Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day Four: Onward & Upward

OK Day 4 was surprising because...Napoleon was almost on time and he actually had his stuff ready. Today we also had the pleasure of a new team member, one Tony McLane.

Now if you don't know Tony, you really must meet him. He comes from a wonderful lineage of climbers. His father, Kevin, a Brit, arrived in Canada in 1973, after a summer in the Valley, and never left. Tony put up his first route at age 10 or so. When I met him, he wore a shredded brown corduroys, a headband, and had long hair. His rack was a bunch of ancient Aliens most likely stolen from Dad. He rocked Yosemite 1977. I see Tony every winter in the U.S. He is generally unemployed, filthy, and broke...making his father very proud. Like a monk, the man has dedicated his life not to women, wine or work, but to climbing. He currently lives in a car in the yard of a tire shop.

Anyway Tony showed up on his bike and we hacked our way up to the route. Tony agreed to clean our alternative first pitch and jumped on the fixed blue lines, while Napoleon and I jugged up to our former high point. When Napoleon arrived at the tree to which I'd anchored the rope, he freaked. CEdars are generally deep-rooted and solid but Napoleon was NOT happy. So we argued for awhile. I was OK with the cedar but Blicker pointed out that there was no way we were going to be able to move up-- any rockfall woudl drop directly onto the tree. He was right, and we were therefore forced to drill two bolts off to the side of the crack to get the belayer out of the way of the inevitable bombing.

We thrashed around between the tree and the bolts for awhile, Napoleon sternly warning me not to drop big bombs on him. I moved up the final eight or so meters of crack, which were again oddly clean. At the ledge, I reached up to grab a small pillar...and the entire thing shifted. I stepped back down into my aiders. I had to move up and sideways, bypassing this potential 9 foot 500 pound missile which was about to obliterate first me and then Napoleon, who even from 30 feet away I could tell was sweating. I pawed at a couple of crimps, stood up on the ledge...and then realised I'd forgotten to unclip from my aiders. Now I had to down-climb four feet past the Leaning Pillar of Death. The LEPOD groaned as I pinched and squirmed myself into a pretzel shape, unclipped my aiders, and basically jumped sideways onto the muddy shelf. I fired in one bolt and breathed out. The ledge was good-- two feet wide, a comfy stance, you could sit, and the belayer would be out of the line of fire for the next pitch.

"I'm getting the fuck OUT of here!" yelled Napoleon. Although sympathetic to his cause, I thought that we had better get the LEPOD out of the way otherwise we would have to do the same thing next time. So we bickered a bit and then Napoleon jugged up.

When he arrived we started to reef on the LEPOD which shifted and ground ominously. Then some folks walked by and I, panicking, yelled "get the fuck out of the way!" to which they yelled "shut the fuck up and stop for a minute!" which was exactly what rude me deserved.

When the LEPOD finally came off-- it is odd how you can use a nut-tool to shift a 500-pound rock-- it blasted past the fixed lines and thundered down the face. We could feel its progress through our feet and the rope. The 150 meters of cliff shook and the smell of crushed rock wafter up along with Tony's "HOLY FUUUUUUUUCK!"

The real joy however was in seeing the next pitch. You climb about ten feet up and left along our ledge, then it is a shallow slabby dihedral that leads up to the Green Line ledge. Clean, smooth. It will make for some friction climbing and stemming, with possibly gear in its final third. All we need are a 1/4" drill and some of those aid devices that go in rivet holes. The next pitch, we will install one bolt at the lefthand top of our ledge. The we will stand on the bolt (or rock), drill a 1/4" rivet, clip that, move up, and drill antoher bolt. The 1/4" holes will be filled in with epoxy.

We fixed and retreated. Next weekend hopefully Napoleon and Tony will do P5. One person leads and drills, the other is on jugs and is cleaning P4. And then it's decision time...many options for moving up. Lots of cracks up there; we just need to make sure we are on the right one. Anyway thanks Tony for joining the team and stay tuned, folks. More cracks to come.

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