Author Topic: An epic journey up some of the tower  (Read 2086 times)

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Offline Caz

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An epic journey up some of the tower
« on: June 22, 2009, 01:42:19 pm »
Bail after bail I?ve been getting really sick of even the thought of getting on another wall. Back in March, after I had yet again bailed off of Skull Queen because my partner got sick and couldn?t climb the second day and my buddy Donny had just climbed Squeeze Play (maybe the 2nd accent) on El Cap, Donny and I talked about climbing El Cap on the drive home.  Over the next few weeks Donny and I had decided to plan for a trip to the Valley at the end of May into the beginning of June, and kept changing what route we were going to attempt. When the dates came closer I picked up some work I couldn?t turn down so that cut our time frame in half. Oh well, screw it! We?re going to go for the WFLT! I had never done the Tower before, but Donny had come down from the top of pitch four when one of his partners woke up early in the morning and freaked out and wanted nothing but to go down. The Tower had been a thorn in Donny?s side for a long time and I was going to be the one to get it done with him.

Anyway , we drove up on the 28th of May and stayed at a friends place just outside of the and headed to the Ditch on the 29th. Donny was going to attend a wedding at the chapel in the morning and we were going to do the approach later that day and start climbing on the 31st. Well while Donny was at the wedding I headed to the bridge, as any wall climber would do without anything to do for a day in the Valley, and I got there a bit before Tom did.

As the day rolled on I noticed that the bridge was getting packed, I then started to notice a few big names showing up. A bit later a quick storm rolled through and there was everyone running for the trees. I had a smoke in me mouth and didn?t want to be a rude smoker, so I headed over to the tree that had two other smokers under it. I introduced myself to one of them and it had happened to be Ken Yeager, the man that is keeping the history of Yosemite alive and keeping the Valley itself clean. After a quick conversation with Ken the rain lifted and we all headed back to the bridge. While at the bridge Ken had introduced me to Peter Haan, who was part of YOSAR back in the day and did other great things such as the first solo of Salathe and gave us great routes like Wheat Thin. While in conversation with Peter, I meet other greats like Glen Denny, Dean Potter and Tom Frost.  I must have sat and talked to Peter for hours, he is a really interesting guy and willing to just sit and talk about anything from work to climbing back in the day with Jim Bridwell.

That day was the best non climbing day I ever spent in the Valley, meeting all sorts of Yosemite legends and talking with various people trying to help Tom with the ?Ask a Climber? program. My big wall psych was huge. I was ready to hit the Tower and send!

So I left the bridge and headed to the Lodge to pick up Donny so we could head up to the base and surprise surprise, Donny was WASTED! Well it loked like there was no approach going to happen that night so we Hung out at the Bar for a bit got some Pizza at the Loft and hit the dirt to get some sleep.


The next morning we woke up, drove to the parking lot, and started to pack the pigs. While we were packing a team of three headed up to do the route in a day. Then another team of three got to the lot and started to get ready for the approach. SHIT! They are gonna beat us and we?re going to be stuck behind them, we thought. Well after talking to them they were only going to get to the top of P2 and bivi there on a ledge for the night and they agreed to let us go first. So after the crap approach and being eaten alive from the mosquitoes there we were ready to do the 4th class traverse. Well we decided to try and short fix to try and get out of the way of the 3 day team and Donny had the idea of leaving the bags beginning of the traverse and letting them swing from the top of P1. We gathered what we needed to do the first few pitches and I blasted. The first pitch went really fast considering that I was clipping bolts from my 3rd or 4th steps. I did 2 hook moves and 1 cam placement to get me over the first roof then to more closely placed bolts then to the Anchor. When I got to the anchor I called down to Donny to lower out the bags after I built the belay and set up the Block Roll. Donny looked across the catwalk and asked a guy from the 3 day party to help us out and set our bags free. Well we were not specific and didn?t ask him to use the lower out line so he just pushed them off and they blasted into large block and then swung into the tree about 75 feet down from the start of the climb. After about 5 minutes of working the bags out of the tree they were free and I left them for Donny to finish the haul while I was off leading the next pitch. P2 went REALLY fast being that the whole pitch was only closely placed bolts. I set up the anchor and waited about 5 minutes for Donny to finish the haul so I could tag up the hauling device. I decided I wanted a belay from Donny on the next pitch and I was going to link the next two pitches so I hauled the bags while Donny cleaned P2.

This is where stuff started to go bad. While cleaning Donny asked me if it was raining but I didn?t feel and I was sweating a lot so I told him that it was just my sweat dripping on him. Well when I got the bags to the belay, Donny was about 30 feet away from finishing and I opened up the small haul bag to get the one gallon of water out to fill up my water bottle that I just finished off and hadn?t filled since the start of the approach. When I pulled up the bag I noticed it pissing on my leg like a dog. OH SHIT the bottle exploded when it hit that block! I spent some time cleaning that up and trying to dry out Donny?s jacket as best as I could. Donny got to the belay about the time I finished dumping out the pig so it would stop pissing on my leg and I was wanting to get back on lead to get to the top of P4 and stand on something. For some reason the first 20 feet of the pitch didn?t want to work with me and I was getting frustrated after getting in some okay gear and standing up on a #6 HB brassie I was trying to get a green Yellow Alien in and when I pulled on it with my hand it rotated and only two lobes were in. I decided that piece was maybe crap, so I reached for a Yellow Grey and just as I did that the nut I was standing on blew and I was caught by my daisy that was on the crap green yellow. That sucked! So there I was about to shit my pants cause if that piece blew I would have fallen right on top of Donny and broke his neck with my fat ass. I then pulled out a cam hook and put that in there the nut was and tested in and stood up on it. BLAM! That piece of shit went too which lead to yet another fall onto the crap alien. So there I was with my aiders just above my head sitting on a crap cam that has caught me twice, about to shit my pants and about to land on Donny?s head with my ass that?s about to explode with fear when I said fuck it! It held m twice I might as well just go up it. So I pulled myself up and got into the 2nd step and got a great cam in! WOW, I?m glad that was over!

A few more bolts and a pin lead me to a string of heads. I moved through two of them with no problem and got to a #3 head with maybe 4 strands holding the clip in loop. Well screw that! I top stepped past that to another head. At this point I noticed that I didn?t fill my water bottle with the exploding gallon debacle and all. Oh well, only about 80 feet to the ledge. At that point I was in a bit of a blocky section on a head with a screamer on it looking up at the belay bolts for P3 on top of a small ledge. I start looking around and can?t find any decent piece of gear (later Donny told me about a hidden perfect red alien around the corner). I see what looked like the remnants of a #1 head with no wire left on it stuck in a tiny crack. I took one lok at it and thought ?I?ll beak that son of a bitch?. So I pulled out a old A5 beak and stuck it in the crack and hooked the dead head. I gave it a little test and pulled in the slack from my adjustable daisy. I was standing on some blocks at the time and reached down to my other daisy to unclip it after I extended it and then POP! The beak pried out the old head and there I went for a full on extended daisy fall. Now not only was I standing on some blocks about a foot above a copper head, I also had the boy?s over at Yates Gear make me some adjustable daisies that are 8 inches longer, So the fall I took was about 10 feet. I?ve gotta say, whoever placed that head is awesome cause that?s the hardest fall my fat ass has ever taken and the head didn?t budge. My partner Donny said it was the loudest fall he had ever heard from the sound of the gear and the snap of the webbing, and he thought that I broke in half .  I knew that I hurt somehow from that fall but I didn?t know how bad and didn?t think about it after I shook it off.

I caught my breath and got my head about me and got back up in my aiders. I took a look around and saw that the head had cleaned from within the thin crack which gave me a perfect #5 HB offset placement. I threw that puppy in and got up to the P3 anchor. I rested for a few minutes and went for my water bottle and realized that I hadn?t filled it at the top of P2. I called down to Donny and let him know that I was out of water, beat up from the falls and totally beat. I asked if he could do the next pitch. Within minutes I started to loose it, dehydrated, in pain from the fall and in a bit of a panic I was unsure if I could go on. Donny asked if I could jug the fixed rope that went from the top of 4 to the top of 2. At the time it seemed like a great idea. I could get up there, start to haul and if I ran out of steam I could let Donny finish the haul, not to mention I would be off of the ledge that reaked of piss and I?d be on a huge flat ledge that I could lay down on. I reached across, grabbed the rope and slung on jugs on it. I started to jug up and about 25 feet up it hit me! The Wall! I was DONE! It gets to be a bit of a blur at that point but Donny told me that I just went limp (get your mind out of the gutter! Not that way?) I was hanging in my harness like a dead body.  I had bonked, I?ve never in my life felt that bad and out of energy. I waited there for a few minutes and tried to move on. I would go about 2 feet then go limp again. I think I got up another 15 or 20 feet and my body started to cramp up, not just my legs or arms, but my entire body. Donny quickly sent up what water he had left and I guzzled it down like it was the last drops of water on earth. I started to jug again while Donny was trying to dig more water out of the big pig but at that point it was too late.

Donny called it and said ?Buddy it?s time to throw in the towel. I didn?t argue one bit, I pulled up on my gri gri and took my jugs off and lowered myself down to the P2 anchor.  When I got there I guzzled a bunch of water and started to rap the fixed line to the ground. I took one end of the lead line with me so I could walk across the catwalk and pull the pigs to the other side while Donny lowered them. As I got closer to the anchor to pull myself in my hands started to cramp up again. It was so bad that I had to use my palms to open my fingers so I could grip the handle of the gri gri. I lucked out as there was a guy at the belay that was able to pull me in.  After reaching the anchor and drinking some more water I headed across the catwalk received the pigs and waited for Donny.

That night we slept there as I was not able to move one step further. The next day sucked trying to do the trail to the car with something wrong with either my ribs or kidney. I took some time to get back to the car but we did without too much trouble. We drove home that night and I saw my doctor the next day. I had a few really badly bruised ribs and a slightly bruised kidney, nothing broken,.

So there it is, my long trip report about 3 epic pitches of climbing. I may post a few pics if Donny ever gives them to me...

Thanks for reading. Sorry if there are typos or some places don't make sense. I wrote this over a period of 2 weeks.


Zac
I do this for fun...

skully

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Re: An epic journey up some of the tower
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2009, 02:40:36 pm »
Caz(Zac), Dude, that IS epic.
Ya know......I've heard it gets better. Maybe idle rumor, though, eh?
Thanks for sharing the story. I had a buddy, back in the Navy(he's the guy that got me started climbing), that would let you make your own mistakes(non lethal ones), because that way, he said, you'd never do THAT again. Dude, ALWAYS lower out the bag. Your STUFF is in there. You NEED your stuff.
Be very careful beaking deadheads!!! Doin' that cost me 32 stitches, & a nickname!
I DON'T beak deadheads! Got a butterknife?
Hope you're feeling better.....You'll get that wall, sometimes ya gotta throw yourself at it a few times.

Offline Garbonzo

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Re: An epic journey up some of the tower
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2009, 03:54:08 pm »
Some days you shouldn't get out of bed...

Start of P3 is thin and annoying.  I've done it a couple times and both times I can't figure why it was so annoying.  I do recall standing up and seeing much better placements inches above or below my piece that would have been great if I'd have only known.

For the end of P3 I used a narrow cam hook to get to eye level to the block/ledgelet, and then got a blind red alien in the back of the crack.  Good to know about around the side, why didn't I try that?

Hang in there, and send next time.

Offline *Mucci*

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Re: An epic journey up some of the tower
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2009, 04:56:35 pm »
Well Caz, you did learn alot of valuable lessons on this trip.  Water, lowering out, smooth progression, Dead head issues, etc.  Sorry to hear about those daisy falls (I took a 3- 4 footer on an alien backcleaning a penji) Hurt bad, aliens are still holding people!

Go back and send that thing!
6 long pitches and your at the top brother!



Offline Mike.

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Re: An epic journey up some of the tower
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2009, 10:54:09 pm »
Holy shit, Zac...Way to give it hell!
Say no to limbers, excavators and retro-bolters. No matter how much he smiles.

Offline Caz

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Re: An epic journey up some of the tower
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2009, 04:09:15 pm »
I think it gave me hell...
I do this for fun...

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: An epic journey up some of the tower
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2009, 06:27:45 pm »
oh yeah, the dreaded daisy fall

I still haven't used my daisies with screamers on em. too long to be effective when 2nd stepping.

Offline Caz

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Re: An epic journey up some of the tower
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2009, 11:36:14 pm »
So I told my buddy that works at Yates about the falls and when he told John Yates about the fall he said he's shocked I didn't break my daisy. I've gotta send them back. But I'm thinking about going to another system.
I do this for fun...

Offline CipMib

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An epic journey up some of the tower
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2009, 03:45:07 pm »
Well ill probably be going out again this coming weekend depending who wants to come along and help me pay for gas I guess ill take some more video then, eh?    glad its popular