Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 9 &10:

After the nut and the cam ripped, and I fell backward 8 meters into space, the stove-sized flake I'd been standing on cracked and tumbled toward me.

* * *

Dilly and I arrived at the route Saturday in Napoleonic style: neither of us had had coffee, water or breakfast that morning, so thank God for McDonalds, with whom we are in negotiations for sponsorship. We are, by the way, selling sponsorships on the route. Basically, the harder the pitch, the more money we want. McDonalds wants the 12- dihedral so that will obviously be Open Big Mac. Dolce & Gabana are interested in the long crack so that will be the Damn I look Hot! pitch etc.

Here is a picture of the Shit Pillar, a death-waiting-to-happen semi-detached feature that thank God we don't have to climb past. Dilly is jugging up and is praying that the Shit doesn't come down on him.

This is a view down the route. Here, Dylan is about 10 meters below the start of the dihedral pitch. The bushes up and left are on the Green Line Ledge.

This is aid climbing...clusterf**king with wads of gear.

Anyway we sweltered up to the base then jugged to the trees, finisahed the water, then I set off on lead. I wore 1 trad rack, 1 drill, a shitload of bolts, yadda. Basically, leading on aid is to regular climbing what being in the Army and doing a forced 50 nmile training march (with full gear) is to going for a nice 10k.

I swung like a spastic, sluggish moneky through two trees, at which point above me came into view a massive knife-blade hanging flake. So I aided around it along the steep, overhanging left-trending v-slot. At its top I put in an A1 #2, then reached out and slotted a cam behind the top of the death flake, and then a nut and a cam higher. After I bounced them, I climbed free over the edge and found myself standing ona small shelf. Then my foot slipped and I tumbled backward toward the trees. When I stopped, the highest nut and cam I had placed were at my waist. I looked at Dylan through the tree branches.

"Hey," he said, putting down the binoculars, "those people over there on that other route, they are watching you. They just saw your awesome fall! Oh, and are you ok?"

I climbed back up, and tried slotting the nut and cam back in. Weirdly, they were too small for the crack where I'd placed them. So I pulled two bigger ones, stuck them in, and mantled over the lip again. I drilled, then pounded in a bolt. As I reached for the hanger, my foot slipped. I fell backward off the lip. And as I fell, I heard the nut and cam rip, and when I stopped, I heard a crack, and the stove-sized block above me blew and tumbled down.

Aid falls, I would realise later, are either no big deal, or deadly. You don't have time to be scared cos, unlike trad leads, you have no idea your pieces or feet are going to blow. And so you just fall-- no anticipation-- and either it's ok, or you get hurt. The huge block whooshed two feet from me and when it hit the wall 50 meters down, our position trembled. I asked Dilly to take over, then said "fuck it" and went back up-- the danger was over. And the irony was, the cam that had held two hug e ones was...the cam behind the death flake!

I finished the bolt, clipped, breathed, and headed up. eight feet up, I slotted in another cam, moved past it, and fell AGAIN. The cam ripped but thank God for the bolt. I handed the lead off to Dilly and belayed, dazed, stunned.

Dilly did a couple of dicey hook moves and then drilled a belay at the base of a loooong beautiful corner. We stashed our gear and rapped as a sick yellow light and odd swirly wind whooshed sround us. When we got to the car, a curtain of water ripped across the road and we headed for the pub.

On Sunday, we awoke to sweltering humidity and in true dirtbag style cooked brekkie at the base of the Grand while a series of climbers pulled up, glanced at the wall, and bailed when they saw the insanity of last night's rainstorm still coating the walls.

I jugged to our high point-- ah, only water and drill to haul today!-- but poor Dilly had left a jug on top, so he was humping with one jug and a gri-gri. No fun if you have a pack. At the high point, I discovered that Dilly had forgotten to anchor his jug and the think about my massive block-ripping fall from yesterday. I hadn't noticed the crack widening. Dilly forgot to tie his gear down. I put it down to dehydration. No food, no water = dumb climbers.

At this point we had to decide-- up the dirty corner, with possibility of poor/no pro (read: slow and loads of drilling) or up the handcrack stuffed with loose flakes. We opted for the corner, which looked like this.

I know, it doesn't look awesome...but that's cos it's filthy. You wait till you climb will be very pleasantly surprised.

Dilly set off up the dirty but beautiful corner while the gri-gri belayed him and I hung on my pitch from the day before, ripping out blocks and scrubbing. At day's end, I jugged up to the patch of forest where Dilly had built an anchor, and saw that he'd led upa magnificent corner that will go at 5.9 or so when it's had a scrub. We couldn't see a damned thing from the forest and we had the ladies waiting for their menfolk, so we stashed the aid rack and hardware, and sailed down.

Here's a pic of the dihedral, pre-cleaning, from our current high point.

Now, thanks again to Kevin McLane-- we will need his photo to see where we go next. I am hoping to get some climbing in in the Bugaboos, then back on he route mid-Aug. Blicker has said he will get on it soon, good, we need P1 and P2 cleaned, and...yea. We are nine, count 'em, NINE, pitches up! When this is done, we will have a 12-15 pitch 12- (or 11-A0) free route on an unclimbed part of the Chief. How cool is THAT?

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