Thursday, September 19, 2013

Smith Rock

After the Hulk we drove south to Tuolumne. The smoke had mostly cleared mostlyup by the time we arrived but it came in most afternoons. Due to the road being closed it was pretty quiet. On the first day Mark and I had a good time climbing the three classic routes on Fairview Dome: Pumpkin (5.8), Lucky Streaks (5.10c) and probably the best of the three Regular Route (5.9). The second day was less sucessful. Ollie and I failed to even find On the Lamb. Though we did a fun Bachar-Yairianesque (except it was five grades easier and the bolts were closer together - so nothing like the B-Y!) 10a called Darth Vader's Revenge, which was a good consolation, before the afternoon rain. The next day I was pretty tired so Ollie and I soloed Cathedral Peak and Eichorn's Pinnicle. Both routes were super fun but I was glad we took a rope as I wouldn't have fancied down climbing Eichorn's Pinnicle.

We then drove back to San Francisco to return our hire car. The plan was to get a new one and head to the Black Canyon of Gunisison in Colorado for two weeks. Unfortuantley whilst browsing the web in the queue for the hire car I noticed that Colorado was underwater.

Instead we drove north to Smith Rock in Oregon. For the first couple of days it was unbearably hot, as far as I was concerned the best thing about the crag was the free showers at the campsite! Thankfully the weather cooled down after a few days and I started to enjoy the fingery sport climbing more, though I'm pretty rubbish at it.

One afternoon Dunc and I decided to climb the Monkey's Face. A cool free standing pinnicle which looks like a monkey. The easiest route is 5.8 A0 so we didn't anticipate any problems. I lead the first two pitches, which brought us to the base of the A0 bolt ladder, which Dunc frigged his way up like a monkey up a drainpipe. By the time I'd frigged my way up it was dusk. I stepped out onto the final traversing pitch, dubbed the Panic Point and apparently the most exposed 5.7 in North America. I don't know about that but in the half light it felt pretty damn exposed. Halfway along I got gripped and clipped in to a draw. At the top it was dark, with no head torches the abseil off was going to be interesting. Thankfully there was a full moon.

I set off down and went too far. Hanging in space in dark I tried to remember how to prussik. After a couple of false starts I got a vaugely efficent system working and soon was back up with Dunc. We managed to locate the correct bolts this time and four abseils later we were back on the ground. Thanks to Mark and Ollie for slogging up the hill to check we hadn't come to greif. The next day we went to the Misa Verde Buttress and I did an awesome 10b called Screaming Yellow Zonkers.

Almack on The Pumpkin.

Ollie on Cathedral Peak.

Burrows on Darth Vader's Revenge.

Me signing the register on Echihorn's Pinnacle.

Smith Rock

Duncan about to back off fording the river. The water went over his head.

Caveman's cheat stick

Duncan on the Monkey's Face.

Me on the bolt ladder.

Duncan leading the bolt ladder - harder than it looks.

Duncan topping out on The Monkey's Face.

Me about to abseil into the abyss.

Back on the ground

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Incredible Queue

We arrived arrived at the entrance to Tuolumne and it was smokey. The park ranger let us in without paying and we contiued into the smog, feeling like charrecters from The Road. After messing around driving the hire car agianst the portaloo door so Ollie couldn't get out, we sacked it off and drove north to Lover's Leap.

We spent the next four days at this Tremadog-esque crag (it isn't as good mind) ticking our way through the classics: The Line, Hospital Corner (very Tremadog), Traveller's Buttress (overrated) amongst others.

We then had a cool morning at the very windy and rattle snake infested (not cool) Phantom Spires. I lead Fear of Flying, a really hard 5.9 up a blank groove. In the afternoon we headed to the Sugarloaf. I was pretty tired though so I just top roped and seconded the others.

The next day we drove south, via some hot springs, to Bridgeport, the nearest settlement to the Incredible Hulk. After spag bol for tea we had an early night ready for our early start the next day.

I slept badly and was woken in the night by horns hooting and people shouting. I went back to sleep assuming it was just Americans being Americans. When we woke at 5 Duncan asked if i'd heard the bear which had brushed past their tent. After a quick breakfast we set off towards the Hulk. The walk in wasn't too bad except for the scree slope to reach the base of the crag.

There were two parties ahead of us as we neared the route. the first of which was moving incredibly slowly. Impatient as ever I soloed up to the base of the route and waited in the cold. I coaxed Burrows up and we waited for an age, while the chummers in front frigged their way up the Red Dihedral, which they split into two pitches. Eventually they got to the top of it and Burrows set off. Cold and wanting to get a move on he pulled on a few pieces. I followed suit on second. I then lead the next two pitches, where i was able to overtake on of the teams in front by climbing a 5.9 variation. Ollie lead the two remaining pitches that brought us to the summit ridge, where we caught up with Duncan and Mark who had climbed the Falling Dihedral varriation.

While we were waiting I heard a girl's voice ask if we had any spare water. I turned to see this little girl. It turned out she was twelve and had climbed Positive Vibrations (5.11a so E4ish) with her mom and dad. We climbed up to the summit and then rapped down (all seven of us using the ropes of the of party who had held us up all day). We got back to the car just after dark and rewarded ourselves with a meal out in the campground resturant. We are now in Tuolumne where it is a little bit smokey. Hopefully we'll get some good routes done over the next few days.

Bad scenes in the Meadows.

The Line - not a shit line

Ollie nearing the top of The Line.

Naming one's cams - needless to say alcohol was involved.

Al-man-ack crushing Candyland at the Phantom Spires.

The Hulk

A cold and angry hulk

A slightly warmer and less pissed off hulk

Team on the summit

The team and the Hulk