Author Topic: Not so Big Wall  (Read 3679 times)

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Offline dominic.albanese

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Not so Big Wall
« on: May 15, 2007, 02:59:15 pm »
The East Coast is not generally known for its big walls. Admittedly they are better and more numerous than normally awknowledged (Looking Glass, Canon, WallFace, Cap Trinite, Cathedral etc.) But I live in Maryland, and there really is nothing "Big" here. However we do have the same aspiration to climb on the big stone in Yos. So we gotta train somehow.

Enter Maryland Heights, basically a 250 foot train cut right outside of the town Harpers Ferry, at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. Better known for its civil war history than the cliff over the train tunnel with 15 or so "not so classic" routes. However to the right of the main wall, the wall directly over the train tunnel leans back 15 degrees and only 1 free route traverses across, avoiding all the difficulties.

However there are a collection of 1 pitch aid routes that attack the lower portion of the face. My partner, John Kelbel being the primary guy putting up routes here. However none of the routes went all the way to the top of the main section.  The best one pitch route Center Stage and All Alone (5.7 A2+) is right under the biggest overhangs and the most attractive line to the summit.

This is me leading the first pitch.

From the top of this pitch we slowly pioneered the rest of the wall. The second pitch steps into a left facing corner then up on bad KBs to the two bolt belay under the small roof.

This is John about to reach the belay at the top of P2

To establish pitch 3 we rapped into our high point and then lead from there up. A wild tension traverse out right under the roof and then immediately up and over the roof on stacked blades on a 25 degree overhanging wall. Strenuous to say the least. There is a short fixed section with 2 dowels and 2 bolts, then through the final 6-8 foot roof.

A final 5.8 pitch up nice cracks through two short walls leads to the summit.

After 4 disparate days spent establishing the route we went back on 9-16-06 and lead the whole thing in a day in 14 hours.

Now we aren't the fastest of climbers but the aid is rather tricky and time consuming on the first three pitchs so despite the short length (220 feet) and only 4 pitches this may be Marylands first Grade IV.   

Spectacular Spectacle 5.8 A3 Grade IV

Standard aid rack

lots of short Kbs, a couple copperheads, though most will be fixed, and no hook moves!

Was great practice and we would love to see someone else take a go at it. So next time you are in MD, don't despair. Your very own "Big" wall awaits barely an hour from Washington or Baltimore.

Offline deuce4

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Re: Not so Big Wall
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2007, 09:08:27 pm »
That actually looks like pretty scary stuff!

Thanks for posting.  What a great use for a railway road cut. Nice going.

Thanks for visiting the Big Walls Forum!!
John Middendorf

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: Not so Big Wall
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2007, 11:33:48 pm »
wow! that's way cool! 

I was in DC last week and I never did find anything taller than 100'. 

good job!!