Author Topic: A Touch Of Glass (TR)  (Read 2378 times)

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Offline cclarke

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A Touch Of Glass (TR)
« on: July 20, 2009, 08:39:53 pm »
So this trip seems pretty minor league compared to the others here but it was fun.  Sorry, I haven't figured out how to post photos yet but maybe I can follow the links from Mr. later.

A Touch of Glass

I took a short trip to Looking Glass for a little aid-soloing shake down.  Unable to resist any longer, I left a day early on Wednesday even though the forecast in North Carolina had steadily deteriorated over the past few days for the next few days.  One fuel stop and about eight hours later, I was in Brevard.  The directions were easy to follow to the correct pullout.  Grey skies but no rain just before dark.  Cool.  I get out of the car and it starts raining.

I consider bailing to a motel but make two heavyish carries to the wall instead.  During the first, I start thinking about why I have left a perfectly good bed with a fine wife to go sleep in the rain in North Carolina.  I have no idea where I am going but soon enough the trail brings me right to the base of the Glass Menagerie as advertised.  The temperature is only in the low seventies but I am thoroughly drenched in the humidity from sweat that just won?t evaporate.

The rain has stopped and I vaguely recall reading that there is a bivy spot up and left.  It?s an obvious patch of flat dirt below one of the blankest dihedrals I?ve ever seen.  Brain Death (A4).  What are those odd holes in the dirt?  Tarantulas and scorpions?  Hmm, probably not.

After I finish the second carry and get comfortable, my psyche level rises.  I can see tiny piano wire strings at the base of the dihedral on Brain Death at the end of my head torch.  Maybe, I?ll do that!  Hell, yeah, but only after I knock off one of the milder classics in the morning.  Rain sporadically beats on the foliage beyond the granite curtain throughout the night.  Slumber, only slightly disturbed by the coming and goings of the spider crickets that have left their many dirt holes to jump on me plus one very persistent katydid, yields to daylight.  Another look at Brain Death in the stark sobriety of the morning reveals that I probably couldn?t get high enough on the route to kill myself even if I tried. 

I had heard the forecast for certain thunderstorms and rain over the next few days while driving through Asheville and was bummed to think that Glass Menagerie was probably not going to happen with its runoff funnel cracks up high and unprotected slab finish but I was surrounded by an awesome display of very steep granite so there was bound to be something interesting and dry to climb.   

A quick tour of the area reveals that Invisible Airwaves (A2) with its ultraclassic sweeping clean dihedral on the second pitch is an obvious target for a ?warm-up.? Vague memories that the second pitch is mostly fixed come to mind.  I took the direct route on clean aid but was briefly concerned that my first fifteen minutes climbing at Looking Glass would end in groundfall as I fiddled some marginal gear and really had to stretch high to a bolt.  After clipping the bolt and making another tricky move or two, I made decent time on a perfect corner crack to the anchors.  I looked right and saw that the bottom of the dihedral of the second pitch took good cams and nuts and up above, well, maybe I just couldn?t see it very well since I?m getting old and probably going blind.  Down to clean. 

I tagged the hammer and a biner of random Peckers and Tomahawks plus heads just in case the gear wasn?t all there and I needed to replace a blown head.  Good thing I did because there were only two bolts and two heads on the pitch so it was far from fixed. 

Now there is only one head on the route.  Before I broke the cable on a #1 head, I ripped a #2 Lowe Ball and fell about 15 ft onto a lovely yellow/red Alien.  I guess that braze is good enough.  I brought up the nailing gear and, after replacing and standing high on the Lowe Ball, I got some type of small beaked pro to hold with minimal tapping.  I made a big mistake not adding more Tomahawks to the tag rack because they were obviously superior to Peckers in the corner but I had just enough of both to get by.  I thought the gear was a bit thin and difficult for A2 but you aren?t going too far with two fat bolts in the second half of the pitch. 

The third pitch looked totally fixed and, even though a trip down memory lane on a bunch of antiquated fixed mank did have its appeal, I opted to rap.  Another party had arrived to free climb in the area and I went to chat with them for a while to get some human company.  A beer or two later, and after seeing five snakes within thirty feet of my bivy site, I decided I?d head up Glass Menagerie (C1) to check out the portaledge system.  The first pitch was fun and not overly challenging after Airwaves. 

I was so focused on my tasks that I didn?t notice a storm had moved in until a flash of lightening and a clap of thunder brought it to my attention.  As I hauled, the rain intensified and soon thick sheets of water were streaming just a few feet in front of me from the runoff.  I was worried that a slight change in wind direction would send the torrents inwards and soak me instantly.  I wrestled the ledge into place and got ready to drop the fly if necessary.  I dreaded the thought of getting sealed up in the nearly 100% humidity but I guess it would have been better than getting pummeled directly by runoff. 

Just as I start to settle in, I hear a sound suspiciously like tearing fabric.  WTF?  The bed of my supposedly new ledge was coming apart.  My casual outing was becoming more adventurous by the minute.  After some wince inducing nearby lightening strikes while I switched to the other end of the ledge, the storm tapered off and the mist filtered through the lush valley in the fading light.  It?s really a beautiful place.  The other end of the ledge seemed to hold better so I set about eating and drinking myself into pleasant oblivion.

The rising sun turned the wall into a steambath but, to the west, dark clouds churned ominously.  During the night, the seams had ripped some on the ?good? end of the ledge too but I hadn?t noticed while I slept.  I forgot to bring enough breakfast bars so I take two expresso Gus instead.  Not a terribly satisfying breakfast but coffee makes it fine.  Topping out on the Menagerie seems pretty unlikely in the unstable weather so, after some internal debate, I decide to go down and do something else instead of pressing upwards.  Cornflake Crack (C1 or 5.11a) provides a very fun and straightforward, albeit wet, cool down.  The gear is bomber and the whole experience is quite positive.

I?m out of beer and low on water.  I could reload and stay another day or two but I feel like I am ready to head home.  Two carries to the car and I?m on the road a day early.  Driving sucks through heavy rains for much of the trip but that?s just part of the deal, I guess.  My wife really appreciates my early return to help manage our young daughter and I?ve already got clearance to go again whenever I want.  Sweet.  Having just barely scratched the surface of the North Face of Looking Glass, I can?t wait to try again.

 

skully

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Re: A Touch Of Glass (TR)
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2009, 08:55:28 pm »
Nice TR, man.....Sounds like you got into it, anyway.
I can't believe I've been through NC like 3 or 4 hundred times & never once got to go to Looking Glass.
I must be the world's biggest bonehead.

Offline cclarke

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Re: A Touch Of Glass (TR)
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2009, 08:59:15 pm »
It's a pretty sweet swathe of granite for sure.

Offline Mr.

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Re: A Touch Of Glass (TR)
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2009, 10:01:39 am »
nice work, cclarke, making it happen in the rain. proud!

Offline Mike.

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Re: A Touch Of Glass (TR)
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2009, 12:08:13 pm »
Nice rundown, cc. You really captured the essence of solo aid as I know it. Way to get home safely.

You're lucky to have such a great resource within striking distance. I never made it down from MA when I lived there, but I drooled over the Harlin guide for LG/WL many a day. Looks pretty burl.

Love to hear about revisitations...

Cheers.
Say no to limbers, excavators and retro-bolters. No matter how much he smiles.

Offline Didder

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Re: A Touch Of Glass (TR)
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2009, 04:01:10 am »
Sounds like you got what you were looking for out of that trip. I was in Ashville years ago and made a trip down just to check out the area. Didn't have climbing gear and was amazed to find no one else around. What a cool spot.

Check out the second or so post on the forum for a link on how to post photos.... we love photos. Thanks for a cool write up... not sure about all the snakes and other critters but the climbing sounds exciting.

Offline Caz

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Re: A Touch Of Glass (TR)
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2009, 06:58:32 pm »
Sounds like a full adventure...

So what kind of ledge was it?


Zac
I do this for fun...

Offline cclarke

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Re: A Touch Of Glass (TR)
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2009, 12:54:48 pm »
It's an A5/Northface Ultralight.  I got a local uphulsturer to sew another layer of cordura (camo!) all around with burly stitching to reinforce the bed.  I think it is pretty bomber now.  I'm guessing the fabric had dry rotted in storage or something.


skully

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Re: A Touch Of Glass (TR)
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2009, 08:17:19 pm »
A camo ledge?
Awesome!
I like enlisting local help when needed....My bro Phlipper(Phil White, Index, WA) had a tubing guy in Eugene fix the tubes on his old A5 & got a raft sewing guy there to make him an adjustable strap kit. Ledges may be forever, eh?
Hope you send your next route on the "Glass" in style (&comfort).......
« Last Edit: September 10, 2009, 08:22:49 pm by skully »

Offline Caz

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Re: A Touch Of Glass (TR)
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2009, 10:35:02 pm »
Any pics?
I do this for fun...