Saturday, August 23, 2014


The last moves through the rotten band

T2, named as it ascends Tower Two in Eldorado Canyon, is one of the longest routes in Eldorado Canyon and it mostly consists of classic 5.9 and easier climbing. But there's an issue. It's the first pitch. Actually, its just the first 25 feet of the first pitch. It's hard. Really hard for a guy like me. I think it is 5.11b/c, though I think the guidebook rates it easier. It's overhangs massively right from the ground. In fact, it is non-trivial to even pull both feet off the ground as you pull yourself into a bat hang and then proceed to a heel hook and other burly shenanigans up to a pin and then have to pull on tiny holds, though the angle has eased considerably to just slightly overhanging. And here's the best part: the only piece of pro is that pin that is twenty feet off the ground, above the crux moves (for me anyway), and if you blow it, you'll land flat on your back on a rock slab. That's not a reasonable lead for me. That's unreasonable. I TRed it cleanly twice earlier this year, but I'd need to climb it much more easily before I'd even think about leading it.

So, what's the moderate climber to do? Forgo all that great climbing above? Never! The 5.9 climber's approach to this route is to climb the first pitch of Touch and Go (burly 5.8 vs. burly 11+) to the super cool second pitch of Jules Verne (which has an even more dangerous and harder start than T2), which gets you to the Upper Ramp. From there you can follow the upper five (guidebook) pitches of T2. The locals call this either T1.9 or T1.5. Mark and I headed here this morning.

Mark hadn't climbed since the Diamond and I had only climbed once. We were both getting a bit out of shape and weren't ready to quit climbing for the year. I have one more big climbing objective on my radar for this year, so I need to stay somewhat in shape.

I pulled into the Eldo parking lot at 6 a.m. I was surprised to see another car parked in my spot, the first spot. It was a tall guy and a girl. I popped out and said, "It's no big deal and I'm not upset, but you parked in my spot. You don't have to move it, but I'm just letting you know for next time." They were cool and weren't even there to climb! They said some friends of theirs were going to climb the Naked Edge and they were going to shoot some photos. That's cool. We started gearing up and the tall guy told us that his friends were training for the Naked Edge speed record. Now they had my interest. "Really?" I said. "Are your friends Scott and Brad?"

Sure enough, they were. When Scott and Brad pulled in I learned that they were going to give a show at Neptune's on the Naked Edge speed record. Mark and I offered up the use of our photos and video, thinking these would be a huge help over the photos this guy was going to take from below the route. We tried to tell the guy that he should be more over on the Fowler Trail. From his proposed location he'd be taken the ultimate long-distance butt shot!

Climbing the Naked Edge - Teaser Trailer from max seigal on Vimeo.

I tell newcomers to Boulder to "be humble", as you never know when you're talking to some world-class athlete who looks like a normal human and is really modest. If you've not humble, you can easily get your foot stuck in your mouth. I know this one dude who made this mistake at the base of El Cap. He didn't know he was talking to Scott Cosgrove and Steve Gerberding (Valley legends) and when they revealed their plan to bivy on the Block instead of the usual last bivy on the much higher on Long Ledge, said, "If you get off from there, that would be amazing." They responded, "We can do amazing things" and the light slowly started to come on for this tool...

Onsighting the 5.9 fingercrack (yes, I see that #3 Camalot)
But I digress. I'd never make a mistake like this and was confident of offering my video. It turns out the tall guy knew what he was doing. At the top of the first pitch, as I was belaying Mark up, I see the guy below me and he now has a quad copter with him. Scott and Brad and casually soloed up the approach to the Naked Edge and have even climbed the first two pitches already and a rapping down it to climb it again! Tall guy flies his quad copter up to the Naked Edge and hovers rock solid shooting what I assume to be some awesome video. I'm thinking, "Tall guy has done this before..." This guy was rock solid with that baby. He even shot some video of Mark and I. I figured we'd make a great contrast video for the speed climbing: Here's how a normal party climbs 5.9; now, here's how Scott and Brad climb 5.11.

I led up the second pitch to the Ramp and Mark followed nicely, cleaning climbing the pumpy dihedral. We walked up the Ramp to the start of upper T2 and I combined the 5.7 pitch with the 5.9 fingercrack pitch and set up a semi-hanging belay on a tiny stance before the 5.8 slab pitch. Mark followed, climbing remarkably well despite the layoff. He onsighted this tricky pitch. He was feeling the effort at the belay, but wore a satisfying grin.

I led up part the 5.8 slab to the easy 5.6 ramp, which was covered in lots of disgusting bird shit, but it didn't last long and with care you could avoid almost all of it. It took me a bit to place the safe gear and climb through the tricky, weird, intimidating rotten band. I pulled up the rope and Mark followed quickly to the rotten section. In the midst of the balance moves out to his right, he messed up his feet a bit. The handholds are so bad here that reversing things would be difficult. I was well below my belay device (setup in guide mode at the anchor) in order to take photos and I'd have had to climb back up there to give him slack, if he wanted to reverse things and try again. He didn't call for slack, though, and tried to push on through. Unfortunately, it wasn't an easily salvageable position and Mark fell off.
Climbing through the "Rotten Band"
After a brief rest, he regained the rock and climbed through the pumpy crux section to the ledge. He was so close to getting the route completely clean, but one fall is no big deal. We simul-climbed the remaining 300 feet of 5.6 climbing to the top and then descended via the familiar East Slabs.
Topping out on T2
Scott and Brad and Tall Guy and Cute Girl were gone by now. It was only 10:30 a.m. but they had already climbed the Naked Edge's pitches two or three times over, shot some cool video, and were off for lattes. I'll have to hit up Scott for Tall Guy's email and see if we can get the video of us. It was another great morning in Eldo. As I type this at 2 p.m. I'm listening to violent thunder and glad I'm not sitting on top of Tower Two.

No comments: