Author Topic: Suggestions on First Solo Wall  (Read 3040 times)

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Offline The Wolf

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Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« on: November 19, 2009, 07:41:59 pm »
Been trad climbing for 30 years and finally getting around to aid and looking to do a wall solo. Any suggestions?

Offline Mike.

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2009, 09:22:06 pm »
Hey, TW,

Rationally you will do something on the Column or Leaning Tower (or in Zion). Something a bit less travelled usually makes a better time for soloists, but there are always windows on the trades. It might pay off to try to get a shorter route a little off season. It can suck to be getting your wall chops down while dealing with traffic. With your skills, I'd rather go a little harder and lose some traffic. Moving cargo might be the crux.

Mideast Crisis is a great alternative to the Prow. WFLT has been a standard forever. Once you do either of those you need to go straight to El Cap, you will definitely send.
Say no to limbers, excavators and retro-bolters. No matter how much he smiles.

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2009, 10:57:11 pm »
Really, Soloin' depends on you. After that, it's just a matter of scale.
Awful lot of work. Worth it, to some folks.
I climbed Skull Queen (W. Column, Yosemite)for my first solo Wall. Went ok. Mostly.
It was definitely a crash course in resourcefulness.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2009, 10:59:03 pm by skully »

Offline johnmac

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2009, 08:26:54 am »
Where abouts do you live? Is Zion an option?

Offline Mike.

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2009, 08:33:23 am »
Agreed, skulldog. Lots of work. Having some background in manual labor like construction helps. Weight training isn't a bad way to take the edge off. And, despite the relative standardization of the methods, there is always sussing to be done. TW, you'll have a distinct advantage over most wall newbs; you've done your time on the stone. Not that much left for you to figger out, and the figgering will be second nature. Easy aid...how's that for redundancy?

What's your timeline looking like?
Say no to limbers, excavators and retro-bolters. No matter how much he smiles.

Offline The Wolf

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2009, 09:34:05 am »
No real time frame, I'm thinking about late spring early summer. maybe even mid summer to stay away from wall crowds. I don't mind the heat.  Pretty comfortable on C1/2, done small amount of hooking and used cam hooks some.  I have spent some time on a wall but had to back off when my partner freaked out and tied into a bush and would go no further!! urg!!
I have done multi pitch trad free roped soloing using a Soloist, since gave that up for a Silent Partner and have done some pitches with a Solo Aid (Soleaid)

Yosemite is my place. I live 3 hours away and am there monthly at least,  and weeks at a time in summer.  My ultimate goal to do Half Dome and a route on El Cap before I retire my ropes for good.


Offline Garbonzo

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2009, 04:50:37 pm »
My suggestions would be:

Leaning Tower:  Bit of a hike in, especially since solo you have to do 2 trips, and then ferry it across the catwalk (creepy when alone, IMO).  However it is relatively short (5 rope stretcher pitches), and the hauls are all free of entanglements.  The downside is that in season it is crawling with dudes, and feels like a clip up in places (i.e. feels like climbing a 50 year old hooker).

Prow:  Longer, a little more serious aid, less steep, and a couple hauls that can require bag tending (P10 for example).  Also popular, but not as bad.  The walkoff is MUCH worse from the Column than from Leaning Tower.

Mideast Crisis:  Way cool, ZERO crowds, longer than the Prow or WFLT, and sadly it has the same crap walkoff down North Dome Gulley.  Also the rack is bigger than for anything else I've done, so expect to have to make 2 trips down North Dome Gulley unless you are much more masochistic than me (with a partner it was two trips with medium loads for both of us both times).   It also has zero heads, and I did no hook moves.  Very natural, and you can finally justify owning 5x of your #1-3 camalot.  Only bad hauling was on the last slabby pitch, and the last bit to the bivy pad (and best to do the first haul from P4 anchors, trust me).;

My $0.02.

Offline Mike.

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2009, 05:20:53 pm »
Good descriptions, Garb.


You're totally there, Wolf. The heat def clears em out. So does short stints of poor weather, when the Tower is mostly dry. Soloing HD sounds like more work than the Cap, but I don't see why you couldn't have both done by end of '11 or sooner if ya get the time off.

Psyched for ya, man. Those first few are like...well, go have fun bro. Keep us posted, happy to beat gums about what  I know (or think I know).

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

Offline The Wolf

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2009, 07:29:39 pm »
Thanks guys, you have been a tremendous help. I really appreciate the info.  I am psyched!  I am currently a teacher and get a 6 week summer vacation and 2 weeks off every 9 weeks.  I'm off the first two weekend of Oct and hope to do El Cap then. Not necessarily solo. I am open to partners, they're just hard to come buy.

Jeff

P.S. Oh and the 50 year old hooker?  I'm 48 so that would not be terrible!

skully

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2009, 09:06:11 pm »
Ammon did The NA as his. Just sayin'.
I've seen the whole spectrum, though. Some random guy will get up & solo the Shield, or some such.
I've yet to solo El Cap, too. But, I have this plan, festering. Weird, how a notion will just stay there, until the time is right, the day is nigh, and lo & behold, there you are, up on this teensy stance, thinkin', WTH?
Oh, yeah. That's my meat.
Let us know how it goes................Yeah, We're psyched. Hope you are too.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2009, 09:08:11 pm by skully »

Offline lambone

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2009, 05:07:21 pm »
Zodiac

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2009, 11:40:00 pm »
groovy! send it!


Offline Baltoro

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2009, 07:47:53 pm »
I made an attempt on soloing MC in Oct. '08 and highly recommend it (and I did the "garbage pitches").

Happy to pass along beta for parts I did do and I have lots of info compiled from parts up higher.

Whatever you do, just throw the right stuff in the bag and keep going up until you have to go down. It's often just as easy to bail from a pitch above as it is to bail from where you're at. Give yourself a pitch of upward progress to think about going down before you commit. Shit, give yourself a night and then wake up and send!
Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I am too lazy to do either.
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Offline The Wolf

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2009, 09:14:06 am »
I would love the beta, thanks.

JV

Offline Baltoro

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2009, 11:25:49 am »
I'll put it on here so anyone else who wants it can use it and Mike, Skully and others who've done the route can confirm or deny the info. Again, I have not done the route, but I'll put my personal beta on my next post, including a link to my TR. A bunch of the info below refers to "our" pitch as we somewhat re-worked the pitches figuring on linking pitches. The gear list is probably overkill as are most gear lists for people's first Grade V or VI.

Here's the beta:
Mideast Crisis Grade V 5.7 A2

P1- 5.7, maybe a move or two of aid if need be as it?s kind of sandy, creaking flakes. The 1st pitch of Astroman.

P2- C1-C2 though it sounds like it?s C1 this late in the year with dirt and junk cleaned out. This is the pitch that requires the monster cams, also known as the Plank?s Constant variation for all you quantum mechanics nerds out there. Coincidentally this pitch is part of a route called ?Quantum Mechanics?.

P3- 5.7 and/or C2

P4- C2+ loose/A1

P5- C2

P6- 5.8 flare w/thin crack in back or terrible aid, A2 then C2 loose. Good times!

P7- 5.8 face climbing to 5.7. Not that bad, requires a little gardening with nut tool possibly.

P8- C2+ rotten to C1 with some token pins thrown in at a belay that?s probably worth skipping.

P9- C1, big bomber cams almost the whole pitch.

P10- C2, though may take a pin or two. The anchor could use another bolt.

P11- C3/A2, not the finest rock, blah, blah, blah.

P12- There is no pitch 12 or at least not the way I?d link stuff.

Here?s all sorts of Pitch specific beta I?ve compiled by scouring the Internet. It?s rather hard to sort out climbing info for this route as it?s not like ?Googling? ?Mideast Crisis? gets you anything climbing related. I edited some of this and changed pitch numbering to correspond with which pitch numbers if you?re trying to link lots of pitches rather than if done traditionally pitch by pitch with no linking and no variations.

Pitch Beta:
All this is info for the Plank?s Constant roof pitch:
Our Pitch 2
Rack for Our Pitch 2
few medium nuts
1 set aliens
1-2 each up to #1 camalot
2 each to #4 camalot
2-3 each #5 and #6 (3 highly recommended), a green big bro is useable as a third piece, but not great.

1.  Belay at the bolts drawn in this topo after the very first pitch, halfway between the McTopo bolts, and the fixed pins on that sloping ledge system.
2.  Use a couple cams and a nut to traverse to the vertical crack at the far end (climber's right) of the ledge system.
3.  A1 moves to an intermediate anchor (don't stop).  You need a #4 or #5  as your last piece to get tot he bolts (#5 Tech friend was perfect), back clean the piece for the traverse.
4.  You need a #3, and all your #4 and larger pieces for the traverse.  You'll need two 6" pieces and a draw for the end of the roof, you can leave the rest in (old school #5 Camalots are the perfect size, #6 tech friend's can be tight in spots, but work, not sure of C4's).  In the middle of the roof is a flake that takes the #3 behind it.  The flake is completely detached but captive, so put your cam up high in inside (blind reach around to the left).  If you make sure the cam is compressing the flake against the roof it is bomber.
5.  After some wild crack jugging with the big green cams you get to the anchor.  Zip the cams to your partner so he can re-aid the end of the roof.
6. I needed one #5 tech fiend (#5 C4?), but nothing bigger.  The very start takes offset nuts and aliens, and felt C1 after gardening, not C2 as marked.

Other beta for Plank?s Constant:
There is a bolted anchor not shown on the topo. It's on the sloped ledge below the roof, maybe 40-50' right of the tree, and 40' left of the fixed pins that are shown on the topo. If you belay from the ground for P1 you can't make these, but if you belay from the tree 60' up P1 as shown in the supertopo (easy 3rd class to tree), they are easy to reach. Doing so will allow you to do the roof and still get to P4 anchors in 3 total pitches from the ground.

From these bolts you can easily scamper up the ramp with minimal pro (one 0.75 camalot or so) to the fixed pins. From those scamper over a small crack for a good nut and/or green alien (about 5' along the right face of the dihedral under the roof). Downclimb/tension easily down to the crack leading to Planck's Constant roof. This crack uses 1 each from red alien up to #5 camalot (skipping a couple sizes depending on your reach). C1 bomber placements the whole way, so backclean a few to ease cleaning and reduce rope drag. Don't bother stopping at the bolts, clip one, hang your red aliens and smaller on the other to lighten the load, and backclean the big cam at your feet. The roof take 0.75 and bigger, mostly bigger. Once you are into the roof you'll only need 1x #3, 1x #3.5, 1-2x #4, 1-2 #4.5, 2-4 #5's, and two draws. I think I used a #1 or #2 at the very start to traverse the large block.

For the roof I aided under the block at the start, going over it looks doable too, not the crux. Bring as many #4.5 and #5 camalots sized pieces as you can beg, borrow, and hump up. I got by with a #4, #5 tech friend (~#4.5), a #5, a #6 tech friend (~#5), and a #3 big bro. That is extremely minimal rations, and required several out and backs to figure out ways to not need the piece I was on, or had left as pro to proceed. Use your reach and get the most out of every piece. Clip the heavy mothers into you daisy so you can dyno aid them further out with confidence (fun for the cleaner). You'll need a #4.5 and two #5's near the end of the roof, so keep back cleaning them. You can leave the last #4.5 right before the first bolt, it's all #5's from there. Particularly after the second bolt you'll need the two #5's to get the last 8' up to the anchor, or it's 10+ OW free climbing at best. Zip the two #5's back to your partner once you get to the anchor so they can use them to clean the darn thing. Belay here, about 160'.

There is a flake in the middle of the roof. DO NOT PUT GEAR ON THE FRONT OF THE FLAKE! It groans, it moves, it is f*#king scary. It will try and steal your #1 camalot as punishment. Blindly reach behind it to the left and place a #3 up high. It didn't groan or moan or move for me, and basically shoves the flake up against the roof block. The #3 nice and mid-range Probably a good idea not to fall on it, but leave it to help the cleaner.

Here?s where beta for the rest of the route begins:
Our Pitch 3 has a large block that you are supposed to free climb.  It?s less scary to go 4' left at the anchor bolts and make a couple alien moves before rejoining the route.  Call them C1+ moves at worst.

The loose scary block with the 5.7 move at the start of Our Pitch 3 can be minimized. Trying to aid it with a #3.5 high up made it creeeak and move, screw that. Place a #2 at anchor level where the leverage is much reduced and lean WAY left to get a good alien in a different, more solid block. Back clean the #2 so you don't fall on it and pull the block loose. There are good C1 and C2 placements up the left side to avoid the free climbing on the loose scary block. The remainder of Our Pitch 3 takes all kinds of gear from black alien to #4.5 (1 each on #2 and larger is plenty).

Our Pitch 6 is the crux. Watch out for a teetering spike sitting on the ledge right after the "A2 arrows" section. If you trundle it you will most likely take out your belayer or your pig/anchor. Oops!

Our Pitch 7 has mandatory free, interspersed with sections of grass and dirt which were difficult to protect. The nut tool was carried on lead to excavate placements plugged by the previous winter's work. Atop the slab, you?ll see the bolt out left which can lure you off route.

Our Pitch 8 has some spicy sandy climbing at the start, and some 1/2" and 5/8" angles were useful at the belay (natural belay) though I?d skip this.

Our Pitch 9 overhangs at least 60'! Replace a bolt at the top of this pitch as the anchor needs the upgrade.

Our Pitch 11- This is the other ?crux? pitch. The pillar stance midway up this not-steep pitch would make the fall less than clean. The fixed heads seemed good, but their cables were thoroughly rusted. Shallow square holes appeared in rotten rock between expanses of bottoming seam. A blue Alien out right bypassed one such scar. Pecker pitons tapped into the back of the rotten scars worked better to protect the marginal finish than to calm my concern. A two-lobe Alien placement to reasonable but rotten cams. One more cam and I can mantel and step up to the tree. Cam looks cocked but okay, get on it. POW, weightlessness. Plunging backward I wait for the stop, which thankfully comes quickly and softly. Yellow Alien holds. A blue-black hybrid Alien dangles in my lap; another yellow Alien swung in the breeze at the end on my aider. Jugging back up, I knock in a sawed-off angle piton between the former two cam placements. The rotten rock expands and rattles with each hammer tap. Looks good, step up, to the tree...GOT IT.

Logistics stuff:
I hammered 14 lead placements. 

Fixing/Rapping info:
Supertopo is a little misleading as to the length to the ground from P4. It's less than 380' listed, but the intermediate anchor is a red herring. It is just under 100' to the Planck's Constant belay, about 110' to the intermediate anchor they call out. From Planck's it is 230' to the ground, from the intermediate it is probably about 215'. However from P4 to the sloped ledge anchor is 185-190'. Once you are at the Planck's or intermediate anchor level you can clearly see your ropes piled on the ledge next to the bolts for additional confidence before committing. From the sloped ledge to the ground is another ~130-140'. Or just tie your ropes together than do one massive rap/jug/haul.
Sheltered climbing except P1-2, upper P7-P8 and last pitch

Our Pitch 6 ledge is not protected from weather.

Anchor at the top of Our Pitch 7 does appear to be protected from the elements.

Our Rack:
2 sets of C3?s
2 sets of Hybrid Aliens
3 sets of C4?s from .3 to .5
4 C4?s in .75
6 sets of C4?s from 1-3
3 C4 #4?s
1 Metolius Large Super Cam
1 BD old-style 4.5
3 BD old style #5?s
1 C4 #5
1 C4 #6
1 #6 Wild Country Tech Friend

Pins:
2 #1 Peckers
1 #2 Peckers
1 #3 Peckers
2 each Lost Arrows 1-3
2 each Sawed Angles from ??-1?
6 misc. Heads
Few misc. rivet hangers

Drill and bolts for anchor upgrade


Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I am too lazy to do either.
M. Twight

Offline Baltoro

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2009, 11:38:25 am »
Here's a link to my TR which probably isn't that helpful but there could be some gems in there:

http://www.bigwalls.com/forum2/index.php?topic=443.msg3224#msg3224
Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I am too lazy to do either.
M. Twight

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2009, 01:16:23 pm »
killer info Baltoro, like we were chilling around a campfire pantomiming the sequence... welll next best thing anyways. :)



tho, maybe we need spoiler alerts like movie reviews have for the rabid anti beta-ites? 

Offline Mike.

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2009, 01:25:38 pm »
Now that's beta...nice compilation, Balto.


I'm pretty sure MC will go clean without too much trouble or dangerous climbing. I did hammer 14 placements, at least one of those placements was on the Astroman finish, which can be avoided doing the normal finish. Garbonzo and EE are the only peeps I know of to have done that finish. FWIW, I usually am more liberal with the hammer when soloing. All the belays have good, new-ish bolts except the second to last, which can be backed up with bomber offsets and small angles. The normal p2 goes clean with medium brass and hand placed small angles (and a #5 Camalot). There were no heads on the route, and there is no need to bring any. This route is not much harder than the prow and should be getting way more traffic than it is. A good route.
Say no to limbers, excavators and retro-bolters. No matter how much he smiles.

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2009, 01:34:32 pm »
Mike.

as a winter option, where are the good places to hang out in particular?

edit - don't have the books with me, so just posting out loud.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2009, 01:38:54 pm by mungeclimber »

Offline Baltoro

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2009, 01:38:50 pm »
I think the beta I had was anything above Pitch 3 or so was good to go for a protected bivy though the ledge at Pitch 7 I think is not protected. Everything after that is under roofs I believe.

NDG wouldn't be fun to come down in winter though I can't imagine it's that much fun in the summer either.
Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I am too lazy to do either.
M. Twight

Offline Mike.

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2009, 01:47:23 pm »
No book here either, but,

The Tower is almost always good. Awahnee and Guano do get some snow accum, but not bad. The free section of WFLT on P6 gets wet in the worst weather (not unclimbable), and the 4th class ledge to the start does get precip in storms too. The Battle of the Bulge on Roulette does get wet, but the rest of the route looks pretty dry in snowy weather. The descent chim is not horrid, esp if you've done it before. Some meltwater running, a little messy is all. There may be one rap above that (on the slab below the tree rap) where you'll have to sweep snow aside to find the anchor.

The right side of the Column, MC as described. I think that would, maybe to a lesser degree include Electric LL; most of it runs up similar leaning dihedrals that offer some shelter. It looks like most of Afroman might be in that same category. The E. Face finish to Horney J is similar, maybe a little less, but will go fast free or on aid (many 3-4"). Note that Hotel California Ledge where EF, HJ, MC and GSR come close together is low angle, and it's not hard to traverse to any of those routes from the other, so one could "bail" into the steeps of MC from there. That section of MC is very protected, save for the last pitch. NDG is not as bad as you'd think, again, esp having done it before. Rapping the SF in winter is a good option if it's obvious the upper route is vacant.

Haven't spent a lot of time on EC in winter conditions. Aurora has one pitch of runoff climbing but otherwise is good (TTrip finish potentially notwithstanding). I think once past EC Tree, Iron Hawk might be good, prolly finishing on Native Son to miss some lower angle free climbing. From there right to Zodiac is generally good I think, but there may be those spots mentioned on Aurora and lower on Zod where runoff will happen or an occasional bulge will put you a little more exposed. LIA, ZM and the rest do get winter ascents.

Or go sliding...
« Last Edit: December 09, 2009, 02:29:33 pm by Mike. »
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Offline johnmac

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2009, 07:50:49 pm »
Great info in this thread!

Thanks for sharing.


Offline Garbonzo

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Re: Suggestions on First Solo Wall
« Reply #22 on: December 14, 2009, 08:20:04 am »
For MC on P7 (or there abouts) desperately avoid the hateful flare.  I really honestly think you can just stay in the crack and arrive at the same ledge doing C1 cam moves instead of aiding through hateful flares and hammering.  I took pictures from NDG on the way down (see my TR) that make it look very likely as a way to bypass 4 of my hammered placements (forget my hammer count, but it was <10).

http://www.bigwalls.com/forum2/index.php?topic=616.0

Overall it is an awesome route that is truly an overlooked gem.  By far it is the most natural route I've done, and has almost no choss on it.