Sunday, December 12, 2010

Another! Machete Linkup - Lucky 13 to Old Original via Rock Around the Clock

It's Pinnacles Season! I have to get in as many routes as I can before the Raptor Closures (which usually start in January). I was there Thursday with Vickie G. to do the Lucky 13 to Red Line Linkup and yesterday (Saturday) Bryan Carroll and I went there to finish the full linkup to the top of Machete. Including the traverse pitches there was something like 10 pitches. 
  1. P1/P2 - Linked Lucky 13 to P2 of Alias Bandit Bench. Lots of rope drag!
  2. P3 - Red Line (5.7R)
  3. P4 - Traverse (3rd/4th Class) to base of Rock Around the Clock
  4. P5 - Rock Around the Clock (5.9/A1)
  5. P6 - Rock Around the Clock 2nd Pitch (5.8/A1)
  6. P7 - Rock Around the Clock 3rd Pitch (5.3-ish)
  7. P8 - Traverse to Meadow (3rd/4th Class)
  8. P9 - Traverse and Simulclimb Rappel Bypass (4th Class/5.3)
  9. P10 - Old Original (aka the Reverse Traverse - 4th Class/5.5-ish) to the top of The Hideout. 
  10. Rap down the Hideout and hike down the 4th Class back to the base of Dos Equis.
On the way in, I noticed a "leaver 'biner" that's been hanging there for over a month. Last time I was there with Mark S. he wanted to go get it. It was dark and raining so I talked him out of it. Every time I see it I think of Mark so I have now named it "Mark's 'Biner". 

Here's the classic "last seen alive shot" I took of Bryan on the way in. That way I'll have something to send to him mom in the unlikely event...

Now for the climbing. We racked up at the car so we are on the rock by 11am. I get to lead Lucky 13 and linked it through the traverse pitch to the base of Red Line.  The end of the Traverse Pitch was quite wet. I pre-chalked my foot holds before I stepped across the wet streak.Yikes!
Bryan takes the sharp end and heads up the Red Line (5.7R). This 180' pitch is becoming one of my favorite 5.7s but it's still a bit loose in spots (as Bryan soon discovered). This climb was put up by Robert B., Jeff Gilbert and Dennis Erik Strom in 2004. Tell your friends to climb it so it gets cleaned up!

Shortly after I took this picture, Bryan goes to clip the 2nd bolt but a foothold blows out before he makes the clip. He's about 10' out from his clip and looking at a 20' fall onto the belayer (me!). I see the drama and suck in slack like a mad man. He slides back down to the first bolt and somehow manages to self arrest his own fall (with a little assistance from the belayer).
With the adrenaline pumping he manages to head back up and finish the pitch with no more drama. Welcome to the Pinnacles!

Bryan getting it done. 

Lost in a see of lichen and somewhat loose rock.

I get the short 3rd/4th Class traverse (mucho exposed!) and head to the base of Rock Around the Clock (5.9/A1). We decide to take a snack break and enjoy the views and the cool "hanging meadow".

Pic of some worked over, old guy that was also at the belay. Balconies in the background. We hear the unmistakable "tap, tap, tap" of a drill coming from the Balconies. Hmmm, new route development in progress? 
I get the 5.9/A1 pitch going without much trouble. BIG reaches between the bolts requiring me to precariously top step in aiders on overhanging terrain. The whole time I'm thinking, "will this fifi hook suddenly let go?" If it does, at least it will be quick! 

This short, steep pitch has one "mandatory" 5.9 free move right in the middle of the aid section. I switch my brain from "aid mode" to "free mode" and easily pull the move. A fall on the free move would leave me hanging in space above my belayer. It would be scary but at least I wouldn't hit anything! 

 Bryan comes just getting ready to pull the free move.

Bryan keeps the aiders tucked in for the last A1 moves and "french frees" the A1 like a true aid climber. I make him stop so I can take a quick pic. 

Bryan leads off the next pitch rated 5.8 in the Young Guidebook. We discover quickly that there are still several aid moves off the belay before we reach the 5.8. A good reminder that guidebooks are "just a guide". Bryan uses his newly acquired "french free technique" and busts out the moves and reaches the belay in no time. I think this was actually my favorite pitch. 

From the belay we have 2 choices. This cool water streak (rated 5.2) OR 

This other water streak rated 5.8. I'm a bit worried about the thick layer of lichen on the 5.8 and the moisture so I bail out right on the 5.2. I think it's more like 5.3 but who's going to argue about the difference between 5.2 and 5.3. Maybe 5.3+ or 5.3d? Don't want anyone to think we sand bagged the rating on the last pitch. 

Bryan coming up to the final belay after the 5.2+. Only 1 bolt protects this final pitch up the front side. A lead fall here would be unwelcome to say the least!

Bryan in "bandit" mode.

Pic of some old guy with a cool view of some of the features on the way in (the Shepperd and the Elephant are left of my head in the pic).

Bryan takes the next "pitch" of 3rd/4th Class to another small, hanging meadow. Note the use of the "alpine style" hip belay.  

After that we head over the top of Machete doing the "Reverse Traverse" and rap down The Hideout. Here's us safe and sound back on the trail. Bryan and I bust out our "X-Country Skills" and we run/rock ski the 1/2 mile of the the 3rd Class descent in about 5 minutes. I can't believe it, but we're actually hiking out while it's still light! Maybe I'm getting faster!

We make the parking lot by 4:30 and run into this character in the parking lot. He asks me if I know Theron Moses. Turns out I do! He demonstrates the proper use of the new D5 Hammer for removing rotten teeth.

Turns out this guy is Mungeclimber. He's one of the authors of the Red Line route that we just did! He's with pinnacles "legends" Bob Walton, James McConachie, and Brad Young. They were working on a new route above the Balconies. They are drinking beer in the parking lot and I manage to bum 1/2 a beer off Brad Young and invite myself to dinner with them in Soledad. A great way to finish the day!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pinnacles - Lucky 13 to Red Line Linkup on Machete

Another great Pinn trip to Machete Ridge on the west side of the Monument. About 1/2 way to Soledad it started raining but stopped as we pulled into the parking lot. We ended up going for a hike in the morning hoping the sun would come out and dry things off.

Weird, wild, wet moss. Cool to look at but bad for rock climbing.

I like the carabiner sign post and map. Maybe we should bolt a sign at the base of each climb stating the grade, number of bolts, and notes for loose rock!

Look closely at the orange/red dots. They're lady bugs. The pathway was covered with them! 

 After lunch we decided it was dry enough to climb and headed back to the car. I opened the door and this little guy landed on it.

 At one point, he actually flew into my car! Unfortunately I was not fast enough with the camera.

Our objective. A linkup of a couple of moderate free routes. Lucky 13 to the traverse (Pitch 2 of Alias Bandit Bench) to Red Line. 

I led Lucky 13 and had the camera with me. The book says it's 5.9 but the start has a bouldery move that's more like 5.10b. I made the first clip, go to clip the 2nd and my handhold breaks off and I fall back to the first bolt. Welcome to Pinnacles where the rock and grades are constantly evolving!

I linked Lucky 13 and the traverse into 1 pitch (with monster rope drag) and hand over the lead to Vickie to do the 5.7R Red Line.

Lost in a sea of crusty lichen. The climbing isn't hard, you just have to figure out which hand holds and foot holds are solid and which ones will blow out. More of a game of "eliminate" than anything else.

Vickie bumping her head into the sky.Vickie finds a leaver biner on bolt #2 of Red Line.
The top or Red Line ends at the head wall for Bills Bad Bolts and Rock Around the Clock. Both A1 aid climbs. I plan to head there on Saturday with Bryan Carroll so we can bust out the whole linkup to the top of Machete.

You can see how the head wall is seriously overhanging.

We work out right (staying roped) over a bit of seriously crusty, loose and exposed 4th Class to a cool "hanging meadow". 

I decide to go after a "leaver biner" on bolt #1 of Rock Around the Clock (just can't help myself) and nearly step down onto this loose "nugget". Vickie's watching me and says, "Don't step on that it looks loose." I work my way around it then gently nudge it with my hand only to find out that it's just barely sitting there and ready to dislodge itself onto climbers and hikers below. I downclimb with the nugget and find a safer place for it.  We now have 2 leaver biners in our possession.

Looking back at the Balconies from the meadow. 

As always, we hiked out in the dark. Only this time we forgot our headlamps! Fortunately, we were on the trail and not the rock when it got dark.

Another great day at Pinnacles!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pinnacles - Machete Direct

Kelly Farris & I took a wild ride directly up the east face of Machete Ridge. The climb has 6 pitches of climbing and goes free at 5.12b. We, of course, can't climb 12b but did manage to free some 5.10b sections. We aided through the harder stuff.

We left Paso at 7:00 am and were the first in the parking lot at 8:30 am. We took the obligatory "last seen alive shot" in the event Kelly knocked off a huge rock and managed to kill us both in the process.

Sorting gear in the parking lot like "real" big wall aid climbers.

Looking down from the top of the first pitch. The start is 5.10b then moves into 5.12 or something like that. We freed the 5.10b and aided through the 5.12.

Kelly coming up to the belay at the top of Pitch 1.

Kelly led the seriously run out (and lichen covered) 5.7 second pitch. The Middle Tower is in the background.

I got to lead the third, easy 5.2 traversing pitch. Looking back at Kelly following the pitch. 

Since the 5.2 pitch wasn't really a pitch, Kelly let me lead the next pitch. It started out with a few 5.10b moves which I quickly dispatched with a combo of aid & free moves.

 I gave the camera to Kelly for this pitch. He takes pics of me, himself, lichen, his fingers, etc.

Me at the top of Pitch 4 belaying Kelly up.

More self portraits of Kelly 

Kelly takes the camera with him as he leads up Pitch 5 (5.6/A1). Note picture of his finger.

Taking a snack break.

Great views of the Balconies across the way. 

Kelly headed up Pitch 5. 5 (5.6/A1). This was one of the more interesting pitches with free moves, aid moves, and tricky trad placements.

End of the aid and ready to go free. And away he goes...

 More Balconies views.

Me at the top of the 6th pitch. This pitch was all free with a combo of trad placements and bolts. It was rated 5.8 in the book but I couldn't find a 5.8 move on the pitch. Maybe but felt more like 5.6. 

Looking down at Kelly following the wide corner on Pitch 6. A couple of pigeons flew out of the crack and startled me while I was leading. Fortunately, I was hanging on pretty tight.  The pitch looks like a really cool lieback but it's really a 5.4 face climb. Still a fun pitch though.


 Almost there!

On top of the final pitch of Machete Direct. 

Not a bad day for a couple "old guys". We have a combined age of over 100!

Instead of the standard descent, I decide that we should reverse the Machete Ridge Traverse and rap down the Hideout. This adds 3 more pitches of 5.2.  This is Pitch 1 of the Reverse Traverse.

Pitch 3 working our way back under the "headwall".  Pitch 2 (not shown) was the "Rappel Bypass" variation. Actually a pretty decent pitch.

 We get back to the base to collect our packs and discover a surprise waiting for us. As you can see it's getting dark. 

About 50' up one of my draws is hanging from the the first pitch. I led it so Kelly left the draw. Since it's my draw, I tell Kelly to just give me ten bucks so we can go home. He has other ideas in mind.

Yep, there it is. 

Kelly leads back up using a stick clip to clip bolts every 10' to 15'. 

He gets my draw back and we walk out under a nearly full moon. 

 It's fully dark by the time we reach the car. First in and last out. Another great adventure at Pinnacles.