Friday, July 30, 2010

Butch Makes Lemonade (1)

The voicemail took three rambling, drawling minutes to say "A boulder crashed onto my hand and I can't go to the Bugs." Loreen, after a heli-rescue off Serratus, was out, at which point I started getting superstitious. Last year's partner-to-be, the good Mr Holgate, injured an ankle. Wanna get fucked up? Make climbing plans with Butch. Well, that's what Napoleon would-- and did-- say, after spraying about how he had done an aid climbing course with not just any old person, but with NameDrop, in this case Matt Maddaloni.

So I ended up in Golden, shopping like a Korean girl enjoying her last day ever on Robson Street. I bought Landjaeger sausages (the alpinist's power-bar), and of course granola bars (the suburban man's alpinist food). I bought a Stieg Larsson novel about the political failure of Swedish socialism, err I mean, about a bunch of pimps and perverts and murderers, and I bought a guide's tarp. This last I got mainly because I was too lazy to haul a tent all the thousand meters up to Applebee, and cos it made me feel, if I have this, I will consider trying All Along The Watchtower, which is 12-, 34 pitches, and majorly bad-ass.

As I arrived, muffler intact, at the porcupine lot, I had an Indian Creek flashback, set off by the assembled hordes of Colorado SUVs, one of which had an enormous grinning penis etched into its muddy back window. The symbolic import of this penis escaped me. I humped my to-me epic pack up to Applebee, and promptly turned into a climbing mendicant. I wandered the campground like the ghost of a long-dead soul, begging for a climbing partner.

This was a convenient way to scope out the whole campground close-up...and what a mix of people there were! First up were the Koreans, who were working some massive aid line, siege-style, beside the Beckey-Mather route on the east side of Snowpatch. You could tell the Koreans were in fact Korean, and not (God forbid) Japanese or some other inscrutable ethnicity, from the massive stacks of Spam tins, their shiny new haul-bags and other gear, their radio station, and the occasional blast of kim-chi that spread like a stealthy mixture of ninja and giardia fart through the campground.

Beside them were a cluster of long-haired smokers who were obviously Spanish. French smoke too but they go for shorter hair and they don't do the alpine, being pussies and all. Oh wait, that was the Iraq war. Oops, sorry to all the hot French women I have seen over the years, puffing on a cigarette, and saying "I weel climb zees roooote, I sink iss fife zirteen, fife fourteen, somesimg like zat, of course I don't know" then actually sending it.

The Colorado flashbacks came thick and fast. I found a spot to throw down my tarp and my Stieg Larsson novel (both about the same size) and heard a donkey-like braying.

"Yeah, uh--huhh, we decided that we wouldn't get on the Watchtower, there were some clouds in the morning" sprayed one. Now if you are going to announce how bad-assed you are (Watchtower) you generally don't want to appear frightened by a few hours' worth of cumulonimbal tomfoolery, which is standard fare in the Bugs. The three sprayers stood around like a bad imitation of John Long, Jim Bridwell and Billy Westbay after firing the Nose in a day in 1973 (now THAT is majorly bad-assed...imagine how many cigarettes Bridwell must have needed to keep his shit together on that one, and what a logistical nightmare it would have been to haul all them smokes, and keep The Bird adequately stoked at all moments).

Then there were a pair of Russians, da priviert, and a Yankee couple who shared what appeared to be a one-man cycling tent. Oooh-la-la, they are either in total lust, or seriously retarded, how the f&^+$$? could two people sleep in something that looked like a bivvy sack with an aluminum hard-on? There were four medical professionals from Chicago, who (loudly...what IS it with Americans in climbing campgrounds?) discussed I.N.T. insertkions, standards of care, and how the thing they were eating looked something that had recently come out of one of their patients' anuses.

Anyway I ran into five groups of three, all of whom said "naw we're OK, we don't need a fourth" which drove me nuts...why would you want to climb in three? Ridiculously slow, etc. I decided it must have been one of three things that was preventing me from finding a partner: I had not shaved for three days, or cut my hair for two months, so I looked like a red-neck version of John Lennon; I had not adequately sprayed to Coloradan standards how bad-assed I was (or wanted to be); or I was not a nubile 24-year-old girl.

So I went to bed and a moon of Falstavian immensity bellied up to the horizon and encouraged me to have irrational dreams of foolith things, like freesoloing. As the moon etched the Spires against the pale white night sky I fell asleep, and was at three A.M. awakened by hordes of climbers hissing with stoves and clattering with crampons, getting the good old alpine start.

When I awoke the campground was deserted except for a lone yogini and a Korean reading. I drank as much coffee as I could, and when I could no longer sit still, I said "fuck it" to myself, stuffed a pair of rock shoes and my 60om half rope into my pack, and headed for the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire.

i got to the base of the route in about an hour, stuffed my big boots into my pack, and put on the rock shoes. It was noon and above me was a party who were bailing.

"We're too slow," said one, "we started at 3:30 but we should have got up at midnight."

I launched into this route with barely any thought. On the first pitch, I did a slightly awkward reach-around to sink a stonker fingerjam, and then had to do one dicey move off a slightly loose flake before the bomber locks returned. On the third pitch, a rising dyke traverse that crossed the ridgecrest, I locked off with my left fingers, hiked my left foot, and swept my right across what felt like ten feet into a stem, and then, air brushing my ankles, I pulled myself across. I passed five parties on the route. At the summit, a bit of ridge-fuckery led to four or five rappels, and then the scariest part of the route: downwalking the Kain route past party after party of rock-knockers.

I got back to camp at three, made coffee, lit a smoke, and soaked up what I'd just done. My first-ever multi-pitch freesolo. Another of the fifty classics. I wish i could say that I got into some kind of Honnoldian or Croftian zone where everything just flowed, but it wasn't like that. My feet hurt. I had to piss. I wanted a smoke. I got thirsty. I got hot. Above all, I was incredibly breathing hard and had to make myself slow down and take some mental pictures of where I was.

That evening KI cooked up some KD, read some more Stieg, and then did the beggar circuit again. Again, I had no luck. People asked me what I'd done, and I told them "I climbed the N.E. Ridge" and when they asked with whom, I had to say "alone," at which point people either said "that's fucking crazy" or "wow," neither of which reaction was getting me closer to a climbing partner.

The next day I awoke, drank coffee with the Russians until again I couldn't stop myself from vibrating, and finally said "fuck it" and headed off to do Snowpatch. This one is different from the N.E. Ridge in that the crux is the last 3 pitches. I got lost on p4 or so, and found myself doing what felt like 10- stemming about 100m up a beautiful dihedral, pawing at grass in the crack, having forgotten to exit the dihedral to logical ledges. At the Wiessner overhang-- a 15 meter 5.6 hand traverse-- water poured into the horizontal handcrack, but the jams were so good that the fear didn't hit me. Above, I minced my way up slabs and cracks past the massive snowpatch, rested at the Inverted Pear, and then launched into the cruxes.

After about 20m of traversing, I did a 10m 5.7 corner-- perfect hands-- and then a 5.7 undercling, at which point, for the first time, I really noticed how much my ass was hanging out, over the snowpatch and then, a thousand meters down, the talus. Next up was the hand traverse, and finally the dreaded off-width with 5.8 climbing after it. The off-width had huge jugs in it, the 5.8 was bomber crimps and feet, and my only mistake was, at the top of the 5.8, I launched left along the handtraverse. I found myself in a blank, overhanging corner and had to reverse about 10m to the right, after which it was 20m to the summit.

As I sat on my second peak, it was the old cliche that hit me. The thing in climbing you worry about is the next move. You do not worry about falling, being tired, how long the route is, yadda yadda. Sure, you need to think about these things when you plan the day, and you better check your route, weather, etc, when you need to. But really, if you focus on one move at a time, things take care of themselves. Freesoloing clears the brain, much as meditation does, by forcing you to focus on the now. While your tiny, 16 bit-per-second conscious mind is heel-hooking or manteling, it is letting your subconscious do its own thing, and so all of those background things you can't really control, but that bug you, either get forgotten, or re-framed.

I rapped Krauss-McCarthy and was back in camp at four, buzzed out of my mind. It is no wonder that alpine climbing, and freesoloing, get used as metaphors for spiritual enlightenment. As you climb, you see more and more, and when you top out, your sense of "I am awesome!"-ness is tempered with the reality that you are only a tiny part done with the mountains. Bust out the cliches: it's a process, not a goal. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. My ass is too sweaty.

Most of all, the thing I liked about soloing was, sleep in, sit around, drink coffee, carry almost no weight, and back in camp with enough time to enjoy the sun and yet more coffee.

And then it hit me: I had just done both of the routes that I could reasonably free-solo, so I had better get off my ass and find a partner\. Round three. More later, including a few pictures.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Alphabet Soup

Climbers, like cats, are a territorial bunch. Woe unto them that piss on our territory, unless of course our territory is the Split Pillar on a hot Saturday in mid-August, at which point the Left Side becomes not just the Right Side's evil kid brother but also the route's outhouse.

Climbers are also a notoriously finicky bunch. Did it go free? How much aid was used? Did you French-free, fully free, aid, what? Is chalk aid? Yadda yadda. Now, these definitions are pretty clear, after fifty-plus years of campfire debates and Arcing Plot fistfights. There is another set of terms whose meaning also tends to be clear, and today I want to explore the meanings of the terms FA, FCA, FFA and FCFA.

After climbing, for the first time, our route from bottom to top in one go (the 5.11b A0 version), the Driller and I decided to publish the topo. We need feedback, it's dry right now, and hot (good weather for our route), the route needs traffic cos it's new, etc. Well after posting the topo, a bit of a shit-storm started. There was some dispute over the meaning of FA, FCA, FCFA, etc, and how these letters, strung by climbers after their names the way British astronomers hang FRC, D.Ph etc after theirs, should apply to various members of the team who put up La Gota Fria.

Well, as we well know, "FA" stands for nothing other than "first ass". This means, the first guy (or girl) to get their ass up a route. Or a pitch. The first time you go up a pitch, if nobody has done it (birds excluded) you get say "yea, I am the First Ass on that." Long-time hardmen (and women) get to say "I've had a lot of First Asses." It's kind of like a pedophile (or zoophile) having at the anus of a young boy or girl or Labrador Retriever (or sheep, if s/he is Scottish or from New Zealand)...ooooohh....mmmmmm...first ass....

Now, the next term of contention is "FCA," which as we well know stands for "First Complete Ass." Now this is a term used when you have a route that includes more than one pitch. So, you could have the First Ass on one (or more) pitches of a multi-pitch route, but when the route as a whole gets climbed in one go, from bottom to top, the person doing that qualifies as First Complete Ass.

"FCA" also stands for "First Colorado Ass," which refers to Indian Creek. You are camped at the Bridger Jacks, enjoying an evening of whiskey, bluegrass and pedophile jokes, when you hear the high-pitched whining sound of non-work-trucks in the distance. Then they come-- the Colorado Asses, loosed from their tedious nine-to-fives, and out to slay some 10- handcracks in gangs of seven-- and the first SUV to pull into the Jacks is the First Colorado Ass.

The, third but not forgotten, is FFA. This stands for First Full Ass. This refers to when a pitch (or problem) is first climbed in one go, no falls, without using gear to support the climber's bodyweight.

The last term of contention is "FCFA." This one, obviously, means "First Complete Full Ass." Now, this refers to the hard-person who first climbs a route, bottom to top, with no aid. You don't just want to be the First Ass, or the First Complete want to be the First Complete Full Ass.

Just to be clear on this, I busted out Kevin Mclane's trusty "The Climbers' Guide to Squamish" to see how this worked. I asked the good Mr McLane how his book, which keeps track of who climbed what, and when, and how, and how hard, and how much whiskey they needed afterward, uses these various acronyms.

In his book, no acronym = FA = First Ass = the first guys/girls to go up a route, by whatever means, including helicopter, climbing gear and magic spells, though to be fair mostly climbing gear. Some routes-- let's take Freeway as an example-- are just loads of alphabet soup. The FA is Tom Gibson and Rob Rohn's, who used "some aid" to get their First Ass. Then, there are a buttload of individual pitches, variations, etc. Then we have this: and FFA (first full ass) of P1-6 by Mssrs. Hart, Atkinson, Eltis and Jones, all of whom had been involved in cleaning and projecting individual pitches. Finally, there is the FCFA-- First Complete Full Ass-- by Atkinson and Hart, where these two gentlemen hauled both their asses completely. and without aid, fully up the route.

So as we can see, you can be part of the FA of individual pitches, but not of the FCFA. You could be part of the FA of the whole thing, but not the FFA, or the FCFA.
As I contemplated this alphabet soup, I wondered how it applied to our route. And as nearly as I can tell, the First Ass of various pitches of route go 60% or so to Napoleon and others, and 40% to Driller and I and others. The First Complete Ass goes the the Driller and I, July 11, 2010. But the biggest prize of all-- the First Complete Full Ass-- is waiting to be claimed by Napoleon.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The work that remains...

What is left to be done with our route? Aside from Napoleon trying to free P5 and P7, here is a list of maintenance-type stuff

a) move anchor at top of v-slot to ledge.

b) do a minor scrub on P15 (undercling).

c) same for P13 and P12-- they need minor moss removal. However as it is, they are perfectly climbable, and no gear or hand will be pawing through munge.

d) Possibly clean first few meters of P2.

e) Move fixed line from top part of P16

f) Finish Upper Powaqatsi-- p17 and 18 of our route go, but we could easily add a few bolts and clean up the line (and belay).

g) Look at variations-- P11 and P16 have some interesting possibilities. Napoleon thinks that it would be possible to bypass P7,8,9 and 10 on climber's right...we'll see if he can link the features.

So far a couple of parties have had late starts on the route and bailed off P3 or P4. They confirm the grades and say the climbing is good, with one guy raving about how cool the P3 fingercrack is. There is still a bit of munge on P1 and 2, but nothing that will cause any gear or movement problems. So here's hoping that (a) Napoleon manages to send W.L.Y.W. and (b) more parties get on the route!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

minor updates

So yesterday I went on a solo mission, and jugged the first 11 pitches, on Napoleon's epic (and I mean EPIC) fixed line. I drilled a variation (which will remain secret for now), removed the white fixed line from p11 and p10.

I added one bolt to P10 (the "munge traverse"). There is a cam placement near the bolt, but when I whacked it with the crowbar, i got that hollow whoomping sound that makes me head for the shitter. So now that 5.5 pitch is no hassle at all. This pitch is kinda dirty, but I left it. It is 5.5, all the trees etc have been chopped, no hassle route-finding, etc. We have this pitch, and the traverse that starts 2 pitches higher, which are "natural" so to speak, and we left these more or less as-is. assured, if you climb the route, all of the technical stuff is clean. You will not be placing cams in muck.

I moved Napoleon's epic fixed line away from the start of P3 with one discreet bolt. Once his fixed lines come down, nobody will ever see that bolt again. So if you are up there climbing the route, you will see the fixed lines, but you will not actually be near them (except on the p7 bolt-ladder).

On P11, I cleaned up one edge of the wide-crack section and cleaned out a few placements opposite the wide crack (some wide stemming is possible for the tall and the flexible among us). Now, about the wide-crack section:

After the first ascent, Driller and I debated adding another bolt to this pitch. As it is, I used 1x #2, 3, 4, and 5 Camalot in that corner, in that order, before I got to the bolts I had drilled. We had installed two bolts, because, if we hadn't, you would have needed 2x #5 Camalot and at least 1x #6 Camalot to safely climb it, making for an epic rack. I am satisfied with our decision, in much the same way that Perry Beckham was satisfied with having put bolts on Perry's Lieback on the Grand Wall: if he hadn't, you would have needed to haul 5 #6s up there, which would have been not only a pain in the ass for hardmen, but a buzz-killer for everybody else. Now, the hard-assed tradmasters might complain-- "hey, they don't do that in the Valley"-- but those people can go to the Valley, and climb the off-width pitch on Freerider (5.11d) at 40m with two cams.

As it stands now, you put in a bomber #4, then, six feet higher, a bomber #5 (which you can easily move up as you go) for ten feet, and then you clip the first bolt. After we climbed the pitch, we debated the grade. Compare those 15 feet to Split Beaver (5.10b) in the Bluffs. This is wider, but MUCH lower-angled than the Beaver. Plus, you are gunning for a bolt, and the thing can be liebacked, and you can get a stem rest off the crack to the right. Plus the crux is shorter than the Beaver. So we think 10bish is the grade, and it doesn't need any more bolts.

On the ground, I cleaned up the arete that is to the immediate right of the v-groove. I added one bolt to this and knocked off some loose rocks. If the V-groove (a tricky, cool start) is ever wet, you can scramble up the arete (at 5.7), clip a bolt, go 10 feet higher, and step across onto the route and good gear placements.

Finally I hauled out most of the garbage, and the 100m of old static line that Ben Roy donated to us. It felt oddly anticlimactic, working on the route after having done the first ascent with the Driller.

I am now hoping folks climb it! As of today there is a week of dry weather, the route is shaded so it's great hot-day excursion, even the "wet like your wife" pitch is dry...go do it!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

one-page topo for your climbing convenience

So Jeremy Frimer, aka the Squampton Janitor, is back from Peru. Having spent a month dong alpine routes, he is now something like a Tyrannosaurus Rx, with massive legs, and tiny arms. This also means that he is perfectly suited to making a nice topo of the thanks Jeremy!

You can print this out and take it with you-- it should fit onto one computer-printer page. FCA Dylan Connelly & Chris Stolz July 11, 2010. FA many individual pitches: Mike Blicker, Dylan Connelly, Chris Stolz, Ian Bennett (P1). FCFA (whole thing at 12+(?))...maybe Mike Blicker, Aug 2010...

Pics from the send day

OK...if my computer skills are functional, I should be able to put these into order. get ready to enjoy a LOT of pictures of The Driller. Sorry, ladies, he is not single.

Here is the Driller on P1. A this point, you can go straight up, into an 11b lieback (first freed by Ian Bennet, onsight), or you step slightly left and do the 10d bolts + gear undercling. You can also see the v-groove that starts the route. If it is wet, simply scramble up the arete that makes up the v-groove's right side. V-groove was cleaned by Tony McLane.

Here, Driller has just finished the fingery 11b crux. This pitch has a 5.8 move to start past a fixed nut. After that, you have about 10m of 11b (bomber gear) which could be EASILY French-freed-- two fingery moves, then a solid handjam or lock.

After the P5 dihedral bolt ladder, here is Driller setting out across the Green Line Ledge-- at 5.6 or so, easy and has wild exposure. he will then go up the bolt ladder that bypasses the 5.12+ "Wet Like Your Wife" pitch.

This is the Driller pulling the crux mantle on P8. This pitch features swinging from trees, wild and airy balancing between a rock-rib and a hanging flake, and an exposed mantel-- very cool!

Here is me atop P8, with the Badge in the background.

At one point, before the slabby traverse, asked the Driller for a purple Camalot, and he offered me some choices...

Here, in the gathering gloom, Driller finishes P15 (5.8). It was a pleasant surprise: this pitch is only 5.8, and has superb exposure. It's also given us new ideas about other finishes in the enormous v-slot...

And finally this is us at the top. We topped out at 10 PM exactly, so 17 pitches took 12 hours exactly. Now...readers...go climb it, and send us some pictures!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The send!

Two years.
65 man-days
3 pairs of pruning shears.
1 new rope.
10 fixed lines of varying lengths
1 almost-broken shin
Several hundred cups of coffee
Three near-death experiences
80 bolts
7 chopped bolts

None of this was in my mind as The Driller and I, at the crack of ten, left our little car on the Mamquam, giggled as we shoved headlamps into pockets, and ducked into the forest. Ahead of us lay more like a set of hypotheses to be tested: pitch X was 5.10a, confirm or deny; there were too many bolts on Pitch Y, confirm or deny.

It was a sweltering day, and, well let's not screw around-- blow-by-blows are bring, so here's the highlights. The route goes at 11b A0. You could reduce the grade further by French-freeing the first 15m of P3. We FINALLY sent P3. P8-- the "death block" pitch-- is 11a and may want another bolt. At one point as I was madly grasping at no-falling straws, Driller yelled "LEFT SIDE!" and I realised he was telling me where my chalk bag had rotated to. Now THAT is attentive belaying.

P11 went with one #5 Camalot, but may want another bolt. P14 has one hard 11a move (aidable) and may want another bolt. Driller began madly pawing the rest of my precious water as the cedars turned warmish yellow and the skies deepened in colour. The first ascent's great surprise was that P15-- the undercling-- is not only one of the nicest pitches (great position, hanging right over the entire route) but alos the easiest, at 5.8! The final V-slot pitch-- 55 meters-- took everything I had. Dehydrated, exhausted and deeply concerned that we wouldn't make Starbucks' closing time, I injdulged myself with a whole lot of stemming trickery and self-pitying grunts and made it up the awesome 10c pitch.

We topped out at 10pm exactly. 16 pitches, one 60-meter 5th-class scramble in the dark, and one utterly quiet Second Summit, wind whistling and stars mixed with glowing clouds, and the first ascent of La Gota Fria was complete.

I am still too fried to say anything much...except, thanks to the Driller, Napoleon, Mom, Larisa and Jen, and of course...GO CLIMB OUR ROUTE!

La Gota Fría 18p 5.11b A0 (5.12d)

La Gota Fría
18p 5.11b A0 (5.12+)
Deputy Wall, Squamish, BC
FCA Dylan Connelly & Chris Stolz July 11, 2010; other pitches FA individually by Ian Bennett, Mike Blicker, Dylan Connelly, Chris Stolz

This long, mostly free route is characterised by excellent protection, good positions, a wide variety of good climbing and a superb finish. All pitches except #13 have bolted belays. The route is dry May-Sept. P3 and 5 can be easily French freed; P7 has a bolt-ladder bypass.

Thanks to Ian Bennet, Jeremy Frimer, Myles Holt, Kevin McLane, Tony McLane, Paul Cordy, Sebastian Mejia, Kasper Podgorski, Rob Owens, Ben Roy, Scott Semple, and our girlfriends Larisa O. and Jenn N.

THE SOUNDTRACK: Carlos Vives sings Emiliano Zuleta's "La Gota Fría"

GEAR: double Camalots from .3 to #3, 1x #4 and #5 1 Blue Aliens and/or TCU, nuts, long slings.

APPROACH: take the Sheriff's Badge trail. About 30 meters before the Philistine groove area, turn right (cairn and piece of shoelace hanging from tree branch). Head up a faint trail to a slab, go to climber's left up and around the slab, and head past bits of fixed ropes to a short, clean obvious v-groove beside which hangs a blue rope.

P1: 35m 5.11b or 5.10d Climb the obvious v-groove. Then, either

a) lieback the crack (11b) to the tree, another bolt, and the belay
b) go left, past 3 bolts (10d) to the tree, another bolt, and the belay
If P1's V-groove is wet, scramble up the short arete on its right side and step over (5.7)

P2: 5.9 40m Go up two meters to a ledge, right to a tree tree stump, and straight up into a flake-crack. Pass a tree, step right onto a ledge. Traverse right past bolts.

P3: 30m 5.11b Up the superb fingers-to-hands crack. Easily French-freed.

P4: 30m 5.10c Straight up the hand-and-fist crack to a ledge.

P5: 20m 5.9 A0 or 5.12c/d Straight up the perfect dihedral past bolts to a two-bolt belay. Very easily aided.

P6: 25m 5.4 Traverse the ledge right to a two-bolt belay.

P7: 25m 5.12+ Up and left into burly underclinging and jamming with sketchy feet on good gear to a bolted stance by an old fragment of tree. Airy, wild, sustained and superb. often wet.

P7 BYPASS: 45m A0 From the station atop P5, traverse along the Green Line Ledge and climb the bolt ladder that starts about 2/3 of the way across, straight up to the belay atop P7. Bring a #2 or #3 camalot for last move.

P8: 20m 5.11a Use bolts and trees to get to the base of an inverted V-slot, with a hanging flake in it. Then, either

a) do some crazed-ape moves involving funky stemming, put gear atop the flake then wildly mantle over the lip, to two bolts and left to the belay
b) do some exposed moves up and left, then pass finger and hand jams

P9: 25m 5.10a From an airy stance, up the nice corner.

P10 20m 5.5 Crap pitch: traverse right past a few bolts ans some trees and bushes then up to a belay at the base of a nice corner.

P11 25m 5.10b Climb the fine widening corner past 2 bolts to a ledge.

P12 5.10b 30m Cross to the right side of the ledge, then go up the left side of chimneyish blocks to a bolt. Go straight up past more bolts and gear, exit right, to a ledge.

P13 35m 5.10b Straight up to under the roof, then make a slabby traverse (one reachy move) left past bolts and a final short crack to a tree belay.

Traverse left through the forested ledge about 30m.

P14 25m 5.11a Climb a blocky right-trending feature to a crack in a shallow left-facing corner, then pass 4 bolts.

P15 25m 5.8 Climb up the left side of the huge yellow flake, then undercling left underneath the enormous roof through an awesome position to the bottom of the gigantic V-slot.

P16 45m 5.10c/d Climb up the right side of the massive V-slot through the steepening crack to a ledge, then up left through a couple of thin crack moves past one bolt to belay off a tree. A superb pitch in an awesome position in a cool feature.

P17 30m 5.8 From the top of the V-slot, make your way about 10m to climber's right to a 2-bolt belay. About 3m right of this, start up a very easy left-leaning crack. At the first tree, step up and right onto the slab and go up and slightly right. There is one .4 camalot placement, and just past a tiny overlap there is 1 bolt. Past this move up and right to a dirty crack, and belay off a lone tree on the left.

P18 30m 5.8 Make your way up any # of treed cracks or the slabby face to a two-bolt belay

Alternative end: from the bolted belay at the bottom of P17, follow the wooded crack up in a long leftward arc (58m) to the top-- a couple of 5.6 moves.

RETREAT: The route can be easily rappeled with one 60m rope from the top of P12. From the top of P8, rap straight down to the Green Line Ledge, then down and left to the top of P4. From the top of P2, rap 30m to a station, then 25m to the ground.

COMBINE PITCHES: Green Line Ledge and bolt ladder easily combine (40m)
P9 & 10 would be about 50 m, very easy; use long slings for rope drag at station atop P9

WHAT REMAINS...Connelly & Stolz freed "Fría Lite." "Fría Heavy" will involve freeing the P5 dihedral and the P7 "Wet Like Your Wife" overhanng.

THE ROUTE NAME: "La Gota Fría" is a song by Colombian vallenato master Emiliano Zuleta, and was famously covered by Carlos Vives. La gota fría literally means "a cold drop." Metaphorically, it means (a) a sudden and unexpected flood or (b) a cold drop of sweat (as in fear). The song, sung from Zuleta's point of view, describes the Colombian version of a rapper's feud: Zuleta and Lorenzo Morales, two famous accordeonistas, have been trash-talking each other, and the song details a musical battle, with the final line-- cuando me oyó tocar, le cayó la gota fría meaning roughly "and when he heard me play [the accordion], he felt cold drops of sweat." You can listen to Carlos Vives' version here The song is, as they say, based on a true story: Zuleta did have a musical feud with Morales, and did beat him at the yearly vallenato festival in Valledupar. Afterwards, Morales and Zuleta became fast friends and musical collaborators...

ASCENT CREDITS for individual pitches.
Most were done at various times with different groups of people.

First Continuous Free Ascent (5.11b A0 version) Dylan Connelly and Chris Stolz, July 11, 2010

P1 Myles Holt (aid), FA 5.11b version Ian Bennet, Oct 12 2009 (onsight!) FA 10d version Chris Stolz, June 2010
P2 Chris Stolz and Kasper Podgorski (aid), FFA Chris Stolz, Mike Blicker 4 Oct 2009
P3 Chris Stolz, Mike Blicker (aid), FFA Mike Blicker July 2010
P4 Chris Stolz, Mike Blicker (aid); FFA Chris Stolz, Mike Blicker 4 Oct 2009
P5 Dylan Connelly, Chris Stolz (aid)
P6 Chris Stolz, Dylan Connelly
P7 Dylan Connelly, Chris Stolz (aid)
P8 Chris Stolz, Dylan Connelly (aid), FFA Mike Blicker July 2010
P9 Dylan Connelly, Chris Stolz (aid), FFA Mike Blicker July 2010
P10 Mike Blicker
P11 Chris Stolz, Dylan Connelly
P12 Mike Blicker July 2010
P13 Chris Stolz, Dylan Connelly July 11, 2010
P14 Mike Blicker, July 2010
P15 Chris Stolz, Dylan Connelly, Mike Blicker July 2010
P16 Mike Blicker, July 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Chainsaw Love

The send approaches...a feeling somewhere between circling the date of having a wisdom tooth pulled, and that near-certain feeling you get halfway through the dinner you have made that is going to seduce the object of your affection. The Driller is madly studying for the next part of his Cunthoo-- err, I mean, accounting exams, and I am done work, and so free, for awhile, at least until the RCMP gets the warrant from the judge.

As you certainly know, Jeremy Frimer, aside from being a bad-assed Peruvian alpinist, PhD candidate (he is doing his dissertation on the psychology of using climbing as procrastination) and adopter of neurotic, anti-social cats, is a route cleaner. After dealing with the Mosquito area, putting up Optimus Prime (very cool) and cleaning up the Wire Tap area, Frimer turned his attention away from his charming (and majorly bad-- err, I mean, trad- assed) wife, cats, dissertation and photography habit, and cleaned up Milk Run, adding a few pitches. The thing at 10d now goes to the rim of Tantalus Wall and as Borat would say is liek my sister, easy to get onto, and very nice, and give great pleasure.

So I met up with my friend Lorreen. Now Lorreen is one of those awesome younger climber girls, in this case 15 years my junior (which makes her ten), who is super-organised and always on time. But not on Friday. I had spent the evening playing bluegrass on Psyche ledge with a bunch of Americans, including a double-bassist, a fiddler, and a singer-guitarist. The hoedown ended at midnight because the band was preparing for a Grand Wall ascent on their final day in BC, and so I drove out to the bivvy boulder, unrolled my bearskin rug, busted out the K-Y and the 12", and prepared myself for the evening. The night passed blissfully.

The next day I luxuriated in the sun at the coffeeshop and Lorreen let me know that she would unfortunately be late. When she showed up she was grinning ear to ear. That could only mean one thing, know what it means when a woman shows up in the morning with that special smile on her face.

Yes sirree, chainsaws. Lorreen had just driven out from Abbotsford, where her current lust interest has been working on chainsaws. And them chainsaws gotta be tested before them fallers get 'em my young climbing partner spent our racking session gushing about 375s, oiling up and choke adjustments. Lorreen likes this guy, cos, well...bad narrator fast-flashback...she'd gone to Smith with another younger female climber, and reported that the sport-climber boys, on seeing these two nubile young ladies climbing together, would immediately find excuses for removing shirts.

"So were you psyched about that?" I asked Lorreen.

"Fuck NO! I need a man, not a bolt-clipper."

Not only does this apply to climbing-- where obviously we trad climbers outrank you sporting types, at least in this young lady's eyes-- but more so in real life, where a guy who can fix stuff outranks an iDork, a hipster or a yuppie cunt. Anyway, Lorreen had met Chainsaw Man at a logging camp, on his remarking that her power-spraying of the underside of her engine was un-femininely meticulous, and their romance bloomed around oil changes, cylinder adjustments and of course chainsaws. She was psyched that he could fix things, he let her go climbing, and most of all that, when he DID fix things, she was allowed to watch and ask questions.

By the time this was all revealed, we stood at the base of Milk Road and I had that wisdom-tooth pulling cum shot-of-heroin feeling as I stared up at this mass of awesomeness.

OK, climbing stories are boring, so we climbed it, I hung on the long 5.10d pitch, we had to pull on bolts since the first crux was totally wet and I was blown away by the amount of work that went into this (26 days for Frimer!) and by the final "5.10c" pitch (could have been 5.11c as far as I was concerned...but the onsight always feels harder). The thing that REALLY got us, though...was the chainsawing! Frimer has done some serious work on that route ands that includes chopping down some big trees. For which he initially caught shit from a few blowhards, but's not like the Chief is lacking in vegetation...i mean if it were 100 years ago, fair enough. But there were ramps, chimneys and cracks all made climbable by the Husqua-Varna's tough teethy love, and so we were both warm and fuzzy toward chainsaws when we arrived on top.

Afterward I ran into Napoleon in the Starbucks, and he told me all the Valley gossip. After sending Steph Davis, bailing off the Nose due to a snowstorm, dodging tools for six weeks (take THAT, Tony McLane!) and allegedly watching The Filth get in a fight, he found a girlfriend, got a job (in Montreal), bought an SUV (I actualy saw's big and grey and will make a great road-tripping vehicle, at least until that 60 hour-a-week corporate job kicks in) and was doign what we all do best...sitting in Starbucks and talking shit about climbing.

Anyway, we go for the send next Sunday July 11. Until then, the Driller is in accounting recovery at Lake Tahoe, where he will spend some time with The Filth, I am going to Washington Pass with Lorreen, and the Rain Gods will hold off for seven days. Right? Right?