first pitch of Rewritten was free. I don't know how this happened with all the people at the base and I didn't ask. Maybe Mark negotiated with the others to wait for them. Regardless, I sped up the first pitch dragging two ropes. I climbed up to and then alongside a guy leading the Great Zot. His partner Scott was in Eldo the morning that Tom took his 130-foot fall while simul-climbing with me on my first attempt to climb 100 pitches in a day.

I set up an anchor on the ledge and belayed Mark, Mallory and Tom up the first pitch, all at the same time! I had my belay device set up in guide mode and used it to belay Mark and Mallory. Mark was tied in short and Tom was tied to the end of his rope. It worked well.

Once everyone was on the ledge we separated into two teams. Mark and Mallory headed for Icarus and Tom and I went up the Zot Face. Tom and I completed the route in two more long pitches. We called it a morning, as we both had stuff to do. We'd done two routes and ten guidebook pitches and it was still before 10:30 a.m. but we had places to go. 


Mark Oveson said...

Thanks again for the rope gun service this morning, Bill and Tom. Mallory and I had a fantastic time on Icarus. This time I think I followed the exact route per the description, and it is just spectacular. We topped out just behind a climbing team that said they would wait for us if we wanted to join ropes and do the Vertigo rappels (which I hadn't done before), and we said that sounded great. But then they disappeared and we ended up just down climbing the East Slabs. We were down about 12:45, so thats...about 5 hours total for the round trip. About 3.5 hours for the climb and 90 minutes for the down climb.

Justin Europe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Europe said...

Musta missed ya - we were on the Bastille Crack (gettin' my trad learnin' on!)

(Long Ranger)

Bill Wright said...

Hi Justin,

We have to meet... Let's do a ride or climb. Maybe we should do both! :-)

How did the Bastille go? What a great route that is...


Bill Wright said...

Mark, it was our pleasure. You climbed it so easily that I'm sure you'd have been fine. Sorry for getting there so late, again. I'll be more conservative with my time estimates next time. Glad you had a great morning with Mallory. She was so cute at the belay. When you called "Off belay!" she said, "Oh shoot! What do I say? He was just telling me on the drive over here." Then, while cleaning that second pitch she asks me, "Bill, how do you remove these cam things?"