Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Yosemite Fall 2012

I planned on retiring.  The Yosemite Climbing Assosciation promised to award me with a Golden Piton for 10 years of being a Valley dirtbag.  I would show my dedication to by pawning the piton for a new set of cams.    

“How can u retire when u haven’t done anything yet?” Nik Berry asked me. 

Scanning my fall season comes up with a lot of toiling and very little sending.  A decade of climbing in the ditch makes a lot of climbs projects for me. 

heading out the top of the Freerider after falling...again
I arrived in Yosemite in September and immediately went to work on the mega proj.

I rappelled into the boulder problem of the Freerider.  I tried the difficult pitch twice before the sun hit.  I kept descending, Down. Down. Down. El Rapitan.  A few days later, I dropped 1300 feet of rope from the summit.  I attempted the boulder problem again. I went again. And Again. And Again.

Here’s some footage of me on the wall.

On my last effort, after waking up at 4am to make the 2 hour hike, rappel 1300 feet, and try 20 feet of climbing, I slumped my head against the wall and felt a deep sense of failure.  I did not send the boulder problem.  I realized I needed to be a better and stronger climber before I could return to toiling on the wall.   I stared across the Valley at Middle Cathedral.

Every trip up to the top of El Capitan, I stared across the valley at Middle Cathedral.  Mikey Schaefer established a VI route up the north west face.  Father Time follows ten pitches of technical slab before hitting a steep headwall and three pitches of very difficult climbing. 

For six days, I climbed with Mikey on the route.  He managed to redpoint the enormous route after a huge effort on the wall.  Watching Mikey fire the rig inspired me.  The route quickly gained popularity with two ascents just days after Mikey returned to the ground.

Mikey Schaefer collage of Father Time VI 5.13b
“I was surprised by how hard and how good it was,” said Tommy Caldwell, who attempted the route with Jonathan Siegrist.  The pair redpointed to the last crux pitch, which Caldwell redpointed and Siegrist failed on, before descending in the dark.  Alex Honnold made the second ascent with his lady friend, Stacey Pearson, jumaring behind him.  “It’s 13b, straight up” said Honnold.

Further down canyon, on what Royal Robbins called, “The steepest wall in North America,” Alex Honnold made bold steps in his climbing career.  Honnold’s resume includes many difficult second and third ascents but he rarely steps out on his own.  This fall, Honnold examined an old Todd Skinner line on the Leaning Tower in the hopes of freeing the entire formation. 

After hand drilling a dozen crooked bolts, Honnold established Welcome to Wyoming, a 3 pitch 5.13c slab journey to the cat walk, the approach ledge to the Leaning Tower routes.  A few years ago, Skinner scoped a free line that parallels the initial bolt ladder on the West Face.  Dean Potter sunk directional bolts and freed all the moves.  A few well spaced holds lay a difficult path up the overhanging section of the wall.  With the Welcome to Wyoming start, the 200 foot bolt ladder variation section, and the free Westie Face- the entire Leaning Tower could go free. The route would not be easy though.

“The leaning tower pitch is amazing but probably 9b and has a few chipped holds at the top,” said Ethan Pringle, who tried the route one day with Honnold. After investing a few days into the project and deciphering the difficult moves, Honnold left for Oman.  The project remains.

The Leaning Tower on the Left and Fifi Buttress through the trees Mikey Schaefer photo

Across from the Leaning Tower, on Fifi Buttress, Luis “Lucho” Rivera and Dan McDevitt established the Romulan Freebird, a 10 pitch sustained 5.12c route.  First established as an aid climb by McDevitt,   Lucho spent the late spring and summer months free climbing the pitches and finding the best possible line through the aid variations.  The route is a harder version of the Rostrum, sustained 5.12 thin cracks.


Lucho and I climbing the 3rd pitch 5.11 on Romulan Freebird
“You need to Hoover your car,” Hazel Findlay said as we left Camp 4. 
“You’re cheeky,” I told the blonde haired Gummy Bear.  By 10 am, we reached the base of the Freebird.  The route begins with a technical stemming pitch.  I fell, climbed to the anchor, lowered, cleaned the gear, and pulled the rope.  Hazel hiked the pitch.  She had recently made a free ascent of the Muir Wall. http://hazelfindlay.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/free-adventures-on-el-cap-the-premuir-second-ascent-5-13cd-33-ish-pitches/  Where other parties encountered difficult stemming, the Gummy Bear bridged through the crux.  She employed this same bridging technique through the first 5.12 pitch, kicking her legs into a split.


Hazel swung into the next pitch, which she fell low on, emitting a shriek and a string of giggles.  She returned to the belay and redpointed the pitch.  I followed cleanly and led the next two pitches without falls.  Hazel encountered some difficulties on the top of an enduro finger crack corner. She led the next pitch.  I attempted the final 5.12 tips crack.  I failed.  The Gummy Bear wiggled her fingers in it and flashed it easily on tr.  I made another attempt but could failed.  We rappelled to the ground and finished a solid day of cragging.  Nothing is better than climbing large routes quickly or at least cragging them out.      

“You have to promise me you won’t fall,” Stanley said. I stared at the topo for the Nose and wondered about simul-climbing 5.10. We could die if I fell but that that did not concern me. If I fell, I would be breaking a promise to Stanley.
stepping through on the Lynn Hill Traverse on the Nose

The next morning, Stanley and I walked to the base of the Nose.  At first light we started the route.  I never fell simul-climbing because we short fixed instead.  Stanley simul-climbed behind me though.  We topped the route out in 6 hours 13 minutes.  I was exhausted and wanted to go to sleep.  Stanley wanted to go bouldering. 
top of the Nose 6 hrs 13 min
Sean “Stanley” Leary ran laps on the Nose this season.  Early in the summer he set the bisexual speed record with Mayan Smith-Gobat in 4:26.  Mayan also completed the Nose Half Dome Link-up with partner Chantel Astroga doing the Nose in 7:26.  Mayan said in a Rock and Ice online interview, “As to my time, I believe I could do them much faster if I was willing to put the time into really learning the route, and had a partner who was a much stronger free climber.” http://www.rockandice.com/news/2262-mayan-smith-gobat-interviews-and-pics Mayan’s comment bothered me greatly because she claimed her time could be faster with a better partner.  Partners, on climbs like these, are part of the game.  Stanley could climb the Nose much faster with a better partner- he’s done it with Dean Potter in under 3 hours.

I added that last bit to make my blog controversial. Can you smell the drama?  I can!

Stanley climbed with a better partner on a few other wall routes.  Alex and Stanley climbed the South Face of the Column in 53 minutes, the West Face of the Leaning Tower in 1 hour 16 minutes and Wet Denim Day Dream in 2 hours 55 minutes.-http://fiveten.com/community/blog-detail/13510-low-hanging-fruit-sean-leary

Other notable ascents in the Valley include Will Stanhopes free ascent of the Prophet, a difficult line up the south east face of El Capitan.
http://www.arcteryx.com/Article.aspx?DE&article=Will-Stanhope-s-Prophet-Repeat  Jesse Huey made a 15 hour free ascent of the Freerider.  Jasmin Caton and Evan Stevens, Greg and Mike Kerzhner, and Walker Emerson all made free ascents of the Freerider. 

Me showing  video of Hercules at the Facelift
I gave three slideshows this fall at Santa Rosa, the Yosemite Facelift, and at Stanford.  I'm starting to get pretty dialed at presenting slideshows.

The weather in the Valley turned from solid wall weather to amazing bouldering temps.  Randy Puro, Mike Wickwire, and Kyle O’Meara replaced Tommy Caldwell, Jonathan Siegrist, and Kevin Jorgenson on the hard climbing circuit. The boulders exploded with a hosts of solid new V10-12 problems.   I sent a cool problem called Squirrel over by the Gunsight.  I also toiled a lot on problems, climbing stronger then I ever have. 
The Center Route in Lower  Yosemite Falls Amphitheater Scientific 12b
Today is November 27th. For three weeks this month, Kim and I house sat in Yosemite Village.  We bouldered, climbed routes, and hiked.  I managed to eek out an ascent of Jonny Dawes Center Route in the Lower Yosemite Falls Ampitheater.  I heard the route called “scientific 12b.”  Mason Earle, who redpointed the pitch on his second effort, said “I think “solid” 12+ is a more accurate grade.”   I also climbed a number of boulder problems. 

I have invested a significant amount of time into redpointing Cosmic Debris.  Today, I fell once on it, something I have done two other times.  Redpoint cruxing.   I’d like to send it before I leave in Dec.  The seasons in Yosemite are changing.  The days are short now but I want to, no I need to send something this year  Than maybe I can retire. 

1 comment:

Seth said...

Attempted to climb Babyface the other day with you. I was really entertained by this post and the raw uncut footage of the freerider