Author Topic: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27  (Read 3728 times)

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Offline Didder

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Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« on: March 30, 2010, 03:04:19 pm »
Not being able to commit to dates for a climb can be frustrating especially when your partners are depending on you. In this case when I showed signs of wavering Steve enlisted the support of a fledgling free climber from Reno looking to get out and do a wall? uh oh. They planned on doing Skull Queen but switching to Mideast Crisis if I would be able to join at the last minute. After it eating away at me for several weeks I just could not take it anymore?I had to step up come hell or high water.

Upon announcing my intention to join the trip we quickly re-focused our efforts on doing Mideast Crisis in a semi push. We organized responsibilities, set-out and packed gear and starting watching the weather daily. As the dates approached we saw a window of weather shaping up that looked like it would be cold but fairly clear with a 30% chance of showers the second night?30% we were willing to risk?. It was on! Only one problem, two days before the trip the neophyte decided to finally look at the topo and after being horrified by what he saw on the Mideast Crisis topo, especially the upper pitches being described as ?outrageously steep? quickly fired off an email announcing his departure from the climb while wishing us luck.

No worries, big wall climbers can adapt and Steve and I are used to climbing as a team of two together? better to loose the dude now than have to bail high on the route. The plan was for me to arrive in the valley Wed evening, hike to the base, retrieve a stash of a lead line, food and Gatorade left over from a few weeks before and fix the first pitch. Steve would arrive around midnight with the rest of the food, some large cams, the ledge fly and assorted other bits and pieces. We would either start climbing right away or sleep for a few hours and start up early Thurs morning.

As I drove into the Valley at dusk Wed night I was instantly transformed from a working stiff to a bigwall climber?. What a transformation it can be and man did I need it. I had been working unabated for the better part of the last 6 weeks and needed this outing more than I knew. I parked at the Awahnee, grabbed the haulbag that was already pre-packed and hoofed it up to the base. The moon had been waxing all week and the ? sphere gave great light. I quickly located my stash, ate a quick snack and geared up for the first pitch.

Having just climbed this pitch last month on an attempt of the Horney Johnson Route I knew the top portion was going to be a sludge fest. The only difference was this time I was climbing solo, at night and it was a lot wetter than last time? damn me for always wanting to get a head start.

As I climbed my way up the wondering 5.6 I finally got to the extremely wet 5.7 section towards the top when the wind started to really kick up. As I pulled over the bulge covered in moss and soaking wet I felt a deep chill settling in. I could see by moonlight that the first few pitches above were going to be really wet. As I started fixing the anchor I looked down and I could see Steve?s headlamp coming up along the base. A familiar hoot let me know he was psyched and as I rapped the wind really started cranking.

 We quickly dumped our ropes and gear at the bottom the fixed line and headed over to a favorite bivy spot somewhat sheltered and out of the wind. After a quick meal it was lights out. It was 1:30 am. Unable to sleep because I was trying to save weight and had not brought a ground pad, I tossed and turned and gazed at the stars. The wind started to absolutely sound as if it was going to rip the trees out of the ground. Gradually after a couple hours of freight train gusts the wind died off and the stars got clouded over. Just after 4am (maybe 15 minutes after I finally fell asleep) I felt the first raindrops.

?Steve get up man it?s raining?. ?Oh man he says, I?m really not equipped for rain?. ?Well we might as well gear up and get going vs. sit here and get wet?. We shuttled our stuff to the base and as we put our harnesses on and grabbed our jugs the rain stopped and the stars came back out.

By the time we got the gear and ourselves hauled up the first pitch it was dawn and things were looking up. Steve drew the first block and headed up towards the munge. To say I was thankful that Steve got the first three pitches in an understatement. For the next 5 hours he steadily pushed upwards through snot, slime, munge and deluges that would make most mortals turn tail and run. At one point while stepping up on a fixed pin, the pin popped and Steve took a ride. Luckily he had clipped a screamer to a bolt below and it was the softest landing either of us ever remembered. The screamer did exactly what it was supposed to blowing all the stitches giving Steve a cushy stop that I barely felt at the belay. By 2pm or so we were at the top of pitch 4 and the sun was out. We were out of the munge, the tunes were crankin and the mountain gods were smiling.

We switched positions and I took over to begin my block. Fast I am not, steady I am. As we clawed our way upwards the climbing became more difficult and much more strenuous as the angle kicked up to way beyond vertical. Having not slept and climbing all day without stopping to eat anything finally started to take its toll The rock was coarse and loose in some spots. At one point I reached a C2 loose blocky section and could not help but take the much more solid thin seam on the right vs. the ugly loose crap to the left. Two beaks and a Tamahawk got me through this section and back to the more solid crack above (these were the only pins we placed on the route). Two fixed pins did pull on us higher up and we were able to tap out one other along the way. There was very little fixed gear overall on the route. We did end up having to leave a pink Tricam that shifted and became too lodged to pull out. Overall the climbing was enjoyable and the setting surreal. There was absolutely no one else on the entire Column. By the time I reached the top of pitch 6 the sun was starting to go down.

As I stared up at the next pitch I pulled out the one topo we had remembered to bring and at that very moment while simultaneously reaching for a piece of beef jerky a big gust ripped the topo right out of my hand a sent it straight out towards Half Dome. Damn I hate it when you loose your only topo. I started up pitch 7 as Steve continued cleaning the previous pitch far below. By the time Steve reached the belay the wind was once again howling and it was getting dark. Steve sent up a headlamp and food and water on the tag line and we discussed from memory where we thought the next pitch would go. All we knew was that somewhere about 150 feet above us was Hotel California ledge, hopefully as it had been described a ?good bivy for two? since we had decided to leave the portaledge behind to save weight. Luckily we had decided to bring the rain-fly just in case. By now I was down to a crawl. My hands had begun to go numb and the demons were working overtime.

Somewhere about a hundred feet up the pitch I felt the first flakes. As I stood on a small stance looking into an overhanging V-slot I took a sling of cams to give my shoulders a rest and hung it on a five-foot fin of a flake sticking out of the base of the ledge. As I hung the gear on the flake the entire thing shifted and started sliding outwards. I pulled the sling off just in the nick of time and used my foot to gently push the flake back into position. As I aided around and above the flake it took everything I had to be able to get around it without touching it. The thing would certainly have severed our rope had it cut loose.

By now below me at the anchor Steve was really starting to get cold. I knew I had to hurry but no matter what I did I just could not move quickly. As I aided out a small roof and made the first of two blind RP placements the clouds swirled in and giant snowflakes started to fall. For a moment I could see the lip of the ledge 20 or so feet above me until I was enveloped in a complete whiteout. Even though it was a bit nerve racking for a moment I actually started laughing.  How insane it felt being out on lead at night in the wind with a full on whiteout going on knowing we were so close to a big flat ledge and shelter. I knew I was going to make it to the ledge and be fine and for a moment I pretended I was on some 7,000 meter wall in the Himalaya pushing a new route?a true hardman. Then I returned to reality and realized what sloths we were just trying to get up this tiny grade V in Yosemite Valley at such a slow crawl.  Still it was one of those pure moments out there in the elements when you feel totally at home and alive and know that this is exactly what you are supposed to be doing.

I gingerly made my way up to the ledge and by the time I pulled over the edge everything was soaked and there was a good inch of new snow covering everything. I quickly fixed the lead line, hauled the bag and got the ledge fly clipped into a couple of bolts and got our gear out of the snow. Everything was wet but I knew that under the fly at least it wouldn?t get any wetter and we would be fine.

Steve eventually made it up and by the time we ate our bagels, alloette and tuna, had sorted all the gear and were ready to crash it was 1:30 am again and the snow had stopped. Once again not having a ground pad made sleeping just about impossible and I listened jealously as Steve snored the night away.

By 5 am I could not stand it any more and had to get up and move around. We ate a leisurely breakfast and shuttled out gear back over to the anchor from the night before. I led the enjoyable free pitch off the ledge up to the top of pitch 8. Steve got the first block and by now we had been able to pull up the topo off the Big Wall Forum site on my I-phone and were back in business. Mike emailed us the topo upon request as well?.. Thanks Mike? redundancy is key.

This is where the angle really starts to kick out. Steve led the next two pitches and belayed just above the first large roof. The next pitch was way steep, loose towards the top and took me what felt like a lifetime. The angle was ridiculous and bag swung way out into space?we were definitely past the point of no return. God help anyone wanted to bail from where we were. I just don?t see how it could even be possible from above pitch 9. What a great moment of clarity on a climb when you realize going down is no longer an option? You have no choice but to go up.

As I reached the top of pitch 12 I made the executive decision to let Steve take us up from there. I hauled the bag, put on all my clothes, ate a bunch of food, drank tons of Gatorade and waited patiently for Steve to get there having already decided that he was getting the final aid pitch. By the time Steve started up the lat pitch it was dark yet again. Steve made the best of the situation and managed to find his way to the tree anchor at the top of 13. Many minutes, hours, who knows later I reached the true summit, set up a haul and fixed the lead line for Steve to jug. We definitely did not follow the topo and by the time we hauled the bags and ourselves over the top it was 1:30 am yet again. We were wrecked. We stumbled around the flat bivy spot, sort of organized gear, starting eating food, taking off our harnesses and simply bumbled around until we just sat blankly staring into space. For a minute we actually contemplated hiking down as Steve had to be back in Reno by 2pm on Sat to take over kid duty but we quickly decided against it.

Around 5am we decided it was time to pack up and get the hell down. I have to say of all the times I have been down North Dome Gulley I have never nailed it like we did on this trip. I think we were so aware of how physically wrecked we were that we were just on super over-focused mode determined not to make a mistake. By 7am we had found everything we had dropped minus the topo (1 Gatorade bottle (top missing), one screamer with #9 tapered nut attached and 1 ATC (Steve said he was wondering what happened to his ATC). We picked up our extra gear that we had left at the base and by 8:30 had separated our gear and were on the road home.

Steve made it home around 2:45, I pulled in to a beautiful day at the beach with the family and all was right in the world once again?. Until next time that is.



« Last Edit: March 30, 2010, 04:03:11 pm by didder »

skully

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2010, 04:51:49 pm »
Whoa.....That's a screamer TR, man.
You guys out there, givin' it TO it! Yeah, man.
That's SO cool.



thanks.

Offline Didder

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2010, 05:38:09 pm »
Cheers Skully. Glad you enjoyed it..Just wish I had the mindframe to take pix during the snow storm... hehehe

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2010, 05:42:51 pm »
pic of deployed screamer for extra style points?


awesome wall psyche!!

Offline *Mucci*

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2010, 06:05:25 pm »
Nice Didder!

Man way to squeeze that one in!  Full value Grade V.

I am hoping to give MC a ride before may, this just got me waaayyyyy psyched!

WOOHOOOOOOOPP!

Mucci

Offline mhudon

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2010, 07:57:56 pm »
Badass!!!!!

Offline Slakkey

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2010, 08:45:27 pm »
Digging the Stone scene for sure

Offline Mike.

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2010, 08:52:41 pm »
Way to get it done, boss.

Great report!
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Offline waulrat

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2010, 09:37:34 pm »
Sweet! sounds like it was quite the ride, snow and all!
This one is on my list for sure
It's a tribal thing

Offline scottydo

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2010, 03:20:41 am »
right on man! great TR.

miravete

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2010, 10:52:42 am »
A few very good photos!!!!!

Offline Erik Sloan

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2010, 05:47:33 pm »
Thanks. Killer tr!

Offline Caz

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2010, 06:46:21 pm »
Great pics!
I do this for fun...

Offline Didder

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2010, 11:21:02 pm »
Bonus points for spotting the party on the Captain in the last photo and double bonus for naming the route.....

Offline waulrat

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2010, 12:57:35 pm »
Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on Mescalito?
It's a tribal thing

Offline Mike.

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2010, 01:11:34 pm »
No doubt it's rad, but it ain't Mescalito. Mesca doesn't have those fat bolts on it.


Not to drift... didder (or any MC alumni), ya think MC could go clean without too much heroics? I was thinking so when I was there and accidentally did P2 clean. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a clean climbing nazi just musing. I think hand placed 'Hawks, etc., could make it happen.
Say no to limbers, excavators and retro-bolters. No matter how much he smiles.

Offline Habanero

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2010, 02:14:13 pm »
Re: MC Clean

From what I could see on didder's pitch (the only hammered placements on route) he chose 15 ft of thin fracture over rotten jumble. From my perspective it appeared his weren't the first hawks placed there. Hopefully he'll chime in with his thoughts. The only time I thought about callling down for the pin rack was in the middle of p2 but decided to keep moving through the snot on offset brass.

All other pitches went clean without "critical fixed gear" or heroics.

Offline Didder

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2010, 12:23:59 pm »
Easily go clean. I just couldn't justify having
taken all that iron and not used it.... That and
the C2 loose section didn't have
me all that psyched. There is something about
placing bomber hawks that just feels so good
« Last Edit: April 05, 2010, 10:30:45 pm by didder »

Offline Baltoro

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Re: Mideast Crisis 3/25-3/27
« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2010, 04:03:03 pm »
I whipped on Pitch 2 trying to do it clean but it was user error for sure. After the whip I was too scared to try again so I nailed once. Totally could go without the pin.

The only other pitch I think that wasn't clean was just below the midway ledge and somebody avoided that clean via some cracks out to the left. The TR's on here somewhere but I'm pretending to work. I'll quote it later.

Nice send. This route is my Unicorn for sure and I hope to get back down there before too long.
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