Tag Archives: Rock Climbing

Zoroaster Temple – Grand Canyon – AZ (Day 2 – Part 2) – 11.4.17

Share
Traverse pitch from the horn, about to climb the face (have a change of pants ready!) Photo Credit: Kari Hreinsson

P5: From the horn belay I down climbed 15’ to a ledge. Slowly and meticulously I moved climber’s right and headed out into a 40’ airy traverse and finally clipped an old school rusty hanger. From here I had 2 options, get into a rated R chimney on the right and ascend the 20’ up until the first piece of pro, or take the rated R face directly above me and ascend to that same place. I chose the face. I explored the small nubbins with my hands, I chalked up as I planned my line. I started up on the small foot holds and was instantly searching for the next small rock nub that I could use for a hand or a foot. I slowly moved out left before finding a decent line that went back right towards slab paradise. I climbed slowly and very carefully, a fall here would certainly be a huge whipper on a questionable old school anchor. Rock nub after rock nub I moved up and right until finally the angle relaxed and the slab climbing began. Used the dished face until I finally straddled the R rated chute that dropped into nowhere. I slung a large column and finally clipped in, feeling a little more relaxed as I did. I mantled over the chimney chute to nowhere onto a large ledge. I walked around a large boulder and climbed up until I found the base of P6 and set a bomber anchor for Kari. “Climb On!” I yelled down. Following the lead with essentially 2 pieces of protection in 80’ is not fun, especially when you could swing out and seriously get hurt. So the pressure of following was not as relaxed as one may think. I couldn’t see Kari at all as I belayed. All I could is reel the rope in as he climbed. I listened for any noise in the wind and finally it came as he mantled over onto the ledge: “Woop!” letting me know he made it past the chimney. Soon he joined me w a big hi-5 and an exhausted smile. We were both tired, but still had 1 more pitch left.

Time lapse, bottom to top, fun and rated R! Photo Credit: Kari Hreinsson

P6: I regathered the gear and grabbed the #4 Kari had been hauling up the whole time. I held onto a 0.75 Camelot (was so happy I had this later) and doubles from #1’s to #4’s. I once again started up, pulling a small roof before finding the off width pitch everyone boasted about. The corner facing wall to my left was blank and featureless and the bulge to my right was smooth and round. Nothing but the crack in front of me and smearing feat were there to aid my ascent. I worked at it, inch by inch, using the back of the crack with hand jams and used my gear as efficient as I could as I climbed. Once or twice I reclaimed a piece from below that I could use again higher up after placing. This pitch was the toughest and most painful! I fought for it, inch by inch, grunting, groaning through the pain. The flared wide crack finally started thinning up and I was so glad to have my 0.75 as it was perfect for the cracks exit. I placed my piece, took a rest, and finally reaching high and left for a really nice rail on the left wall. I knew I had it from there, even though the climbing wasn’t done. I kept fighting, up and on until Zoro finally seemed to give up a little. The pitch angle relaxed, my heart was thumping and the adrenaline was pumping through my veins. I kept fighting, and finally after 6 pitches of grueling technical climbing I topped out and slung a juniper pine at the top of the chossey exit. I set the belay and yelled down to Kari “Climb on!” Soon, after grunting and groaning, pulling hard for it, I saw Kari’s orange and red helmet come into view. I was overwhelmed with what we just did. I slapped his helmet, and the two of us, tired and ready to finish stood on the plateau just below the summit, knowing the technical climbing was done.

Dont mind the butt shot! Photo Credit: Kari Hreinsson
  • Looking up P6, the offwidth. Photo Credit: Kari Hreinsson

The Summit Plateau: We stood, beaten and bruised, looking towards the setting sun and the huge summit block that stood in front of us. We dropped our gear and brought just a pack as we walked in our climbing shoes towards the summit. The earth here was fresh and virtually untouched, we did surprisingly find a few footprints. As we neared the summit, the block just continued to grow and we started to wonder if we should have brought gear. We skirted south west of the block poking for weak spots until finally we found a route that went up. We scrambled the C4 route up a chimney crack up the sharp rock until finally we popped out into a large open plateau. The top was huge! We walked towards the south end and found a large cairn with a summit registry hidden below. The views were incredible, we could see the whole of the south rim and a lot of the Colorado River from here. We peered back to the approach we ascended, throughout the day and stood in pure amazement of the Grand Canyon’s beauty.

  • Summit block!
  • Skirting the summit block

We wrote our names in the book, so stoked to finally be standing on top after dreaming of this moment for so long. Kari claimed first Icelandic ascent, and it was nice to thinking that the only way to the top was real climbing. The sights, the air, the feeling, the thrill, made every step worth it. We turned knowing our time was limited as the sun threatened to leave us, and walked towards the north end to find the rappel route down to the base where we started.

Rap Route: The chains were at the top out just to the climber’s right of screaming sky crack, a 5.11 trad route to the climbers left of the NE Arete.

Rap1!

R1: The first rap was a nice 100’ long free hanging which ended in another set of nice shiny bolts. We stopped at each station, replacing the webbing for the rap rings so fresh stuff could be used by the next climbers.

Coming down Rap1, looking left to Screaming Sky Crack 5.11!

R2: A 60’ rap towards climbers left lead to a ledge with a nice tree and a couple more bolts, ready for fresh webbing on the rap ring awaited.

Setting up Rap 2! Kari works in the golden light

R3: A pretty straight forward 100’ rap down the face led to a large ledge. We worked to climbers left dropping another 10’ to another set of shiny bolts. R4: By this point we were pretty quick about replacing webbing, setting up and rapping down, I would keep my hand on the rope until I felt Kari’s tension release, then I’d start setting up. This time was no different I stood there waiting, hand on the rope, when all the sudden I felt a jerk of the rope and instantaneous slack on the rope. I though What the hell just happened, and I called down to Kari with no answer! There was only 1 way to find out and I set up the rap and had an ascender prussic ready in case I had to re-ascend the rope. I began rapping down, and finally about 60’ down the face Kari’s helmet came into view. “Kari!” I yelled. He answered back saying everything was fine and just come down slowly. Once I reached him I realized I was at the end of the 70m rope, but I was still dangling about 8’ above the ledge. I held onto the rock in front of my face, untied 1 knot out of the end of the rope, and repelled off the end of 1 side of the rope, and safely landed on the ledge. “Whewww!” I exclaimed, happy to be on the ground. Do not try this at home! I did see a set of bolts half way down the rap route that we could have used, but this turned out okay. R5: We found ourselves at the bolts at the top of P1 and relieved there was just a short 50’ rap left as the sun gave off its final rays of light for the day.

Goodnight fella!

We were finally back on the ground, realizing we were on rock for a good 8 hours, between the climb, the summit block scramble, and rappelling with replacing all the webbing as we went. Tired, beaten, but happy to have accomplished out goal, we headed back towards camp the way we came. We hiked through the night reversing every obstacle we ascended, rapping where it seemed logical until reaching camp. We were both beat as we packed up camp and headed back down the red wall, how do people do this in under 24 hours?!

Zoro, still staring us down in the moonlight!
Kari, heading down the slot! Towards the cliff bands!

We descended Sumner Wash and finally found feet back on Clear Creek trail. With our slightly lighter packs we headed back towards Phantom Ranch totally beat. We reached the ranch overlook at about 1am and both looked at each other knowing there was so much more trail before we exited via Bright Angel . . . “let’s have a quick nap”, I said. We pulled out a tarp and our sleeping bags and laid in a pullout of the trail and crashed until 5am. A ringtail visited us in the night attempting to “borrow” a few snacks, probing our bags for weakness. I heard some stirring, woke up and scared the little fella off. By the next morning our packs were covered with his prints.

Ringtail prints =)

We woke, and packed our bags once again and were soon descending into Phantom Ranch. We took a quick pause to re-up on our almost depleted water supply. We snacked up, watered up, and chatted with other trekkers at the ranch with big smiles on our faces. It was only about 9 more miles out via Bright Angel trail. We walked those miles feeling pretty light despite our load. We had somehow accomplished the goal we set out to achieve. The entire day before seemed like a dream as we ascended to the south rim. We glanced back when we could, thinking about the day before and how rare of a chance we had to stand among the few who have summited. What a great feeling, another awesome trek in the Grandest of Canyons!

  • Almost to Phantom!
  • Heading back towards Phantom Ranch

HIKE/CLIMB INFORMATION:

CLIMB/HIKE STATS:

  • Weather: Hi 60s, Low 40s, Sunny
  • Water: 4 liters
  • Food: 1 Cliff Builder bar, 1 protein bar, 1 Nature Valley granola bar, bag of salt & vinegar, beef jerky, bag of pizza Pringles, gummy worms, apple
  • Time: (Day 2) 7 hours
  • Distance: (Day 2) 10 miles
  • Accumulated Gain: (Day 2) 4,800 feet
  • Climbing Rating: 5.9+ Trad
  • Number of Pitches: 6

GEAR:

  • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 tent
  • Big Agnes QCORE SLX sleeping pad
  • Cosmic Down Kelty Sleeping Bag (rated to 20 deg F)
  • Jet Boil – Sol
  • Black Diamond trekking poles
  • SPOT Gen3 Tracker
  • Sawyer Squeeze – Water Filter
  • 58 liter exos osprey backpack
  • Black Diamond Helmet
  • Petzl Corax Climbing Harness
  • 2 Black Diamond screw carabiner
  • 4 Phantom DMM screw carabiner
  • 6mm Accessory Chord – Anchor
  • Black Diamond Camelot X4+C4 Cams – Double Rack – (2x), 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.5, 0.75, 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Black Diamond Standard Nut Set
  • 12 Alpha Trad DMM quickdraws – Alpine draws
  • Black Diaimond ATC Guide
  • 70 meter 9.8mm Rope (Orange Slice)
  • Webbing/7mmCord for personal anchor
  • 20′ Flat webbing to leave for anchors
  • Arc’teryx Chalk Bag

CLOTHING:

  • Smartwool 195 weight long sleeve
  • Arc’teryx Hoody
  • Cotton Handkerchief
  • Nike shorts
  • Patagonia Pants
  • Darn Tough Medium Wool Sox
  • Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
  • La Sortiva TC Pro Climbing Shoes
Share

Zoroaster Temple – Grand Canyon – AZ (Day 2 – Part 1) – 11.4.17

Share
Morning begins to break over the canyon

The wind screamed by our tent most of the night, waking us every 15 minutes it seemed. Finally, after midnight, I remember it dying down and getting some solid sleep. The alarm blasted, Bzzzz Bzzz Bzz, man was it time to get up already?! We woke, staying still for a moment checking the time. Sure enough, it was time to start our haul to the base of Zoroaster and hopefully attempt our bid on the summit.

Good morning!

We ate breakfast, packed up camp, and before we knew it, Kari and I were taking our first steps towards the monstrous beast that loomed over our camp just as day began to break. Feet in red dirt we ascended Zoroaster’s arm, chimneying up a small obstacle and soon the next cliff bands stared us in the face. We picked our way through, shimmying up some low class 5 (C5) chimneys, handing packs as we ascended. We moved as quickly and safely as we could. A slip or mistake here would not only cost an injury, but also the goal, and not to mention the excruciatingly long rescue effort. Cliff band after cliff band we somehow found our way through. We pushed further up the arm, and finally after a long slot ascent and a large boulder shuffle, we skirted to the north and headed towards the saddle of Zoroaster and Brahma temples.

  • The overscast morning seemed to start slowly
  • Cliff Band obstacles

The footpath grew very narrow, vertical rockface to the right, and sloped dirt leading to a 400 foot drop to the left . . . better keep our heads on in this section! We carefully picked our way through following the footpath, cairn after cairn guided our way. Finally we found the weak spot in the headwall and started to ascend. The first obstacle was a chill class 3 scramble up to a ledge where we found a fixed rope for the next obstacle. We bat-manned up and sere soon past the next C4/C5 section. We followed the cairns as we went, across another rope less climb, up a slab, and finally to the spiciest of the obstacles. It was a good 20’ C5 climb with a fixed rope to guide us up! “How nice of someone!” I thought as we exited the obstacle.

  • Kari squeezes on the small footpath between the rock face and the dropoff

We kept pushing our way up the steep faint trail, following cairns until finally we were face to face with the sheer walls of Zoroaster. None of the faces we could see looked like our climb, so we continued to skirt east across the north face of Zoro. Walking on and on, when all of the sudden we turned right at the arête and stared at the 5.9+ NE Arete route. It was time to go to work! We racked up and Kari put me on belay as I stepped towards the start of the climb.

Skirting east along the north face of Zoroaster towards the Arete

Pitch 1 (P1):  My hands were sweaty as I made my first step towards the start. I plunged them into my chalk bag shaking off the jitters and stared at a large triangle roof a good 25’ up a face. I started up the sandy sandstone face reaching the clearly clean roof. I threw a #3 Camelot on the crack and inspected the face wondering how I would pull the first obstacle. I reached high, and using a nice foothold on the left face I pulled myself over the roof and was soon clipping chains just 50’ off the ground.

Taking on P1, trying to shake out the jitters! Thanks for the pic: Kari Hreinsson

P2: The crack went up and climbers right from here and I followed. There were some fun moves, I stepped up, finding the next hold, repositioning and finding good gear placement. The long pitch meandered up right through the crack around some small trees. Move after move I ascended, sometimes being pushing onto some short slab climbs until finally I reached a tree covered in slings signifying the end of P2. Whew, made it! I threw Kari on belay and he soon followed. Trying to move quickly we spared no time exchanging gear and I set off again!

  • Top of P2 - Tree belay (don't mind the guy thigh). Photo Credit: Kari Hreinsson

P3: The infamous “Crux Pitch”. I move up and climbers right towards a fresh rock scar where a pinnacle used to hold on, creating a chimney for the next pitch (it fell in 2004). There were now 2 options for this pitch: ascend a section of runout slab face climbing with no protection, or a vertical sandstone slopper hold climb. I chose the sandstone, heading almost vertical and slightly climbers left from the tree below. I placed a Camelot #3 deep in a hole/crack with soft sandstone edges and prayed it would hold. I moved up and left, finding a good left foot, dropped knee, intermediate sloper with my left hand, pinching a sandy sandstone shelf with my right hand . . . needless to say it was awkward . . . all of the sudden I was out of position. “Falling!” I yelled down to Kari as I blew off the face! Gravity took over and I fell for a good 20’ whipper before my #3 dug in and held me. Whew!!!! I thought to myself and let out a loud happy yelp “Wooooooo!”  I grabbed my composure . . . this climb could end here. I stood back up and headed back for the same move. “Falling!!!” Boop, once again I was thrown from the face, the # 3 held, my hero!!!! I dusted myself off and looked upwards woundering if this was the end for us. I got back into the same position a 3rd time, only this attempt I threw my right hand up, blind, above the huge sloped rock in my face. To my surprise a bomber hourglass shaped hold!! I grabbed in and rejoiced as I made my next move to climbers left and safety of the next anchor. Sweat dripped from my body and I put Kari on belay.

Looking down the P3 crux (you can see the hour glass bomber hold here at the right hand). I shamelessly “borrowed” this picture from B Kiessel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcGlIpfjoaI)

P4: I stood on a huge ledge and soon Kari joined me after enjoying the same interesting crux as I. We had no time to waste, so I geared up and headed to a crack that was just above the fresh rockscar that moved climber’s right. I continued up this chimney running it out a bit, placing gear only where I had a nice stance. Even with all the runout, I started running low on gear! I found a small tree and looked up past the next chimney and there was still about 30’ above to the infamous horn belay. I decided to just build an anchor here and belay Kari up, breaking this pitch into 2. After some “fun” chimney Kari appeared at the belay, looking a bit tired and ready to be on the horn. I collected the gear he cleaned and headed up the final section of chimney towards the horn. I popped out of the chimney only an arête that ended into a loose slab section. The next place I could throw gear in was a good 20’ away, so I carefully climbed. Smearing my feet and slowly controlling my weight. I worked my way up until I found myself grabbing a bomber hold!! I quickly pulled myself up onto the infamous horn belay with a nice set of anchors. I set the belay, and Kari began to climb, cleaning gear as he went. As he popped out onto the loose slab section, he had the same impression as me: “What is this crap?!” Kari exclaimed!

  • Which way do we go?? Oh yea, up! Photo Credit: Kari Hreinsson
Looking up Second half of P4 (after the tree break), interesting chimney style climbing! Photo Credit: Kari Hreinsson

Kari joined me, as I sat straddling the horn, chilly, fully zipped up in my hoody. We had just 2 pitches left before the technical climbing was over. Although nervous, I was excited to take them on. The traverse was up next and after that the off width pitch. The traverse boasted almost no choices for protection and the offwidth pitch was some hard technical climbing. Kari but me on belay again . . . “Climb on!” he said. It wasn’t over yet!

Sitting on the Horn Belay top of P4, you can see the down climb and the sheer exposure! Photo Credit: Kari Hreinsson

HIKE/CLIMB INFORMATION:

CLIMB/HIKE STATS:

  • Weather: Hi 60s, Low 40s, Sunny
  • Water: 4 liters
  • Food: 1 Cliff Builder bar, 1 protein bar, 1 Nature Valley granola bar, bag of salt & vinegar, beef jerky, bag of pizza Pringles, gummy worms, orange, chicken and mashed potato MountainHouse
  • Time: (Day 2) 20 hours
  • Distance: (Day 2) 7 miles
  • Accumulated Gain: (Day 2) 1,700 feet
  • Climbing Rating: 5.9+ Trad
  • Number of Pitches: 6

GEAR:

  • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 tent
  • Big Agnes QCORE SLX sleeping pad
  • Cosmic Down Kelty Sleeping Bag (rated to 20 deg F)
  • Jet Boil – Sol
  • Black Diamond trekking poles
  • SPOT Gen3 Tracker
  • Sawyer Squeeze – Water Filter
  • 58 liter exos osprey backpack
  • Black Diamond Helmet
  • Petzl Corax Climbing Harness
  • 2 Black Diamond screw carabiner
  • 4 Phantom DMM screw carabiner
  • 6mm Accessory Chord – Anchor
  • Black Diamond Camelot X4+C4 Cams – Double Rack – (2x), 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.5, 0.75, 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Black Diamond Standard Nut Set
  • 12 Alpha Trad DMM quickdraws – Alpine draws
  • Black Diaimond ATC Guide
  • 70 meter 9.8mm Rope (Orange Slice)
  • Webbing/7mmCord for personal anchor
  • 20′ Flat webbing to leave for anchors
  • Arc’teryx Chalk Bag

CLOTHING:

  • Smartwool 195 weight long sleeve
  • Arc’teryx Hoody
  • Cotton Handkerchief
  • Nike shorts
  • Patagonia Pants
  • Darn Tough Medium Wool Sox
  • Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
  • La Sortiva TC Pro Climbing Shoes
Share

Zoroaster Temple – Grand Canyon – AZ (Day 1) – 11.3.17

Share
Zoroaster Temple & Brahma Temple

I stood there, palms sweaty, weighed down by the gear on my climbing harness, looking up at the start of a climb that took us 15 miles to approach, countless hours of training, and almost 2 years of dreaming to bring me face to face with the start of the route. My hoody was zipped up, and I could feel the chilled wind on my legs whipping by on the North face of Zoroaster Temple, deep in the belly of the Grand Canyon. I had plunged my hand into my chalk bag and took my first step towards a climb of a lifetime, and it all became real when Kari called out “Climb On!”

North East Arete: 6 pitches – 5.9+ Trad (click to enlarge)

I started this climbing thing after setting my eyes on the Grand Canyon summit Zoroaster Temple. Its  a magnificent formation that stands tall, guarding the Colorado River, just northeast of Phantom Ranch. All I knew at the time was that it was a technical climb. As my climbing experience increased, I found out that summiting came at the price of 6 pitches of 5.9+ trad climb; that was nothing to shake a stick at. In the Grand Canyon it’s the king of the back country rock climbs, in that to get to the top the easiest route up (NE Arete) boasts this stiff ante. After talking about this thing at nauseam to my friends for almost 2 years, finally my climbing partner Kari was available, my training seemed right, and the weather window opened for a summit attempt. This is my account of our summit attempt:

Day 1:

Kari and I pulled ourselves from the van, groggy and disoriented from the long drive the night before, the short sleep, and the frantic packing, before the bus came hissing to a stop just in front of the Bright Angel Lodge. We scrambled on board, and we were off! After the short bus ride to the trailhead we were finally feet on trail looking down South Kaibab trail and across the canyon to the base of the beast.

Ohh Ahh Point!
The Grandest of Canyons!

Even from Ohh Ahh point Zoroaster stood proud and bold just tempting anyone to attempt a summit bid. We kept on trekking down towards the bottom of the canyon chatting with people and taking in the views as we went. Before we knew it, 8 miles later and 4500 ft of elevation drop, we found ourselves at the doorstop of Phantom Ranch. We threw our heavy packs onto the picnic tables and headed inside to grab some postcards to send home. After a quick rest we loaded up on the 5 liters of water that would last us through the night and the entire next day.

  • Kari, leading the charge, O'Nielle Butte in view, Zoro looming
Just above the Colorado on South Kaibab, gorgeous views

Our packs were heavier than ever, weighing in at a bolstering 53lbs each. The rope, trad rack, camping gear, food, clothes, and finally water was a tough but necessary in order to pull off our goal. We headed up the trail wincing at the weight as it cut into our shoulders. About ½ mile north of Phantom Ranch the Clear Creek trail took off right, east towards Sumner Wash where the “real adventure” began!

53 lbs? Think I need a diet!

We pushed up and on as the two grueling miles gained 1500 feet towards the wash, Kari seemed un-phased by the weight. For some reason that day, it weighed heavy on me. I am not sure if I had met a weight limit that stunted my push, or if I hadn’t trained my legs enough, but I was definitely feeling it as we pressed on. Finally we reached Sumner Wash and diverged from Clear Creek trail. We headed north for the Redwall Notch which gave us access to the Lower Supai Layer and Zoroaster’s arm.

The inner gorge from Clear Creek trail
  • Popping out to see the Colorado after some nice gain on Clear Creek trail
Ascending towards the red wall notch

We grunted on finally reaching the base of the notch and threw packs down for a quick break. We each dropped a liter of water and stashed a little food in a tree to save weight. Soon we were on our feet again, racing against the sun, and heading out climbers right to a nice exposed class 4 climb that would circumvent a 5.7 technical climb (aint nobody got time for that!). We ascended carefully on the sharp rock, looking for the path of least resistance. Soon standing high over a sketchy down climb we looked at our options. There wasn’t much time for debate, so we de-packed and I down climbed as Kari got the packs ready to be handed down by rope.

  • Grinding on! (photo credit Kari Hreinsson)

Soon after some questionable exposure we were both safe past the obstacle. We looked up the notch to see our next class 4 obstacle to navigate past. Sweaty palms, and labored backs, we carefully ascended a crack, going behind a short stubby bush, and finally taking an airy step across a death defying drop to safety. Whew! We both made it and were definite ready for safe ground. We continued up the class 3 notch towards the top out which was surprisingly tame.

Camp baby!
The sun set as we finished setting up and cooking food, an early bedtime was most definitely warranted!

Finally we popped out and eyeballed a juniper tree with a large flat spot for a nice camp spot. We had made it safely to camp!!! I dropped my pack that had been cutting into my shoulders, with a gasp of relief! We began to set up the tent and looked south to enjoy the beautiful sunset over the Grand Canyon. Zoroaster stared down at us, and we stared back knowing the next day would hold some of the hardest trad climbing (well my limit at least) with no true promise of a summit in sight. Our work was cut out for us and we tucked into bed, trying to get as much rest as possible.

Goodnight old friend

HIKE/CLIMB INFORMATION:

CLIMB/HIKE STATS:

  • Weather: Hi 60s, Low 40s, Sunny
  • Water: 2.5 liters (5 liters packed in addition)
  • Food: 1 Cliff Builder bar, 1 protein bar, 1 Nature Valley granola bar, bag of salt & vinegar, beef jerky, bag of pizza Pringles, gummy worms, orange, chicken and mashed potato MountainHouse
  • Time: (Day 1) 10 hours
  • Distance: (Day 1) 12 miles
  • Accumulated Gain: (Day 1) 3,000 feet
  • Climbing Rating: 5.9+ Trad
  • Number of Pitches: 6

GEAR:

  • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 tent
  • Big Agnes QCORE SLX sleeping pad
  • Cosmic Down Kelty Sleeping Bag (rated to 20 deg F)
  • Jet Boil – Sol
  • Black Diamond trekking poles
  • SPOT Gen3 Tracker
  • Sawyer Squeeze – Water Filter
  • 58 liter exos osprey backpack
  • Black Diamond Helmet
  • Petzl Corax Climbing Harness
  • 2 Black Diamond screw carabiner
  • 4 Phantom DMM screw carabiner
  • 6mm Accessory Chord – Anchor
  • Black Diamond Camelot X4+C4 Cams – Double Rack – (2x), 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.5, 0.75, 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Black Diamond Standard Nut Set
  • 12 Alpha Trad DMM quickdraws – Alpine draws
  • Black Diaimond ATC Guide
  • 70 meter 9.8mm Rope (Orange Slice)
  • Webbing/7mmCord for personal anchor
  • 20′ Flat webbing to leave for anchors
  • Arc’teryx Chalk Bag

CLOTHING:

  • Smartwool 195 weight long sleeve
  • Arc’teryx Hoody
  • Cotton Handkerchief
  • Nike shorts
  • Patagonia Pants
  • Darn Tough Medium Wool Sox
  • Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
  • La Sortiva TC Pro Climbing Shoes
Share

O’Neill Butte – Trad Climb – Grand Canyon – AZ (10.7.17)

Share
Looking into the belly of the beast!

I smiles as we (Kari, Mahdi, Ethan, Tyler, and I) took the first steps down South Kaibab trail, headed into the Grand Canyon. I’m always get a little giddy going here, no matter how many times I drop in, I always feel like a kid on Christmas morning! Our target for the day was to reach O’Neill Butte, just beyond Cedar Point 2.5 miles down South Kaibab trail and 1600 feet below the rim. Everyone was all smiles, and excited as ever for the day ahead!

View of O’Niell from Ohh Ahh Point!
O’niell Butte, finally coming into view!

Packs heavy with climbing gear and provisions for the day, we trekked in taking in the sights of the vast canyon. We paused briefly at Ohh Ahh point for some pics and pointed out the buttes and temples across the canyon. What a nice day, perfect weather, great views, great company! Finally the butte came into sight. I never thought about it much before, until I started researching and found there was a 5.8 trad route on the east side that could put us ontop! It looked a bit more beastly than I remembered as we neared the base of the large formation.

  • There it is!

The off trailed a bit and soon found ourselves at the base of the story book crack climb and began to gear up. We brought two 60 meter ropes and a double rack, just to account for the unknown above. There wasn’t much information on the ascent in research we did prepping for the ascent. I racked up and started to tape my hands (taping your hands helps cut down on abrasions while crack climbing), and Kari began to flake (lay out) the rope and set up to belay me. I looked up at the first 10 foot climb to a ledge which would mark the real start of the climb, it was time to get moving!

Welp, looks like we found the route!

I reached up high and placed a small cam in a nice crack to get the mojo going, and I pulled a large horn to take the first ledge. As soon as I pulled up on the horn and could get eyes on the back of it, I noticed a large crack at the base of the horn. I backed off immediately! Standing back on the ground I banged on the sides of the rock again, making sure it was sold (well kind of). I once again pulled the horn and was soon standing at the base of the real climb, looking up at a 120’ crack system leading to the summit plateau just below the summit block. It was time to go to work and I jammed my fingers into the crack.

Not sure that skirt is high school legal Mr! (Photo Credit: Tyler Eglen)

Move after move, I worked my way up the crack system. I was stitching up the line pretty good, and I could feel the weight of the double rack on my belt pulling me down. It seemed that the climb consisted of a big move across small face holds/feet with the crack to assist before you reached another good ledge and a rest. I placed a nut, and grabbing the carabiner open to release the single nut but somehow I dropped 3 other nuts!!!! They went plummeting down to the starting ledge below. I scoffed at the silly mistake, and had to choice but to keep on moving.

Getting after it, leading on! Just about to reach the bulge the crux of the route! (Photo Credit: Tyler Eglen)

Finally after 60’ of good crack/face climbing (without knowing it) I found the crux of the climb, a bulge offwidth section that wanted a #4 Camelot. I looked gown and all I had was small stuff up #0.1 to a #3 on me (as research failed me). I reached far far back into the crack and placed my #3 (as it was the only place it would hold), and clipped it in. The move (“The whale move” as it jokingly became known) was to stick a right fist far far back into the crack just where the offwidth became a hand jam, get a high left foot on a small chip at shoulder height on climbers left, and flop like a freaking whale to get up and over the bulge! I let out a loud laboring yell as I grabbed my left foot, helping it high (almost shoulder height) onto the small chip and pulling with my right hand to flop myself beyond the obstacle. It was like the rocks sole job was to throw me off, and it was everything I had to hold onto it . . . this was “fun” on lead!

Running out of gear, just past the crux, about to set up an anchor and break the climb into 2 pitches. (Photo Credit: Tyler Eglen)

Finally I was up and through, and after a few other awkward moves I reached the base of a 15 foot crack with beautiful hand jams. I looked down and only had one more #3, there was no way I could protect the next section. The only choice I had was to build an anchor and break the long 120 pitch up into two. I was soon ready and yelled down to Kari “on belay, climb on!” He started climbing up, I couldn’t see where he was until finally I heard him grunting through the “whale move”. I chuckled to myself knowing he was having “fun”. He soon reached the anchors, gasping for air and clipping in. “Fun Right?!” I asked with a big smile!

View from the top of pitch 1 (P1). Kari and I getting ready to swap over, take on P2!

There was no time to loose and we swapped over and I began leading the next section. There was a 15 foot nice hand crack to an awkward transition that spit you onto a ledge that circled climbers left (south) to the actual east face. There was still a good 30’ to climb. I kept after it, climbing on placing piece after piece and after a double gaston move at the end, I topped out and let out a loud “Woop!!!!” I set up an anchor on a large sandstone boulder towards the top and let Kari know I was safe. We then began a centipede climbing/belay style (one person belay from the top of pitch 1 (P1), then when they get there, the top belayer, belay the next climber to the top of P2) to get each climber up to the summit plateau. Tyler popped over the edge all smiles, and soon Ethan did too. Mahdi chose to take it easy and chill at the base for a nice afternoon nap.

  • The end of the tech climbing, looking towards the summit block!
  • Kari, excited to be on the topout!

Once the four of us were up, we headed to the north side of the plateau to reach the summit for the easy Class 3 scramble! Not too long after we were all simultaneously touching the highest rock on O’Neill Butte! With our summit complete we headed back down with hast and found a large tree to rap off of. Tying the two 60m ropes together we rappelled one at a time, quickly down almost the full length once again reaching the base of the formation. Mahdi was waiting with smiles and that fresh nap look! We threw on our packs and headed back up the South Kaibab trail for a nice sunset hike to the rim. What a gorgeous day, I couldn’t believe it, but we just finished all of our first technical summit ascent within the Grandest of Canyons!

  • Rap battle!
  • Kari rapping down the 120' face

HIKE/CLIMB INFORMATION:

CLIMB/HIKE STATS:

  • Weather: Hi 70s, Low 40s, Sunny
  • Water: 2 liters
  • Food: 2 Cliff bar, 1 Nature Valley Granola bars, bag of salt and vinegar, gummy worms
  • Time: 6 hours (we had 4 climbers)
  • Distance: 5 mile RT
  • Accumulated Gain: 120 feet
  • Climbing Rating: 5.8 Trad
  • Number of Pitches: 2

GEAR:

  • Don Camelback backpack (3 liter bladder)
  • Black Diamond Helmet
  • Petzl Corax Climbing Harness
  • 2 Black Diamond screw carabiner
  • 4 Phantom DMM screw carabiner
  • 6mm Accessory Chord – Anchor
  • Black Diamond Camelot X4+C4 Cams – Double Rack – (2x), 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.5, 0.75, 1, 2, 3, 4 [in hein sight I would have ditched smaller stuff (0.4 and below) as most of the cams were 0.75 – 4]
  • Black Diamond Standard Nut Set
  • 14 Alpha Trad DMM quickdraws – Alpine draws
  • Black Diaimond ATC Guide
  • (x2) 60 meter 9.8mm Rope
  • Webbing/7mmCord for personal anchor
  • Arc’teryx Chalk Bag
  • SPOT Tracker

CLOTHING:

  • Cotton T Shirt
  • Arc’teryx Hoody
  • Cotton Handkerchief
  • Nike shorts
  • Darn Tough Medium Wool Sox
  • Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
  • La Sortiva TC Pro Climbing Shoes
Share

SuperSlide & Trail By Fire – Trad Climb – Yosemite – CA (6.22.17)

Share
Beautiful Views of Yosemite mid route on SuperSlide

Justin and I pulled into the last open parking spot in the Ahwahnee Hotel parking lot ready to start the day in search for a climb called SuperSlide on the Royal Arches wall in Yosemite National Park. A true search it was! Not totally sure where the beginning of the climb started, we stared at the Royal Arch Cascade and began hiking east along the base of the rockface. We found lines of bolts and climbs that looked similar, but it wasn’t until about ½ mile of route inspection and almost 30 mins later that realized we went the wrong way at the cascades, and had to turn around.

Let the search begin!

Arriving back at the cascades, nice and warm from the search hike, we headed west soon taking a climbers trail to the base of the wall and coming face to face with “Trail By Fire” a 5.8 Offwidth crack. The low angle line looked good, but offwidth being what it is, we were sure in for a struggle! Justin racked up and started off the ground making the first few moves rather quickly. The crack was wide, fist stacks, hand fist stacks, and chickenwings were welcome in this flared beast. Justin kept pushing on up the line making some good grunts along the way.

View from the base of “Trial By Fire” (5.8) Offwidth

Offwidth (if you are unfamiliar) is that special kind of climbing where the crack is too big for fingers or single hand jams and usually takes awkward body manipulation movements to ascend the crack, resulting in blood, sweat, grunts, and typically a full body pump afterward. Justin bumped his #5 cam higher as he climbed and kept moving. After the middle section he through the upper relatively quickly, popped on top of a large chalkstone clipped chains, set up an anchor and soon was ready for me to climb on.

  • Starting out
Me, swimming in a sea of rock that is Trail By Fire, trying not to get swallowed whole!

At first glance the crack look pretty simple and straightforward. I started in, hand jams just at the limit of my hands were found but I could still manage. About 10 feet or so off the ground the crack began to swallow me whole. The hand jams turned to chicken wings and the features on the face turned from edges to smears. The middle section proved most challenging for me. I started to sweat and give off a lot of heat with the amount of energy I was putting off just to inch my way up the flared crack. Both feet in, I inched on. Even with the cool air, the rock just radiated the heat I was producing right back onto me. I left like I was in a sauna! After a lot of grunts, groans, and a few rally yells I reached the chains covered in sweat.

  • Linkup Pitch from top pf Trial By Fire to base of P2 of SuperSlide (the chossfest)

Justin jokingly asked if I wanted the next lead, I was so worked I had to rest! Justin led on the next “pitch” connecting Trail by Fire with the start of P2 of SuperSlide (5.9). Justin climbed on into the unknown as the two climbs were not traditionally linked. The next connector pitch was a chossfest. The rock quality was not great and it seemed like everything was covered in moss, plants, or crumbing rock. After some questionable climbing I met Justin at a smile and a hi-5 for the effort leading such a crap pitch! We swapped over leads, I headed up P2. The start was a nice high foot and being weighed down by a doublerack it seemed cumbersome at first. Once I placed my first cam and shook out it got a lot better. The face climbing was chill and soon I was into a beautiful crack and it was time to work! I lead on placing piece after piece, but was soon forced out of the crack just under a small roof. I placed a protection piece, and soon pulled the nice roof onto a ledge that walked left to a tree at the base of P3.

I set up my anchor and belayed Justin up as the rope drag would have become too much to climb further. We swapped leads once again and Justin headed up the clean line with some nice mixed face/crack to link both P3 and P4. Oh the climbing was nice! If there was a questionable hold, there would be a bomber one just next to it or a great handjam to make up for it. I followed on and cleaned the gear as I went. P3 and P4 were really fun, handjam after handjam to bomber facehold and back I ascended the 2 pitches. There was a nice traverse about half way up P3, that seemed sketch at first, then you grabbed a bomb hold and realized the worry was for nothing. The pitches were really fun!

  • Starting up P3

At the base of P5 we meet up again and looked up at the line. Research stated that this supposed to be the crux of the climb. The nice Yosemite 5.9 crack ran out and you were faced with some thin face holds to make the final move to the chains. We debated for a bit, and in the end I decided to let Justin take the lead. Looking back I really wish I would have led out, but such is life, the climb was beautiful! Justin led on and was soon at the anchors, putting me on belay. I soon followed switching between a fun 2 crack system, collecting gear as I went. The second crack finally petered out and the hand jams turned to a thinner finger crack. The climbing was awesome! Full toe engagement and nice solid finger placement all the way to the knuckle were found all the way up the crack to a face, forcing the route left. I swapped to a right foot in the crack and with a solid right hand, moved for a large sloper and a thin left foothold. I stood on the foot, manteling on the sloper and once again was standing side by side with Justin. What an awesome climb!

  • Start of P5
180 View from the top of Superslide

We rapped pitch after pitch as quickly as we could as we watched a storm start moving in from the West. We wrapped P4 and went to pull the rope. Of course, as whenever you are in a hurry, it got stuck on a small flake. James scoffed at the rope and flipped it vigorously to get the fella out. We are about to gear up and re-ascend, when I gave it one last fleeting try. Boop!!!! The rope come free and falling towards us. We hi-5ed and wooped in excitement! With the rap crux behind us we quickly descended to the ground and got back to the car. What an awesome day, one of the best climbs I’ve done to date!

Justin, rapping down P2 of SuperSlide

HIKE/CLIMB INFORMATION:

CLIMB/HIKE STATS:

  • Weather: Hi 80s, Low 60s, Sunny
  • Water: 1.5 liters
  • Food: 2 Cliff bar, 1 Nature Valley Granola bars
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Distance: 1 mile RT (by accidental rout finding)
  • Accumulated Gain: 500 feet
  • Climbing Rating: 5.9 Trad
  • Number of Pitches: 5

GEAR:

  • Don Camelback backpack (3 liter bladder)
  • Black Diamond Helmet
  • Petzl Corax Climbing Harness
  • 2 Black Diamond screw carabiner
  • 4 Phantom DMM screw carabiner
  • 6mm Accessory Chord – Anchor
  • Black Diamond Camelot X4+C4 Cams – Double Rack – (2x), 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.5, 0.75, 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Black Diamond Standard Nut Set
  • 14 Alpha Trad DMM quickdraws – Alpine draws
  • Black Diaimond ATC Guide
  • 70 meter 9.8mm Rope
  • Webbing/7mmCord for personal anchor
  • Arc’teryx Chalk Bag
  • SPOT Tracker

CLOTHING:

  • Cotton T Shirt
  • Arc’teryx Hoody
  • Cotton Handkerchief
  • Nike shorts
  • Darn Tough Medium Wool Sox
  • Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
  • La Sortiva TC Pro Climbing Shoes
Share

Munginella – Trad Climb – Yosemite – CA (6.20.17)

Share
Yosemite Falls, the first sight of the day!

 

I met my buddy Chris in the parking lot just near Yosemite Falls, waiting with a big smile! There I met Jeff, a new friend, as we gathered our gear. We initially planned to climb a fun multi-pitch traditional (trad) route called Sunnyside Bench near Yosemite Falls. We racked up in the parking lot, grabbed our ropes and packs and headed for the base of the climb. As we approached the falls we noticed the water was raging! This was a record year for snow and thus the flow was on epic proportions. The huge waterfall thundered down before us and its spray covered a huge area around the base. We walked across the bridge, getting wet as we did, towards the base of the climb.

Crossing the bridge, the falls were raging!

We reached the start and noticed the entire first pitch was drenched in water. Let down, but not beat, we went for plan B just on the other side of the falls, called Munginella. It was a fun trad route (5.6), and a good introduction to Yosemite multi-pitch climbs – and a chance to get my feet wet on Yosemite granite rock. We took off up the climber trail and soon found ourselves at the base of the first pitch zero (P0 – scramble pitch) of the climb. We tossed anything we didn’t plan on carrying with us in the nearby trees, threw our helmets and climbing shoes on and headed up the chill class 3 scramble to the base of P1, signified by a nice large tree.

  • Start of climbers trail

The sun was already beating the climb as we sorted the rope in the shade of the base of P1. Chris was first up to lead, I would belay him from below and once Chris reached the top of P1 he would belay both Jeff and myself as we simul-followed, leaving me to clean all the trad gear from the route and take the next two leads. We double checked each other’s knots and gear before Chris took off on the first pitch!

  • Chris starting Up P1

Methodically and quickly moving up and over the rock, Chris climbed on. He would pause every few feet to place a solid piece of protection (pro), clip in an alpine draw and then his rope, before moving on and up the route. Making it look like cake as he took down the first pitch, me and Jeff chatted on about what we did and what brought us to the valley. To ensure we wouldn’t run out of gear, we were carrying a double-rack. It was a bit heavier but we just rainbowed up the route, practicing good placement on the fun climb. It wasn’t long before Chris was at the top of P1, anchor set up, hanging from his belay, with both ropes through his ATC guide, calling down for Jeff and myself to start climbing.

Here we go! The first pitch was fun, the rock was warm form the sun but it was cool to the touch in the shade. It seemed very porous, ready to suck up any drop of sweat from your hands, so we chalked well as we climbed. I paused at each piece of pro, retrieving it from the rock and clipping it to my harness. It just kept getting heavier as I climbed. I grabbed the tree and climbed up to the right of Chris, clipped into the anchor and took the sights in. As soon as I got there we began the changeover and Chris started loading me down with the doublerack. I tightened my harness tighter as the weight started pulling down on me.

Looking up at P2
Chris ascending P2

It was time to roll, I lead out trailing a second rope behind me to belay Jeff once I reached the top of P2. The handholds were great and movement over the rock was really fun! I reached the first crux and placed a solid piece below a first baby V notch roof and moved under it. A crack ran through the small roof, just perfect for a handjam. I reached up with my chalk-covered right hand and slid it into the crack. Man it was bomber! I wedged it in further, flexed my hand, pulled my feet up and pulled up and over the roof. I placed my next piece around a nice bomber tree and continued up the face, moving left before the next crux – a larger slippery roof.

  • Chris on the crux roof on P2

I placed pro, moved my hands up, and finally found a nice chip out right to place my foot. I pulled my weight out right and stood on the foot to find some  nice jugs. Past the roof was a nice wide ledge just below an old beat up piton that had been hammered in years ago. I threw in a cam, nut and slung the piton to create an anchor. Soon I had Jeff and Chris set up on top belay and they began to climb up the face. We were soon all smiles at the top of P2. I snapped pictures of Chris just below the roof making it look bit spicier than it was just for fun. I was thirsty form belaying in the sun drenched anchor, so as soon as Jeff reached the P2 topout I chugged water from my bag he was carrying for me. Wasting no time, I set lead out on P3.

Looking down from the belay station at the top of P3

P3 was an interesting, short climb. I moved up the face and left into a protectable corner and placed a large #4 half way up the corner. This area got a bit funky and the body movement seemed a little awkward. Like anything, working one bit at a time, soon had me pulling the top pf P3 and setting up a belay. Jeff and Chris warned me that there was a bunch of loose stuff at the top of the climb and to be especially careful. The head-sized boulders teetering on the top of the pitch were a menacing bunch. I belayed from a solid tree and soon both Jeff and Chris were above the final corner, all smiles about the warm climb.

  • Nasty loose rocks at the top of P3

Man, what a good initiation to Yosemite! We soon cleaned up all our gear and took a nice walkoff/rap to get back to the start of P0 and retrieve all our gear that we left behind. I was so happy to be there, in the climbing Mecca of the US, where it all started. So excited for the climb we just finished and all the climbs to come this week, this was just the beginning! Thanks Chris and Jeff for my first taste of trad-multipitch in the valley!

Final rap at the end of the walkoff

HIKE/CLIMB INFORMATION:

CLIMB/HIKE STATS:

  • Weather: Hi 80s, Low 60s, Sunny
  • Water: 2 liters
  • Food: 2 Cliff bar, 1 Nature Valley Granola bars, 1 bag of gummy worms, 1 bag of Salt and Vinegar Chips
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Distance: 2 miles RT
  • Accumulated Gain: 300 feet
  • Climbing Rating: 5.6 Trad
  • Number of Pitches: 3

GEAR:

  • Don Camelback backpack (3 liter bladder)
  • Black Diamond Helmet
  • Petzl Corax Climbing Harness
  • 2 Black Diamond screw carabiner
  • 4 Phantom DMM screw carabiner
  • 6mm Accessory Chord – Anchor
  • Black Diamond Camelot X4+C4 Cams – Double Rack – (2x), 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.5, 0.75, 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Black Diamond Standard Nut Set
  • 12 Alpha Trad DMM quickdraws – Alpine draws
  • Black Diaimond ATC Guide
  • 2 x 60 meter 9.8mm Rope (Rainbow + Red)
  • Webbing/7mmCord for personal anchor
  • Arc’teryx Chalk Bag
  • SPOT Tracker

CLOTHING:

  • Cotton T Shirt
  • Arc’teryx Hoody
  • Cotton Handkerchief
  • Nike shorts
  • Darn Tough Medium Wool Sox
  • Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
  • La Sortiva TC Pro Climbing Shoes
Share

Baboquivari – Trad Climb – SouthEast Arete – AZ (3.4.17)

Share
First glimpse of the beast

The morning light shined through the windows as Kari and I stirred in our sleeping bags in the back of the van. There were no signs of life from Sam and Sri in the tent outside, and after the long drive the night before, no one seemed to be in the mood to get going. I sat up and looked to the west to see a massive beast staring back at me. Baboquivari is an iconic feature in Southern Arizona, and it has a lot of history for the Tohono O’odam people. They believed that their creator, I’itoi, lives in a cave beneath the mountain and that this place was the origin of all people in the world after the Great Flood.

Welp we came this far, miles well pack up and go for it!

The beastly intimidating mountain had been on my radar for some time and despite my laziness to get moving, I was eager to take on this awesome backcountry climb. We finally peeled ourselves from our sleeping bags,  got ready for the day. Cooking breakfast and going through the gear was the normal ritual as we got ready to roll. We took a short creek-covered drive to a metal gate that marked where the adventure began.

Lets get moving!
Well hello there ranch!

We let out on the dirt road headed towards the saddle on the north side of Baboquivari. We approached an old house that looked decently maintained, which marked the end of the dirt road and the start of the single track. We pressed on, following the sparse trail until it disappeared. We backtracked slightly, found a cairn and continued to hop back and forth across a creek headed upstream. The bushwhack became hardy. On the edges of the creek awaited catclaw and for Sam and myself, who chose to wear shorts, we were in for some “fun”! We pressed on, reading the land and picking up a sporadic trail, until finally we finally reached the saddle. What a push!

Just a small taste of the bushwhack
Looking back at Babo from the saddle to the North/east

We took a nice, good break here where we decided to drop some packs and get partially geared up. We were all tired form the push and with the late start I began to question whether we would finish the climb before nightfall. Little did we know, we would not get back to the van until almost midnight. Following the description in the guide, we began skirting the east face of Babo. From the slopes below it was very unclear how we would traverse to the start of the climb. We hugged the rockface away from the exposed cliffs below, until finally the rock give way to the Lions Ledge, which was our gateway to the base of the climb. We skirted the vegetated ledge, where we once again found ourselves bushwhacking. This time not against catclaw, but now against pine and holly bush.

  • Lions Ledge skirt
Looking at the traverse of the Lions ledge as we get closer, Just follow the vegetation!!
Kari, scoping a dropoff below as we came around an arete to actually get on the Lions Ledge. Follow the vegetation!

Finally, like being birthed from a thorn-filled tunnel, we popped out at the base of the 6-pitch Southeast arête (5.6) that we planned for the day.  Finally! We made the short scramble up the low Class 4 chimney and geared up at the base of the first pitch (P1). We would climb in pairs of 2. I would lead, while Sri would clean. Afterward Kari would lead, while Sam followed him up the rear to clean the gear. The first pitch was pretty straight forward, but I quickly noticed the quality of the rock wasn’t the best (typical of many backcountry climbs). I banged on the holds to make sure they would hold my weight, and I only had to throw a few pieces of protection (pro) in before reaching the top of P1.

180 View to the south from the start of the class 4 scramble to the start of pitch 1 (P1)
Kari and Sam starting up the Class 4 section to the start of Pitch 1 (P1)

After setting up the anchor, I belayed Sri up P1 and soon saw his gleaming grin as he reached the top. What a fun climb! We swapped gear and I started off on P2 soon after Kari arrived to belay. The first move was an awkward high foot with decent holds, but full-on commit. After the move I quickly found good pro placement and cruised the rest. I was tossed out into a Class 4 scramble and pushed up through a shady tree through a “V” past a cactus (watch you hand!), where I combined both P2 and P3 and set up the anchor for the next push. Here I greeted a group climbing ahead of us, and we chatted for a bit. Apparently (as the other team informed me) the west approach had a much better road and hike to get to the base of the climb (hindsight is 20/20!).

Sri, grinning as he ascends Pitch 1 (P1)
Start of Pitch 2 (P2)

Once Sri ascended P2 and P3, again with a big grin on his face, I set out on P4 all geared up to go for it. I started up the left crack system then realized I needed to be in the right, I down-climbed a few feet and went climber’s right into the correct crack system. On the way up I encountered another strange move – a high right hand and solid right foot. I threw a high left foot onto a small ledge and went to stand for a left hand. Once I put full weight onto the left foot, it blew off the rock. All my weight, including the weight of the backpack and gear I was wearing went onto my right arm. I heard the sound of velcro in my right shoulder and the instant pain, I knew right then I was hurt.

Looking up at P3 as the last climber of the group ahead of us ascended

I was still hanging by my right hand while I managed to get a cam in. I rested for a moment, but decided to finish what I started in leading P4 of the climb. Once I reached the top, I belayed Sri in pain and tried to minimize the use of my right arm until he once again reached me. No one really knew the extent of the damage I had done, not even me. I decided to switch it up, ask Kari to lead on, then I would follow. He left the safety of the ledge where I belayed him traversing climbers left to find an old rusty bolt, and the start of P5.

Looking out as I belayed from the top of P4 start of P5
Looking up the fun layback of P5

We cleaned the layback P5 quickly, which everyone agreed was a lot of fun. I was just wanting to make sure I could still finish the climb, so I had to be as safe as possible as I climbed up. Kari grinned as I popped over the ledge while he was sitting under a nice pine belaying me. Sam was soon to follow, and finally we all met at the belay station. I decided to press on, finding the small notch to down-climb, before starting the final pitch (P6), which comprised a small 20 foot face climb and scrambling to the peak.

Sam ascending P5, crushing!
Looking up the 20′ climb of P6 to the short scramble to the summit
Looking down P6 as Kari, Sam, and Sri ascended and the sun fell

I felt like everyone was in pretty good spirits, and after some quick scrambling, we simultaneously touched the highest rock on the mountain! Finally!!! The sun was setting in the distance and the views of the desert below were absolutely incredible! We were far from done for the day, and had to do our best to find the descent route before all the light of the day disappeared. Attempting to find bolts in the dark on slabby slopes, where one false move means death, is never easy. We all left our offerings to I’itoi as it is tradition to bring an offering to the peak for the Tohono’s creator.

SUMMIT!!!!
Gorgeous sunset views!
360 view

Smiling and dirty we pushed down the north side of the mountain to find 3 rappels in the dark and a long bushwhack-filled walk/scramble back to the van. We reached the van around 11:20pm, and were glad that we all came back safe. We set up, grubbed down, and were soon all back in our sleeping bags, where we started the morning. Even with the shoulder pain and the worsening swirling thoughts of possibly never being able to regain full functionality, I decided to just let it be, hope for the best, and go to sleep. I will never give up the mountains, even if I’m reduced to painting them in a wheelchair one day, I will still be drawn to these places. Craving the experience and the adventure. What another great adventure!

Descending the North side of Babo, one small patch of ice remains in the route
  • Looking down at the fields of grass on our bushwhack ascent
  • beautiful cool creek on the ascent

BABOQUIVARI INFORMATION:

https://www.thoughtco.com/facts-about-baboquivari-peak-755909

HIKE/CLIMB INFORMATION:

CLIMB/HIKE STATS:

  • Weather: Hi 70s, Low 50s, Sunny
  • Water: 3 liters
  • Food: 2 Cliff bar, 1 orange, 2 Cliff builder bars, 2 Kroger protien bars, 2 Nature Valley Granola bars, 1 bag of gummy worms, 1 bag of mediterranian chips, 1 bag trialmix
  • Time: 14 hours
  • Distance: 8 miles RT
  • Accumulated Gain: 3,500 feet ( 700 feet of gain on the Climb)
  • Climbing Rating: 5.6 Trad
  • Number of Pitches: 6

GEAR:

  • Don Camelback backpack (3 liter bladder)
  • Black Diamond Helmet
  • Petzl Corax Climbing Harness
  • 2 Black Diamond screw carabiner
  • 4 Phantom DMM screw carabiner
  • Black Diamond Camelot X4+C4 Cams – 0.2, 0.4, 0.5, 0.75, 1, 2, 3
  • Black Diamond Standard Nut Set
  • 14 Alpha Trad DMM quickdraws 12mm cord
  • Black Diaimond ATC Guide
  • 70 meter 9.8mm Sterling rope (Orange Slice)
  • Webbing/7mmCord for personal anchor
  • Arc’teryx Chalk Bag
  • SPOT Tracker

CLOTHING:

  • Cotton T Shirt
  • Arc’teryx Hoody
  • Cotton Handkerchief
  • Nike shorts
  • Darn Tough Medium Wool Sox
  • Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
  • La Sortiva TC Pro Climbing Shoes
Share

Solar Slab – Red Rocks – Trad Climbing – NV (11.19.16)

Share
Sunrise at the trailhead

We started the day early, hopeful for a top out of the trek we had mapped out.  It was a climbing route Johnny Vegas with a link up to Solar Slab in Red Rocks National Park, Nevada.  The entire push would be 13 pitches of trad…no easy undertaking.  Sitting up in the back of the van, we attempted to shake off the morning chill while the alarms were blasting. We had slept just 5 hours after leaving work and driving from Phoenix to a campsite just outside of the park. Fresh as daisies! After stirring a few times, we finally got going and were one of the first ones in the park at 6 am. Unfortunately we hadn’t packed our gear or eaten breakfast, costing us some precious time, so we watched climbers pull in and head off to their respective routes as we labored on. Finally ready, we did a full gear check and set out on the trail.

Lets get going!
All geared up, fed, and finally moving! (Kari leads out)

At first it was unclear which canyon we should enter. We pressed on until finally the solar slab came into view. “There it is!” announced Kari and we were soon hiking up the final approach to the base of the climb. We made the base of Johnny Vegas and noticed one group was already ascending with a 2nd group setting up for their climb. We waited patiently, prepping our gear and ourselves for the climb. I was first up to lead and I threw the trad rack over my neck prepping to leave the safety of the first ledge. I would be sharing the next small belay with the team ahead of me so I gave them some space.

2 climbers on Johnny Vegas (can you make them out?)

Before I knew it my hands were on the wall covered in chalk.  After taking a deep breath, my feet followed suit. The holds were great and finding gear placements wasn’t too bad so I sailed my way through the first pitch. I call it “turning the lizard brain on”…focusing solely on the holds and pushing any fear far away from my climbing confidence. I felt really solid and was soon clipping into the bolts at the top of the pitch trying to share a tiny ledge with Mike and Elaine, the Canadian climbers from the group ascending ahead of us.  They were very nice and patiently waited as their lead climber pushed through the 2ndpitch above. Kari and the crowd of waiting climbers that gathered below were out of sight by the time I reached the anchor. I clipped in with a 4 foot long personal anchor and stood on the ledge below as I waited for the climbers ahead of me to move forward. Once they did I set my anchor in the bolts, pulled up the remaining rope, put Kari on belay, and yelled “Climb On!” after tugging the rope 3 times. He also sailed right through the first pitch; it was a fun and easy route.

Looking down pitch 1 of Johnny Vegas

We decided to swap lead up the 2nd route so we traded gear and soon enough Kari was off, up a corner onto the white and brown stained sandstone face above. I sat below belaying as Kari climbed when all of a sudden the lead climber of the next team behind us came into view and then climbed onto the ledge next to me. We chatted for a bit talking about adventures and climbing, as well as how unique of a place Red Rocks is. In the middle of chatting I felt 3 long tugs on the rope… it was time to go! I took Kari off belay, cleaned the anchor off the bolts, gathered all my gear, chalked up, and took off. The second pitch was a little trickier than the first, but after finding some really solid holds it was another cruiser. I reached Kari belaying from a large ledge with a smile on his face. “What’s uppppp!” he said smiling, really enjoying the climb.

Start of Pitch 2, Johnny Vegas, Kari leading on

I got to the bolts, threw my personal anchor on, as swapped all the gear over again… I was back to leading. We checked the time and realized we were running against the clock.  Not only was there a team right behind us, but other teams were climbing up an easier 5.3 gully to the east that could get to the base of the Solar Slab route quicker.  This would leave us once again waiting on another team and potentially killing our chances of ascending to the top of Solar Slab.  Hurrying on, I led out into pitch three which turned out to be a bit different than the first two. It became more slab-like with nice features to grab and seemed to go around a corner and on beyond our sight. This section ran a good 20 foot until I could finally place my first piece. “Whew!” I thought. The climbing wasn’t hard but slab with a little exposure always makes you put yourself in check. I gained the corner and slung a small chicken head just before clipping in my rope.  Safe again! The next part of the route was just as tricky as there were no good pictures in the research and it wasn’t clear from just looking at the face where to go. I pushed up and over a corner to the left face right into more slab territory. With all the zigzag gear placements and movements of the route, the rope started to have a lot of friction and became hard to pull up as I climbed.

Valley below (this picture is actually from up on Solar Slab, but I figured why not throw it in for fun as I didn’t get much of any pics from Pitch 3/4 on Johnny Vegas)

I looked left…I looked right… no clear path.  I turned my gaze upward, the only way left that made sense, and pushed on.  At this point I realized I hadn’t placed a piece in a while and the resistance from the rope drag had started to affect my climbing. I became worried that I was off route, not sure if I could make it to the next set of anchors above. On and on up the whitewash sandstone slab, I finally I found placement for a cam in a small crevice. I clipped in and look around, still with no idea where the route was supposed to go. I called down to Kari to let him know what was going on but he couldn’t do anything to help me at this point. I had no choice but to keep grinding up the face and try to find a good place to belay him, knowing the other team behind us was waiting.  I got to a point where I couldn’t move because of the rope drag on me, so like tug of war with a bull I pulled about 8 feet of slack up allowing me to climb up and over the face. With this much slack and the amount of rope drag, if I were to fall it wouldn’t be pretty. I pushed the issue far from my mind and topped the slab dome in front of me. BOLTS!!!!!! Boy was I happy to reach the end of that pitch.  I anchored in and set up to belay Kari below. “Climb on!” I yelled after taking all the slack. The amount of friction on the rope was intense and made the belay utterly exhausting. After Kari reached the anchor, we looked back and realized that I had linked pitch 3 and 4 into one long pitch, making it much more difficult than it should have been. Nevertheless, we had ascended Johnny Vegas and it was time to push on to Solar Slab.

Kari, killin it on pitch 1 of Solar Slab, Hes right at home here in Kari natural slab environment!

We barely beat another team ascending the 5.3 gully below and got on Solar Slab quickly. Kari took the first pitch which started as a low angle class 4 then slabbed into a class 5 crack with some fun body movement. Kari always makes slab look so easy to me…he breezed through the pitch, stitching it up with trad gear easily. Soon he was at the top of the pitch, all set up to belay me. I stuffed a Cliff Bar down my gullet and put my shoes back on that I had taken off for a quick breather. It was time to climb again! This pitch was quite fun, it wasn’t straightforward and you really had to search for the right solution to ascend the climb. I gained the crack and before long was next to Kari on the ledge ready to once again lead the next pitch.

Climbing pitch 1 of Solar Slab, a second team sets up below us and far below on the nub you can see a team topping out Johnny Vegas
Flake system on pitch 2 of Solar Slab, nice and run out to the first piece =)

Pitches 3 and 4 of Solar Slab were recommended to be linked together, I looked up the first section and the runout was quite long. Kari chimes in, “Do you want me to lead it?” “Nah, I got it”, I replied. I felt good, even with the runout and the rope drag, and my head was on straight. I roped in, geared up, and set off across the ledge to the west and up a fat attached flake system. There were small pockets, but nothing deep enough to place gear so I climbed on.  Once again I found myself with about 25 foot runout from Kari but I had no choice but to climb further until I found a good spot to place a cam or nut. After about another 5 feet I found the spot, placed a piece, and clipped the rope to it. I breathed another sigh of relief but still felt really good. I climbed on, ascending the flake, and found the top of pitch 3. After clipping the rope into a draw at the bolts, I decided to push for the link up and began traversing a long ledge.  Finding myself with a face climb and a crack to the left where I should ascend, I started up.  It was a tough slab with small feet, but I spotted a bomber left handhold about 10 feet up. I climbed, set my left foot, and just as I reached for the hold my foot slipped off the face! Down I slid, down onto the ledge below. “Ugghhh” I sounded as I landed. “What was that?!” Kari shouted up from the belay below, out of sight. “I took a small fall” I yelled back, “But I’m safe!” I got right back on the face, making the same move, only this time I landed the bomber hold, made my way to the crack and placed a piece. I kept up the good progress, laying gear as I went. The rope drag once again became enormous to the point of hindering my climbing. I started pulling up a few feet of slack, making a climb, placing an piece of gear, and repeating until finally I reached the top of the 3rd pitch and its anchors.

Top of pitch 3 looking back down the crack. the rope drag from linking pitch 2/3 was enormous!

I set up and belayed Kari, who (of course) climbed up the pitch with ease. He later told me he was glad he wasn’t the one that led the start of the runout, and that the face climb where I had so much trouble was a much harder route (I should have stuck to the corner crack the whole way up). We looked up at climbers beginning to repel the route and checked the time. We were running out of daylight with only about an hour left.  Between the late start and waiting on the other climbing teams, it became apparent that the only way we were going to finish the route was in the dark. If we pushed for a top out it would be difficult to find the repel bolts in the dark, and we could put ourselves out of position to climb early the next day. “Let’s push one more pitch, then bail” I suggested. Kari agreed and began the climb of our last pitch of the day. The sun dipped below the mountains to the west and I was left shivering in my shorts as Kari climbed. Kari is from Iceland and loves cool weather…I on the other hand, not so much. When it came to my turn to climb I rejoiced! After reaching the anchors, we hung there for some time, taking in the sights and snapping pictures of the route and the valley below. Man what a day!

Night night sun! Sleep well!
Rapping down from Solar

We began repelling the route, pitch after pitch until reaching the base of Solar Slab.  We worked our way over to the 5.3 Gulley, which was notorious for hanging up ropes, but it was easier to decend in the dark than coming directly down Johnny Vegas (which may have had other climbers on it). Kari repelled first, and then I would follow. Bolts, bolts, bol . . . . wait no bolts, what the heck!

Rapping 5.3 gulley
Some “questionable” webbing left behind . . . not too sure about that rock. We left our own.

We found some old webbing slung around a nearby “questionable” rock and decided to set our own and continue the repel. At the base of each repel we would pull one half of the rope down from the anchor above which would slide freely and we could retrieve it to set up for the next repel below.  After repelling from the webbing, we went to pull the rope and it started to come down. Just before the end of the rope let free, it became lodged in something above. Kari and I pulled and pulled on the rope, no luck. We pulled again, simultaneously putting our whole weight on the rope, still nothing! Without the rope we could no longer climb the next day. We tried again without success. It was either cut the rope, leave it behind, and use the remaining rope to repel or re-climb a pitch to manually free the rope so we could go home… climb it was. Kari tied in and I belayed him from below. He ascended the awkward 5.3 in the dark and soon found the rope bound up behind a boulder. He freed it and soon came repelling down, tired and exhausted ready to be back at the van.  We gathered our gear and slowly hiked out through the dark climber’s path, back to the parking lot where food and rest awaited.  Despite the trials and tribulations, it was an incredibly beautiful climb and great day to be outside!

  • Rapping the 5.3 Gulley
  • pack it up!

HIKE INFO:

Johnny Vegas: https://www.mountainproject.com/v/johnny-vegas/105732251

Solar Slab: https://www.mountainproject.com/v/solar-slab/105732257

HIKE STATS:

  • Weather: Hi 60s, Low 30s, Sunny
  • Water: 2.5 liters
  • Food: 2 Cliff bar, 1 apple, 1 Cliff builder bars, 2 kroger protien bars, 1 bag of Salt and Vinegar chips.
  • Time: 14 hours
  • Distance: 5 miles RT
  • Accumulated Gain: 1,000 feet
  • Climbing Rating: 5.7 Trad
  • Number of Pitches: 8

GEAR:

  • Mule Camelback backpack (3 liter bladder)
  • Black Diamond Helmet
  • Petzl Corax Climbing Harness
  • 2 Black Diamond screw carabiner
  • 4 Phantom DMM screw carabiner
  • Webbing for personal anchor
  • Arc’teryx Chalk Bag
  • SPOT Tracker

CLOTHING:

  • Smartwool 195g long sleeve
  • Arc’teryx Hoody
  • Cotton Handkerchief
  • Nike shorts
  • Darn Tough Medium Wool Sox
  • Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
  • La Sortiva TC Pro Climbing Shoes
Share

Mount Lemon – Trad Climbing – Rap Rock – Standard Route – AZ (10.9.16)

Share
_dsc3522
View of the valley below from the climb (picture credit to Kari)

Kari and I set out from Phoenix on a Saturday night in great spirits, our sights set on Mount Lemon for some trad climbing.  Located just outside of Tucson, AZ, Mount Lemon is a “sky island” where the base rises rapidly from the surrounding desert to a good 7000 feet in prominence. Along the road that would lead us to the top, characterized by hairpin turn after hairpin turn, was a different climbing crag. We were aiming for a trad route called Standard Route with the Black Quacker linkup just off of Rap Rock near the summit.  After the long drive up the mountain, we found a nice spot on incinerator ridge where sparse camping is welcome and plopped down for the night. As an added bonus we got to watch a killer lighting storm from afar as it lit up the night sky just before crashing out.

_dsc3369
Storm was dropping lighting in the mountains across the valley, we watched just before crashing out. (picture credit to Kari)

The next morning the sun rose far too early.  Rustling like a couple of lazy bears we finally got up, got breakfast rolling, and packed everything up for the day’s trek. The engine vroomed as I started my van and before long were off once again, headed for the summit parking lot.  We pulled in to see a few other climbers getting ready to set off for their intended routes.  We grabbed our gear and the route description and headed down Mount Lemon Trail #5 towards Rap Rock. We passed a small metal shack next to Quartzite Spring, and just 100 yards later the climber’s trail bombed down a drop-off headed to the saddle just behind Rap Rock.

_dsc3386
Shed just above the Quartzite Spring (picture credit to Kari)

Down, down, down per usual, we hit the saddle and found the trail split, heading both east and west.  Following the route description we took the trail to the east and it was bushwhacking time! The “trail” was tight and overgrown so we stumbled our way through it, trying to find the path of least resistance, until finally circling the southern face of the wall and the base of our climb. We started pulling gear from our packs and prepared for the ascent. Rope? Check. Harness? Check. Shoes, helmet, trad rack? Check, check, check. Quick draws? …silence… Quick draws?  Kari looked up at me with an ‘Oh crap!’ look and I knew there was something wrong.  We pulled our bags apart, double and triple checking, but it soon set in that the quick draws were still sitting in the van, doing nobody any good.

20161009_095919
Rock faces to the west of Rap Rock

Such is life, I guess. We were outdoors with some awesome weather…I could think of worse places to be!  We stashed our gear, I stuffed my daypack with water for two, and we took off to the west of the rock thinking it looked like a better trail to get back to the saddle. This proved to be our second mistake of the day! Skirting the base of Rap Rock was easy enough at first, but soon we were pushed into a nasty, thick bushwhack with no clear trail to the saddle. We had already lost too much time as it was, so we had no other choice but to keep pushing up through the enclosing brush.

20161009_110444
Bushwhacking! Climbing back up to gather our quick draws, little log balance action!

Hopping boulders, dodging sharp thorns, and pushing up some unforgiving gain we finally reached the saddle. I looked to Kari, who was a bit flustered, and asked “Just like home, huh?!” Being from Iceland, Kari was used to the off-trail bushwhack and we were both determined to get a good climb in for the day. We reached the van and found the quick draws hidden away in the bottom of his gear bag. We laughed at the silly mistake, at that point it was all we could do, and headed back down to where we had left our gear at the base of the climb.

20161009_100435
Coming back down the east side of Rap Rock
20161009_121926
Bushwhack on!

No one else had been in the area so our gear was undisturbed. We strapped all our gear on and got ready for the climb. Quick draws?!  Check! The climb was a 4 pitch and Kari opted to take the first. Reaching the first gear placement is always the hardest climb for lead climbers, and the hardest part to watch for lead belayers. Kari was up on the wall just 5 or 6 feet off the ground but began to skirt toward a crack off to the right. As he traversed, the ground below dropped off making the penalty for a fall even more severe. Until he placed his first piece, the only support he had was being tied to a rope, which in turn was tied to me 15 feet below. He finally reached the crack, looking (from my perspective) like a sticky tree frog, where he placed his first piece and clipped the rope in without breaking a sweat. “On belay” I hollered, letting him know I had him if a fall were to occur.

_dsc3405
Pitch 1 of the climb, pictures never do it justice, the exposure below the crack can be unnerving (picture credit to Kari)

Kari pushed on, up the crack until finally reaching a nice pine on the ledge above. He set the anchor, pulled the slack out of the rope, and hollered back “On belay!” I was technically on ‘top rope’ at this point, the safest kind of climb you can have, especially with a bomber tree to hold my weight if I were to fall. I threw my pack on and plunged my hands into my chalk bag… it was finally time to climb! Up the tiny holds on the slab I went, finding the traverse, and like a silly climber I gave the drop below me a good gander. My fingers beaded with sweat as I continued to traverse toward the crack. I finally reached it, throwing my hands inside the negative crack and using friction to hold myself in place until I could grab a good hold higher up. I collected the gear and slowly picked my way upwards to the tree where Kari waited.  I clipped into the anchor, relieved to have the first section done.

_dsc3474
Second pitch, that was some “fun” runout to the first nut! (picture credit to Kari)

After a short break, I began to gather the gear and prepped for my first trad lead up the second pitch. The full trad rack weighed on my neak, dangling over my chest, obstructing my clear view of footholds below me. “This is going to be fun” I thought to myself as I reviewed the pictures of the route ahead. The runout to the first gear placement was pretty substantial, at least in my mind, at maybe 20-30 feet (I could easily be exaggerating) and the description read “PG13”. I started the climb, slowly making my way up the slab. It wasn’t a very technical start, but the next safe rock seemed to be miles away. I looked back down to Kari 15 feet below and thought “I can’t downclimb this, I have no choice but up”. This was about the time that I noticed Kari was looking away from me, and I knew it couldn’t be a good sign. He later told me that he had looked at me half way up the pitch and thought “What have I gotten Mike into?” It was time to turn the lizard climbing brain on and push all the negative thoughts out. I concentrated only on the holds and feel in front of me, and before I knew it I had worked my way into the first usable crack and was searching for a good placement for my first nut.

20161009_155349
Grippy decent holds on most of the route

Finally I stuck it, threw a quick draw on the end of the nut leadwire, and yelled “clipping” as I pulled the rope up to clip in. A huge weight lifted off my shoulders and I sighed as I finally felt relatively safe. Leading is a total mind game.  Sure there is danger, but if you can keep it together you’ll be just fine. I kept pushing up, placing piece after piece as I shouted “Clipping! Clipping!” Feeling focused, I spanned from one high left to a crack on the right into a layback which felt good. Inch by inch, I scampered up the pitch until I finally made it to the next belay station. I set up a good anchor and put Kari on top rope. The friction was high from the second pitch; I was pulling with each arm independently to take the slack out as he climbed, coiling the rope at my feet until finally Kari popped over the ledge as well. “Nice lead man!” He exclaimed as he clipped into the anchor. It was my first true trad lead and I was happy everything went as “smoothly” as it did.

20161009_162640
Pitch 3, an interesting combination of crack and tree limbs haha (can you see Kari up at the next anchor?)

Kari lead the third pitch, making it look easy as always, even through some tough overhang spots and questionable crack traverses. He stopped at the top of the third pitch at a hanging belay and once again I was ready to climb. I clung to the rock, pulling gear as I went up and over the tough overhang start to a traverse with a foot on a convenient tree limb (I counted on it, why not?!). I tried to climb quickly as I knew Kari wasn’t a fan of the hanging belay. I finally reached Kari at the belay. My feet were on fire from being stuffed in aggressive shoes, it didn’t help that the sun was beaming on my already pressured feet. We swapped lead for just the first section of the pitch as I needed a break and Kari wanted to take on some exposed chicken head work (small rock formations that were great holds and almost looked like little deformed mushrooms which stood proud above the surrounding surface). He quickly reached a good belay spot and I was off again. Chicken heads are great for climbing but labor intensive on the rope as they cause quite a bit of friction, so Kari stopped short and I finished the final pitch onto the summit and into the dark. The sun had long since forgotten us and the moon came out to help light Kari’s final ascent up the 4th pitch.

_dsc3515
Chicken head anchor! (picture credit to Kari)
20161009_174955
The light was running from us as we finished the 4th pitch

Summit! We finally made it! Exhausted form the day’s climb we gathered our gear and prepped for the hike out. We slowly made our way down the backside of Rap Rock down a class 3 scramble and back to the saddle that would eventually lead to the van. It was a full day and we were both ready for it to be over, but we still had the “short” 25 mile drive down the mountain and the two hour road trip back to Phoenix ahead of us. What another awesome day, I’d take an exhausted moonlit walk back to the truck any day over being stuck inside an office. Get out there and push your own limits, you never know what new experience you’ll have and I can guarantee you won’t regret it!

  • On belay?
  • Down the east side bushwhack of rap rock

HIKE INFO:

Approach hike: https://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=444

Standard Route: https://www.mountainproject.com/v/standard-route/105738251

HIKE STATS:

  • Weather: Hi 70s, Low 60s, Sunny
  • Water: 2.5 liters
  • Food: 2 Cliff bar, 1 plum, 3 protien bars, 1 bag of meditorranian vegitabke chips.
  • Time: 9 hours (keep in mind we hiked back to the truck one extra time)
  • Distance: 2.6 miles Round Trip from trailhead (lets not talk about the hike back to pick up the quickdraws)
  • Accumulated Gain: 1,200 feet
  • Climbing Rating: 5.7
  • Number of Pitches: 4

GEAR:

  • Mule Camelback backpack (3 liter bladder)
  • Black Diamond Helmet
  • Petzl Corax Climbing Harness
  • 2 Black Diamond screw carabiner
  • 4 Phantom DMM screw carabiner
  • Webbing for personal anchor
  • Arc’teryx Chalk Bag
  • SPOT Tracker

CLOTHING:

  • Smartwool 200g long sleeve
  • Arc’teryx Hoody
  • Cotton Handkerchief
  • Nike shorts
  • Darn Tough Medium Wool Sox
  • Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
  • La Sortiva Muira Climbing Shoes
Share

Granite Mountain – Swamp Slabs, Trad Climbing – AZ (9.4.16)

Share
20150111_084734
Sign at the trailhead

I pulled up to the trailhead expecting my friends to be there, only to discover no one in sight. I looked down at my phone . . . no signal… “Welp this could be fun” I thought.  I was at the Metate trailhead of Granite Mountain, ready to take on a trek to a multi-pitch traditional (trad) route on one of the mountain’s slab granite faces. I took another circle around the park to check the other trailheads, just in case they had parked elsewhere, but no luck. It was a 10 minute drive out to catch a signal, but I figured they would have to show up sometime so I got on my mountain bike and tooled around on the road until their Toyota came bounding into sight. I was all smiles, excited to start the day!

Craig, Eva, and Kari piled out of a 4Runner, bags in hand that were filled to the brim with harnesses, climbing shoes, helmets, a few ropes, quick draws, and of course Kari’s trad rack. We had a late start just around 11am, and as we let out Craig commented “as many times as I’ve gone trad climbing, I have never made it back to the trailhead before dark.”  Well, it wouldn’t be my first night hike, and I could think of a lot worst places to be.

20160904_121423
Craig and Eva pushing the approach hike

We headed out with Eva claiming lead and the trail taking off in a north westerly direction. At first the trail dropped down into a canopy covered canyon, lush with green, and weaved in and out on the canyon floor. After a quick jaunt the canopy began to fade as we entered a large open burn area. This time of year the brush and flower were celebrating the break of summer and covering the ground beneath the blackened and burned remains of the old trees. We finally reached Blair Pass, and beautiful views of the valley beyond and the rock face overhead where we intended to climb were in plain view.

20160904_121700
First clear view of the Swamp Slabs! Whew getting excited!

We headed north from there, taking on the switchbacks of the trail and finally finding our first bit of gain. At the third switchback heading up the mountain our guide book instructed us to take the “climbers trail” east to the base of the Swamp Slabs where we would begin our climb. Let’s just say there wasn’t much of a “route” here. Accustomed to bushwhacking, we prepped and pushed forward, up the side of the mountain through brush, bush, cactus, and rocks until finally (with some sweat and scratches) made it to the base of the slab.

20160904_134958
Craig belaying Kari from below on Dislocation Buttress (5.4)

Kari has been climbing trad for years and would lead. I could tell by a smirk on his face as he looked at the wall in front of us that he was ready to get started. Dislocation Direct was a 4 pitch 5.6 route (according to the book). We decided to go up the first pitch of Dislocation Buttress (5.4) and then skirt a ledge to start the climb just to warm up. We were told that many of the ratings here were sandbagged and not to be fooled by a low rating.

At first Kari led while I followed, leaving all the tread gear in place. Then immediately after I began climbing, Craig would begin climbing and take lead on a rope tied to himself while Eva belayed from below. The first pitch was deceptively long and tougher than a 5.4 (in my opinion…but what do I know). Once getting off the ground and onto the face my hands were sweaty from searching for holds. I stuffed my feet into cracks when I could to cling to the rock like a lizard. Halfway up the pitch Kari’s trad was 3 feet to the right, far from the crack I was climbing.  I re-positioned my feet, one in a crack and the other on the face, and stood. My right foot began to slip so I backed off. I took a second look to figure out what the heck he did and finally found a solution that worked, moving past the obstacle. Before long, after climbing through a few bushes and finally up and over an awkward headstone to a face, I reached the exposed ledge where Kari was waiting as my belay.

untitled_panorama1
View form one of the belay station ledges

Happy to see him, I clipped into the anchor he had created and took a nice rest while we waited for the others to join us. Soon Craig popped up right behind me, but after a few minutes he noticed Eva wasn’t climbing anymore and could have only been 15 feet off the ground. The cliffs had many ledges and crevices, restricting the line of sight to the climbers below from the belay station. We waited another minute, no movement . . . Worried something was wrong, Kari came off the anchor and went to the top of the pitch to repel down.  It turned out a piece of gear had walked its way into a crack so far that Eva couldn’t retrieve it by hand and, not wanting to leave it behind, she was working to remove it. With a special tool, Kari removed the lodged gear and minutes later we were all at the anchor safe and sound.

20160904_152637
Kari, getting to work!

Due to the difficulty I volunteered to climb last, swapping out with Eva as I felt confident I could get anything loose if it were to get stuck again (I wanted to get some experience cleaning gear to see the placement). We climbed on, Kari leading and soon disappearing into the rock above. A few minutes later he called down that we were set having reached the next belay point, and Craig and Eva took off as I belayed Craig from below. It’s a strange feeling standing on a ledge while everyone else climbs above knowing that you have no other choice but to follow. Waiting, I listened for muffled yells from above that I was set to climb.

20160904_155045
Kari belaying from above, Craig following as I belay from below (Craig was paused so I could snap this pic)

The signal came at last; I threw on my pack and shoes, eager to get back at it. I began to climb and found that each pitch had a crux, a tough spot which took some extra effort to get by. The first pitch’s crux was just before the top, and there was a huge fin to the right which would have been a great hand hold.  Kari said to heck with that easiness and went straight up a crack just to the left of the fin. The hand holds were small, the feet were smaller, and it took just the right balance to keep from falling. This was slab climbing, Kari’s favorite! I watched Eva and soon Craig pass on up to the belay station. I was could hear a grunt or two from Craig as he passed the crux, never a good sign as he is a much more skilled climber than me.  I was up next, and it was time to shine (or crash and burn, whatever).  I got to the crux quickly and taking great care to maneuver the tight, small holds managed to surpass it and get to the ledge. “Whew!” I exclaimed at I clipped into the anchor.

20160904_175713
Base of Pitch 3

The sun was beaming down on us pretty good this late in the afternoon. We still had 3 more pitches to go and the sun wasn’t doing us any favors. This time Kari took on 2 pitches at once to make up for time and disappeared in the rock above. Soon Eva and Craig were gone too and once again it was my go.  The first section was pretty straightforward and had some great holds. Just after clearing it I was staring at what seemed like a blank face, a huge left foot, and a large rock jutting out to create a small crack where Kari had left his gear. I approached and tried to orient my body for the high left . . . my foot began to slip and I backed off, grabbing for the jutting rock to hold me on the face.  I tried again, nothing. And again, no success. I was starting to get frustrated looking at the face. I took a deep breath and approached one last time, hand on the jutting rock, fingers in the crack, right foot on a smear, and I pulled my left leg up from my crouched position for the big felt foot. Booya! Got it, but just barely! The rest of the climb on that pitch went smoothly from there. Climbing slab, cracks, and fins, grabbing trad gear as I went until I finally reached the ledge where everyone else was waiting. “That was spicy!” I exclaimed when I finally anchored in.

20160904_164056
Nice rack Kari!!!

We looked to the west, the sun was setting and we were still on the wall with just one pitch left. Kari, with gear over his shoulder looking like Rambo with ammo belts, headed up the last climb. He once again disappeared in the rocks above. Pushing up, up, up we all soon reached the top of the climb. No chains to repel from here…nothing but you, the rock, and some trad gear. That’s pretty cool.

20160904_184856
Sunset glow from the top, find waldo . . i mean kari!

The sunset was absolutely gorgeous. As we topped our climb, the sun was just dipping below the horizon. We all were happy to have finished and walked off the backside down a bushwhack gully back to our gear waiting below. By then it was time for headlamps, and we trekked down the climber “trail” in the dark until finally reaching the main trail again. I won’t name names, but there were a few cactus encounters the definitely kept us alive and on our toes. We walked back down the trail by headlamp, all tired and happy to complete another journey. Of course Craig was right, it was long dark before we got back to the car, but aren’t those some of the best kinds of trips?!

  • Looking west form the saddle
  • Hiking through the burn area

HIKE INFO:

Approach hike: http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=2114

Swamp Slabs Climb: https://www.mountainproject.com/v/swamp-slabs/105792392

Dislocation Direct: https://www.mountainproject.com/v/dislocation-direct/105974239

HIKE STATS:

  • Weather: Hi 80s, Low 70s, Sunny
  • Water: 2.5 liters
  • Food: 1 Cliff bar, 1 bag trail mix, 1 apple, 2 protien bars, 1 bag of salt and venigar chips.
  • Time: 9 hours
  • Distance: 6 miles Round Trip from trailhead
  • Accumulated Gain: 1,400 feet
  • Climbing Rating: 5.6 (Sandbagged), first pitch 5.4 (also Sandbagged)
  • Number of Pitches: 5

GEAR:

  • Mule Camelback backpack (3 liter bladder)
  • Black Diamond Helmet
  • Petzl Corax Climbing Harness
  • Black Diamond screw carabiner
  • Phantom DMM screw carabiner
  • Webbing for personal anchor
  • Arc’teryx Chalk Bag
  • SPOT Tracker

CLOTHING:

  • Cotton T-Shirt
  • Arc’teryx Hoody
  • Cotton Handkerchief
  • Darn Tough Medium Wool Sox
  • Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
  • La Sortiva Muira Climbing Shoes
Share

Blunt Force Brahma – Grand Canyon AZ (3.25.16 – 3.26.16) (Brahma Temple)

Share
?
What is left of Mark’s gloves after the trek

Some years ago, a few geologists (namely Charles Dutton, Charles Walcott, Ian Cambel and John Maxton, amongst others) with some extra time on their hands went about naming some of the buttes, mesas, and temples that are scattered across the Grand Canyon.  For many of these rock structures, they chose to name them after prominent figures across many different religions (i.e. Vishnu Temple, Shiva Temple, Rama Temple, Isis Temple, ect).  This particular adventure would take us up the Temple named after Brahma, the Hindu God of creation or birth.  The hike (if you can call it that) lived up to its name because I felt like a new man after!

7756263632_d6855713ce_b
View of Brahma Temple (left) and Zoroaster Temple (right) from the North rim (thank you internet)

Mark, Rene, and I planned to take on the Temple as a one night backpack, but had no idea what was truly in store for us. We all did our research on the trek, knew it would be pushing class 4, low class 5 in places, but at the end of the day it’s like reading a book about how to ride a bike; you just have to get out there and fall over a couple of times. The plan was to hike down South Kaibab, cut across the canyon to Clear Creek trail, head north up the crack from Sumner wash through the red wall, break up through the Supai layer, and then camp on the western arm of Zoroaster.  The next day we would then hike through the Hermit Shale across the Zoroaster/Brahma saddle, skirt the base of Brahma, ascend the formation from a chute on the west side, and follow the ridgeline north to the peak.  We just prayed we could get down the same way unscathed by the monstrous mountain!

20160327_150001
View from South Kaibab as we dropped in (click to enlarge)

Friday morning was crisp and cool, just above freezing, as we prepared to drop in. I always get that Christmas morning feeling when I drop into the canyon, giddy with excitement.  It’s like I’m 5 years old all over again, standing over a pile of neatly wrapped presents, blood pumping with the excitement of not knowing what’s to come. We had all hiked the canyon a few times so the descent down South Kaibab was no surprise.  After a few hours, we reached Phantom Ranch and took a quick break to fill up on water that was to sustain us until the next day and into the afternoon. Sipping on lemonade from the canteen and writing some post cards to home, we were all in good spirits and ready to push onward to camp.

  • First glimpse of Phantom Ranch from South Kaiab
20160327_150002
View of the river from Clear Creek (click to enlarge)

As we headed out from Phantom, the morning had finally warmed up.  The added weight from the water really sunk into our shoulders as we took on the first good gain of Clear Creek trail. As we made our way up onto Sumner wash, the views from the skirting trail over the Colorado River were incredible. You could look clear up and down the river, both the black and silver bridges visible to the naked eye.  After another good push, we were finally at the point to head “offtrail”. As expected the route went right to work with quick gain up the wash to the base of the crack.  We were soon faced with our first obstacle:  an 80 foot repel staring right back at us, daring us to climb.

20160325_134716
View of Zoroaster from Clear Creek, Brahma hides in the back
11laoc
Climb from Clear creek to the crack
20160327_150003
Close up of the crack and exposed climb to come

After careful deliberation we decided to take an exposed ledge, hopping to the right side of the crack (which had a skin ripping rock covered with sharp tater). At the top of the ledge, there was a small 20-foot down climb that dumped us back into the crack. Whew!! We made it past the first obstacle.  After that I knew that Brahma was really going to pack a punch! Not but a short 10-foot scramble later we hit the crux of the red wall crack. It was another climb that had a few options of ascent, all with troublesome penalties for failure.

20160326_161040
20 foot downclimb after the exposed first obstacle bypass of the red wall crack

Once again we deliberated, found a route we liked, and with sweaty hands made the ascent, afterward tying off the packs and handing them up. Whew, another climb completed! After another short scramble we popped up out of the crack and made our way across the bottom side of the western Zoroaster arm. Some trail finding and a chimney crack was all that stood between us and our camp for the night. We kept reminding ourselves “slow and steady wins the race” as we methodically tackled each obstacle the climb threw at us.  There was no point trying to hurry through if it meant a being taken out of commission for a while (or worse). Before we knew it we were setting up camp, boiling water for Mountain House meals, cracking jokes, and enjoying the setting sun.  It was only the first day and we were all beat, ready for a good night’s sleep.

20160327_150007
View down the Red wall crack form the top

Or so I thought…I woke in the middle of the night to the sides of the tent shaking violently! The wind ripped across the open face where we were camped, but the tent was well staked and held sturdy.  Just as fast as the wind had come it dissipated, and this cycle repeated itself quite a few times through the rest of the night.

20160327_150010
View from camp, Brahma on the left, Zoroaster on the right
20160327_150012
Sunset from camp (click to enlarge)
20160327_150013
Sunrise from camp (click to enlarge)

Soon, always too soon, my alarm blared, signaling the start of Day 2. Not only did we still have to summit (which was hours away from completion), but also find the energy to descend back to the river and hike out of the canyon via Bright Angel trail. We had our work cut out for us!

20160327_150015
Slim skirt across the base of Zoroaster towards the Brahma saddle, tough penalties for a misstep

After breakfast and packing up camp we piled our camp gear off to the side in hopes that with lighter packs it would help us with our summit time. We quickly spanned the western arm and chimneyed up a 10 foot obstruction to start skirting the base of Zoroaster.  The trail narrowed from a short 10 foot slope to a 300 foot sheer drop in some sections. I nervously placed one foot in front of the other, clutching tight to the trekking pole in my hand for balance, trying not to think about the consequences of a misstep. Not soon enough, we cleared the first section and it was on to the 3 obstacles in the Supai layer.

20160327_150019
One of the Supai obstacles, easier of the three

After quickly scaling the first two, which had seemed pretty mild even without relying solely on a rope, we came upon the third. This one was a little spicier in nature. Good footing on the right led to a slick rock face.  This demanded full commitment to the rope which had been left hanging…in the sun…for god knows how long…with little way of inspection. Of the 3 of us, I was the first up and have the least upper body strength. Standing half way up the climb on the ledge my leg began to shake. At this point is was show up or go home, so I put my feet on the wall and my full weight onto the rope.  I felt it stretch, along with something in the pit of my stomach.  My buddies below had their hands up just in case the worst should happen, but I knew it was pointless if I actually fell.   I pulled with everything I had, the knotted rope stayed true, and soon I was over the obstacle and onto the ledge.

401_1292998944047091_7993794652845092263_n
Repelling the 3rd obstacle, the ascent (seen on the right) is pretty spicy

After the other two followed suit, all three of us took a moment to catch our breath, nervous and happy we had completed yet another climb. We skirted the rest of the base of Zoroaster across a long, loose sloping face which, of course as everything else had on this hike, ended in a 300 foot drop into the canyon below. Whew, the nerves were not shot but they were definitely getting their exercise. We exited onto the saddle to Brahma and after a good climb started skirting the base of Brahma. In the description it says “Easy Peasy Skirt” along the base.  The wisdom, however, is that everything should be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to summiting a Temple. The skirt went up and down, but overall wasn’t too bad except for the 3 or 4 spots where the slope ended in a downward spiral to an early grave. As we reached what we thought was the end of the skirt (according to the GPS track), we looked right to find the canyon we were supposed to ascend. There was nothing in sight.

20160327_150016
Zoroaster/Brahma saddle!

After careful consideration and close inspection, we found the only line that didn’t look like a 5.10 climb or seemed as though it could “go”. We dropped pack, chugged water, and prepped for the unknown.  In all the research we did, there wasn’t much note given to the canyon that leads to the north ridge to the summit. Let’s just say that was a slight oversight! The first 15 foot climb ended in an exposed shelf skirt that the word “sketchy” cannot truly describe. After the skirt we tucked into the canyon, carefully and slowly choosing our line, ascending obstacle after obstacle, before reaching the north ridgeline and finally the sunny summit. My god what an ascent!  By far my hardest to date. It definitely pushed my limits, but I couldn’t really fully enjoy it because I wasn’t actually sure if we were going to make it down safely, which of course is always the primary goal.

20160327_150018
Showing the sloped shelf skirt traverse, nice sliding dropoff to the right, hold on tight! Oh wait there are almost no hand holds . . .

The mind is a strange thing, though. Once you challenge it, it expands. Every section where I was worried or nervous that we couldn’t return that same way felt grades lower in toughness on the return trip. Each down climb seemed doable, and repels that bypassed 2 of the hardest obstacles made the descent much more livable. After an exhausting day, we finally reached Clear Creek trail. We cracked a few brews to celebrate that the hardest part was over. It didn’t matter that we still had 13 miles to hike out in the dark, which we knew we wouldn’t complete until almost 2 am, because we had just summited our first Grand Canyon Temple. What an incredible journey, no words or pictures can begin to describe its brutal beauty.  Despite the mental and physical toll the climb exacted on me, I can’t help but be excited to start planning the next one.

  • South Kaibab
  • Cairn noting the exposed bypass for the fist obstacle

HIKE INFO:

http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1070

HIKE STATS:

  • Weather: Hi 60s, Low in the lower 20s, Sunny, Slightly windy
  • Water: 8 liters (2 days)
  • Food: 4 protien bars, 6 Clif Bars, 2 granola bars, 2 via starbucks instant coffee, 1 Mountain House, 2 bags of Quinoa, instant mashed potatoes, 1 bag ProBar gummies, ProBar Meal bar, 2 bags of trailmix, Haribo gummy bears, 2 Kind bars, bag of Pringles, bag of salt and vinegar chips
  • Time: 2 Days (Hiking time – 9 hours, Day 1; 19 hours, Day 2)
  • Distance: 30 Miles round trip
  • Accumulated Gain: 10,700 feet

GEAR:

  • 58 liter exos osprey backpack
  • Big Anges Copper Spur UL2 tent
  • Flash REI sleeping pad
  • Cosmic Down Kelty Sleeping Bag (rated to 20 deg F)
  • Jet Boil – Sol
  • Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Corax Harness
  • ATC belay devise
  • Black Diamond carabiner
  • Phantom carabiner
  • 10mm Rope – 60 feet
  • 6mm prusik
  • 2 – 180 mm slings

CLOTHING:

  • Smart wool 195 long sleeve shirt
  • Arc’teryx hoody
  • Cloth bandana
  • Patagonia Pants
  • Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
  • Darn Tough wool medium weight socks
  • Threadless hoody
Share

Weaver’s Needle Ascent – AZ (3.5.16)

Share

I have been hiking in the Superstition Mountains for the past few years and I knew Weaver’s Needle on sight. The formation was massive and jetted out of the earth like the final breath of a dying volcano. It was always on my list to reach the top (more of a bucket list due to the rock climbing gear required) and I never thought it would be more than a dream until I got a text from a buddy with an invite. I started rock climbing in a gym a few months back, and this bucket list item was about to become my first outdoor climbing experience!  Needless to say I was pretty ecstatic!

?
Peralta Trail-head, our adventure begins!

Kári, Inga, Craig and I met early in the morning, threw our gear into the back of Craig’s 4Runner, and headed for the Supes! We finally got to Peralta trailhead and started putting feet to trail around 8:30am. Little did we know, the day ahead of us was going to turn out to be a long one! I had Kári’s climbing rope draped over my shoulder as my day bag was already packed to the brim with food, water, and climbing gear. At the sight of the rope quite a number of people descending Peralta trail stopped and chatted; “looks like you guys are going to have some fun!”, “what are you going to repel?”. I was all grins but as Craig explained where we were headed I bit my tongue (didn’t want to jinx it). After short chats, we continued to sweat up the climb. The sun was already going to work on us as we approached Fremont Saddle.

Untitled_Panorama2
Looking south just before from Fremont Saddle, Kari ascends (click to enlarge)
Untitled_Panorama1
First sight of Weavers Needle from Fremont Saddle

Finally reaching the saddle and we laid eyes on our target: Weaver’s Needle! Every time I looked at it before it was a point of reference or landmark, this time it was a much more ominous beast as I started to wonder what the climb would be like, and how we were going to find our way up what seemed to be an impossible exposed climb. We bombed down Peralta on the north side from saddle headed for the west side of Weavers. As we approached it became more and more apparent we had a large amount of gain to take on just to approach the start of the technical climb.

10rgfw

We found our way to the climber’s cutoff approach rout and crossed the dry creek. After a little bit of bushwhacking I luckily stumbled onto the trail. “Trail”, I yelled to the crew who were in the bushes nearby. Soon we were all back together making the big push towards the base of a notch in the formation. As we hiked up the rock became a little less ominous. The steep, but clearly cairned trail walked right up to the start of the climb. Time for a nice break in the shade! We all plopped down, grabbing out our snacks and munching down.

20160305_111116
Beginning of the first pitch scramble just below our snack break area

After the break we got our climbing gear out and began to scramble up the first pitch (lesson learned here, bring your hiking shoes with you when you climb, repelling in climbing shoes is no fun!). We scrambled up the first pitch to the next anchor, it was time to climb! Kári took lead; he has a ton of experience in traditional climbing and knows the technical correct way to do things as he was in Mountain Rescue for many years with Inga. Craig is a seasoned sport climber and walked me through the ins and out of belaying, removing gear, and the general etiquette for climbing.

20160305_125344
Second Pitch, Kari Leading, Inga belaying and Craig and myself eagerly waiting

I watched as Kári and soon Inga and Craig disappeared above the chalk-stone at the top of the climb. I was alone at the bottom of the shoot looking up at my first attempt at outdoor rock climbing. Admittedly a little intimidated I made my first few moves up the climb. My hands were sweaty and I plunged them into my chalk bag. After focusing solely on the holds and where I was going the nervousness went away. Before I knew it I made it to the first piece of trad gear and pulled it from the rock clipping it to the side of my harness. It was cool to see the strategic placement of the gear, but it was strange concept to think I was removing the gear knowing it could be the difference in life and death for anyone lead climbing. Being as I was the last one up and tied into top rope this wasn’t an issue.

20160305_125321
Looking back down the chute to the valley below

Some of the rock on the right felt as though with enough force it would pry from the wall, the left was solid. I climbed up, brushing small pebbles from the holds as I did. I went to put my right foot up on the next foothold, as I did I felt it. There was a rock in my climbing shoe, just under the ball of my foot. This was no bueno! Luckily I was close to a ledge and took a rest to pull my shoe off to empty it. As I did I looked down, yup it would most definitely suck not to be tied in! Some people can freeclimb this pitch, definitely not the case for me! I threw my shoe back on, stood up, found my feet, hands, and soon myself climbing over the chalk-stone! With the crux of the climb out of the way the whole crew scrambled their way to the summit for some incredible views!

Untitled_Panorama4
View from the top of the 3rd pitch looking south east, what a view!
Untitled_Panorama8
View form the peak!!! (click to enlarge)

We hung out for a half hour or so and soon realized we needed to get going in order to try and get to phoenix at a descent hour! We packed up our gear, and headed back down the climb. All four of us repelled all 4 pitches of the climb which took some time but was really fun (except for catching a few cacti in the leg). Repelling was a blast, especially down the length of the second pitch over the edge of the chalkstone to the bottom of the climb below. Soon when we had out hiking shoes back on and walked off the formation as the sun set. Once we were back on Peralta trail, we broke our headlamps out and trekked the 3.5 miles back to the car in the dark. It tuned into a 12 hour adventure, but I’d rather spend a day outside than any other way! What an awesome incredible unforgettable trek!

Untitled_Panorama10
Sunset over the valley below as we down climbed back to Peralta Trail, golden goodness!
  • Freemon Saddle Here we come!
  • Lets begin!

HIKE INFO:

http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=545

HIKE STATS:

  • Weather: Hi 70s, Low 60s, Sunny
  • Water: 2.5 liters
  • Food: 1 Nature valley sweet and salty bar, mixed 1 bag of chips (Salt and Vinegar), 1 Cliff Builders bar, apple, Power Protein Bar
  • Time: 12 hours
  • Distance: 8.1 miles Round Trip from trailhead
  • Accumulated Gain: 3,400 feet
  • Climbing Rating: 5.6
  • Number of Pitches: 4

GEAR:

  • Mule Camelback backpack (3 liter bladder)
  • Black Diamond Helmet
  • Petzl Corax Climbing Harness
  • Black Diamond screw carabiner
  • Phantom DMM screw carabiner
  • Webbing for personal anchor
  • Black Diamond ATC
  • Arc’teryx Chalk Bag
  • SPOT Tracker

CLOTHING:

  • Cotton T-Shirt (Nom Nom Nom Shirt)
  • Arc’teryx Hoody
  • Arm coolers
  • Cotton Handkerchief
  • Nike running shorts
  • Darn Tough Medium Wool Sox
  • Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
  • 5.10 Rouge Climbing Shoes
Share