I went to Kolob today. Parking at the mouth of the South Fork, I loaded my haul bag alone. Two ropes fro soloing, and all the gear I have including my seldom used yet beloved rack of pitons. The haul bag was really heavy and I felt like I was approaching El.Cap. for a grade six climb. As I walked on snow covered by drifted sand, I thought instinctively that my bag would only get lighter, and of ways that the process could be expedited.
One thin I like about walking by myself is that I walk slower and seem to walk and enjoy the views more. It took about en minutes to walk back to Suzi’s Pillar I stood on the trail looking at Special Sauce. Eventually I walked down a deer path to the swampy creek; there was a clear passage to the other side so I didn’t have to crash through the brush.
At the base of my projected climb was a huge slab to the base of the serious climbing. The slab created some what of a large amphitheater with two huge caves inset at the top side by side like a pair of eyes. My projected climb went up the right side of these eyes and traversed left into them.
I first tried climbing the approach slabs with the haul bag on, got about thirty feet up being careful not to step on patches of snow. Eventually I slipped and slid down the slab. I found an easier less snow covered path that went at about 5.4, and continued to the base of the serious climbing.
Once fixing my ropes I rappelled and jugged with the haul bag. I sorted all my gear and looked to place an anchor in the blank bowl I was surrounded by. I scrambled up to a small stance just below the overhanging bulge. I drilled as high as possible, striving for the best hole one can get with a hand drill. As I wrested my tired hands and carefully repositioned my feet on the stance, I looked across at the sun shinning on Paria Point. I didn’t mind being on the dark side, even drilling I wore on sock hat and only a long sleeve shirt.
I went back to drilling and once the bolt was placed, I stepped into my aiders to start a rivet ladder. This meant switching to my ¼” bit. My rivets were 3/8 x 1 1/2 bolts. I drilled pilot holes with the ¼ bit and then proceeded to smash the 3/8” bolts into the holes. The first rivet was in soft rock and slightly down turned. I set the bolt and whaled it in with my hammer, loose sand and flakes of rock sifted down on me. The larger diameter bolt only went into the hole an inch, leaving a half inch of the bolt exposed.
I bounce tested my placement, and committed to it. The overhung nature of the rock, in addition to my mistrust of the rivet caused me to stay low on the placement. As I crept up higher in my aiders I looked down at the slab ten feet below me and then back at the rivet. Knowing better, than to look at a sketchy placement while testing it I instinctively turned my head again, and continued stepping up. I started drilling the second rivet in a perfect section of desert varnish rock. The drilling went slow and as I rested I attempted to muster up inspiration by thinking of Royal Robbins referencing
“Tis-sa-ack….a route worth bolting for…”
“This is plain out-an-out work.” I thought to my self.
If one can have a perfect rivet on sandstone, my second one would have qualified. As I weighted it, the first rivet shifted as it shed my weight. I reached down and tried twisting it with my finger, the rivet pulled right out. I pushed it back in and clipped a quick draw to the “synch wire” I had looped around it.
The next placement looked to be a textbook hook placement, but as I cleaned away the projected edge, it continually crumbled away. Frustrated I sat in the aiders and looked at a line to my left that I viewed earlier on the way in. I had not first attempted this line because it wasn’t a direct line up to the main crack system.
The variation line went directly up the Dark Side of Suzi’s Pillar, with an option to traverse into the tunnel connecting to the 5.6 chimney on Special Sauce. Sitting there I lost motivation to continue to drilling another six rivets, and had a stronger desire to free climb.
Upon down climbing, I re-racked for the free climbing. My aid/approach shoes climb rather good causing my confidence and enjoyment to increase. I covered ground light and fast. I took a hand full of cams and a small selection of pins. I placed a cam about fifty feet out from the belay and continued working my way up on good foot smears and stems. The cracks were mostly incipient, witch made placements delicate. I continued climbing and found a fairly good Angle placement at the bottom of a large flaring pod. From there the placements be came sparse and I got a poor body weight KB, in a crack that crumbled every time I tried to drive it deeper. Deciding that was a bad variation I down climbed my moves and opted for a bat hook move above the angle, these lead into a cam and several LA placements. Shortly after I mantled on to the final ledge the lead into The Sauce’s 5.6 chimney.
Gaining the ledge eased up the climbing and the final climbing was on familiar ground. The only slow part of the last section was managing the ropes. On the top I took off my rucksack and sipped on the liter of water I had brought for the day. Sitting there I organized my gear and took the summit register out of its box. It was composed of loose leaf papers, as stub of a pencil and tow books of matches, the later was evidently there for all the weed every one complained about not smoking. I read old entries from previous times climbing the Pillar. I brought with me a little book to leave in place of the pieces of paper and planned to copy all the old entries into the new log book. As I sat reading I could hear day hikers talking in the canyon. Rolling over onto my stomach I peered out the canyon, in hopes of catching a glimpse of them. Their voices bounced off the canyon walls and I only gained a visual as they exited the canyon onto the road. I rolled onto my back and lay there looking at the beautiful created walls around me.
“In the beginning was the Word…” the phase was on my mind.
“Logos…, the power of the Word.”
I thought…dwelling on it brought me to the truth of my frailty in living. My frailty was proved further when the chilling cold of the pillars flat surface crept through my fleece. Sitting back up I decided to start writing as my energy was diminishing with the sun. The nutritional value of the food I had eaten all day was almost nil, consisting of two boxes of Little Debbie’s. I continued transcribing from the old log to the new one, at times stopping to ease my trembling hands. A loaf of bread would have been a better option for the day, thought its taste would have been different that the sweet of junk food. I finished the transcriptions as the sun shone high on Paria Point. I am almost out of time and wished I had a flash light. I thought to myself. I began rappelling and stopped mid route to drill a bolt for an anchor at the top of the fist pitch. The rock quality was good and its moisture content was surprisingly low, for so much show had being on the ground. The bolt went in fast, and so accurate that I had to pound the bolt into place with my hammer. “Bomber!” I said out loud and smiled.
As I rappelled the first pitch I cleaned my gear as brushed off as much dirt as possible.
On reaching the ledge with my haul bag, the sun had set below the western Pine Valley Mountains. “What a beautiful Day.” I fixed my bag and walked out of the canyon in the evening dusk.
I wanted to put up “The Thanksgiving Route 5.9+” (a.k.a. The Dark Side of the Sauce) in reflection to the many blessings God has given me after a year of climbing. God’s providence is truth in my life. I am thankful for those in the past, content with the present and intrigued by what the future holds….. “Jehovah Jireh Baby!”
Witnessed by: none