Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tour of the East Face of Longs Peak

Topping out on Chasm View Wall

Mark and I started our alpine climbing season today. Since we're building toward an ascent of the Diamond, I thought of a cool adventure that would give us a preview of the North Chimney approach. Years ago, in an old guidebook, I noticed a route that allowed one to escape Broadway, the ledge at the top of the North Chimney and the base of the Diamond, to the right (climber's right) across the top of Chasm View Wall. Granted the moderate 5.7 rating was part of the attraction, but I liked the novelty of route. It reminded me of the Tower Traverse route on the Leaning Tower in Yosemite. Linking up the North Chimney to the Chasm View Wall Traverse would allow us to flirt with all the extreme difficulty of the Diagonal Wall, the Diamond, and Chasm View Wall without actually engaging it.
Heading towards the ledge snowfield

Mark and I met at 4 a.m. and drove to the Longs Peak Trailhead. We were hiking at 5:15 a.m. and already concerned about the strong winds. It was biting enough that when we left the parking lot Mark was already wearing all the clothes he had brought. At tree line the wind was brutally strong. I was still hiking without a shell, but only because I didn't want to dig mine out. That I could do this without freezing was testament that the air temperature wasn't that cold.

We caught a party of two guys and two girls just past Chasm Lake and all of us soon converged on two others bivied under a huge boulder. All three teams of two had planned to climb the Diamond that day. None of them left this bivy spot. Later, while talking to the ranger at the trailhead, we'd learned that apparently no teams have succeeded on the Diamond so far this year. The one team the ranger knew about had gone part ways up Pervertical Sanctuary. They reported dry conditions, but temperatures too cold to continue. Mark and I continued up to our climb, but agreed with their decision to forego the Diamond. I wouldn't have been happy even climbing 5.9 in those temperatures.

We hiked up to the snowfield at the base of the East Face and found it to be soft enough to continue sans the crampons we carried. Mark kicked steps all the way up to the base of the North Chimney and we geared up. I've climbed the North Chimney maybe ten times before, but this was Mark's first trip up it. Given that and the cold temperatures and no need for great speed, we elected to pitch it out, doing four pitches up to Broadway.
Starting up the crux pitch

The climbing went well. We did have to void some snow on the route, but it wasn't much of a problem. Mark felt comfortable enough on it that we'll probably simul-climb it when we do the Diamond. Once on Broadway I was a bit surprised to see so much snow up there. The traverse over to the Casual Route looked quite exciting and you'd have to kick steps all the way over to the start of any route to right. We turned and headed left. We were able to stay below the snow on loose, wet, icy talus. Doing this without pro, across the top of the 600-foot wall below, kept me focused.

We'd been scoping out the route across Chasm View Wall  as we ascended the North Chimney. It looked bleak. The ledge seemed to disappear and the wall looked so compact that pro would be non-existent. Of course, we were still a long ways away and we continued, hoping to find the secret of the traverse. We brought no information with about the route, not because we are purists, but because we forgot to bring it along. A big snowfield on the ledge looked to be problematical, but we carried crampons and a single ice axe and were prepared to use them.

We continued all the way across the wall, finding the route as we went. The exit was in doubt until nearly the end, as the route looked to end in very challenging climbing. We passed the snowfield easily and found good belay stances and gear. Most of the climbing wasn't very difficult, but it was at times a bit awkward, at least with the ice axe on my pack. We started to find old pins and figured we were on track.
Looking for exit
The final pitch was the crux and also had the best climbing and the best protection. The rock was solid and the exposure was tremendous. We were finally in the sun. I had been climbing most everything in my gloves, but I needed my fingers for this pitch and the rock and weather were conducive.

We topped the wall and decide to skip the summit of Longs. I'd been cold for hours and the North Face looked to be very icy. Icy enough that our lightweight 10-point crampons and single puny axe wouldn't be sufficient for a safe ascent. Plus the wind continued to hammer us. We packed our gear and headed for the car, quite content with our adventure.
Starting up the last, crux pitch of the North Chimney

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Co-worker Training on the First Flatiron

On top of the First Flatiron with the Third Flatiron in the background

Each year I take some co-workers up a Colorado 14er. These days I don't get much turnout, so I pick the 14ers that I want to do with my boys. Sheri and I have climbed all the Colorado 14ers, but we're slowly doing them again with Danny and Derek. This year I picked Capitol, one of the toughest 14ers. I've done it three times before. My first time was a speed ascent with Homie. We did the 16+ mile round-trip in around six hours, I think. I then did it with Sheri and the Loobster when we backpacked in and camped a couple of nights. The Loobster and I had hoped to do the North Face route, but the weather wasn't conducive. I climbed it a third time, in winter, with Homie. We did the round-trip in around 13 hours and it might still be the fastest winter ascent. We cheated, though, and followed the tracks made by our friends the day before.
Nearing the summit.
Anyhow... This year three people from work have signed up: Kevin, Jenny, and Erica. Kevin is just going to backpack in with us, as the peak is more than he wants to do. Jenny is an experienced climber, but had horrible altitude sickness on the only 14er she's climbed, so she isn't sure she's going to the top. Erica I didn't know about, so I took her out with friend/co-worker Octavian to see how she handled some easy climbing and some exposure.

I decided to do the Southwest Face of the First Flatiron (5.2/3), what the Minions call the "down climb", as we often solo the East Face and this is how we get back down to the ground without a rope. We met at Chautauqua Park and hiked up the long approach to this short route. I led up to the first eyebolt, placing four pieces of gear to protect Erica on the traversing nature of the route. Erica and Octavian simul-seconded the route so that Octavian could give her some helpful advice if necessary.

After some initial confusing with the crux steep section at the bottom, Erica cruised up the route with nary a pause. On the second pitch, with big exposure at the top, she did check with me that I had her on a secure belay, but other than that, scooted to the top easily. We took some photos and I lowered Erica to the ground. She didn't even pause when leaning back to be lowered, so she doesn't appear to have any fear of heights or any trust issues with me. She should do fine on Capitol. We'll find out on July 5th!
At the top of the first pitch

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Outer Space w/Mark

At the very top of the Bastille

Mark and I met at 5:30 a.m. and headed into Eldo for Outer Space. I cruised up the first two pitches of the Bastille in one long pitch. I put in a bit more gear than usual, as I was warming up, though I think I still only placed six piece of gear in 150 feet of climbing. :-) Obviously I feet pretty solid and this speeds things up a bit. Mark followed nicely, though seemed to want to do a harder variation to the right of a big flake up high, but I convinced him to go the easy way.

I then led up the first pitch of Outer Space (10a). This pitch is prototypical Eldo climbing. Funky! And the crux move is protected by an RP. Eldo is an acquired taste to be sure, but like fine wine, is appreciated more and more with experience. It took me a bit to figure out the gear and commit to the moves, but then I moved up well above the RP. I then chose the wrong cam off my rack and got a bit pumped getting in the correct piece. This is such a cool, techy dihedral and it is pretty continuous. I was solid, but it was more work than it should have been.
Leading the first pitch of Outer Space

The second pitch is the crux at 10b/c, but both Mark and I styled it and thought it was easier than the first one (with one caveat for Mark). The key to this pitch is doing the crux moves just right and quickly and then liebacking the hell out of the next crack sections! This route lends itself to this because all the hard sections are separated by great rests and it is usually easy to place the gear. Mark cruised the crux down low and only fell off the penultimate boulder problem, which he got easily on his second try. He was relaxed and didn't even get pumped. This is a super fun route with cool moves and great position, as it is quite steep.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Linking Classic Climbs Around Boulder via Bike

On the Monkey Traverse

This year I'm concentrating on climbing and cycling. At least I have been since the Bolder Boulder. I'm sure enjoying both the climbing and the cycling, but probably not quite as much as the not running. After watching Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright link-up desert towers in Utah I got the idea to link up some climbs around Boulder, but instead of 5.12 offwidths, I'd climb 5.6 slabs.

Tom decided to join me and I was on my bike at 6:50, headed for Eldo. Tom was already there when I arrived. He'd do all the approaches in his mountain biking shoes, though he was riding a road bike, like me, his pedals are the same. I had to switch to my approach shoes for the short hike up to the Wind Ridge (3 pitches, 5.6). This is one of my favorite climbs. It holds a special status in my mind since it was my very first rock climb, back in September, 1980.

We did the cool roof at the start of the third pitch and topped out. We traversed to the rappel descent and down-climbed back to the trail. We were back on the bikes thirty minutes after we left them - about the same time it takes to climb the Naked Edge.

We rode into Boulder and then up to the Gregory Trailhead, hiking the bikes past some of the road damage. It had been threatening to rain on us and we thought it might shut down our First Flatiron ascent. Instead the sun appeared and we worked up a good sweat on the Direct East Face. We were soloing all the routes, of course.
On the First Flatiron

We downclimbed the Southwest Face and hiked back down to our bikes. Next up was the Monkey Traverse (V4) on Flagstaff. We rode up there and switched back into our climbing shoes. A party of four were at the problem with a bunch of pads, but they let us climb through. We both sent the entire traverse. This was by far the most difficult climbing of the morning and also, by far, the safest climbing.

We descended to Eben G. Fine park and then up Boulder Canyon a bit to the Dome. After switching footwear and locking the bikes we hiked up to the East Slab route (5.5) and soloed this one-pitch route. This was also one of the first climbs I ever did.
Finishing up on the summit of the Dome

We were back down at the bikes a little after 11 a.m. and had time to hit Big City Burritos before going to watch Derek crush his opponent, 6-1,6-1, in the third round of the MOJO tennis tournament. Afterwards I rode home to complete the 45-mile climbing/cycling loop.

This was so fun that I'll probably do this at least once a year.

More Training With Mark

At the top of the Yellow Spur
On the Long John Wall

Mark and I have continued to tick off the classics in Eldo. We finally did the Long John Wall, doing the scramble up to Morning Thunder and then back down to the ground to avoid wading South Boulder Creek. We did the route as three pitches and downclimbed off the back side. It's just 5.8, but has a couple of roofs and some good crack climbing sections. Mark was really solid on it.

The super run-out second pitch of the Bulge
A couple of days later, without much time, we did the Bulge. This runout 5.7 route is a time-tested classic. I've done it many times, but it was Mark's first trip up it. He climbed the tricky, traversing crux better than I did. I got a bit off balance there and was a bit concerned for a move or two. Mark cruised the soft 5.9 direct finish as well.

At the crux of the Green Spur
One morning we were in Eldo by 5:15 a.m. and we were the first car! No worries, there are hundreds of routes, right? We headed for the Yellow Spur. Guess what route the first party was on? You got that right. No worries. We could have followed them up, as they were already on the second pitch, but we switched to the Green Spur (5.9+) instead. This is a cool route with a very tricky crux, but the climbing is not nearly as consistent good as the Yellow Spur. I was impressed that Mark got the crux onsight.
Finishing off the crux second pitch
This past Saturday we went back for the Yellow Spur. We didn't get into the canyon until 6:15, but the route was open and we romped up this stellar route. My hand popped off a hold on the airy 5.9 finish and I barn-doored out a bit. I was surprised I didn't fall off. We finished via the exciting Robbin's Traverse instead of the bolt ladder finish. Once again, Mark cruised the opening roof and finishing 5.9 crux.
Heading up the second pitch of the Yellow Spur
With a bit more time, we blazed up the first pitch of Werk Supp. We both did the pitch, ground to ground in under 30 minutes, so we're getting a bit faster. We were headed out of the park by 10 a.m.
Making the reach on the fifth pitch

Bierstadt...the hard way

Finally biking in the daylight

I lead a "Mountain Challenge" for my co-workers at Tendril every year. This year, I scheduled an "easy" 14er. Bierstadt, and a harder one, Capitol. Tom, who never joins in for these things as even the hard mountains are trivial for him, was interested in Bierstadt, but only if we biked up there. Having friends like Tom can be a bitch...

We started from our respective houses at 1 a.m. and met in Golden at 2:10 a.m. We rode over Lookout Mountain and onto I-70 for a couple of exits before getting on highway 40 and climb up over Floyd Hill and then down into Idaho Springs. Five miles outside of Georgetown we met my buddy Eric Coppock and he turned around to finish the ride with us.
2 a.m. in Golden

We were meeting my co-worker Octavian at the trailhead atop Guanella Pass. He was bringing our hiking gear so that we didn't have to carry it. I told him to get there around 6:30 a.m. though we'd likely not arrive until 7 a.m. We stashed our lights in Georgetown and began the 3200-foot climb to the Bierstadt parking. When the Guanella Pass road was paved it immediately became the best climb in Colorado. I love this climb, as it is so varied, has beautiful views, and is on perfect pavement - a rarity in Colorado, especially at over 11,600 feet.

I rolled into the parking lot at 6:58 a.m. We were hiking by 7:10 and by the time I got to 13,000 feet my bonk was fully realized. I knew it was coming, as my stomach had shut down on me and I hadn't eaten anything since Georgetown, almost 5000 feet below me. I was moving very slowly, but still passing other hikers, as he never paused on the entire ascent. My companions had the good manners to stay right on my heels instead of blowing on by and leaving me behind.

At the summit I was completely drained. I'd climbed about 12,000 vertical feet to get here over the last eight hours and my energy stores were completely depleted. Eric turned and immediately started jogging down as he had hoped to be back home by noon. Octavian, Tom, and I just hiked down, though at a fast clip. I felt a lot better going down and vowed to eat when I got back to my bike. Alas, I forgot and didn't remember until I tried to climb a small riser while descending the pass. Oh, yeah, I thought. I have no calories in me.

I had a quick bite in Georgetown and then followed Tom's draft to Idaho Springs and a desperately needed French Dip sandwich. The salt, fat, and protein was just what my stomach demanded and after a leisurely hour-long lunch, Tom and I cranked out the two tough climbs back to Lookout Mountain. In Golden we parted ways once again and made our way home on the tiring rollers, fighting a headwind the entire way, though just beating the rain.

Octavian descending from the summit of Mt. Bierstadt
The total stats for the day were 137.5 miles and 14,400 vertical feet. I got home around 3:30, so it was 14.5 hours for the round trip. Doing it this way sure makes Bierstadt a tougher challenge.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

29:53! Game On!

Scott Bennett starting up the first pitch of the Naked Edge

It seems the speed record on the Naked Edge has developed nicely into a Rocky Mountain version of the Nose speed record. On the latter cliff the main protagonist has been Hans Florine, who, with six different partners has held the speed record seven times. Florine has faced a whole series of challengers to his title. His early rival was Peter Croft until he teamed up with him to set the record. Since 2001, though, his main rival has been Dean Potter. Potter has broken the record on the Nose three times, twice with Minion Timmy O'Neill and more recently with the late Sean Leary. There seems to be no chance Florine and Potter will ever team up for a speed attempt. There is not a lot of love between these two.

Emerging as the main rivals on the Naked Edge are the parties of Stefan Griebel and Jason Wells versus Scott Bennett and Brad Gobright. Griebel/Wells have broken the record three times, including once breaking their own record when they lowered the record from 40:35 down to 35:01. Bennett/Gobright previously had the record at 44 minutes, breaking the 49 minutes set by Griebel/Wells, but they were back now and taking the current record very seriously. They spent the day in Eldo, working the Naked Edge, looking to milk every last bit of speed out of it. They would climb a pitch and then lower down and climb it four more times. They memorized each gear placement, each crimp and each smear. Then they rested, waited for cooler temperatures and some shade. 

They notified to the current record holders of their attempt and I posted it to the Satan’s Minions Scrambling Group and this resulted in an Eldorado Canyon version of the Yosemite Valley crowd watching El Cap records. Instead of reclining in El Cap Meadow, spectators lined the road, climbed up the trail on the opposite side of the canyon, and even climbed up the descent route to view the final pitch up close. My buddy Mark Oveson and I got there early and climbed up three pitches to the base of Naked Edge. I wanted a different perspective on this record attempt.

Before they took off Scott noticed us up at the base of the Naked Edge and, dejected, told Stefan that a party was on the route. Stefan assured him it was us and we were there merely as impartial official judges, acting as Dan Howitt-like timers…not! There was no shortage of timers for this event though, including both current record holders. Mark and I couldn't see the official start, at the bridge, but we heard the roar of the crowd and knew it was game on! Seconds later we saw them running up the slabs and talus below. They then went out of view as they hit the base of the cliff, but five minutes later they were on the Upper Ramp and fast approaching the Cave Pitch, just below  us. They took a different approach to the base of the Naked Edge, though quite similar. While Griebel/Wells climb the Ramp Route, Bennett/Gobright start there but traverse on the break past Touch and Go and then head up directly. The difficulty is probably similar and around 5.6.

Scott led the entire way, carrying both the rope and the rack, as he is the superior aerobic athlete. We had positioned ourselves out of the way of the bolted anchor, but Scott did not stop there, climbing up ten feet higher to a stance at just above us. He dropped the rope for Brad to put him on belay and was climbing up the first pitch just 6m27s after leaving the bridge, this put them ahead of record pace, by about 30 seconds. They use a similar technique to Griebel/Wells in that one person, Bennett, would lead the entire route as one pitch. I talked with them afterwards and, just like Griebel/Wells, it could go either way, but Bennett is the local and knows the route slightly better and Gobright is the stronger climber and hence the better person to be the bottom climber. This team only uses one Ropeman-type device to protect the leader, placing it at the top of the first pitch. This is quicker, as it takes a moment or two to set up these devices, but greatly increases the risk to the lead climber and puts tremendous pressure on the trailing climber on the 10b second pitch and the 11a fourth pitch. The history of this record has escalated into more and more dangerous climbing as it has progressed from strictly pitching it out to soloing/simul-climbing with little protection for the leader if the second happens to fall.

Scott is a tall, lanky guy and he climbed the first pitch of the Edge, a tricky, tips-only finger crack seventy feet long, in just over two minutes, placing three pieces of gear. His length allows him to grab the arete out to the left up high on the pitch. Watching this up close he made the pitch look 5.6. He had every moment completely wired. There was no hesitation at all and he placed gear and clipped it in just a few seconds. It was impressive and Brad had a bit of trouble feeding the rope through his GriGri fast enough. Scott slapped the protection device on the belay and was soon out of sight. It wasn't long before Brad took off. Being quite a bit shorter, Brad has to climb the finger crack directly at the top, but he’s so strong and so solid, he made that look just as easy as Scott had.

In order to see the finish, Mark and I would have to hustle down the rappels and we started immediately. I rapped down to the next anchor and clipped in. As I looked up to Mark was rappelling down to me, I saw Scott cranking through the boulder problem on the last pitch! I was flabbergasted. We wouldn't even be able to rappel down in time to see the finish. Unbelievable. We'd learn later that the team climbed the Naked Edge route proper in just 16 minutes! That’s from the lead climber starting up the first pitch to the second climber finishing the last pitch. This route is five pitches long, though frequently linked  into three pitches, though only by very strong climbers, rated 11a, 10b, 8+, 11a, 11b. That’s world-class speed.

Mark continued down as fast as we could, while still making sure we were safe. At the bottom I took off, leaving the gear and rope for Mark to retrieve. I dashed down to the start as fast as I could go. I got to the bridge five minutes ahead of them and had time to anxiously await the first sighting of them on the descent. The crowd cheered up encouragement and time splits. Scott was well out in front of Brad and motoring down the descent. Another slight variation that this team uses is that they go completely in their climbing shoes, running down the descent in them. Griebel/Wells carry descent shoes and switch into them at the top.

Bennett hit the bridge well under thirty minutes, but that doesn't count - this is a team event. He couldn't believe the time and shouted with glee, turn around and ran back up towards Brad, yelling for him to go faster, faster, faster! They grouped up on the far side and sprinted for the middle of the bridge - what’s become the official start/finish location. They both got there in 29:53, breaking the record by over five minutes! The crowd cheered loudly at the start, when they hit the base, when they topped out, and erupted when they hit the finish. It was a spectacle to be sure. Wells and Griebel were the first to congratulate them. Stefan had told me before that he really wanted them to break the record so that he and Jason would have a good excuse to go back and try again. Afterwards that was still the case, though he did lament that he wished they hadn't broken the record by so much. 

Chris Archer, a long-time Eldo activist/climber, was on hand to watch the event. He’s climbed the route around 100 times, calling it the best route in country. He might have been able to envision this route being climbed in under an hour, but couldn't fathom it going under forty minutes, let alone under 30 minutes. I concur, but, just like on the Nose, I suspect that even this "unbreakable" record will eventually be broken. I just hope the risks taken don’t get any greater.

Well done, lads!

Friday, June 06, 2014

Eldo. What Else?

Turning the roof at the top of the second pitch of Allosaur

Mark and I climbed in Eldo the last two mornings. Thursday was a bit chilly and we decided to head for Long John Wall. Of course, were stopped by the same high water that Tom and I waded through last weekend. Instead we scrambled up slabs to the start of Morning Thunder (5.9+ S). I failed to get very far on this route after three tries. I had an RP protecting the opening moves, but I wasn't 100% confident and the fall would be down a chimney and ugly. It's a serious route, but I've done it a number of times. I was surprised and dismayed I didn't figure this out sooner. Mark finally called "time" on me and rescued me from any further flailing, though it scar me with the scarlet letter (phrase) of "run away" that I felt was tattooed on my forehead.
A rare sighting of the leader, sewing up the third pitch of Allosaur
We scrambled down, over, and up to the base of Allosaur (5.9). I put the first two stellar pitches together into one and Mark followed nicely up to my ledge above the roof. You have to belay after turning this roof, as the rope drag is significant. The last pitch is the crux 5.9 section and I sewed it up with four bomber pieces before making the delicate moves to the top of the corner. 

Mark followed with increasing confidence. He knew he had some power reserves and could move up into a crux not knowing exactly how it will end. When he arrived at the belay he commented that it was the first morning he hadn't weighted the rope. I asked about our Calypso/Reggae/Wind Ridge morning and he further specified: first morning with 5.9 climbing. Indeed. Well done.
At the top of the first pitch of Werk Supp

Today we met again at 5:30 a.m. Actually, we were both early and driving toward Eldo from our dirt lot meeting place by 5:25 a.m. We left the car for Werk Supp by 5:32. The shocking thing was that we were the THIRD car in the parking lot. At 5:30 a.m.? Worse, one of the car's was parked in MY spot - the first spot. I really need to get the park to put up a sign or something as this abuse has become more common lately. I didn't let it ruin my morning though, and just trudged the extra twenty feet, which, while very short, is a significant part of the approach to Werk Supp since that is about 100 feet. Backcountry climbing  this is not.

The other part was on the Bastille Crack, big surprise. When we approached, the leader, who was only thirty feet off the ground, looked at us, then turned to his partner and said, "See?", as if we were justification for meeting so early. It was funny that both parties were climbing on the shaded, somewhat chilly north face of the Bastille with beautiful, sun drenched walls beckoning from across the bridge. But we had been avoiding the Werk Supp/March of Dimes combo for too long. I credit Mark with making this happen as I could have easily been talking into doing our scrambling approach to the much easier Long John Wall.
Cranking the hand crack on the second pitch

At the top of the second pitch

I led up the long first pitch of Werk Supp, reacquainting myself with the very cool climbing on this popular pitch. Mark followed nicely, though not completely unchallenged and then moved our belay to the base of the second pitch - a Yosemite-style, slanting, pod/hand crack. This pitch requires an intimate knowledge of crack climbing techniques. I demonstrated some jamming and chicken wings for Mark and spouted copious beta while I ascended. The last couple of jams are pretty burly and my wimpy hands were feeling the pressure. It was a bit painful, but I was completely solid. I knew to avoid the very tempting lieback out of the pod, as you can't complete the route that way and it is very difficult to get back to the jams.

I set up a solid belay and perched myself at the top of the wall in order to take some photos and help with some additional instruction. Mark started with a great handjam that worked well for him, but then he entered the awkward, slanting pod and when things got frustrating the cam in front of his face proved too tempting not to grasp. He moved out of the upper pod using the dead-end lieback. I had told him this was a dead-end, but that didn't concern him much. He gained some altitude and the problem of transitioning from lieback to jam was easily solved with some extreme rope tension. Mark executed the finishing jams nicely and joined me on the ledge.
At the crux of March of Dimes

Above us was the very short crux pitch of March of Dimes. Mark took one look at it and said, "That doesn't look too bad." He'll try to defend himself and say that he was looking at the hand crack slanting to the right instead of the finger crack slanting to the left, but I think he was just feeling confident after crushing the last pitch.  
I slowly worked my way up the lower portion of this crack, first placing a red Alien, then a blue Alien, then, with some effort, a stopper. Getting pumped I put in another small cam and started into the final, crux sequence. I remembered, mostly, what I needed to do, but didn't pull hard enough and fell off. Mark caught me and after I rested a bit, I went with more conviction on my second try and completed the crux traverse across the face and up to the two new (to me) bolts. This anchor allows one to rappel off instead of doing the involved downclimb, which is right above the road and ends in a loose, talus slope. This anchor is a nice addition.

Mark climbed clean through most of the pitch, pulling all the gear before he came off. The climbing here is very technical, with tiny footholds and tiny, slanting handholds. He swung over and gave it another try, getting higher but fell once again. He swung to his left this tiny and clambered up to the belay. We did three rappels, all from two-bolt anchors, back to the ground. Before heading out we toproped the first pitch of March of Dimes (5.9+, I think). 

While climbing I noticed that there were eight cars in the lot before 6 a.m. The third party in the canyon was on the Bastille as well - on Outer Space. A party was on the very exciting Blackwalk and a party was nearing the top of the Wind Ridge. People were streaming in when we left the canyon at 8:30 a.m. Indeed it was a great day to climb.

Note: One might wonder how I take so many photos. We have a motto: photos first! Safety is a close second, though. :-) Actually, I almost always belay with my device in guide mode and I can safely handle the camera and belay at the same time.