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Thanks Pete! Success on my first real wall
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ergophobe


Aug 26, 2002, 8:56 PM
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Thanks Pete! Success on my first real wall
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I suppose this should be a PM, but since the rating function is gone and I can't go give Pete a 10, I just have to say this in public. I just did my first wall - the Salathe on El Cap - and Pete's tips were essential to our success. Among them...

- 2:1 hauler. The hauling on this route is tough since there are so many blocks and cracks and chimneys and my wife only weighs 120 pounds. There's no way she could have hauled on a 1:1 and I probably couldn't have either on some of the lower pitches.

- jugging the better way

- static line for hauling (that was our one special purchase for the trip and it was awesome: a super low stretch - .9% with 3000lbs - Sterling polyester static)

- rapping with me hanging from the pig not the pig from me. That was fun when it was steep.

- tension release knot for the pig.

- lining the pig with a foam pad that I will not use for sleeping. It saved so much hassle to just be able to leave the stuff in the bottom when going to sleep.

Lots of other little tips I can't even remember now, but they kept coming up at the right time.

Actually, I probably would have turned around and gone down because there was a moment on the second day where I wasn't having any fun and, while hauling, my wife was jugging up to the belay crying and sobbing. I offered to turn around and she said no. When I asked why not, she said "Because I like to finish things." So we finished the damn thing. More importantly, after that one moment, we actually had a lot of fun. Her main complaint was that there was a string of harder 5.10 pitches which is a level I free lead but she aids, so she felt like she had been doing nothing but jugging and climbing 5.7 all day. Right after that we got to the first really hard pitch (5.10d fist leading to 5.13 crack above). Since I couldn't free it and I'm slow as molasses on aid, we went back to flipping leads and we both got a lot happier.

Theresa was all smiles leading up the Headwall and I was surprised how much really good free climbing there was - my first pitch that I did substantially in aiders was the last stretch up to El Cap Spire. I freed a lot of this, but since it was dark (like I said, it was my first wall) and I was climbing by the light of my little Tika, I wasn't willing to fully free that pitch.

Anyway,
- we were slow (three nights on the wall)
- we were lazy (it was too cold to get out of bed and start climbing before about 9:00 - next time I go deluxe like Pete and bring water gear to brew tea and sit around until 10:00am and take seven days!).
- we suffered on the middle sections where the hauling was so hard.
- we had so much fun on the last day up the Headwall and Roof.

BEST OF ALL - there was a party of five Koreans on pitches 1-2 when we arrived at the base. Since my wife and I were climbing the first part to Heart Ledges without aiders, we were able to pass them by pitch four. After that we saw no other parties anywhere on El Cap. My wife thought she saw a party way below us on the Muir, but mostly we had the entire SW wall to our selves and we didn't even see any parties on the Nose. I guess everyone was afraid of the heat or something. However, the weather was perfect (actually, too cold in the mornings!).

Next time, I'll do something steeper with easier hauling, though, and I'll bring the haning stove, the solar shower and everything else.

Gear score:

lost: one biner which came off whilst squeezing up the Hollow Flake

scored: three biners and 8-9 stoppers. I could have gotten a lot more, but they were not of high enough quality.

missed: camalot and biner on the Salathe Roof. It's up and left from the belay (the route goes right) so I was too high by the time I saw it. If you are going up there, it's all yours.

Oh yeah, you can click here to see some photos of our ascent of Salathe Wall.

Tom



[ This Message was edited by: ergophobe on 2002-08-26 21:35 ]


krustyklimber


Aug 26, 2002, 9:22 PM
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Way to go Tom, great trip report!

Jeff


apollodorus


Aug 26, 2002, 10:31 PM
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Good job! Three days for the Salathe as a first wall is PDG. You should post some of your photos on this website. They're awesome! And your wife is SO COOL to know that Big Walling is more about perserverance than ability, strength or gear.

When I saw the summit picture, with the tree, it brought back memories. The Excalibur tops out about 100 feet behind the photographer's head. We camped at the exact same spot. And it is the EPIC bivy. The walk-off is kinda spooky, though, eh?

And I'm sure that PTPP is grateful for your confirmation that he IS the Wall Doctor, eh? All those little tips add up to reduce what he himself refers to as, "A different sort of suffering". He is a bit indisposed right now somewhere south of the Nevada Wastelands, but when he sees this post, he will most likely gush with modesty (NOT!).

Funny, though, how that MBA thing he has framed in his office reads Masters Degree in Belay Administration. I didn't even know the Professors gave out that sort of diploma.

[ This Message was edited by: apollodorus on 2002-08-26 23:57 ]


glockaroo


Aug 27, 2002, 8:07 AM
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Tom: faaaaaaaaantastic, dude! Super kudos to you and Theresa.

I love hearing good news about good people.


fishypete


Aug 27, 2002, 8:24 AM
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I got a warm fuzzy feeling goin' on!

Great job! It is a real thrill to hear such about such a great job on your first wall!

Smiles all round! and did I mention, Great Job!




Cheers

Fishy

[ This Message was edited by: fishypete on 2002-08-27 08:25 ]


deafclimber


Aug 27, 2002, 8:53 AM
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congrat ! i envy u !


ergophobe


Aug 27, 2002, 9:27 AM
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FULL DISCLOSURE CORRECTIONS AND ADMISSION OF ALL CHEATING.

It was not my intent to mislead, evade or otherwise hide the truth... but certain misconceptions seem to have been created (isn't passive voice great?)

DISCLOSURE 1
Quote:
Three days for the Salathe as a first wall is PDG


No, read it again - three nights on the wall. We spent four days climbing and an afternoon pre-hauling to Heart. Here's what we did.

1. Drove to the Valley, getting there aroun 3:00-3:30pm. Went straight to the Captain with the pre-packed bag, hiked in, jugged to Heart Ledges and left the bag. This saved us a whole day since we arrived way too late to do Freeblast and the other alternative was to do nothing that afternoon, then do Freeblast and haul the next day. We didn't quite get the bags to Heart b/c we didn't start hauling until about 5:00pm and it got dark before doing the last little bit.

2. Freeblast to Heart (or "French Freelbast" as my wife calls it, since we liberally pulled on gear on the two 5.11 sections). Rap down a half pitch to collect the bag and head up to Lung Ledge for the night.

3. Lung Ledge to El Cap Spire. I've always thought El Cap Spire looked like the ultimate bivy, so though darkness came one pitch below the Alcove, I led on through to the Spire in the dark.

4. We got up late and were really fatigued. We made it to the Block and just ran out of steam. There was no way we would have made Long Ledge. I'm glad we did this, though, because we were rested enough to really enjoy the awesome climbing the next day.

5. The Block to the Summit. Fantastic climbing day. In my fatigue, climbing the Sewer the previous day, I swore I would never do another wall. This day was so much fun, though, I was sitting at the belays thinking about which route to do next.

6. Descend and drive home. It was still light out when we got to the summit, but we had done a fair day's work so we bivied here. Good decision - the East Ledges walkoff was longer than I had imagined.

So it was
- three nights on the wall
- four days climbing
- five days if you count the afternoon of hauling to Heart
- six days round trip from our house.

DISCLOSURE 2

It was *my* first wall. My wife had actually done the Prow in June, so she had somewhat of a clue as to what was going on. Mostly, though, we drew on our collective 40 years of trad climbing experience, which gets you pretty far, but I would still never have come up with the 2:1 hauler, the tension release knot, the gri-gri jugging system, holding the ascender over the top instead of by the handle... and 50 other *little* things that just added up to such an energy savings spread out over 36 pitches.

Quote:
And your wife is SO COOL to know that Big Walling is more about perserverance than ability, strength or gear.


And for many other reasons! As for strength, she's strong for her size, but that doesn't help when wrestling a haul bag - perserverance is what it's all about.


CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE.

Pete's tips helped a lot, but I also feel like I need to say that we also benefited tremendously from some very generous friends, Bruce and Em, who gave us a private aid tutorial last year (not to mention everything that Em taught Theresa when they climbed the Prow). These are the folks that showed us the real fundamentals about how to approach aid climbing and also played a substantial role in planting those little seeds in my head that brought me to this forum and Pete's tips in the first place.

FINAL GLOAT

Did everyone catch the part about how once we got by the Koreans on pitch 4, we had the entire SW face to ourselves? The Koreans didn't even come back the next day. We were so alone up there. It was fantastic. I was worried about sharing ledges, about slowing down faster parties, about being slowed down by slower parties, but in fact there was literally nobody on El Cap. And here's the best part - it wasn't even hot out. Despite taking a day longer than planned, we topped out with six liters of water (three of which we contriubted to the El Cap Water Exchange).

Cheers

Tom



[ This Message was edited by: ergophobe on 2002-08-27 10:16 ]


Partner philbox
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Aug 27, 2002, 3:35 PM
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Mate that was fantastic, I can imagine how you felt when your wife elected to carry on with the climb when offered the chance to back off. You must have been bursting with pride at having found such a treasure in a wife. Give her my best regards and take a bow yourself too there dude.
...Phil...


ergophobe


Aug 27, 2002, 3:46 PM
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Phil,

You give me too much credit. When my wife said she wanted to continue, I was thinking "Damn!" because, frankly, I was having a miserable time too and would have bailed if given the excuse. I am, however, proud of her now for making us stick it out.

By the way, we might even get a chance to meet up if you're interested and it works out - we fly into Brisbane on Oct 7 and fly out two months later.

Tom


Partner philbox
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Aug 28, 2002, 2:37 PM
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   Tom, Mate, I`d love to show you guys around some of the local crags dude. We`ve got some awesome climbing around here. What do you want to do, we`ve got something to suit every taste. Are you here for work or climbing. Ooh I can`t wait.
...Phil...


paintinhaler


Aug 28, 2002, 2:55 PM
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Many props to the both of you. Sticking in there and making it. You bigwallers are nutz, I swear man. You people are crazy.


climbsomething


Aug 28, 2002, 3:08 PM
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Good to hear of your success on the "Big Stone!" Your chums @ rc.com are always glad to hear of proud ascents Your broadcast gratitude to Pete has also inspired me...

I have never done a wall; I do not aid climb - heck, I am primarily a sport climber, running up routes that are often less than a "real" pitch in length. But I would like to take this opportunity to publically thank Pete as well, for getting me up and down my first (trad, of course) multi-pitch last month, and in one piece I did not lead any pitches but I did get out of my comfort zone and learn a few things. Pete was flexible, patient, congenial, and calm but firm in employing his climbing knowledge. A mini-epic of rappelling snafus (my goofs), running out of daylight (and steam... again, mine)... and yet I came out of it with stories to share. Twas a very memorable experience! (and for those of you keeping score at home, Pass the Pitons Pete was FREE CLIMBING! )

It speaks strongly of Pete's charecter that he would happily take me, a self-professed weenie, up a 6-pitch route in the foreign (to him) Arizona backcountry. He is ETS (Emphatically The Shi...)

It makes me feel all fuzzy wuzzy, like a pill-bodied stuffed iguana, when I see how rc.com enriches our lives on and off the rock

This love letter has been brought to you by the number 34 and the letter A.


dsafanda


Aug 28, 2002, 3:31 PM
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Congrats!! That's great that you did your first wall with your wife!! I've done a couple of smaller walls in Zion and Yosemite but haven't climbed El Cap yet. My wife has never climbed a wall and we're talking about doing one together soon. I'm glad to see we're not alone. Although she can send 5.11 sport routes her trad skills are lacking. I think we'll try something much easier than Salathe.

On a side note I'm very jealous. I tried to climbing ElCap for the first time in the middle of July. We bailed after the FreeBlast. It was 105 on Mammoth Ledges!


theclimer


Aug 28, 2002, 7:51 PM
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Quote:This love letter has been brought to you by the number 34 and the letter A.

Wow, my favorite! Just ask my wife!

Cheerio,

Jeff


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