Author Topic: ZM - A TR for Skully  (Read 1327 times)

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Offline hoipolloi

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ZM - A TR for Skully
« on: February 01, 2011, 10:20:17 am »
I bailed off the Captain twice last winter, but I learned a lot each time (rapping the steepest part of the wall is hard, but not impossible, large volumes of melting snow and wind make for exciting nights of flying on the ledge).  This winter, I really wanted to complete a route, since the beginning of the month the weather has been screaming for climbing.

So fresh back from a big free climbing trip and eating rock for breakfast in Red Rocks, I changed gears and did the telephone gear sort with my buddy Scott to rack up.  We decided to leave early in the AM, drive up, hike to the base and blast onto the wall.  We were hoping to make Pitch 4 for the first night.

We had a nice slow drive, complete with wrong turns and two cups of coffee, you know, we haven't driven to the valley enough to remember the correct way...To top it off, as we racked the bags we realized we didn't have spare batteries for the music machine.  Off to the Lodge store for batts.  Our 10 oclock planed start time had become 11, which quickly became 12.  So after the hike, with a nice early alpine start of 12.30 Scott was off on the first pitch.

He had been on the first 4 pitches before and they were ripe with adventure for him both of the previous times he had tried ZM.  One of the times his partner pulled out stacks of the fixed heads, just testing them!  Not the best way to start a wall filled with these timebombs.  Ill come back to the other time he was on the wall..

Scott was cruising at a machines pace up the wall.  I was following along, amazed at every pitch how I would arrive to the anchor with a few screamers, a handful of pins, and 2 or 3 cams, where was all the gear?!  This was how most of the pitches went, there was so much hooking on most pitches that the gear left behind was pretty minimal. 

I yelled up on pitch 2 or 3 that if he felt good, he should just keep gunning and take us to the bivy.  All was going well, headlamps came out and he was off on pitch 4 in the dark.  Off the belay he had a decent small cam, followed by 3 or 4 small fixed heads, after the last head he was off on some hooks.  As I got to the belay, Scott short fixing above, he shouts down, "fuck man, fuck.  This is fucked up up here.  There aren't any more hooks."  A few minutes later he shouts down that he found a blow out rivet and finally "Ok, Watch me man, Im going to hook on some fucked up shit."  Throwing the tiny Vermin hook on a tiny, crumbly, loose diorite flake he stood up, released a string of profanities, clipped a busted up copper head with just a few strands of cable left.  More profanities.  Another head, also a timebomb.  A hook or two more and he was finally rewarded with a good cam.

It was dark, although not very late, so we couldn't see if we had missed something or what, but as I jugged by I got a good look at the pitch, and the way he went was some nasty looking climbing, I doubt the first head will hold the next person, the fall will be clean, but man it will be big!

This is when Scott informs me that the last time, he made it to this point on the wall.  He didn't remember any of that climbing, but the next pitch, pitch 5, shut him down.  'What?!' I say, the pitch I am supposed to have for breakfast shut Scott down?!  Terror welled up inside me.  "I couldn't find the hooks, I went almost all the way to the shortest straw belay but I couldn't figure out the moves to get over the roof" (a roof labeled on the topo as 'improbable hook move').  I stare the pitch down by headlamp, convince myself I see features to hook, maybe even some gear to protect the belay, then turn my attention towards the portaledge and beers.

Pitch 5 ended up going fine in the morning, although it was exciting.  I hooked up on the features I had seen the night before, made some hard, fragile moves over the roof, glad to have my little Verm hook and its downward pull.  Once over the roof, standing on a small hook, the next moves were on large features, but really poor hooks.  "Fuck this" I say, grabbing hold of some small crimps and gaston type holds I climbed to the top step.  "Im free climbing," out of the aiders I go, freeing the next 8 foot section instead of playing around with the hooks and the horror.  The rest of the pitch was loose but went free in my approach shoes, with wall rack in tow.

That second day was fun, I led for most of the day, doing the Lightning Bolt roofs, which I was excited for, but surprised to find them to be quite easy.  Then off on the 9 o'clock roof, which is more A4 strenuous than really technical.  It required driving a #1 blade upwards into a roof off a high stance in the aiders, followed by some thin climbing, and delicate inverted cam hooks around loose blocks.  We bivied at the top of pitch 9 that night and got down right drunk on the portaledge...

Scott started us off in the morning on what we had heard was the crux pitch, A4 hooks and heads.  This got exciting here, after some good gear out a left arching feature, you turn a small rooflett and launch into a long string of hooks and heads in discontinuous diorite features.  Things were moving slowly, but I had the wall hammock out, and was lounging and sleeping when I was awaked by the wonderful, gut churning yell of horror.  I snapped awake in time to see Scott hurtling over over the roof and colliding with the end of the rope!  As he came to a stop he let out a big whoop of excitement, looking back up at where he had been moments ago, a deployed screamer and a copper head spiraling down the rope towards his harness.

After inventory was taken and I confirmed all limbs were intact, there were no injuries and no damage done, Scott was back at it.  It was a big fall, maybe 35-40 feet, they get big quick I suppose, so Scott got back to his high point.  The hammer and heads came out and a few beautifully placed heads were put in to fix the two that blew out.  What had actually happened was the entire placement of the head disintegrated,  the rock just broke apart and let the head loose, which blew the one he had been on, then deployed the screamer and still pulled the pin, and the fall stopped on some equalized cams.

Up Scott went, finding the missing feature at the end of pitch small cams anymore!  A huge 8x8 piece of rock was gone and replaced by some microscopic, hard to see bathook holes that lead you to the anchor.  In a moment of desperation, Scott had me send him up the fly pole to try to stick clip the anchor.  Unfortunately for him, the anchor was too far and the pole too weak, so up it went with the rope clipped in, 5 feet out of his hands, the pole drooped over like a cooked noodle.  I told him there had to be something there, so he stowed the pole, sacked up, and hooked his way to the anchor, bathooks appearing as he went..

Scott led the 11th pitch and then I swung through for the third and final A4.  The sun was setting but I knew I still had some light.  I wanted to get through the hooking and heads before the light was gone, so I grabbed the minimal gear I needed and started climbing.  Joking and goofing around to keep the excitement up and talking about the beers we were going to drink when I was done, I headed up the pitch.  Easy climbing to hooking, rivets, thin hooking, expanding flakes, gear falling out below, the joking stops, I get serious realizing the rivets below are shit and the fall is going to be massive if I blow the copper heads above me.  Off a small hook I pick one of three fixed heads, I realize its like roulette, which one is good?  I pick one, test it, it holds, shift onto it, put a screamer on it, move to the next, and the next, and the next, all getting smaller as they go.  The last is pasted upwards, looks like hell, maybe more like purgatory, its good enough to use and not bad enough to want to replace, but really terrifying.  This leads to a lunking hook move in a hollow flake and rivets.  Home free.. two beers each on the ledge.  I had it set up and ready to go by the time Scott got there.

The last day took us to the summit without issue.  The hike down was a bit snowy but not so bad, a bit of postholing near the crazy dike wall, but soon we were off on the raps and headed for the valley floor.

It's an awesome experience being on the Captain when nobody else is around.  I have been there a few times now when the bridge is empty, the cars are minimal, there is no green dragon and a minimal amount of noise other than the rush of Horsetail Falls.  It's a beautiful experience and we had a great time up there.  Like always, by the time I am back to the bridge and the car, I am already thinking about whats next, whats bigger, badder, harder, more fun, a better location, maybe a better time (impossible), everything like this, all at once.

We climbed into the car, took a last look at the Captain, then drove home, back to the real world.

(I hope this wasn't too long winded or dramatic)

Some Photos, we didn't get many, no particular order..


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Re: ZM - A TR for Skully
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2011, 11:10:55 am »
Oh, YEAH!!! That's what I'm talkin' about! Full Value.
Muchas Gracias, you frickin' Hombres. Nicely Done AND told.

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: ZM - A TR for Skully
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2011, 12:31:14 pm »
you bad ass mo fos!!!

drama was just perf for the reader


Offline squiddo

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Re: ZM - A TR for Skully
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2011, 02:13:28 pm »
nice stuff!!

Offline mhudon

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Re: ZM - A TR for Skully
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2011, 08:29:37 pm »
Yeah Baby! I'm all over this one come spring!

Offline Slakkey

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Re: ZM - A TR for Skully
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2011, 01:14:37 pm »
Great TR Great pics Yeah its Big Wall thats what its a about

Offline *Mucci*

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Re: ZM - A TR for Skully
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2011, 06:26:02 pm »
Thanks for the peek HOI!

That route saw alot of action over the winter, your ascent was made vivid by the choice words.

Nice to see your staying dialed in...


Offline Caz

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Re: ZM - A TR for Skully
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2011, 02:43:20 pm »
Great TR dude! Legendary!!!

I do this for fun...