Monday, June 16, 2008

Day 4 Tuesday June 10th

Got up late to a windy and cold day. However it turned out to be one of my best days yet (ever?!) Not remembering how far the altitude changes at the City I went up to and area called the Breadloaves (for the sliced breadloaf appearance) which is near the top and fully 1500 feet higher than some of the other crags. This means wind AND cold temps.

Still I managed to find a sunny east facing wall and do alright. Though I has originally tried to setup a climb called Bloody fingers and 10a finger and handcrack, I didnt want to try the scramble to the top in my waldies and the 5.8 I had thought I would rope solo to get to the top of the formation didnt have any gear for the first 40 feet. No way I would do that alone. Settled for a 10 on the left which was horrible. One nice crack move in the middle with sandy slab at the bottom and vegetated crumbly rock higher up.

Not discouraged and now armed with my climbing shoes I scrambled up to the top of the main formation and set up Bloody fingers. Actually since Bloody Fingers sort of leans to the right quite a bit I wanted to put in some directional pieces. These intermediate pieces help prevent a swing because the top anchor is not in-line with the climb. Gladly this let me TR the really great technical and balancy face to the right. Not one positive hold but all slopers which provide no secure grip. Tons of fun. While rapping back down put in 4 pieces on bloody fingers to help with the swing. John Kelbel would love this route! Burly lieback moves off the deck and then some brief face (though with a crack for gear) then 30 feet of perfect hands, then over a bulge and technical thin fingers to the top. Once I find a partner ill have to go back and lead this super climb.

Finally in this area went and setup the 5.8 to the right I had looked at previously. Nothing spectacular but good face climbing to a short crack at the top. Up top the winds must be near 40 mph. Just another reason to always stay clipped in up top!

At this point I was feeling pretty spent for the day was contemplating turning in early but leafing through the guide turned up a 2 pitch 5.7 to the top of a 200 foot spire. Hard to turn down! Long approach for the city (30 mins) and had to take a detour around a throng of cows that didnt appear to want to moooove out of the way for me. The tower really does resemble the Lost Arrow in Yosemite from a certain perspective, though today I was glad to take the 200 feet of exposure over the 2000 for the real deal.

The first pitch you scamble/layback up a big flack with no gear until you can clip a pin in a thin corner. A few chimney moves get you to a magnificent ramp. If anyone has ever done the first pitch of directissima at the Gunks they wil know what I am talking about. The next bit is a ramp (so less than vertical on one side) but there is an overhanging corner on the left. Though you want to stay in the corner to get gear the overhang is making it tough to maneuver, especially with a pack full of rope on my back. So you get pushed back onto this airy face with little below you, and every 20 fee or so run back to the corner to clip an old fixed pin. One final pull over a roof puts you at the first belay. Though perfectly sized to place 3 big cams in the block has pretty hollow sounding, spent quite a while searching around and found some pieces to back it up. Rap down, have to leave a bunch of pieces clipped because the pitch traverses (moves sideways) to prevent a big swing on the way back up.

It is always a strange thing to be back on the ground in the middle of a climb, but this always happens after the first pitch of a rope solo. It is always the point I have the most difficult time convincing myself to proceed. There is the thought, “well I have already been up there.” But with a ton of gear and another pitch to go I find the drive. It is probably helped by some swigs of gatorade and a granola bar. Re-ascend the pitch using my micro-ascender, the TR (toprope) soloing device par excellence. The next pitch looks steep. Over a roof traversing left and then pull over a lip to the summit slab. Turns out to be not so bad. The final summit slab is stunning 50 feet of climbing right on the edge between two faces, it is supposed to be without gear but I found a couple of chickenheads formed by the patina to sling.

This patina is everywhere out here and is stunning. Basically water leaches the iron out of the base granite which brings it to the surface where it hardens. Since it is more resistant to erosion than its original rock it forms wonderful plates almost like dinner plates that are great holds. A couple climbs exclusively climb these patina features.

In any case the summit is Windy! It is a real struggle to even stand up (dont worry I am always clipped in) Not a terribly small summit, about 10 x 10 but gives a great panoramic view of the lower bits of the City. Rap back down and clean my last anchor and TR back up the to sunmmit. Still windy. The rap is completely free-hanging almost a full 60 meteres. Again for the Gunks reference, but this is better than the rap next to Gelsa. A moments scare as back on the ground when I try to pull the ropes they dont go anywhere. The wind has twisted them up top and they wont pull through the anchor. Minutes, and much cursing/rope finagling, later they finally come down. Walk back right through the cows which dont seem as scary after that tower.

Back at the car I meet up with Clay and Jacob who are just chilling drinking a beer. I must look bedraggled because they look at me like I am crazy. I guess when you rope solo things you get into a groove, both physically and mentally, and that groove doesnt involve making small talk with other climber dudes. Not their fault, but it takes so time to get readjusted after a day like that. Back at the tent, I make dinner play some guitar and crash.

No comments: