Friday, September 05, 2008

Gecko's First Trad Experience

It took a few months, but "Ratherbe", "KITT", and I finally convinced "Gecko" to commit to a full weekend of learning to trad climb. To be fair, he did commit on another occasion at Cathedral, but it rained and thus he didn't get a chance to even learn how to place gear. But getting him to commit to a full weekend has been a task, mainly because he's training to qualify for the Boston Marathon next spring and he needs to get his running / training in. Still, we managed to convince him to come with us to the 'Gunks over Labor Day weekend and, despite his hesitancies, he did better than most people do their first time out, especially considering his climbing background.

"Gecko" apparently started climbing as a boulderer. I'm not sure why this is so (he probably told me, but I've since forgotten - sorry!), but I assume that some of it had to do with what was available to him at the time he started climbing (geography / friends). And while I also can't remember how he joined our climbing group, he came to us primarily as a gym rat who had never led before. Now let's be clear on one thing, "Gecko" is a physical specimen. This guy is strong as hell, and it isn't just because he started as a boulderer. He's just a strong guy who's in shape. As he began to climb with us in the gym throughout last winter, he started to develop some technique and route-finding ability. As he acquired these skills, he shot up through the grades such that he was, and still is, managing to get up through some 5.12s on TR. At some point I asked him if he wanted to learn to lead. He did learn and became a competent gym 5.11 leader within no time at all. He's a quick learner who isn't afraid to ask question, and I feel that this helped him to develop his climbing skills.

Well, summer came along and the weekend gym time faded away. While I'm not sure when this happened, he decided to come out to a somewhat local crag in Massachusetts called Farley Ledge to do a bit of sport climbing. I had no doubts that he'd do well at Farley, even though he noted that a particular 5.8 lead scared the living bejesus out of him. I told him that was normal, and that it wasn't unusual for the outdoor grades that people climbed to be significantly lower than indoor grades, simply because the rock is real and the exposure is clearly different with open air versus enclosed, fake walls. I can lead 5.11 inside, too, and it took me quite a few years to be willing to lead in the mid-10s outside on sport (I'm still a bit of wimp above 5.8 on trad). For him to be a bit spaced out on a 5.8 just didn't seem unusual to me. Little did I know that it had actually taken him a really long time just to get above 50 feet on toprope in the gym. This is also somewhat natural to me, too, but he never shows fear when he climbs and so I was surprised to learn this last little fact. He told me later this weekend that he looks calm on the outside but is praying just to get through the moves on the inside. So any added element of presumed risk was upping the ante a lot for him. If one throws in trad and multi-pitch into the mix, well, you can imagine what he was going through.

We arrived at Slime relatively early on Friday and were damn lucky to get a spot. I wish had taken a photo, because this was the most crowded I had ever seen it. The evening's sleep wasn't that great (mainly "Gecko" and "KITT" because they were crunched into a two person tent), but when we reluctantly awoke on Saturday morning, "Ratherbe" took "Gecko" to show him the ropes, so to speak, while I took "KITT" on his first trad lead in a couple of months. The idea was that "Gecko" would learn under "Ratherbe"'s keen eye on Saturday and we'd switch on Sunday so that I could further his instruction. Monday was up in the air, but we knew we'd figure something out as we got closer.
Jackie (5.5) - 80 Feet - Trad - Bolted Anchor - Greg and "KITT" led

Approach: Walk along the carriage trail in the Trapps and take the first stone path after the outhouse. Fade right past a massive boulder on the right, and find low-angled rock next to a large tree. There will be a large cave / roof on the left and a left-facing corner on the right.
Jackie: This is a fairly popular route with a tricky crux mid-way up and easy climbing the rest of the time. Climb the face past the small tree to a small roof (crux), then straight up through the large roof to a bolted anchor that is just right after clearing the second roof. We only did the first pitch, so I can't say what the second pitch is like (though the Williams guide lists this pitch as an 80 foot 5.3). That first roof, by the way, is kind of tricky, but the second roof is a piece of cake.

"KITT" took this as his first lead in several months and then I clipped / checked his gear afterward (he did fine). After I came down, "KITT" and I left "Ratherbe" and "Gecko" to their day while we went off to conquer a goal of mine since the last time "KITT" and I had climbed together in the 'Gunks: Snooky's Return (5.8).
Snooky's Return (5.8) - Three Pitches - Trad - Mixed Anchors - Greg Led

Approach: Take the 5th marked stone trail on the left after the East Trapps Connector Trail that goes down to the road on the right. At the top, turn left about 15 feet to a thin crack between a large tree on the left and three clumped, small trees on the right.

Pitch One (5.8) - 100 feet - Bolted Anchor

Climb straight up the crack to the bolted anchors for the straight 5.8 version, or climb out on the face to the right where the crack gets difficult for 5.7 climbing. Either way, be prepared for thin moves and small gear. This pitch is crimpy and fun, if you're into that sort of thing. I recommend this route on TR if you're rapping down this route, as well. This is what "KITT" and I did at the end of our day last time (after climbing Beginner's Delight (5.3)).

This was my first time leading it, and it was a test for me because it required not only precise movement, but precise gear placement, too. This is not a lead for 5.8 beginners. One bad placement can mean a potentially dangerous fall to the deck. However, this route is PG rated, because the gear, if placed well, is pretty solid. In any case, I did well and felt strong making the moves. It was a little dicey for a couple of minutes, but I was really in more control than I felt because the moves ended up being really static and solid.

Pitch Two (5.8) - 80 feet - Gear Anchor

This pitch, I think, is easier than the first pitch. In fact, despite the fact that it is a bit strenuous, I felt it was more 5.7 than 5.8. But still, I could see why it would be rated higher than that. Maybe it was just my day and everything felt fine. Who knows? If you decide to do this pitch, which I recommend doing if you're leading and not just topropping the first pitch, climb the left-facing corner to a small roof, then traverse left about 10 feet and follow the path of least resistance straight up to just before the GT Ledge. From there, step right to a clearing in the vegetation of the ledge and belay from there.

Pitch Three (5.7) - 50 feet - Gear Anchor - "KITT" started the lead and Greg finished

"KITT" is just learning to lead trad. He's a solid climber who is just beginning to have confidence in his gear. Enough confidence to really push himself to get up over cruxes. The last time we climbed together was at Cathedral, and he had a good struggle on a route called Pooh (5.7), but he made it up OK after several downclimbs at the crux. Had he fallen on Pooh then that would have been a blow to his confidence, because it would have been a nasty fall. But he didn't, and I believe this gave him the confidence to lead the third pitch of Snooky's. However, adventure is never far away when climbing a 'Gunks roof.

To climb this pitch, walk left to a left-facing corner below a roof. Start about five feet left of the corner on a smaller left-facing corner / ramp and move up to the point where the smaller corner and roof meet. Then hand-traverse right out to the arrete, using a key foot-hold on the arrete itself to rock up to the face. From there, head straight up the face and fade right near the top to a tree with rap anchors that are high up on a branch.

I admit, I was a little nervous about letting him take this pitch. He hadn't climbed outside in over a month and was only initially interested in pitches up to 5.6 for the weekend. But he felt solid early on and felt confident enough to give it a go, so I let him take the lead. First things first, the first 12 feet are kind of annoying because they are run out and one has to climb through a bush that is inconveniently growing in the wrong place. Secondly, once past that bush, the gear is OK up near the roof, but one has to use long runners to eliminate any rope drag, even with doubles, which we were using. Thirdly, if one manages to get good gear in out right near the arrete, thus protecting the cruxy hand-traverse, then one must worry about the dead tree right below the arrete that has still has stiff, strong branches. If anyone blows it here, it's a safe ride on the pro, but a dangerous ride right into the tree, and that's probably what "KITT" was thinking when wedged himself up in the corner right below the roof. I'm not sure if "KITT" learned this from watching me work my routes, but he yo-yoed back and forth along the hand-traverse several times trying to find the right hand and foot sequence to get him in a good position to move around the arrete. Each time he backed off and snugged himself back into the corner. He did manage to find a place to plug a cam way out right in a crack near the arrete (above the dead tree), but could barely reach from the corner and thus had to climb out to get the right size. At first he thought it might be a #1 Camalot, but that seemed too big. He wanted to try a #.75, but that was his best piece in the corner. The #.5 cam was too small, and he was getting a bit nervous about having to make the move without good pro. He should have been nervous, too, because without that piece on the arrete any fall was going take him down into the dead tree before swinging back into the corner and, reasonably likely, back into the annoying bush near where his first piece of pro was. Not only would that have been a long fall, but it would have hurt in three ways: scratched by the dead tree, bruised by the hard corner, and poked and stabbed by the bush.

After much contemplating, I managed to convince him to find a different piece of gear to plug in the corner so that he could get the #.75 out and try that on the arrete. It took some reworking, but he finally managed to switch out his gear in the corner and stretched, as far as he could, with his right hand toward the arrete. He squeezed the trigger on the #.75 and...

- "KITT": Too small. God dammit.
- Me: Too small? Jesus. I don't think they make a #.85. Are you sure?
- "KITT": Yeah, it's too small.
- Me: Well, what about the #1. You said that was too big, but it has to be the right size.
- "KITT": I guess so. I don't know. I know I need something there. I'm getting tired.
- Me: Well, try the #1 again. It's gotta work if the #.75 is too small.

So he went back out with the #1 and fiddled around for a good several seconds before he finally let go of the trigger and said, "that's as good as it's going to get. I guess we'll just have to see." He rested for a minute or two, and I mentioned that because of where the #1 was placed, if he fell, then he was going to fall right into the dead tree.

- Me: Make sure you're rested because a fall here is going to hurt.
- "KITT": Thanks. I appreciate that. I'm not being sarcastic either. I'm just a little nervous.

And so he went out on the hand-traverse one more time. He positioned his feet in such a way that any retreat was going to be difficult. His right hand reached around the arrete and his right knee set down on a small ledge up high. All he needed was one flick of his hips to the right and he had the inch he needed to grab the next hold. He went up. His left foot left the foot hold and flagged - tap, tap, tap - on the rock below him. I saw his right hip flick again. This only gave him half of an inch, not quite but almost there. I watched his back and hips tighten, and then quickly relax. His left foot froze in mid air and he shouted, "falling!"

I didn't see the fall because I was afraid that he might land right on top of me with the slack I was going to give him. There was no way for him to avoid the dead tree. Even had I held him tight into a Factor Two fall, he would have brushed down into the stiff branches because of where he was falling from. His best bet was fall completely through the tree itself so that no branches jabbed him as he came to a rest. When I looked up, he was upside down and looking at me thankful that the #1 Camalot had held. Becuase he was upside down, my first thought was, "shit, did he get his foot behind the rope?" I let him hang for a second to collect himself, and then lowered him when he was finally ready. As "Jello" had checked me out when I fell on Paralysis the year before, I prodded "KITT"'s sides and put pressure on his back and shoulders to make sure that he was OK. He was lucky. While he did sustain some stiff bruising on his chest and arm, and while he did have some burly scratches on various parts of his upper body, he felt fine and noted that the memories of his first leader fall didn't hurt that badly. He also noted that he didn't get his foot caught, and thus there was no rope burn. I guess the tree's branches are what flipped him over, and so the fall was less dramatic than it initially seemed. The first thing he noted after coming down was that he was glad he was confident in his gear, and that his confidence was true to him as well. It was this realization that likely kept him sane enough to not give up leading any time soon.

We stopped for a few moments and let him catch his breath. I knew he was going to be pumped, just as I was when I took my first big fall a few weeks before on Hold the Mayo (5.9), but it didn't take him long before he was ready to belay me while I took over the route. I was worried that we were climbing too soon after the fall, but he insisted that he was fine. So I went up and checked out the hand-traverse myself. I, too, went out twice (he went back and forth multiple times) to check things out and saw first-hand why this section was so tough. The Dick Williams guidebook says "doing the entire climb makes it one of the best." Well, I can certainly agree that this roof is a typical, pumpy 'Gunks traverse, but the rest of the pitch leaves something to be desired. It was graded at 5.7, but just like Shockley's Ceiling (5.6), there is no jug at the crux to pull through. This was going to require trust and faith in the holds, and so I went on my third try and hoped that I didn't end up in the tree, too. It turned out that I discovered a key foothold out right on the arrete that "KITT" had missed. Using that hold meant committing more than "KITT" had committed when he got his knee up, but I figured that this would give me just enough stability to rock over and move upward. It turned out that the foot hold was key, and I was able to climb the rest of the way without an issue.

Descent: Rap straight down off the rap anchor at the top. We rapped in two raps with two 60m ropes; the first rap goes down to the bolted anchor at the top of the first pitch. While I'm sure there are intermediate anchors in between the top tree and the first pitch anchors, I am not sure how the descent can be done here with only one rope.

Peregrine (5.7) - Three Pitches - Trad - Gear Anchor - "KITT" led first pitch, and then we retreated

Approach: Take the 6th trail on the left after passing the East Trapps Connector Trail that goes down to the street below. Go left at the top to a small, rocky "step" at the base of the cliff. You should be about 15 feet right of a thin crack that is itself a few feet right of a tree at the base.

Peregrine - first pitch - 80 feet: We only climbed the first pitch for a few reasons: 1) We were kind of tired; 2) "Ratherbe" and "Gecko" had rejoined us (she and "Gecko" were about to get on the first pitch of "Snooky"'s) and said that the book was not great and it was very easy to get lost on the long second pitch and; 3) I had to take a crap. I guess in reality, too, "Ratherbe" and "Gecko" were nearing the end of their day and we didn't want them to have to wait for us to get up and down three pitches. So we climbed the first pitch (led by "KITT" - good job getting back on right after taking a lead fall) and that was it.

The Williams guide calls this first pitch a G-rated pitch, but it is anything but. This was repeated by "Ratherbe" and a couple of passersby who all suggested that maybe there used to be a tree to sling that had since fallen down. So beware, it is not G-rated (R-rated maybe or at least a scary PG). To climb this pitch, head up the face to the left side of the grassy ledge. Climb the short, left-facing corner to the runout slab and up to another small corner. At the top and once on the ledge, belay about 10 feet on the right.

"KITT" climbed this well, but I was too close to crapping my pants to continue, so we walked along the ledge to a tree with rap anchors on the left. I had never simul-rapped before, so I asked if "KITT" wanted to. He agreed that it sounded like a good experience to have and so we did it. Nothing special really, except now I know what it is like to simul-rap, and now I can do what "Jello" has wanted to do for a while now (and "Ratherbe" has said that she does often anyway). Woo-hoo!

At some point around this time I asked "Gecko" how he was doing. The gear was not a problem for him, and neither was the climbing itself, but he wasn't so sure that he enjoyed the work that goes into trad climbing and he certainly wasn't comfortable with the whole multi-pitch thing. I pushed him a bit to try to find out what was bothering him, but he simply stated that while sport climbing also made him heady, he wanted to try to get over that nervousness. He simply didn't feel as if he wanted to learn how to expand his trad climbing skills or experience. I was a bit bummed to hear this, mainly because I've always felt a lot of joy when introducing people to trad climbing (though it was "Ratherbe" who actually took him out his first day). I was really hoping that he was going to enjoy this experience. I tried digging down into the various ways that people get into trad climbing (sport first, climbing easier routes then building up, or seconding harder routes to get one's mind onto the climbing and away from the exposure), but he was firm that he wasn't interested in doing much trad in the future, and even got a little pissed at me for pushing too hard later that night in the bar (both "KITT" and "Gecko" needed drinks after both days). Still, his attitude was fair. He came to the 'Gunks to try out trad climbing, and that was what he was going to do. I felt that this fair attitude was helpful, as I know people who would have thrown a fit and just decided to ruin the whole trip by refusing to continue to climb. He did not do this, and deserves a lot of credit for keeping his spirits up to climb again the next day, even after getting his 10 miles of running in that next morning.
Sunday - Near Trapps: Please note that the Swain guide does not give pitch lengths. Therefore all Near Trapps pitche lengths are estimated.

Yellow Ridge (5.7-) - Three Pitches - Trad - Gear Anchors - Greg, "Ratherbe", and "KITT" led

Approach: Walk down the Near Trapps path from the Route 44/55 sign to a log on the left that is slightly jutting out into the path. This is across from a very low-lying roof (about two feet off the ground). Go left of the roof to a left-facing open book with a leftward traverse below a roof that turns the arrete to another corner with an awkward offwidth at the top. This is right of a pile of large boulders.

Pitch One (5.7-) - 50 feet - "Ratherbe" led

"Gecko" was off running two laps around the Trapps when "Ratherbe", "KITT", and I arrived at the base of Yellow Ridge. This was a climb that "Ratherbe" wanted to do, but she wanted to give me the first pitch and take the final pitch for herself. I completely understand why she wanted to do this, but once I saw the offwidth at the top of the first pitch, I deferred to seconding the route and decided to take the third pitch lead for myself. This may sound selfish, but I feel that if you're going to recommend a route then you should be willing to lead the crux pitch if your other partners aren't interested. It took a bit of discussion, but "Ratherbe" finally relented when I saw the wide and awkward crack. Looking back on this pitch, I probably could have led it, but the entire line looked as if it could have been probelmatic for me and my difficulties with crack, particularly lieback cracks that turn into body jams.

This route starts in the right-hand left-facing corner below the roof and climbs the thin crack to the roof itself. The roof is traversed left to the arrete by using the undercling, and the arrete turns the corner to the bottom of the obvious offwidth. The Swain guide notes that this line is 5.7- and that if one climbs the arrete itself then it is 5.9. There is also a 5.8 variation in the left-hand corner. Climb to the ledges a few feet above the crack and belay from there. "Ratherbe", who had led the pitch before, managed to get past the roof and around the arrete without a problem. She also managed to get through the offwidth cleanly, too, but there was a moment, right as she was reaching for the jug at the top of the crack to pull out of the crux, when both her and I thought she was going for a ride. Just as "KITT" needed a half inch the day before, "Ratherbe" needed the same half inch on Sunday, but instead of rocking on her knees, she was relying on not swinging left from a barn door while on slick and sketchy feet. There was a little bit of whimpering, and even an outloud thought of, "Oh shit I'm going to fall," but she managed to grab the key hold just in time and pulled through.

"KITT" actually seconded the route and I cleaned it as the third, and we both struggled and swore through the damn awkwardness, too ("Ratherbe" got some good photos of our faces as we pulled through - see the photo link at the bottom). Like I said, looking back on it, I could have led it, but I'm glad that I didn't my first time on it. It was a bit scary on TR, let alone on lead.

Pitch Two (5.5) - 50 feet - "KITT" led

Because of his fall the day before, and because he was kind of tired from climbing in general, "KITT" took the easy second pitch and did OK. There was some route-finding difficulty (do you traverse high or low? where to turn the arrete? where to belay once around the arrete? etc), but he eventually found his way and built a nice anchor where all three of us could sit / stand nicely while we exchanged gear and switched out our ropes.

This pitch goes straight up above the belay to a pod with a small roof. From there, head left up through the pod (crux) and fade up and left, staying well below the large roof above. Belay around the corner on nice ledges about 15 feet right of another arrete.

Pitch Three (5.6) - 75 feet - Greg led

This pitch was a little intimidating at first, but I could totally see why "Ratherbe" wanted the lead here. It may look like a steep, intimidating, sandbagged roof from below, but it is anything but. From the belay, traverse left to the airy arrete and climb straight up, trending right through the juggy roof to the top. If you can get past the offwidth on the first pitch, then this third pitch is well worth the struggle. It is airy, committing, and all there at the same time. In short, it is very rewarding for the risks you take to get there.

Descent: At the top, walk right along the path until you get to the second path that goes right. Scramble down a face to a tree on the right with a garden hose that is protecting the slings against abrasion (don't worry, the garden hose is not a point of protection). We rapped all the way down to the bottom in one go with two 60m ropes, but there is another tree with slings mid-way down if you only have one rope.
Gelsa (5.4) - Three Pitches - Trad - Gear Anchors - Greg led

Approach:Take the Nears path to a tree growing out of boulders about eight feet up. There is a crack that is about four feet up from the base of the tree.

Pitch One (5.3) - 70 feet

Because "Gecko" had just run 10 miles and he wasn't overly addicted to trad (not yet anyway), we decided that something easy was in order. Despite the fact that the Trapps were rather crowded on this Sunday before Labor Day, the ultra-classic 5.4 Gelsa was open just a few feet away from Yellow Ridge and Baskerville Terrace (5.7+). We jumped at the chance to get up something easy to finish off our trad-teaching weekend. This route starts at the base of the tree, climbs the crack to the roof, and then traverses straight left to the large ledge with the tree and fixed gear (the #.75 is "Ratherbe"'s from a previous weekend, so if you manage to dig it out, remember that karma does, in fact, work).

Pitch Two (5.4) - 50 feet

This second pitch is fun, but short, and I apologize for not have a photo from the belay ledge, but it isn't difficult to figure out (too much sun made the photo poor, but there is a photo on the link at the bottom of the post). Climb straight up and left onto the face that is on the left side of the ledge, and traverse to the arrete. At this point, you have one or two options for climbing the next five or six feet in elevation: either climb straight up the arrete itself or continue to traverse into the corner and climb the crack. Because "Ratherbe" was in earshot on Baskerville Terrace, I asked her if I should clip the chained anchors that are around the corner. She said, "no" and inisted that I climb the arrete, but each time I tried to stand up I realized that this was an unprotected section that was definitely harder than 5.4. She warned me about climbing the crack (part of a stiff route called Roseland (5.9)), and she knew best because she had done Roseland just a couple of weeks before as well as Gelsa on that same day. Still, the crack seemed much more inviting, and so I traversed left into the corner (did not clip the anchor due to guaranteed rope drag) and climbed up the first section past the arrete without a problem. For this small section, do what you want, but I felt the crack was much easier than the arrete itself.

However, once up through the first few feet of the crack, it is definitely much better to step right back out to the arrete and climb the arrete from there. The crack gets pretty nasty after that first few feet, and I recommend staying right on the way up to the ledge. I did have an odd encounter with nature during this particular step back toward the arrete, too. I needed to use a fairly large foot-jug to make the step right when a preying mantis stepped in my way. I stopped, questioned whether they were poisonous (they aren't, but they do bite and they are big for an insect), and tried to shoo it away to no avail. In fact, at one point as I was talking with both "Ratherbe" and "Gecko" about my situation, the mantis actually turned his head right at me, as if he was looking at me and listening to my conversation. Well, it took a little coaxing (did you know that mantises don't fly or glide down cliffs well? They kind of tumble and land ungracefully. Oops! Sorry!) but he finally moved on and I was able to climb up the next few feet to a small, slanted ledge at the base of the large corner that is the third pitch.

Pitch Three (5.3) - 80 feet

This was by far and away the best pitch on the climb, with airy, committing and juggy moves all the way up. The rock seems a bit intimidating from below because the corner is overhanging, but the pitch never actually feels this way. I would use caution, though, as much of the corner appears to have large loose chunks of rock. I know I "x-ed" a hold of my own as I went up and passed by another previously marked rock. While it seems odd to suggest that a 5.4 is airy and committing, this is pretty much what this pitch had. Some of the moves required using massive jugs to pull a full body's length up, sometimes matching feet to hands along the way. I was worried about "Gecko"'s response to this pitch, because it was the third pitch up (higher than he probably wanted to go), and a little more airy than I expected it to be, but he did just fine. In fact, when he topped out he told me that he enjoyed that climb. I also noticed his rhetoric had changed from the day before. Whereas on Saturday he was likely not going to do trad of this mutitude again, when he topped out this time he said that he'd probably not do more than a day trip in the future. I say give him four years before he begins to enjoy this style of climbing. Not everyone comes around, but sometimes it is a slow process (years, in fact). I'm at least happy that he didn't go away from the trip dissapointed, and that his final multi-pitch route of the weekend was enjoyable.

Descent: Follow the path right to a small clearing on the right (about 20 feet). Rap off the tree with slings that are up high. While "Gecko" wisely decided to walk off, I rapped on "Ratherbe"'s two 60m ropes all the way to the ground. Just to warn you, this is a long, airy rappel. I hate hanging rappels, but I didn't bring my sandals up and my climbing shoes can barely be worn for more than a pitch let alone a hike (which isn't that long - 10 minutes to the bottom, maybe?). I believe that rapping with one 60m will work, too, but one has to try to swing back under the massive overhang to the bolts at the top of Fat City (5.10) in order to do this.
The Lost City

We didn't have much time on Monday, and so we decided to hike out to The Lost City, a mainly top-rope crag that can be viewed from the Overcliff Trail behind the Trapps. We parked in the Split Rock parking (where the swimming hole is) and hiked out the path in the back, left-hand corner (High Peters Kill Trail). We then took a right onto Kings Lane and looked for a climber's trail on the left about 20 feet from the intersection of Kings Lane and High Peters Kill. This trail switches back and forth up a hill to a series of awkward boulders at the base of the cliff. For shade, scramble left along the boulders to the entrance of the Chasm (a separation between two cliffs) on the right. "Ratherbe" onsighted what is believed to be a 5.8 crack and then we all top-roped the route before heading out. This area is mainly full of hard (5.11 and above) top ropes, but there are some moderate leads. If you want to hike up to the top, well, you're kind of on your own as we didn't find a good approach trail to the top of the cliff. However, since I was the one who cleaned the gear at the top and had to find another way down, I did find a potential scramble on the left (about 60 feet left of where we were climbing) if facing the cliff from the ground. I ended up walking right toward the Chasm and rapped off a stout tree that is on the edge of the cliff.

We then hiked back to take one more dip at Split Rock before heading home. All in all, it was an easy weekend with all of us getting some heady climbs under our belt. I managed Snooky's, "KITT" managed his first lead fall on gear, "Ratherbe" got up the first pitch of Baskerville Terrace, and "Gecko" can now say that he has climbed trad before. I sincerely hope we can all do this again someday soon.

Click here for all 2008 'Gunks photos (newest are first)


Ratherbe said...

A clarification... the crack you're talking about on p2 of Gelsa is above anything I did on Roseland - I ended at the chains. I said don't use them because any time I've been on Gelsa, the chains are below me and it doesn't make sense to use them. Maybe I head up off the traverse earlier and end up on the arete, leaving the crack feeling like an awkward step. I always have fun on the delicate arete. It doesn't feel 5.4, but it's fun and not too hard.

GB said...

Interesting point. I guess I could have traversed up to the arrete sooner, rather than staying low, but even then the route that I took (the crack near the chains) was easy 5.4.

Anonymous said...

Re. that 3rd pitch of Snooky's fall - Your buddy had at least 2 pieces of gear in, so what the heck do you mean by, "Even had I held him tight into a Factor Two fall, he would have brushed down into the stiff branches..."? Do you know what Fall Factor is?? Also, FYI, if you went LEFT when you hit the LC face, you were in the Shady Grove area, not the chasm (for which you go right about 200') But that's the fun of Lost City! Mike

GB said...

You are correct, and that is my mistake. Thanks for pointing that out. What I was trying to say was that I didn't want him fall only the length of rope that he had out above the second piece. That is certainly not a Factor Two fall. I should have said that, "Even if I had held him tight into a short but hard fall, he would have...," but I had a lapse in articulation. Again, thanks for point that out.

As for Lost City, yeah, I can't argue. We did walk right and see what appeared to be a chasm, but we could also see light on the other side. When we walked left to the Shady Grove area, and when we saw a section that was in between the two cliffs, we just assumed it was the other side of the chasm that we saw earlier.