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timpanogos


Jan 26, 2003, 8:04 PM
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Well, this was a spur of the moment trip driven by having Friday off and unheard of January weather predicted out until Tuesday. Nighttime Temps were predicted down to 30 with daytime highs at 65 – I was going to get in some nailing practice – but something went off inside – ZION – what the heck go for it.

I grabbed my ski bibs, gloves, hat, Marmot shell with fleece liner, and a fleece shirt, 2 pairs of wool socks and fiber sleeping bag – for minimal 30 degree or worse cold but dry night conditions – just gonna rough it on the ground/ledge.

Food – just go for fuel, like extreme alpine hikes I’ve done – Gu and protein bars – 2 per pitch, trial mix, jerky and a bit of candy, ½ gallon orange juice and 1 gallon of water.

Even being minimalist on weather pro and food I was going to have to haul. Getting caught on the wall at 30 degrees would kill me – had to take the cloths/bag. Based on previous extreme 12-hour days, I was on the edge for 2 days of liquid (especially with the fuel – requires water for those bars/gue) but figured at highs of 65 I would be ok.

I was anxious about tagging, as I have not enough experience with it, so I went for a bit of Cooperheads gear management – throw my cloths, food, and then tag rack in the pig and go for it. However, I did stick to a two-rope system – threw one of Pete’s fancy figure 8/butterfly combo’s to tie my lead to haul incase I had to rap the lead for any reason, and hooked my hauling gear onto the butterflies loop (Like Brian does). Heck I might even have to crap – so I bought kitty litter on the way down and made a wall flower – and put ½ of my fuel into a day pack and attached it to a single catch line. Since I was hauling, I took all my clean gear but my two #6 Friends, #5 Friend and #4 BD – It took me two hauls and they were both HEAVY on a fairly brutal approach.

I get to Zion around 2:00pm – If you are going to Zion be ready for a 20-dollar entrance fee! Plus a 5-dollar backcountry permit- Camping is another 14, I think. Anyway I get up to “Big Bend” and I’m checking out Angles Landing, and scope out the route from the parking lot. I fumbled around with lining my pig, taping topos, making a wall flower, and finding out I did not bring near enough 3mm cord for final odds and ends. – So about 4:00pm I’m ready to hit the trail.

The plan at this point is to getup and get the first bolt clipped and my solo anchor in, come back to town and eat – and be ready to hit it first thing in the morning. So I hoof my gear to the base, leaving my clothing, food and haul line for later. At the backcountry registry desk, they have the topo/notes – which I copied a nice page that showed all the routes on the wall – I left this at the car (dumb guy alert). So I get up there and start finding routes – real damn scary looking things – like one had a bolt about 15’ up on what looked like a 5:13 face climb – with out any pro that could be seen above it. Another one had a piece of pro with a runner about 50’ up that it looked like someone bailed on, a couple more had some pin’s with rings that were spaced about 30’ apart – I’m starting to freak out – I’m not seeing the promised bolt ladder start. After a bit of panic, I finally find the route and get my anchor in and head down for dinner/camp.

So I get into town at about 7:30pm (streets roll up at 8:00) and barely make dinner – I had a tent but it was clear and the stars were incredible, so instead of hitting the camp ground – I decide to make my second haul and do an illegal bivy at the base (the park is basically deserted).

In checking beta for this route, everyone talks about fixing the first 3 pitches one day, then the other 6 the following day. I’m assuming this 3 pitch fix is a minor, partial day kind of thing, So I’m optimistically thinking, I start at dusk, haul to the 3rd pitch and with any luck fix the 4th and 5th pitches and bivy on the 3rd pitches ledge.

Well It starts getting light around 7:00, so I’m up at 6:30, load the pig, setup my semi-tag, catch line, wall flower – and gear up. – What I thought would take ½ hour turned into 1.5 wanking with final touches and I suck up to the first bolt with my daisy at 8:00am – I’ve got 10 hours of light left. Short of wanking with removing my coat after about 5 traversing moves right off the start I moved right thought the bolt ladder portion of the first pitch (about 2/3rds of it).

Retraction note – somewhere I said that I did not think the Adjustable Fifi was that important for top-ringing the ruskies. First thing I note is that there is a big difference between almost vertical and vertical – it’s not the scare factor so much as giving your calves a break in those top rings – even 2nd rings. I’m very glad I had my adjustable fifi and used it on every move – as the bolt ladder took top rings on almost every move.

The top 1/3 is a 5.8ish crack that is weird – it’s like a 30’ layback flake, in that the crack shoots off on a hard right angle – making a funky 8” or so corner. I don’t know if regular aiders do better in this sort of crack, but it was hard because you physically could not get your right foot into the paired rings. I peeled once when my right foot slipped (boots just don’t stick to 5.8 holds like my climbing shoes do). So you are always working your left leg up the rings, climbing/flagging your right leg and often unable to bounce test a new piece.

Sandstone is different than granite/quartzite (duh) – this stuff was hybrid alien heaven – this crack flared in some places from micro nut size to #3 BD cam size in a matter of about 12” – I back cleaned my largest hybrid once, replacing it and the next smaller one in this short 30’ – but then again I had one placement – out of the crack in a round pocket with a 2.5 that was a solid piece (took a static daisy fall on it when my boot slipped). I was really trying to move fast, top ringing every time that was possible and reaching high for placements. I placed 3 nuts in this stretch – and had the same problem every time. This sandstone crack was like superglue, you wanted to get it in the right place first time or it stuck where you put it. In granite/quartzite If you are slotting a nut on a long reach from the end – you can easily wiggle it back out if you don’t like the fit – not on this stuff - maybe it was my new bronze/aluminum HB’s? I also noticed that in this extreme flaring crack – nuts on the narrow edge slotted very nicely – I got a #8 HB aluminum in this way – problem is (unbeknown to me at this time) – it was beyond the reach of my nut cleaning tool! I then get a #3 HB bronze on the next move up – but this was one of those places that you just physically could not get your right foot onto the upper ring strip to bounce test it. – So I waist/daisy bounced it best I could and hopped onto it – it promptly popped and I once again took a static daisy fall from the top rings on the #8HB (the nut tool unreachable one, and we are talking 100% surface contact on both sides). The rest of the pitch was uneventful – I took about 3 free moves at the top to the anchor. I dig my watch out – 2.5 hours – I’m somewhat disappointed, My clusterf**kage was at a minimal, I was high stepping often, placements were going in reasonably well – I was feeling great – I’m not sure where I was burning so much time. Well the bivy is only up 2 more pitches, I’ll be fine – so off I go to clean.

The 1st pin is under the left side of a big roof. The 2nd pin is a high stepping 45 degrees left angled traverse to clear the roof. The next 4 or 5 moves are absolute horizontal (binner in jug to keep the rope in type of cleaning) – Glad I knew the better way here! Once again, I felt like I was moving right along and I clean my way up to that #8 HB – the nut tool was flush with the edge of the crack as it touched the nut – I fiddle farted with this for a long time and was about to give up on it – but decided to try one more thing – I took off one set of aiders off and hook it to the nut and the ascender and pulled on the adjustable as hard as I could (trying to pull the nut straight upwards) – it did not budge. So I take a sling and loop it though a biner on the jug and biner one end to the nut and clip my Russian loop biner into the other end and bounce the heck out of it – it still did not seem to even budge! So I give up on the thing, put my aider back on, and go to remove my tether from the nut and fumble the end a bit and the darn thing falls out in my hand!

So on to the anchor I finish cleaning – I dig out my watch and crap – it’s 2:00pm – it took me as long to clean the pitch as it did to climb it – I fiddled with that darn aluminum that I fell on for awhile, but it did not seem like it took 2.5 hours to clean the darn thing! So I have 4 hours to do 2 more pitches – The 2nd pitch goes free at 5.8 and looked like a very fun climb – 3rd pitch is a short 70’ and I could haul all the way from here to the 3rd pitch – so I start to contemplate about a 100’ solo trad climb, and decide to haul the pig and then think about it again.

I hook the pig up for a one to one and give a pull – damn it was way heavy – so I went to setup a 2:1 and realized that I had left my dedicated 8mm haul cord in the car and that only cord I had was in the pig. So I went ahead and used the free end of the haul line to drive the 2:1, which worked just fine – but I wanked here for awhile (I think this would also work fine for a far-end haul, as long as you have enough free rope off your butterfly at the pig). This station was a “standing” belay – but that is being generous there was pretty good wank factor in moving around the station – so I haul the pig up and dock it and once again check the clock – it’s 3:30 wanked for 1.5 hours pulling the pig.

Having only 2.5 hours of light left made for a tough decision at this point. On the pro side – The final pitch was shorter than what I just lead in 2.5, 2nd pitch looks like an easy and fun free climb that will only take a few minutes, cleaning and hauling in the dark would be acceptable, I could skip the 2nd anchor and aid right on through to the 3rd. Con side - Having never practiced a serious solo trad piece I was hesitant to going after a 100 footer on the first go, in a vacant park and being new to sandstone pro placements. And if I made the ledge ok, but somehow screwed up on the haul – I could literally freeze/hypothermia to death by morning. Well you can call it lack of balls, but I’ll call it good judgment – Walking into a high probability epic with fatal consciences knowingly is beyond my risk acceptance level – I had to come down.

Up until this point – the systems that I had practiced had gone very smoothly, I was feeling good and my wank/cluster factors were down to fair levels, but a little – unforeseen epic/lesson was about to unfold! And yes, you will be bombarded with a bunch of questions in a following post.

In hind site, what I did was very dumb – but as apollodorus quoted "If you keep your shame public, there's nowhere for the Various Times to go with it."

(What in the hell does that mean anyway?)

So I’m going to share this one with you. I’m tired, disappointed – the intensity and focus is off with only an easy bail ahead and I have plenty of light to get down. So I decide to lower the pig instead of ride it out (which in it’s self is ok) – but several dumb things all came together very quickly.

1. As I cleaned up to the anchor I stayed tied into the anchor on lead to my grigri, I had tied 3 backup loops with about 15’ per leg (90 some odd feet), which were still hanging off of me (I forgot about them, busy with the haul). As I pulled up my haul line and haul hardware, I stacked the other half of the lead rope in a sling.
2. In an effort to get a feel of tagging, I had my tag rack tied to the bottom of my swivel and it was hanging outside the haul bag – I wanted to see it’s tendency to catch on the way up (it came up with no problems at all).
3. Before lowering, a clear feeling/thought came to my mind that I should put the rack in the bag – I dismissed the thought – it would be a pain and it came up just fine – it will be ok.
4. A brain fart comes up, might as well send the haul bag with the big and let the belay just feed on up. A second clear feeling/thought maybe that’s not such a good idea – but no I’ll only have to restack ½ the line – just send it down.

Ok, so I load up my B52 and release the pigs mariner onto it and start lowering away – well for about 15’ anyway and all of a sudden the bottom of the pig quits moving and the top starts toppling over – My tag rack looks like a peacock with it’s tail feathers is full display – The round ring on an alien as found a perfectly fitting mini horn at the top and my 3 loops of lead rope has found all my wires on the bottom and y catch line and wall flower have joined the party to boot!

So not only do I have a world record clusterf**k going on 15’ below me, I’m holding the whole mess on belay! All I can say is thank you Falcon Guides for the Self-Rescue book! And thank goodness I have practiced escaping a belay. I can not say enough about any climber knowing how to tie a mariner knot! With one hand, I grabbed one of my cool new 2’ re-belay prusik loops and applied it to the loaded rope, grabbed a sling and girthed it to the prusik and marinered it to the anchor. – wow ok it’s stable – but $#!&, all my haul stuff is joining in on the cluster below me. So comes my first introduction to TRUE pig wrestling. Thank goodness I decided long ago, that my ascender always stays on my personal harness – I hook it to the anchor and transfer the load from mariner to it – now spit on your hands, rub them vigorously together grab the haul line, grunt and pull, now as quick as you can let go with one hand and try and yank some slack though the ascender. Damn we are talking HARD work here. So I get it back up to me and start into trying to straighten out the spaghetti plate, partly upside down trying to untangle the underside of the pig part of the problem. Then comes the endless – feed the whole length of the rope, over and over through the mess, one knot at a time part of the fun. Luckily, for the most part, the haul line stayed in it’s bag.

So I had to follow the first thought/warning anyway and undo the pig top, load the rack in, keep my haul rope with me – and one final insult, still had to get the darn pig off the ascender and back on the B52. Yep I’m a pig wrestling fool – and I was one tired dude after that fight! But under headlamp I finally pulled my line and sat there relieved and ready for my second night’s illegal bivy at the base of Prodigal Sun!

More to come, I took some pictures and I have some questions – got to get my speed up somehow (or get a portaledge and just plan on an eight day assault of Prodigal Sun next time!)

I had a fantastic weekend – and though I failed this attempt – I live, and can not wait, to try it again!

Chad


[ This Message was edited by: timpanogos on 2003-01-26 20:04 ]


twrock


Jan 26, 2003, 10:55 PM
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Hey Chad,
Glad you're safe; sad you didn't achieve your goal. If it's any consolation, you have joined a very large group! Many of us can sympathize.
I'm with Pete on this one though. I believe you will get that first big wall eventually! Keep at it.
-Ron


iamthewallress


Jan 26, 2003, 11:11 PM
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I just PMed Chad my congrats because getting out there, trying to do it, and getting through it if not up it is so huge and fantastic!

His story reminded me of my first try soloing...and my second...and my third...and why "working out your systems" on single pitch climbs doesn't mean diddly boo if you are only dealing with like %5 of the logistics of the real deal.


brutusofwyde


Jan 27, 2003, 12:22 AM
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GREAT report!

One question regarding the difficulty you were having with the russian aiders: Were you using a total of two aid tyrees in your system, or three or four? I've found that on traversing things and big roofs, three or four are definitely better than two.

Brutus


timpanogos


Jan 27, 2003, 8:07 AM
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Brutus,

I only have two ring tiers. The traversals were not a real big problem - the problem was in this funky crack that formed about a 6 to 12 inch corner - actually more of a flake type of deal, where the pro is set behind the flake coming out to the left and your right foot is on the outside of the flake. So in the top ring (sometimes 2nd) your left boot barely fit in the crack by itself - noway you are getting the right foot to the other ring.

Hope this makes sense??

Chad


slabbyd


Jan 27, 2003, 9:50 AM
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Hey Chad

My first attempt at a solo aid climb was a route called Cannabis Wall in Squamish. Its 5 pitches long and stops maybe half way up a wall.

The first time I made it one pitch up before bailing.

The second time I made it two pitches up before bailing.

The third time a made it about 4.5 before bailing in a thunderstorm and calling it good enough.

The moral being...keep at it! We've all (well most of us anyway) have been there too!


alpinerocket


Jan 28, 2003, 4:12 PM
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Way to go Chad, I am giving you props for your first attempt. Cant wait to get on the wall with you. I have a loooong way to go. JOHN


timpanogos


Jan 28, 2003, 4:32 PM
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It was COLD - but not crossing it would be far worse! 2-3 mile approach - then the vertical hoof-it to the base.

On the way down - I did two hauls to the bank - dropped my pants and hauled to the car in my underwear - of course the parking lot was empty the whole time I was there - until .... yea you got it, I show up in my undies. Too, bad - did second haul in my undies also - too tired to care.

Chad


epic_ed


Jan 29, 2003, 9:57 PM
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Congrats, Chad. Keep at it!

Ed


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