Wednesday, June 03, 2009
I just wanted to let you know two things: 1) that Greg and Jeremiah's Climbing Blog is definitely not going away and; 2) another venue has been added to the list of places to read about our adventures.
We first started out as Greg's Climbing Blog, which was sporadically published with a few of Greg's climbing adventures. Then Jeremiah came aboard and he added a different flavor. Instead of Greg's fight against fear we now started seeing commentary on a climber's life. This is the point where the blog began to grow to where it is today. From there we added Greg's Route Index, a an organized way to research all of the climbs that Greg has done; from campfire stories to route descriptions, to photos of each pitch, it's all there. Under this new format the blog has thrived and is currently enjoying it's best season ever by number of readers. Thanks to everyone for reading. We honestly appreciate this!
And now our expansion has continued to Climbing.com. Greg has taken on the task of becoming a Reader Blogger for the storied magazine's on-line edition. He is very excited about this opportunity and plans to write more commentary than ever before. So please visit the site today and check back often.
And there's more, too! We're in the early stages of creating a review page (it's now up) where we review gear, restaurants, and accommodations in climbing areas. That site is still under construction, but we're getting there. We thank you for your patience.
Also to come is Jeremiah's newest series called A Guide's Life: seeing life through a climbing guide's eyes. This will be his commentary on life as a climbing guide with all of its ups and downs. It is sure to be a good read.
Again, we can't thank you enough for all of your support. Please keep coming back. We promise more adventure and great stories, and I'm sure we'll find even more new stuff to write about going forward.
Greg and Jeremiah
"Birdland" was a leftover goal from last year. I had fallen on both pitches, but I knew what I had to do this time. The moves on the first pitch, the mental crux where one preses the left foot on a slick knob and leans back on good side pulls in order to bring the right foot up high, had stumped me last year and I had been thinking about it all winter long. I was going to send, and I knew it, even if it was through deduction.
Layback (5.5) - Trad - Two pitches - Gear anchors(<-- Click here for guidebook info)
But first it was time for a warmup. "Ratherbe" had recommended "Layback", a chimney start with a juggy layback to the top for a good first pitch, and an easy traversing 5.1 for the second pitch. The second pitch is probably the best 5.1 pitch I have ever done. I know, it's only 5.1, but seriously, have you ever been on a 5.1 that had dynamic moves? This was such a pleasure. I highly recommend it.
However, this means that you'll have to do the first pitch. It was a slick chimney that I fell on, but not because it was difficult (OK, it was difficult, but that's not why I fell). Just as I got up into the hardest part of the chimney, where the gap in the rock became a full-on chimney with arms, legs, back, and body were fully tensioned, just as I was about to slide up and grab onto the block that caps the chimney, and just as I was feeling secure, the nastiest spider I had ever seen in the east crawled straight down toward me from behind the block above me. I don't like spiders, but I can deal with the spiders we have in the northeast. Other than Cambridge, MA, where the Chilean Recluse Spider lives as a result of someone accidentally bringing one back from Chile and allowing it set up shop in various locations in Harvard Square, there really aren't any poisonous spiders out here. There's copperhead snakes slithering in the cracks throughout the 'Gunks, but no nasty spiders (I hate snakes, too). Someone later suspected that it was a Wolf Spider, but those are brown. This was black, and it clearly had the venom bubble on its back with a menacing pattern for what appeared to be more than just decoration. He had successfully blocked me from moving any higher. Had I slithered up, I would have easily either squished him with my back, which would have probably hurt because I was sure he wasn't going down without a fight, or he was going to be quick enough to dodge my slow-moving body and crawl up my shoulder blade and rest right behind my ear, where I couldn't see him but could feel him, where I'd know that he was there and would wonder if his jaws were open and ready to rip open my flesh the moment I swung my hand behind my ear to brush him off. I imagined his open mouth sitting an eighth of an inch above my skin with his mind saying, "come on buddy, just try to knock me off, I dare you." And even if I had brushed him off, regardless of whether he bit me in retaliation or not, I would never be sure if I had brushed him off completely or if he was waiting somewhere else on my body where he would have the attacking advantage if I so much as hinted at any aggression.
I said "screw it" and hung on the rope. I don't have that much pride anyway. I tried to take a picture, but my hands were shaking too much and the photos were blurry. I wish that it was still there when we got down, but it was not.
Birdland (5.8) - Trad - Two pitches - Bolt / Gear anchor (<-- Click here for guidebook info)
I turned to "Ratherbe" and said:
- Me: I'm not sure if I'll send.
- "Ratherbe": You'll send.
- Me: I'm not nervous or anything, I just don't know.
- "Ratherbe": Well, go get it.
The truth is that I knew I would send. It wasn't because I knew it, I honestly wasn't sure, but it was more that I couldn't imagine not sending. It was an interesting feeling. I was cold, but not in the muscles. There was no fear and there was no love. I wanted it, but at the same time there was no ambition, no drive, and no barriers either. It felt like semantics, as if I was simply going through the motions of something I knew so well and needed no practice in order to achieve perfection, so I started up. The pumpy section at the bottom, where the first horizontals are gained, were easier than I expected. And so were the moves after that to mid-way up the lower face. All the crimps and side pulls felt fine. My feet were solid and the rock was not slick. I hit the mental crux, placed my left foot out wide on the slick knob, leaned back, pulled up my right foot up, bounced my right hand up the side pulls and stood up. Boom. That was it. The mental crux was over. I clipped the pin and backed it up for fun. The physical crux was next, but the invisible footholds were solid under my toes and my hands quickly found the jug to the right of the arrete. Only a nut that didn't stay in the upper crack slowed me down at the top. Within minutes "Ratherbe" was at my side flaking the rope so that I could take on the second pitch.
The second pitch of "Birdland" is completely different from the first. The first is very thin, crimpy, and technical, with tenuous moves in don't fall situations at several points in the first half of the pitch. But the second is all pump and pull. You get to the roofs and go. Once you commit there's no turning back, and the crux isn't even the first roof, but the first roof definitely takes something away, enough to make the second roof that much more difficult.
I got to the first roof and was immediately discouraged. All winter long I had imagined the first moves of the first roof to be a side pull up to a sloper that lead to a juggy side pull higher up. But I had remembered incorrectly. The first side pull was much higher than I had imagined, and that meant I was going to have to move off tricky feet and small fingers. The jug that I wanted was even higher than that. But oh well. Such were the circumstances. I moved my feet high, dug my fingers in, pulled, stepped up, and found myself at the second roof.
The second roof is less of a roof than it is a technical section with two crimps out wide to the right and thin feet leading up to a ledge. One can certainly pull the inside section of the little corner that one is standing in, but that is physically more difficult because it feels like a roof. The crimps are difficult because they aren't solid and are a bit airy, but they're definitely solid enough to trust. That's the thing, they have to be trusted. So that's what I did. I trusted them, leaned way out to my right, threw my left hand up to the ledge and scurried up. Easy. I was there.
All I had to do was walk right, climb the final bulge, and walk left back to the belay ledge. But I wanted more. I wanted the 5.9 finish, the last roof. I thought about spoiling the 5.8 clean ascent, but I wanted the 5.9, and so I moved up and searched around. I moved left and realized the route went to the right. The downclimb was pumpy, so I rested before going back up. I moved up on the right and couldn't find the jug to pull over. I climbed down again and was once again pumped from that. I rested another minute and went back up. I found the jug and started to mantle up, but I couldn't. I couldn't move my feet and I couldn't push upward anymore with my lower arm. My upper arm was maxed, too. I had found my limit. It wasn't difficult. In fact, I'm not sure the third roof was any harder than the first two, but it was definitely pumpy and I was pumped already from the first two roofs. I just didn't have the strength to finish, so I very tenuously "fell" back on each of the jugs that got me to my high point. I didn't fall on or weight the rope, but to say I down climbed is exactly correct either. Each move downward was as much of a hold-on-and-collapse than it was a down move. I stood on the ledge and decided that the 5.8 was enough. I walked right, pulled the final overhang (not very easily, mind you) and breathed a sigh of relief as I secured myself at the top. "Ratherbe" then came up behind me and easily pulled the final roof for the 5.9 finish. It was a good route for both of us. That route had haunted me for over a year. I had fallen on multiple occasions on different spots throughout. I was happy to have knocked it off, but now I want to go back for the third roof.
Yellow Belly (5.8) - Trad - Two pitches - Gear anchors (<-- Click here for guidebook info)
I was too pumped to lead the first pitch of the next climb, but I felt OK to give the next route a go. I was a bit nervous, though. I wasn't sure if I had another 5.8 in me, but the second pitch of "Yellow Belly" loomed anyway. I had told "Ratherbe" that I wasn't sure, but we each took a wait and see approach. She led the first pitch easily, and I followed with relative ease. It was a little pumpy, but it was 5.8 after all. I chalked that up to the grade more than my own physical deficiency.
- "Ratherbe": You want the next pitch?
- Me: Uh, maybe.
- "Ratherbe": It's yours if you want it.
- Me: Where does it go?
She said it was supposed to go up the blank face to her left, but she said the corner way over to the left was easier. The face did indeed look blank, but the crack looked thin and without good pro. If I blew the stemming then it was going to be a nasty fall onto blocks below. But then again, the face was blank. I chose to do the pitch.
The first move off the ledge was OK, and it got me in a good position to scout the face. It was as blank as I expected. My only piece was a 0.4 Camalot at my waist that I wasn't overly confident with. If that blew then I'd plummet straight down onto "Ratherbe" who was sitting on a thin-but-good belay seat below. There was no need for both of us to get hurt, so I made the easy traverse left to the corner. But even then, I looked up at the corner and saw very little pro. The crack wasn't a jam crack, but more of a shallow finger crack used for balance more than anything. It would require good feet, and I couldn't see any let alone ones that were good. The face on either side of the corner was less than thin, too. Neither option looked good.
We usually climb with two ropes. I found a good placement that I felt comfortable with at the bottom of the crack (below my first piece, which was clipped with the right-hand rope), clipped the left-hand rope, and made two moves up to a good stance below where the face gets thin in the corner. Getting a better look things didn't help. The corner now seemed more blank than the face. And the exit from the corner back right to the top of face, where the route went, appeared unprotected and very awkward. All I could imagine was a barn door swing on sloper hands and then my feet cutting away before I'd get my hands secure. The fall would be nasty. I trusted the piece below me, but the moves were high enough that I'd likely deck out on a ledge below. Suddenly, the face seemed more reasonable.
I guess I should have done a better job of listening to myself. After what happened over Memorial Day weekend, I was sure that I had found a good way of identifying when I was ready and when I wasn't. It wasn't so much about the climb as it was about the decision-making. Last weekend I made the decision to do "Ant's Line" (5.9) and I did. And then I made the decision to not do "Birdland" and I didn't. Everything felt so good. I was so certain and secure with my decisions. But this time there was something hindering me. I wasn't sure what it was, but somehow my decision-making wasn't good. I actually knew I wasn't listening to myself, but I covered up the criticism with the "be bold" thoughts that were waving through my brain. Sometimes even when you know you're making a mistake you make it anyway because that's all you know what to do at that moment. It was as if my mind was sharp enough to realize I was doing something dumb and yet not focused enough to give me a reason why. Under most circumstances I would call this void "fear," but this felt more like stupidity.
I traversed back up to the right where the face was. Face climbing is typically my strength. It may take me a while to trust the feet and hands, but once I go I'm usually in good shape and make it up clean. The corner looked as it if was too risky. I probably could do it, but I didn't like the fall. If I was going to do something, anything at all, it was going to be on something that I felt I had a chance on. That was the face.
Closer inspection with my hands revealed that there were a few hidden and very positive slopers up high that couldn't be seen from below. But the feet were bad and would require smearing up to more slopers that I wasn't fond of. I moved farther right toward the initial moves off the belay ledge. I was about two feet higher than the start at this point, and so my perspective of the face was better. I found a way to get my right foot up high and crimp down on two tiny edges above. It worked. Two moves later and I was cruising through the jugs toward the infamous squeeze pod.
Infamous isn't quite the word I'd use today. More like woodchipperly painful. It was probably the most awkward position I've ever been in on a climb. Seriously, my knees were practically higher than my ears and I wasn't even sitting down. But that was the easy part. The hard part is moving out of the pod, out the slick traverse, and around the arrete to really crappy holds - all when you're nearly too pumped to hold on. There are about five very strenuous moves in a row that are nearly all hands at the crux. The gear is good, but the fall is scary. I sat in that pod for about 20 minutes trying to find a way to get around the arrete. I made it far enough to see around the arrete twice, out of several tries trying to get to the arrete itself, and I couldn't see where to go. I was too tired to be adventurous and bold. It was a stupid decision to take on this pitch. I jokingly blamed "Ratherbe" for the mess. "Listen," I said, "next time you decide to be cranky then we need to sit down and have a little talk before we climb."
I plugged another cam behind me (decidedly not that easy) and was lowered to the anchor. We left the ropes in the gear, switched rope ends, and "Ratherbe" went up instead. She got to the pod and found it difficult, too. But she had done it before and had admitted to being totally stoked for leading it the first time. I think she gave it two tries before she finally made it around the arrete on the third attempt. The pump hadn't ceased for her, though. It took nearly all she had to place her next piece. All she really wanted to do was to keep climbing to a better rest. But that would have required a bit of a run out with a dangerous fall below.
When she finally called off-belay I started up. I only tried once and got it clean as the second, and I was certainly happy with the decision to back off. I was too pumped, and where she was barely able to plug that first piece after the crux I was likely to have fallen or run it out the final 30 feet to the top. I wouldn't have been able to stop. I was barely able to stop as the second to clean her gear, and I had been resting at the anchor while she cleaned up my mess. The decision to back off was good, but it came too late. I really should have made that decision before starting up the second pitch. I kicked myself for having learned that lesson only a week before and having ignored it so soon after. I ran from the lion while someone else slayed my mess. We called it a day, and I was glad.
Bonnie's Roof (5.9) - Trad - Two pitches - Gear anchors (<-- Click here for guidebook info)
Sunday morning we awoke early. The parking lot was already filling up but we knew we were walking far enough down the path that we'd be avoiding the crowds. "Ratherbe" had been tossing in her head whether she wanted to do a warmup first, but she finally decided that the walk in would be enough of a warm up to jump right on her goal for the weekend.
She had tried this the weekend before and had fallen at the crux, the pumpy, hang-on-and-go roof midway up the first pitch. I really wanted her to warm up first, but she insisted and so we headed there for the first climb of the day.
As expected, there was no one there. She racked up and started right up the route. The first 20 feet to the ledge at the base of the corner felt hard for her, and I wasn't surprised. She said it was probably due to her head not being in the right place. I thought it was because she hadn't warmed up. It didn't matter though. Someone had left a rubber snake on a boulder up there and soon she was angry enough at the joke to forget about her lead head. She headed up the corner and looked fine, but this was a section of the climb that was fine. It didn't get hard or even scary until about 10 feet below the roof.
I advised her to take a good, long rest at the last ledge, and she did so, except that she claims she didn't hear me. It was kind of a funny thing to learn later because she seemed to be talking to me the whole time. Maybe she was but was really only talking to herself. I can't imagine what kind of responses I was giving her if she was imagining the conversation. It's kind of funny to look back on it now that I know neither of us had any clue we weren't actually talking to each other.
Anyway, she moved up from the rest and entered the section of the climb where the ten feet leading up to the crux are protected only by an old, sketchy sling attached to a melting cam in the corner. If you're fine with that as pro, then you're golden. But she wasn't happy with it, and so that meant she had to keep plugging toward the pumpy crux. She plugged a cam in the roof and moved left, further committing herself to the climb. The cam most likely would have held if she had fallen, but it's not the most secure feeling in the world with the ugly tat clipped below and nowhere to down climb and rest. The fall would have been big and not very clean. With her head playing games, her lack of a warm-up, and her having fallen at this point last weekend, I braced myself to catch her. One hand after another moved through the jugs. She got her feet up and further committed herself. There was only one way to go now, and that was straight up.
At first, I thought she wasn't going to make it. The hard part is the point where the short traverse ends and the pump up the jugs begins. But she worked through that section fine. Once she stood up on the traverse ledge I thought she was fine. She rested for a second and gathered herself for the final two moves, which were all pump and no technique. And I was happy for when she started to pull and push her way up. But it was much slower going than I anticipated and she was clearly struggling to get to the small ledge above the roof. The first few moves of the crux had gone by so quickly and here were the final two moves taking so long. I feared that she had the same problem I had on the 5.9 section of "Birdland" the day before; I was too tired to even move and had to "down fall" to my last rest. She didn't have that option, so it was get it clean now or fall all the way to below the roof. She grunted. She whimpered, and then she grunted some more. I wasn't confident that she had made it until she finally stood on the ledge and took several deep breaths.
The second half of the pitch was easy, and when she told me that she was off belay and that I was on belay, I started up. I hung at the roof, but not because it was hard. It was hard, but I couldn't get the cam out of the roof with one hand due to it being buried too deep and the crack being too thin. It took me a few minutes to get it out (I tried for a long time with one hand and eventually did get it out with one hand, but I was too pumped after hanging on my left arm for so long at the crux). Unlike "Caboose", who the previous weekend had to swing back on to the rock at the same spot for the same reason, I was able to more easily reach and get back on. I cruised up and she racked up for the famous final pitch.
For a 5.7 pitch, this last pitch has one helluva mind game it plays with you. I mean, it's easy climbing, but the entire traverse and the first few moves up the arrete are protected by three incredibly crappy pins and a green and blue Alien, with the blue Alien being the highest piece and the one protecting the most exposed section of the route. Even still, this was one of my most favorite pitches in the 'Gunks. I can't wait to go back and get this on lead. I think I may knock it off in a few weeks when "Caboose" and "Blow" meet us at the 'Gunks once again.
Ursula (5.5) - Trad - Two pitches - Gear anchor (<-- Click here for guidebook info)
"Ursula" was actually a test-piece for me at this point. I was really struggling after "Birdland" and "Yellow Belly" the day before and "Bonnie's Roof" first thing the that morning. When I get pumped I can barely hold on to anything - it doesn't matter how easy the route is. If I can't hold on then I can't hold on. And the first half of "Ursula" doesn't look like a gimme from the ground. But I racked up anyway and headed up the blank corner hoping there would be jugs on the way. It turned out that everything was there, but that didn't stop me from nearly falling about five times both in the slick (but juggy) corner and committing traverse. I was glad to have gained the ledge for a much needed rest. I put "Ratherbe" on belay and she joined me at the there.
- "Ratherbe": So are you taking the second pitch, too?
- Me: Yeah. I guess so. Haven't you done this?
- "Ratherbe": Yeah. I was hoping to do the second pitch, though.
- Me: That's OK, but I thought I'd take it since you got both pitches on "Bonnie's".
- "Ratherbe": Huh? Didn't I ask you if you wanted that pitch?
- Me: No. I might have taken it if you had offered, but I'm not sure. I just assumed that you'd get both of those pitches since I got both pitches on "Birdland" yesterday.
- "Ratherbe": Oh man. Sorry about that. I was totally going to offer you the second pitch. Wow. I absolutely forgot.
- Me: That's fine. Like I said, I just assumed you'd take it anyway. It was a good reward for doing the first pitch.
- "Ratherbe": Yeah, well, you can have this second pitch. That certainly seems fair.
When I started up it didn't seem fair at the time. The crux is right off the ledge and while this might have been a 5.5 20 years ago, it has become much more slick in both the hands and feet. The first 15 feet are nothing but greasy, off-angle jugs with only a little bit of gear. Oh yeah, it's overhanging, too, so for someone like me, who was pumped enough already, getting off the ledge is a dangerous situation. I really struggled through the start. At any moment my hands were about to slip off, and that was during holding, resting, moving, clipping, and transitioning my body, hands, and feet up the steap rock. But I finally made it up to the easier climbing only to find a surprising amount of loose rock. I made up my mind that I was going to buy a stick of chalk so that marking loose blocks would be easier. For some reason I'm not very good at making an "x" with my climbing chalk and finger. It always comes out blurry and faded.
When I finally got to the top I put "Ratherbe" on belay and brought her up. She topped out and we decided that we were both tired but wanted another climb before heading home. I told her it would have to be easy because I wasn't in any shape to push myself. She agreed, so we rapped down and took a few suggestions from some folks who had climbed a bit more in this area.
In the Groove (5.6) - Trad - One pitch - Gear anchor
The Williams guidebook suggests this climb as a two-pitch route, so "Ratherbe" took the lower pitch and I said I could do the easier second pitch. The route was wet at the beginning, and there were two bulges to pull past. Neither one turned out to be a problem (though the second bulge was the obvious crux), but I was glad to have not taken the lead. It wasn't a gimme even though it turned out to be a fun climb in the end. It's amazing how many fun routes without a lot of stars one can find in the 'Gunks. This was a route that surprised both of us, even the crappy climbing at the top was kind of fun.
I guess the big thing was that we discovered the second pitch wasn't worth breaking out into a second pitch. The distances noted in the guidebook weren't exactly the most precise, and each pitch was short anyway. "Ratherbe" ended up linking both pitches together, which we had agreed that she should do before she started if she found it wasn't worth making an anchor. When I finally cleared the final bulge on the first pitch, I could see why she chose to keep going. It was pretty straight up from there to the top, particularly with double ropes. There's a lot to play around on this upper pitch. One can go right, straight up, or left at different points and all the climbing is fun. "Ratherbe" went straight up through the lichen and, with my pump, the finishing moves felt more 5.7+ than 5.6, but that might have been the variation grade anyway.
We were done. All we had next was the walk down the Stairmaster to the lower parking lot and we were off. We changed in the parking lot, hopped in the car, and headed for lunch. After eating we pulled onto I-87 and I noticed that I had to keep switching which arm was on the wheel. I was so pumped from climbing that driving the car was difficult to do. Two days later I went to the gym with a friend and couldn't climb past my sixth climb of the day. My elbow was throbbing. I'd felt this before, and it was difficult to get rid of the pain because I work at a desk where my elbow is constantly moving between writing, typing, and moving the mouse. A few folks called it tendinitis. Whatever it was, I knew I'd need to rest, but I wondered if my summer would be ruined because of this. These injuries sometimes require weeks off, and even when one feels healthy, they can flare up again and cause another month-long rest when maybe only one more week of rest would have done the job. It's frustrating, but it is what it is and I'll deal. Gotta love the pumpy routes in the 'Gunks - they're the pump that keeps on giving.
Click here for all 2009 'Gunks photos (newest are first)
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
Guidebook: Gunks - Layback (5.5), Ursula (5.5), In the Groove (5.6), Birdland (5.8), Yellow Belly (5.8), Bonnie's Roof (5.9)
Click here for all Guidebook posts
Click here to return to the 'Gunks Route Index
Layback (5.5) - Two pitches - Trad - Gear anchors
- Approach: Walk along the Near Trapps trail, about 40 feet past the large roof system to a chimney below another roof system that is about 20 feet up.
- Pitch One (5.5) - Trad - Gear Anchor - 60 Feet: Climb the chimney to the block. Move left around the block and layback to the top.
- Pitch Two (5.1) - Trad - Gear Anchor - 60 Feet: Traverse right to
the nose, and then move up and right through the notch. Probably the best pitch I have ever done at the grade.
- Descent: Walk off to the right. If you get to a spot where you have to scramble down into a gully to the right, then stay left and walk about 15 feet to the easy path down. If you scramble into the gully then that is OK. It's just a more difficult scramble below that ends up in the same spot as the path.
Ursula (5.5) - Two Pitches - Trad - Gear anchors
- Approach: Take the third path after the overhanging / roof Andrew Boulder. At the top of the path, turn right and find the small, right-facing corner that is about 25 feet right of the massive right-facing corner that makes up Bonnie's Roof. There is a small roof about five feet off the ground below the small corner.
- Pitch One (5.5) - Trad - Gear anchor - 80 feet: Climb the moves to the left of the low roof and head up the corner. Follow the thin crack right of the orange rock (crux) and move up to the small arrow-shaped roof (above a larger roof mid-way up this section). Traverse right to the arrete / pillar and move up the notch to the ledge.
- Pitch Two (5.5) - Trad - Tree anchor - 100 feet: Start on the left of the ledge and pull the slick, awkward, overhanging, and off-angle foot and hand holds to better holds (crux). Follow the jugs to the top. Be aware that there is still a fair amount loose rock on this second pitch.
- Descent: Rap with two 60m ropes to the ground or twice with one rope (there is a rap anchor at the top of P1)
In the Groove (5.6) - One pitch - Trad - Gear anchor
- Approach: Take the third path after the overhanging / roof Andrew Boulder. At the top of the path, turn right and walk uphill past a free-standing pillar to an open book capped by a rectangular roof about 25 feet up.
- Pitch One (5.6) - Trad - Gear anchor - 140 feet: The Williams guidebook lists this as a two-pitch climb, but climbing this in two pitches is really unecessary. Climb the corner (if dry - if not, the face isn't that difficult and may be better protected) up to the roof and step left on good feet. Clear the first overhang and move to the second one that is up to the left a bit. The Williams guidebook also notes that the first overhang is the crux. It isn't. The second overhang is. Clear that and climb the path of least resistance to the top (likely filled with lichen and better-than-expected climbing) with a few committing and dynamic moves at the very top.
- Descent: Walk left about 15 feet to the Ursula rappel (see above).
Birdland (5.8) - Two pitches - Trad - Bolted / Gear anchors
- Approach: Walk a few minutes along the Near Trapps trail until you get to a shady strip of clean rock. Walk uphill until you get to an open book capped by an arrow-shaped roof. Birdland is the blank-looking face to the right of the book with right-facing edges about 25 feet up.
- Pitch One (5.8) - Trad - Bolted anchor - 90 feet: Most people start in the corner on the left, but I like the juggy start to the right of that (I think it is actually easier). Gain the horizontal ledges and move right to the arrete. Move up and fade left to the right-facing edges. Step left and pull on the edges to a decent stance (mental crux). Traverse right to the arrete on faint feet and hands (crux) and follow the crack to the top, stepping right to the bolted anchors at a good ledge. It is advisable to place a directional at the top of the crack for the second.
- Pitch Two (5.8) - Trad - Gear anchor - 115 feet: Move up left from the anchors (first crux) and follow the jugs to the series of overhangs / notches above. Clip the two pins and pull the first roof to a marginal stance. Step right out to thin crimps and pull the second roof (crux). For the 5.8 finish, walk right along the good ledge, pull the final overhang, and then walk left to the ledge. For the 5.9 version, don't walk right but instead climb the final roof section that is directly above (it is easier than it looks if you can hold off the pump).
- Descent: Walk right on the path for about 50 feet, downhill a bit, to where the path splits. Head right at the split to rap slings that are high on a tree. Two 60m ropes are needed for this rappel. Otherwise, continue down the path to walk off.
Yellow Belly (5.8) - Two pitches - Trad - Gear anchor
- Approach: Walk in a few minutes on the Near Trapps trail to a right-facing corner with a small tree about 20 feet up. The left-facing corner and roof of Yellow Ridge is directly to the left, and there are a few boulders, one large, to the left of Yellow Ridge on the ground.
- Pitch One (5.8) - Trad - Gear anchor - 70 feet: Climb the face to the right of the right-facing corner, past the tree, and up to the overhangs. Step right and climb around / above the first overhang. Then step left back into the corner and clear the second overhang using the obvious layback to the top and a good ledge for belaying.
- Pitch Two (5.8) - Trad - Gear anchor - 90 feet: Climb up the arrete from the anchor and find good foot holds. From here, make a decision: either go up the face, traverse left into the corner and climb the corner, or traverse left into the corner, move up a few feet, and move back right to the face. I did the latter. I stepped up, moved into the corner, made two moves to good footholds and sparse but good hand holds. I then traversed all the back to the arrete and found surprisingly solid finger holds that allowed me to get my right foot up. From there, follow the jugs up to the squeeze pod. Once in the pod, trust the slick feet and holds out left under the roof and move left to around the arrete. Hold on to semi-crappy holds until a jug can be gained up in the left-facing corner. Follow the corner up and step right over where the roof was. Angle up to the right to the belay ledge.
- Descent: The Alphonse rap station will be a few feet to the right. You must have two 60m ropes to get down because there is no intermediate station below. Otherwise, walk along the path to the right for the walkoff.
Bonnie's Roof (5.9) - Two pitches - Trad - Gear anchor
- Approach: Take the third path after the overhanging / roof Andrew Boulder. At the top of the path, turn right and head to the massive right-facing corner that leads up to the large roof at the top.
- Pitch One (5.9) - Trad - Gear anchor - 130 feet: Climb the face or the corner to the ledge below the massive right-facing corner. Climb the corner to the first roof. Move left on the jugs (crux) and head straight up before finishing the crux on the right at a good rest stance. Finish the corner to the obvious belay ledge directly below the roof.
- Pitch Two (5.7) - Trad - Tree anchor - 50 feet: Step up left on the left side of the ledge and traverse left about two moves. Then step down to better hand and foot holds. Move left to the arrete, reach around the corner and move straight up the arrete to where the arrete meets the large roof. Step right and traverse up and right to the top (rap anchor tree).
- Descent: Rap all the way to the ground with two 60m ropes. It is possible to do two raps, but only with a 70m rope if you rap off the first-pitch anchor.