Sunday, August 27, 2017

Patience Face: My 5.12 Project

This will be nearly unreadable for anyone but myself. It is a full accounting of the effort I put in to send Patience Face (12a) on Dinosaur Rock. Some of it was cut-and-pasted from my Strava reports so the flow and tense will be variable and rough.

When I turned forty I had four big goals, two running and two climbing. One of the climbing goals was to send a 5.12 outside. Back then I don't even know if I'd done a 5.12 in the gym. Anyway, I got one, Meteor Rhoadblock, that year. For the next decade I concentrated on my strengths: 5.6/7 trad routes, but when I turned forty-ten I decided to try and do another 5.12. That year I got Empire of the Fenceless. And then it was back to my usual scrambles. Each winter I'd climb in the gym and each gym season I'd get a few 5.12's clean, but they'd take me lots of attempts.

This year I once again sought to work a 5.12 project and this time I wanted to do one that wasn't in Boulder Canyon, but still close by, which meant in Eldo or the Flatirons. A couple years ago I tried Scratch n' Sniff in Eldo and got crushed. I couldn't touch the crux move and struggled to gain inches. I probably hung 20 times to get up the route and that included aid to get over the roof. It was hopeless and I gave up. Hence, this year I thought I'd try the Flatirons. I picked Patience Face because I'd toproped, with many hangs, my way up it back when my buddy Bruno was working Milkbone (13a), which was just to the right of PF. Bruno would warm-up on PF before trying Milkbone. Bruno was going to project Ultrasaurus, which is just right of Milkbone, so PF was a good choice and we were a team.
Bruno leading Touch Monkey
On our first trip up there we didn't even get on PF, as it was crowded with other climbers. Instead we went across the way to try Touch Monkey (11b). This route is really steep and very burly. I didn't get it even on TR on my first go. I did get it, again on TR, on my second go. Derek was with us and he got it too. On a subsequent trip Derek and I both sent it. I figured if I couldn't send 11b, I had no business working 12a.

Derek leading Touch Monkey
Patience Face was put up by Matt Samet, et. al. in 2008, but it wasn't bolted until 2010 or later. It's a long route for a sport climb, requiring a 70-meter rope to lower off of it. There are 14 bolts on the route, not counting the anchor.

On my first trip to PF on June 25th, Bruno put up a TR for me. My first effort was dismal. So much so that I thought it was beyond me. Subsequent tries still had me failing at all three cruxes and hanging maybe 4 or 5 times just to get between bolts 8 and 9 - the hardest part of the route. I did work out how to get through the first five bolts, which I called the pre-crux and delivers quite the pump.

One the encouraging things about PF, though, was that, despite its great length, there were at least three no-hands rests. I'd eventually find six no-hands rests on route. If it wasn't for these rests, I wouldn't be able to touch this route. My tips hurt so bad after this first session and the route seemed impossible.
The steep, opening moves of Patience Face
I didn't get back to PF for a month and went with my buddy Chris Weidner and Derek. Despite the multiple hangs between the bolts at the crux, Chris convinced me to start leading the route and work it that way. I relented, but assumed I'd be coming down after the eighth clip because I won't be able to make it to the 9th. Chris would then bail me out.

So I geared up and started leading for the first time. Getting to the second bolt is really burly for me and a tough warm-up. I've fallen off here before, but last time I was on it, I made it and I made it again today and made the clip with some relief. There is a pretty good rest a bit higher and I milked it. I then climbed up and clipped the third bolt but then screwed up reaching way right for the hidden hold and fell off. Oh well.

Another thing Chris stressed was to take on nearly every bolt while I'm still working it. If I'm not going for a redpoint attempt (and I was far from that), then I should take on every bolt and save energy so that I could work in free climb all the moves between the bolts. That made sense and I mostly did that the rest of the way up.

I got to the fourth bolt, made the clip and then fell off on the tricky moves right there. I got it on my second try and climbed through the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th draws clean. I hung on the 8th draw as it marks the start of the crux of the entire route. After one short fall trying the crux, I grabbed the draw and used it to reach the slanting slot above the undercling hold. I then barely deadpointed my way up to the next bolt. I was staring right at it, but no way I could clip. I tried another move, but was too chicken to make the run into the pod on the right as it would be a large fall and I was worried about the slight bulge below. I downclimbed a move and then fell off. Chris gave me an expert, soft catch and sailed by the worrisome bulge, not hitting anything. This gave me the confidence to give it a better try on my second go. Cheating off the draw again, I was just barely able to climb into the pod on the right and then reach back and clip the bolt. Whew!

Clipping the 10th draw is really tough and awkward and it risks a bit of a fall, but I got it. I grabbed it and hung, sussing out the next moves. This section is the second crux and feels 5.12 to me as well. I cheated on the draw and only had to do one hard move before hitting the jug and then moving left and up to clip the next draw.

I did fine clipping the next three bolts, the last draws, but the ramp section getting to the last bolt is harder than it looks. And making that clip is also tricky and awkward. I rested on the bolt and then did the final crux, which is a big throw to the left for a jug and then locking off on bad feet to get another jug. I grabbed the chains to clip in.
Moving by the fourth bolt on Patience Face - what I call the "pre-crux"
I lowered and then sort of re-did the final section, at Chris' insistence. This time I climbed up and left of the chains and was able to get up there without grabbing them. I lowered to the ground and it was Derek's turn.

Derek did awesome, leading it on his very first time on the route. He was clean up to the fourth draw, I think, and then took a rest. He was doing it in similar style to me - pretty much resting at each bolt. He made it up through all the draws except the last one. He was just too tired at that point to pull on the small, bad holds and step on tiny things to get up to the last draw. This is a bit of a run and he said that it was a combination of mental and physical fatigue. Still, he did about ten times better than my first go on the route.

Derek lowered off and after Chris refused to climb the route to retrieve the draws, I went up on TR to get them back. Chris only refused to make me get in a second burn. My goal was mostly to get up there as quickly as possible, as I was aware of the late hour and needed to get to work. I climbed okay, but was noticeably a bit more tired and my tips a bit sensitive. As I neared Derek's highpoint I clipped in the other side of the rope so that when I started to lead again, I'd be into three bolts instead of one. I was just barely able to finish the final three deadpoints to the chains, grabbing the carabiner after debating if that was a smart thing to dyno to.

I cleaned the top and Chris lowered me to the ground and we hiked out of there.

Chris spent the entire morning belaying and cheering us on. And he met us at 5:30 in the morning. And he didn't climb anything. Derek used a funny phrase to describe Chris and I can't remember it now, but it was something like "ruthlessly nice." I agree. He's an incredibly nice guy and a ridiculously good climber, having redpointed 14b.

Each of these visits I went up the route twice. I figured years ago I TRed it twice, so I was now six tries into this route.

My next trip up there was spent just belaying Bruno. I didn't get back on the route until August 10th. Bruno and I would meet at NCAR at 5:30 in the morning on a weekday and hike up and get in one burn each before hiking back down and going to work. On this trip, Bruno led it first and put up the draws.

It was only my second time leading on the route and my first time with the draws pre-placed (thanks, Bruno). I got up four clips clean and then just got tired working out the crux section there. I think I know exactly what to do now. I just need to relax, get a slight shake out, and executing the correct sequence.
Stretching for the clip at the start of the second crux.
So, one hang there and then clean up to the eighth draw and the start of the crux. I hung here to rest and then cheated by pulling on the draw. It's still desperate even pulling on the draw and I had to grab the next draw to clip. I hung again and worked out the finish to the crux into the next pod.

I worked on the next crux section a bit but cheated on another draw there as well. I've worked out the top of this section and after making the next clip, I could move a bit to the left into another pod and get a no-hands rest.

I climbed clean up to the ramp and got another no-hands rest there, lying on the ramp. Then got up the ramp and clipped the last draw. I gave this final crux a go and fell on it. I rested went back to the start of it and worked out how to do it and got it clean, so that's some good progress.

I was hoping to either get the start or the top clean and did not, but I made some progress on both. I'll continue with these intermediate goals and once I have them, I'll work on the second crux and then finally work on the first crux, which is brutally hard and the longest hard section, as well.

This was my seventh lap on the route. At the time I wrote that I thought it would take between 20-30 tries, but that was probably just to ease the pressure on myself. I was making progress faster than that, but I still hadn't done the crux section clean, so it might have gone at all.

On Saturday, August the 13th, Bruno and I returned.A great morning on Dinosaur Rock with some significant progress. My goal for the morning was to lead it, placing the draws (I'd already done this once before, but didn't want to regress), climb clean through the first eight clips, and climb clean from above the second crux to the anchors. I'd be happy with getting just the first goal.

On my first go, I got all three! I could have quit and come home at that point. I pulled on the eighth draw to get by the first and hardest crux and I rested on it. I did the same at the tenth draw for the second crux.

Bruno lowered me down and I worked on the second crux and got it clean twice on TR.

Bruno got on Ultrasaurus and climbed clean through six clips, but was tired from new route work the day before and came down to rest.

On my second go (with the draws in place now), I once again went clean to the eighth draw and even got a good shake/rest before trying the crux just a bit. I got up a ways, but was too far to the left. I fell off and then cheated to get by once again.

I rested in the pod and then sent the second crux and all the way to the top! Essentially I have only two feet of climbing that I haven't freed. I do need to link it all once I get it free and linking the climbing between the 8th and 9th bolts will be a bear, but I'm so much closer now. Just one hang on the route and one pull on a draw.

On August 17th, Bruno and I were back.Bruno hung the draws and then it was my turn. I used a different foot placement getting to the second bolt and it definitely made things easier on this 10+ opening section.

I screwed up the sequence getting up to the 4th clip but had the endurance to correct. I also messed up the next section after moving to the right. Just a bit off, I thought. I made it clean up to the eighth clip and struggled to rest before attempting the crux, which I didn't really know how to do. It went as expected: poorly.

The feet here are really bad, but to make up for that, the handholds are very bad as well. I guess that's why it's 5.12. I tried a few things and failed badly, but then I noticed a tiny edge that I could use for my right foot. Getting the sequence right to get my foot there took trying a few combinations, but I worked it out. Once I had my right foot on it, I could then move up my left foot high enough so that I could do the cross-over move to get the sloping slot with my left hand. I continued, just barely, to move upwards and grab the ninth draw. Just clipping in was hard, as I was so pumped.

Cool. So now I've finally free climbed between the 8th and 9th bolts. To get it clean on a redpoint I'll have to climb clear into the pod, but involves a few more hard moves, but I have the sequence worked out. I just need to build the endurance now. On my next trip up here the goal will be to link from the 8th draw into the pod. I've gone clean from there up and I can rest as long as I want, so I should get it from there, but there are plenty of places to screw up above there.

Once in the pod I rested and then tried the second crux. I screwed that up as well and fell off it. After resting, I got it on my second try and climbed clean up to the ramp rest and then stuck the finishing crux, barely, and clipped the chains without grabbing them. So, the finish is getting better. I did have some stress getting to the jug at the bottom of the ramp. I don't have that area worked out very well. It's so balancy with a couple of terrible holds, but I don't really need to move much on them. Just get stable and then hit the jug.

I cleaned the route on rappel. When cleaning I have been clipping into the other strand so that I can pull back onto this overhanging and traversing route to clean it. If you don't do this, you'll be 20+ away from the wall. When first cleaned this way and unclipped the last draw I swung out hard and pulled Bruno with me because the rope on him was now going straight to the anchors, instead of through the first bolt. He stumbled along the ground for a bit and everything was fine, but I thought that maybe I should have unclipped from the other line before unclipping from the last draw. that way I wouldn't pull Bruno with me. On Sunday, I did this, but it's dangerous. I cleaned the lowest draw before cleaning the second draw. Then I unclipped from the rope going to Bruno, unclipped the second bolt and then swung out, gaining lots of speed and then hitting the rock bulge at the base of Milkbone, rather hard. I bruised my hip and the heel of my hand, even with my feet bracing myself a bit. That sucked.
Danny on the opening moves of Patience Face
Today, trying to do better, after unclipping the lowest two bolts, I climbed up to the third bolt and let go. I still hit the slab, though it was better this time and no injuries, but scary and dangerous, with injury potential to be sure.

I'm now convinced I should NOT unclip from the rope leading to Bruno. I will pull him across the ground a bit, but he will greatly slow my swing and I won't hit anything hard. Maybe we just need to anchor Bruno. But I'm definitely not cleaning this route correctly right now.

The following week, on August 22nd, I went up there with Mark Oveson, specifically to try and link from the eighth to the ninth bolt.Mark's ankle gets fused tomorrow, so in maybe his last outing before going on crutches for 6-8 weeks he agreed to give me a belay on my project. We hiked up his his daughter Mallory and her soon-to-be-fiancee (don't ask) Theo. After dumping my pack at the base of PF, we hiked up to the backside of Der Zerkle and I pointed out some of the sport climbs there for Mallory and Theo.

Mark and I returned to the base of PF and geared up. I had Mark use my Grigri but failed to show him how to work it. I got a chance to do that after he short-roped me on the second clip. I didn't come off or have to hang, but go an extra pump waiting for the rope. After I got the shoulder-jam rest, I told him about the pinch-and-pull technique and he was good to go for the rest of the pitch.

My plan was to climb up to the eighth bolt and take on it. My goal for the morning was to climb clean from this bolt through to clipping the ninth bolt - the crux of the entire climb. This is the only section that I hadn't got clean yet.

There is semi-rest at that bolt, but it's bad, so I just hung on the bolt. After a rest and working out my plan, I went for it. I don't use the low undercling hold on the left really at all. I start by slapping up on the arete and then getting my left foot on the sloper. I then bear down and get my right foot on the tiny edge I found last time. I stand up, get the upper undercling hold, move up the left foot. Cross-through to the slot hold. Right foot up. Bump the right hand through to the crimp. Cool. Then stay strong and keep moving on the bad holds and tricky, smeary feet until I can reach way into the pod on the right and grab the jug. Sweet! Clean for the first time.

I got the second crux clean as well and then climbed up to the final crux and barely got that as well. Up to the chains, no grabbing of chains, and clipped in. My best effort so far. One planned hang. No pulling on draws. No cheats on clips. I'm officially in redpoint mode now. Hopefully get this baby on Thursday.

But I didn't on Thursday. It was my time for a full morning of belaying Bruno and I was happy to do it, but anxious to get a redpoint go on PF. I got that two days later, on Saturday morning, when Bruno and Danny Gilbert joined me.
We met at 6 a.m. and hiked up nice and slow. I tried to tell myself that there was no pressure. This was my first real redpoint attempt. I'd get in two tries this morning and might need 2 or 3 visits (4-6 more tries) before I sent it.

I fumbled the second clip for the first time and that took a bit more energy. I didn't dwell on that and got a good rest at the shoulder jam. I then climbed smoothly up through the pre-crux of the first five bolts to the no-hands rest. I rested a good while here and then sent the crux for only the second time and into the pod for another no-hands rest. I'd climbed the route clean from there to the top before, so I knew I had a good chance, but there are two more cruxy sections that are at my limit.

The next crux is just a big deadpoint and I hit it and moved smoothly up to the no-hands rest on the ramp. I could take a nap up here on my belly.

On the final crux, I missed my bump to the left first time, but had ample power to adjust it and then almost statically reach way left for the jug. The next two moves, normally deadpoints for me, were no static moves and I had tons of power left. I easily clipped the chains.

I let out a whoop of joy and heard the same from my friends below. When I hit the ground Bruno and I embraced. I bumped fists with Danny. At the top of that route, listening to Bruno chant, "Come on! Come on", I wanted to send it more for him than for me. I didn't want to let him down.

This is only my third outdoor 5.12 and the first not in Boulder Canyon. It took me 12 tries. What a great morning! This was my third major climbing goal of the year (after climbing El Cap and the Diamond with Derek). Thanks to Bruno, Chris, Mark, Danny, and Derek for all the help in getting this done! But mostly Bruno. :-)

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