Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Free at Last!!!

It all went down yesterday. Finally, after five years and a Big E worth of effort, a free ascent of Right Wing. After a ramble up Eagle's Domain, JB, Em, and I lifted our heads. Above lay the dragon, the Filibuster.

Em set the tone for the day by leading the 10c bolted face, cranking through the wet finger lock without pulling on the bolt. JB and I knew we too had keep our hands off the draw.

Next came JB's lead up pitch 4. He found all sorts of rests I hadn't conceived: armbars, stems, backsteps. If had bat-hung or knee-barred, I wouldn't have been surprised. He slayed it.

I was up next. Pitch 5. My nemesis. I rested at the belay for 20 minutes to de-pump and psych up. I rehearsed the crux in my mind again... found my focus, and unclipped from the belay. Quickly, I reached the stem rest before the crux. After entering the crux with my hands mixed up, I downclimbed, re-de-pumped, and re-entered. This time I nailed the crux hand jam, foot bump, finger lock, and hand jam. I laybacked up 5 feet, still in the crux. My foot blew. I yelled to turn the fear to pure power. I drank that up... and cranked through to the so-so rest atop the crux, wiggled in a piece, and continued.

The next 20m were pure battle. My tick marks and H-marks really helped. Nearing the end, I rested up on a hand jam, then continued laybacking. The crack is all there but recessed behind my left shoulder. After 10 feet, I stopped to place gear. I picked the wrong piece and felt my arms fading. I realized that this was my moment of truth.

I calmly put the gear back on my harness, breathed deep... and layback for Jesus. Another 10 feet later, I stepped onto the critical foot, a no-hands rest. I yelled into the sun. A raven looked down at me. From there, it was a done-deal. I danced up the final moves, and clipped the chains. Pitch 5. Finally.

Having already sent pitch 6, JB knew exactly what was coming. He de-pumped then floated it. What a rock star!

And that's how Right Wing finally allowed me passage. A team free ascent!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Session 4

Went for a wander today... rapped in and gave pitch 5 another burn, envisioning what it would be like placing gear, a welling pump in the arms. I ticked all the feet. I never thought I'd do that. But this is projecting. Left a "H" on the face beside blind handjam rests. I can just see myself on lead, pumped, too pumped to stop and place gear, looking up at an "H" on the face 10 feet up... and going "H" or bust.

I can TR the pitch clean every time. But stopping to place gear will make it much tougher. I now know where the cruxes are for me, where to rest, where to place gear, and where to punch through. That said, it's still really pumpy. Power endurance!

I also fixed up a rap route from Political Ledge to the ground, in 3 raps with a single 60m rope. So the route is pretty low commitment now. Easy to bail if need be.

JB says tomorrow's the day for the big send.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Enough is enough with this getting school thing. Maybe the Filibuster is too much for me. Or then again, maybe not. It's time to go to work!

Session 1. JB and I went for another schooling last week. And the Filibuster schooled us again, even with the belay half way up. JB led pitch 4, and went piece-to-piece. Without enough traffic and with warm wet springs and summers of late, the face had lichened in again, making the right foot smears slippery. On my lead up pitch 5, I worked my way up the steep corner to the crux ... tried to get a stance to rest. No dice. Trying to rest made me more tired. From then on, I was gassed. We reached the top of the Filibuster and bailed. Humbled, again. But inspired.

Session 2. Opting to finish the route via the right-hand finger crack variation, we sessioned that pitch on TR. I suspected that the entry moves would be the crux... an arete pinch way over to the right then fighting the barn-door as I move right. But JB unlocked a better way through: stemming higher then using the pinch as a foot-pedal, moving right higher up. For some reason, it's not a barn-door up there. We then rapped into the Filibuster and gave the lichens a quick retroscrub.

Session 3. Jay joined us for more sessions. The plan was a ground up session. But two parties were in line at the base of Eagle's Domain so we hiked around to rap to Political Ledge then sessioned pitches 4-6 on lead. That plan, too, got stymied as a party was coming up Right Wing. We did, however, have time enough to session pitch 6. After each having TRed it clean, JB pulled the rope and led it clean.

What an amazing pitch!

Next we rapped in and sessioned pitches 4 and 5 on a rope. For me, it's all about knowing where to rest and where to punch it. Getting the two confused gets me ultra pumped. I think I worked out the rest below the crux. It's 1m lower than where I tried to get it last time. The route is feeling all there...

The Pipe Dream is to
  • lead pitch 4 clean
  • lead pitch 5 clean
  • lead pitch 6 clean
  • do a team clean ascent with JB
  • lead all pitches clean

Friday, July 1, 2011

Filibuster now 2 pitches

Having deliberated the matter for 4 years and watched Right Wing not get enough traffic, I finally pulled the trigger today, literally. I rapped in and reinstalled the bolted belay in the middle of the Filibuster, along with 1 protection bolt just above it to protect the belay. The new belay is where the original belay (that I chopped in 2007) was. There is still no stance. Bringing a belay seat or extra slings to stand in would be smart. So now the Filibuster is
  • 10b, 20m then 10c, 25m. or
  • 10d, 55m
I hope this means more traffic for this outstanding route.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Third Time Still Unlucky

I tried Right Wing for the third time recently with Sarah. Our Finnish friends, Pauli and Enni, followed close behind us.

Finally, I sent Pitch 2, the bolted 10c corner. After balancing up past delicate features, a critical step left into a stem, a wet finger lock layback move, and a dash of commitment awarded me the jug that ends the crux!

But then the Filibuster had its way with Sarah and me. Sarah, fresh back from flashing a 12a in Canmore, tried to lead the "just 10d" Filibuster. Grunting, quivering, pulling, hanging, she got about 20m up before running out of steam and courage, and built a hanging belay at a place where someone had bailed. I took over, with 38 m left to the chains, and a head full of steam. Getting into the chimney proved challenging, with Sarah belaying exactly where I would fall. Once in, the steep handcracks went well... but with much effort. Alas, by the time I had laybacked up another 10m of the corner, I was well out of steam. I went piece to piece the rest of the way to the chains.

Sarah then led the 10c/d fingery finale to Godforsaken Land, which didn't go too smoothly either. Like What's Left, the finish to GFL is burly!

Here are some photos of Super Enni leading the end of the Filibuster (she pulled on one piece to give a "*" to her onsight) and the end of What's Left (which she did onsight). Also be sure to check out the video of her topping out, gassed. The end of the never-ending Filibuster

the kneebar, undercling, crux reach move on the well-overhung What's Left
A video of Enni topping out on Right Wing.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Grades Confirmed

I climbed Right Wing (again) with Katherine and Julie. Katherine impressively on-sighted the Filibuster over the course of an hour-long battle. I know that Katy Holm onsighted it several months back. Anyways, with all the activity, I think that the grades have finally settled as 10c for the bolted pitch, 10d for the Filibuster, and 10d for What's Left. Here's the topo.

The Filibuster was entirely dry and much cleaner than it was in the spring. All the traffic knocked off the grit on the right face, making smearing much more secure.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

In Action

My friends Katy and Kelly went up on Right Wing yesterday; they thought that it was a great route. Comparing notes, it's much drier now (still not perfectly dry though) and cleaner... it's been seeing some traffic. They suggested the grades of 10c for the bolted pitch, 10d for the Filibuster, and 10c for What's Left. I went up today to try it but some folks from Seattle were on it. Here are some photos of them as I rapped down to inspect. They seemed to like it but also had to say that the Filibuster is full on and not the type of terrain for a 5.10 leader. It's a Buster of a 10d for sure.

<-- Here's the mighty Filibuster! She hollered over to me "Exasperator's second pitch is 10c. This ain't 10c!" That's right, it's 10d.

Below left: Looking up at "What's Left". Note the rope hanging vertically down.

Below right: meat and potato handjamming on Right Wing.