THE COLORADO COLLEGE ALPINE JOURNAL 2009
Castle Valley—J. Roop
VOLUME 3 Senior Editors: Joe Forrester and Michael Wejchert Senior Student Editor: Matt Franco Student Staff: Rachel Harris, Drew Thayer, Erik Rieger Alumni Representative: David Hoven Generously supported by the Ritt Kellogg Fund and the Life of the Mind Grant Special Thanks to Steve Crosby and Debbie Fowler
Cover Photo: Montezuma’s Tower at dawn.—J. Forrester
Table of Contents Letter from the Editors 4 North America Canada 5-8 Cuba 8 Mexico 8-10 United States Alaska 11-15 California 16-21 Colorado 21-35 Montana 35-36 New Hampshire 36-39 North Carolina 39-41 Utah 41-44 Wyoming 44-50 South America Peru 50-54 Africa Malawi 55-57 Namibia 58 Asia Thailand 58-59 Community Happenings 60 Final Thoughts 61 The Garden and Pikesâ€”J. Forrester
Letter from the Editors As a senior in high school I looked at many colleges and universities all over the United States. Going to college was my chance to break from the norm back home in Jacksonville, Florida; most of my friends stayed in the South and lived similar lives to one another. However, I wanted to be different – I wanted adventure. I chose Colorado College for several reasons; CC is a superior academic institution and I would be able to explore the West. I have always enjoyed the outdoors especially the mountains, yet up until CC, I was never given the opportunity to fully expose myself to this lifestyle. Since I’ve been at Colorado College I have been able to fulfill my dream via many outdoor pursuits especially climbing. Before coming into CC, my only exposure to climbing had been trips to the local gym and less than a handful of outdoor climbs with a guide. It has now been two and a half years from the day I started to climb at CC. I don’t know if I’ve graduated from the “novice” level (hopefully…), but I definitely have been on a fair share of climbing trips. Working at the Ritt Kellogg climbing gym as well as taking part in the Climbing Association of Colorado College (CACC) have given me the opportunity to make friendships with my fellow CC climbers. My experiences climbing have provided me with countless memories. Whether it was hanging out at Miguel’s Pizza with Gary Sorcher (’11) after climbing the beautiful sandstone cliffs of the Red River Gorge or road tripping to Hueco Tanks, climbing has given me the chance to explore the natural treasures throughout the United States. The personal relationships I have developed during my CC climbing career have been fulfilling and rewarding. As you read through this year’s journal, you will read many stories by Colorado College climbers from all over the world. I hope that it gets you psyched and inspires you at some level; if you’re a beginner, to start your career in climbing that will last a lifetime; if you’re an intermediate, to achieve the goals in your mind; if you’re a professional, to continue to stretch the “impossible.” Climb Safe Amigos,
Matt Franco (‘11)
North America British Columbia Stairway to Heaven, IV 5.10c, The Chief July, 2009 Sam Dexter (’10) and Cletus Blum I could not resist when childhood friend and fellow rock jock Cletus Blum offered me a spot in his 1980s Chevy van for the summer of ’09. Cletus—the same individual who taught me how to belay safely, how to create proper anchors, and how to shoot a .12 gauge… what could go wrong on a road trip like this? His offer was simple… two guys, a single mattress in the back of a Chevy, a summer of rock climbing in the US and Canada, and ample opportunity to try, and fail, at convincing women at the crag that Cletus and I were not an ‘item’. After learning the tough way that two unshaven climbers (with minimal regard for personal hygiene) are not warmly welcomed by border patrol and after basking in the glory of rocks from Idaho to Banff, Cletus and I arrived in one of North America’s climbing meccas: Squamish. Like a couple of high schoolers who had bought a keg but forgot the tap, Cletus and I stood below the granite grandeur of the Chief holding nothing but a sling of quickdraws. At first we gave it the old college try… and immediately went out, bought overpriced beer, and abandoned all hope of reaching the summit of the Chief in any story-worth manner. However, locals and updated guidebooks soon gave us beta on a 14 plus pitch, all-bolted link-up line on the dome. We jumped on the opportunity, and struck out early the next morning. The first few pitches began on the Bulletheads, where Cletus took the lead. The 5.10 slab stayed true to its grade – meaning the only way to maintain purchase was by
The Chief—S. Dexter
jamming granite crystals in between your fingernails and praying all of those Five Ten glossies for stealth rubber weren’t false advertising. We linked up several pitches of this fine granite slab as well as mellow face climbing, and discovered the route ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was aptly named. Every few pitches ended with an exposed or wooded traverse along the face of the Chief, bringing us to our next ‘stair’ in the ‘stairway’. We continued up several pitches of varied terrain, including a dicey traverse with slung roots, after which we arrived on a ledge along the grand wall. We pulled a pitch or two of excellent face climbing with elusive lines and bolts, and made our way onto the Traverse of the Gods, a heady and exposed traverse over the Chief’s main face. Our adrenaline high, we cruised through the next few pitches. This included a well-protected haul up a water groove and a phenomenal jug haul over a roof system. Another short hike brought us the final crest of the granite dome, where we hiked around and took our pick of the numerous lines that would top us out over the beautiful Howe Sound. Once up top, Cletus and I basked in the personal satisfaction only rock climbers understand after having taken the convoluted and difficult method up a perfectly hikeable peak. A few hours (and five more explanations of “Yes, his name is actually Cletus”) later, we safely clinked glasses, thankful for another day on the rock and on the road. -Sam Dexter
Various Activity, Squamish Summer 2009 Chris Burwell (’08) and Jeremy Roop (’06)
Jeremy Roop on the Grand Wall—C. Burwell
Early this summer, Jeremy Roop and I hatched a plan to make a pilgrimage of the very best kind. In preparation, I bought a two-month membership to the rock gym in San Francisco, an extra large container of protein powder, and a new pair of Moccasins. I spent almost every other day of the next weeks falling off routes and boulder problems of every color tape and avoided heeding un-solicited beta from overbuilt and undersexed gym-rats. Jeremy, who had been dirt-bagging for several months, patiently belayed me as I worked towards an acceptable level of fitness, chuckling somewhat supportively each time I fell.
On August 1st we packed a rental car and headed north with his mother. We spent a few nights at my parents’ house in Southern Oregon before continuing our migration. We dropped his mom off at the airport in Portland, and due to a lack of any sort of car insurance returned the rental car as well. We spent a night with Zac Ramras (’08) and Taylor Shekell (‘08) at their digs in the NE part of town, and at 7 am on August 4th we tossed our bags into Chris Burwell bearing down on Alaska Highway—J. Roop the belly of the first of three Greyhound buses that would drop us, fourteen hours later, in Squamish, B.C. Jeremy and I share a very similar ethic about rock climbing. We both enjoy climbing long traditional routes carrying a minimum amount of gear, moving as quickly and freely as possible, and generally prefer to lead in blocks. We both enjoy sleeping in after 8 am but neither of us like cooking dinner in the dark. However, our execution of these ethics differs. Jeremy tends to on-sight very hard pitches very smoothly, hiding difficulty from the observer. I tend to quiver and shake and I often fall unexpectedly. In order to balance these differences we decided that as a rule, Jeremy would lead and I would follow. Of course, this rule was meant to be broken and we assumed that as our time in Squamish progressed I would get stronger and would lead more pitches. Jeremy on-sighted what I feel to be the hardest 5.10a on the planet, Tantalus Crack, (the title pitch of Tantalus Wall 5.11c A0) a yawning 5½ -inch splitter that he found to be very difficult to protect—and I found very difficult to French-free as the second. At the top of the sixth pitch is a fantastic belay that we dubbed Bagheera’s Tree. The first move of the next pitch involves a huge stem between the slippery trunk of the tree and the nearly blank wall, supposedly freed by Peter Croft at 5.12a. We thought A0 felt about right. We both fell several times on Cruel Shoes (5.10d), a sneering five-pitch slab at the base of the Grand Wall. We found Millennium Falcon (5.11b) to be an okay route that caters to those who like scrambling through bushes instead of rock climbing. The penultimate slab pitch is probably impossible, although the book rates it 5.11a. Just to the right of Millenium Falcon is Freeway (5.11d) a fantastic route. Consisting mostly of technical face climbing protected by solid but noticeably-spaced gear, this route is known for the awesome crux tiered roof that comes at pitch 7. We both agreed this is among the best routes we have ever climbed. It is absolutely fantastic. The highlight of our trip and the reason we went to Squamish in the first place
was the back-wall climb, The Northern Lights (5.12a). We climbed the first part, Alaska Highway (5.11d), in order to acquaint ourselves with its brutality. Jeremy sent the crux second pitch, an overhanging, flaring, groove with multiple cruxes noting that he had used every single rock climbing technique he had ever learned. We returned several days later and added The Calling (5.12a). The route is sustained and physical and the hardest I have ever climbed. Jeremy on-sighted the route including the deviant crux involving a difficult series of slab moves followed by an off-balance dyno to a dirty ledge followed by a mantle and another dyno to a dirtier ledge. Jeremy and I had a fantastic time in Squamish; it is among of our favorite areas to climb. Extended climbing trips are becoming more of a luxury, and we are both grateful to have shared this one. Today (September 29) Jeremy left for Malawi with Joe Forrester (’06) in search of first ascents, and tomorrow I begin a Master’s Program at the University of Chicago. -Christopher Burwell
The Grand Wall III 5.11 A0, Squamish July 4th, 2009 Kevin Brumbach (’07) and Patrick Odenbeck The weekend of July 4th was my only free weekend of the summer and I was able to convince a friend of mine, Patrick, to do the 15 hour drive from Bozeman to meet me in Squamish. After spending a day in 90o heat slithering up the greasy cracks at the Smoke Bluffs we headed back to camp in search of shade and some food. We were greeted by a sign indicating that the falcon closure of the Grand Wall had been lifted and we immediately began racking up for an attempt the next morning. Fearful that the route would be getting ravaged by other parties we set out at 6am and were pleasantly surprised to be the first and only ones on the route. A few hundred feet of ledge traverses, and one 15 foot chain climb got us to the start. I quickly lead the first run out 5.7 pitch, and swapped leads with Patrick for pitch 2. Soon I was traversing toward the Split Pillar and racing up the short bolt ladder to its base. Patrick scampered up the ever widening corner, and I followed grunting through the final chimney section with the backpack dangling between my legs. The Sword pitch was just as beautiful and daunting as I had imagined and after a few minutes for a breather, I grabbed the gear and began jamming up the crack. Hitting the crux bulge I placed my favorite nut (#3 BD) and began thrutching to the stance above. Exposed face climbing and a nice corner lie-back followed and soon I found myself working my way up the final bolt ladder. The remaining pitches were strenuous and fun, but as the exposure began to decrease we soon realized the route was coming to an end. Hitting the Bellygood ledges we began traversing off the face and over to the descent route. A few beers and a box of macaroni and cheese were the perfect end to one of the best routes we have done! -Kevin Brumbach
Cuba Various Activity, Vinales November 2008 Melis Coady ('99) et al In November 2008, I went on a climbing trip to Cuba for my honeymoon with my husband Joey McBrayer. We spent just over two weeks sport climbing in Vinales, Cuba, climbing "mogotes" (big tufa crusted loafs of limestone) with friends Kremer and Skine. We climbed nuKremer pulling past the rest on Mucho Pumpito—J. merous single and multipitch McBrayer lines with local climbers and we brought donated equipment to their gear starved culture including ropes, shoes (donated by Madrock), and quick draws. Our favorite line...Mucho Pumpito, was a climb classified by Lynn Hill as the best 5.10b in the world. When Jim Donini, fell off near the top of the climb, apparently he cried out..."Mucho Pumpito!" It is a 60m overhanging arete of steep juggy climbing – pure Cuban bliss especially if followed up by drinking a mojito. Let the climber beware, bring bug dope (Joey got Dengue Fever 24 hours later). We affectionately call the area “Mucho Mosquito.” Craig Lueben did much of the development in this area. Locals laugh as they remember him bivying in some cave a couple pitches up a cliff for months on end. R.I.P Craig. - Melis Coady
Mexico Time Wave Zero (5.12) El Portero Chico Timothy Gibson (’10) and Nathan “Bonesaw” Brand (’11) It feels more like a safari at this point. We’ve been searching for the base of the route for over an hour now and, although it is two in the morning, we are both saturated with sweat. The plants here are equipped for warfare, making our bushwhacking even more demoralizing. Even 500 meters up the wall you aren’t safe from yucca and cacti. Nathan and I have been in Mexico for almost a week and have been indulging in the thrill of being in a new country and a new landscape, but mostly we have been focused on rediscovering the simple pleasures of rock climbing. When Nathan finally spots a bolt twenty feet up a runway of clean limestone lined by yucca we can both relax again. The anxiety we experienced from wasting
nearly two hours trying to find our route shed much light onto the mentality I have been trying to escape. We are on vacation but still I continue to base my happiness on achievement and the thought of failing was unpleasant. As we play rock-paperscissors for the first lead of the night, all stress evaporates into the humid night. By light of the moon and our headlamps we follow a sinuous line of shiny bolts up surprisingly clean and interesting limestone for a thousand feet. To maximize efficiency we link every other pitch, which should result in thirteen rope-stretching pitches. After a brief third class section (more bushwacking through yucca), we are met with a dauntingly steep and incredibly large headwall silhouetted by the setting moon above. As sleep deprivation sets in, our pace slows. We are almost half way up the wall when Nathan is jerked awake. “Who’s this asshole tuggin’ on my harness… can’t you tell I’m trying to sleep!!” he mumbles as he pulls slack from his gri-gri. Luckily, we encounter some pleasant plant life other than yucca on this route. Straddling the trunk of a ten foot tall and very healthy Palm tree, I contemplate how the hell a coconut found its way up here with 1,500 feet of empty space hanging ominously below. The sun finally rises as we are at what the guidebook calls pitch 18. As Nathan and I awkwardly trade our simple rack of a dozen quickdraws and slings, the serene corral of Potrero is illuminated over a thousand feet beneath us by opaque, coralcolored light. This first view of the new day, combined with the satisfaction of a long climb going smoothly, provides us with a second wind. Our motivation, however, lasts only as long as the sunrise. Our shoes quickly heat up to about 104 degrees Fahrenheit, (a good rare steak is cooked to about 120), and the blisters on our heels begin to grow. Unfortunately, we still have the majority of the water we brought in our shared pack by the time we reach the crux, which is the second to last pitch. My fatigue is accentuated by the heat of the day and is focused in my legs as a result of 2,000 feet of high-stepping with a gallon of water on my back. I lead off onto moderate terrain with a short, steep dihedral and difficult looking bulge above. As I reach the harder climbing, I soon realize that I have already spoiled the sequence. With a deep left drop-knee, I pull hard on a quickdraw with my right hand and cross to clip the next bolt. Alas, quickdraw in my left hand as well, I cannot reach the bolt. I sag back onto my right hand, match the draw, chalk up and try again. Now pulling on the draw with my left hand, my bicep cramps as I try to reach the bolt three feet over the bulge and I’m off. With the crux below us we have only a short fourth class ridge to the summit. From the top, mountains constructed from vertically bedded limestone extend for miles in each direction. With the charming town of Hidalgo below us, we eat a delectable lunch of fresh avocados and tangelos. Looking at other 2,000 foot limestone peaks scattered throughout the Mexican countryside in the distance, Nathan can’t help but agree with what we overheard somebody from Boulder mention the day before. “Potrero is cool but it’s just like Shelf Road.” After eating the rest of our food and drinking lots of water we head down. The chance to do 24 simul-rappels in a row, while combating hot sun and yucca plants is not the reason that I fell in love with climbing, but the knowledge that cheap Mexican beer and compadre would be welcoming us when we reach terra firma keeps us going and within six hours we’ve rapped the route. -Timothy Gibson and Nathan Brand
United States Alaska Various Activity, Ruth Gorge, AK Spring 2009 Joel Irby (’06) and Michael Wejchert (’08)
Mike Wejchert on Wake Up—J. Irby
“LAZY BOYS!” The shout came at around 10:00 am on another bluebird Alaskan day. Joel and I woke up and groggily opened the tent flap to find our two Norwegian friends standing in our tent spot with hot coffee already steaming in their mugs. We were on the Ruth Gorge of Alaska—the perfect place to drive home some very important alpine lessons. This was my first trip to the range and Joel’s third. I am glad I went with him; Joel’s winter camping repertoire is a lot more extensive than mine. We had flown in buzzing with excitement on the 11th of April to find our Norse counterparts already comfortably ensconced in the immense Ruth Amphitheatre. Looking back, I think how lucky we were to have these guys around. Our initial objective had been a simple, recipe-laden ascent of Ham and Eggs on the Moose’s Tooth: schlep gear up the Root Canal on day one, climb the route on day two, go down on day three. But having the level of Scandinavian motivation on the glacier a mere thirty feet away caused us to rethink our objectives. “Yah, okay, you guys should do Shaken Not Stirred, there is actually climbing on that route.” “Yah, much better.” The seed had been planted…but first we were off to warm up. Nils and Eiliv had done a new route on peak 747 the year before and we went to check it out. Minimal ice was present in the gully this year but a sexy-looking couloir on the left seemed to hold some classy, RMNP style mixed climbing for about eight to ten pitches. The next day we went for it. Going for it included riding out a small avalanche just past the bergschrund (the only time I have ever heard Joel panic) and about fifteen feet of Cerro Torre style snow climbing.
The Norwegians responded to o u r c o m plaints. “Yah, that’s just the Alaska Factor kicking in,” laughed Nils, quoting Mark Twight. “We tried that route last year. Too much snow.” So it was time to go to the Moose’s Tooth; at least we had a guidebook for that! Like the Norwegians, we went for it Too cool for school! Mike Wejchert and Joel Irby enjoy the summit of Mt. in a single go from Wake. -self portrait the Ruth, bringing two liters of water and some snickers bars each. (The snickers bars had Indiana Jones on them and coconut. Seeing as the last Indy movie came out a good year before our trip I was intrigued where Joel found them.) We were exhausted before we even started up! Joel led the initial pitches, most of which we simul-climbed. By my block we were mostly up the route. After about five-hundred feet I again relinquished the lead to Joel, who battled with the vertical, sugary, unstable crux for a while. Enough is enough. Within sight of the Englishman’s Col, having ended the technical climbing, we began the long rappels down 2500 feet of terrain, then down the root canal before skiing back straight to camp across the glacier in full-on zombie mode. 22 hours on the go—not so hot. I vomited up what little calories I had while Joel made some water. On the 19th we attempted a line that Joel had spotted on the Stump, which actually did yield a pitch of great Rocky Mountain National Park style mixed climbing that Joel led. He kept yelling things like “this is awesome,” so I knew it must be the type of scrappy, trad mixed we both really love. No gear on the next pitch forced a retreat. In the meantime the Norwegians had been busy on Mt. Wake. After illness, about seven false starts and the like, the pair finally succeeded in climbing Wake Up on the north face. They skied past our campsite as we were reading and told us how great the route had been: perfect ice runnels weaving through crazy, giant snow mushrooms: classic alpine climbing in a pristine setting. We had some days left, so we grabbed our snow picket back from Nils and Eiliv, and two days later followed their tracks towards the beautiful north face. The route is stellar, and went without incident except for Joel losing a skin on the ski. I think it was one of the most fun climbing days either of us had ever had. The next day we called TAT, who informed us they’d pick us up the next morn-
ing. Nils and Eiliv were also going to fly out and I tried to get into my book. But by one o’clock, with a healthy dosage of instant coffee, nobody could take inactivity any longer. Eiliv and myself skied towards London Spire for a quick simul-solo of the 2000 foot Freezy Nuts, Joel skied down to scope out lines for next year, and Nils checked out another couloir on London. When we all got back to camp three hours later, a storm was already brewing. After two days of miserable waiting and worrying about missed jobs, flights, and the like we heard the whine of an engine. Joel and I looked each other. “No way is he landing.” We continued priming the stove for a dinner of instant mashed potatoes. “PAUL IS LANDING!” yelled Nils. In five minutes we threw everything in duffel bags and bear-hugged. Three hours later, seated around burgers and beer with our European friends, we celebrated. We awoke the next morning, but barely. -Mike Wejchert
Various Activity, Ruth Gorge Spring 2009 Renan Ozturk (’02) and Zack Smith Zach In alpine climbing I do my best to anticipate the potential crux of a trip. I physically and mentally prepare for bad weather, loose rock, huge days, anything I can imagine. For the first time ever, just getting on the airplane and deciding to go was the hardest part of our trip. The day before Renan Ozturk and I left for Alaska we attended Jonny Copp’s memorial service, and the day before that we had said farewell to our friend Micah Dash. Nothing could have prepared us for those losses. Having postponed our trip for two weeks after our three friends Jonny, Micah and Wade Johnson had gone missing in China, we arrived in Talkeetna in late June to fly into the Kichatna Spires. Unfortunately it had been an unusually warm June and our pilot turned down our flight request telling us that it was too risky to land in the Kichatnas and that we “should have been here last week.” Kichatna ambitions often end just like this, sitting on the tarmac wondering what to do next. We decided to go into the Ruth Gorge. Renan "... and your team name is? " asked the innocent young desk girl at Talkeetna Air Taxi, the glacier landing flight service. "Butt Monkeys," Zack said without hesitation, taking me a bit by surprise. I gave him a funny look. "Yeah, dude,” Zach said. “When it is time to bail and we call in for our pick-up it will be a memorable name for the pilots. We'll just tell them ‘the Butt Monkey's want out...’" "Cool, I can take the piss,”
I said. “It’s good not to take ourselves seriously, right?" An hour later we scrambled to get our gear onto the Twin Otter. After takeoff the scenery quickly changed from the lush green bush town to the stark white glacial environment where the main stimuli comes from the size and scale of giant rock and snow features. It was such a relief to get into the mountains and decompress and reflect on intense events back in Boulder. Zack We found ourselves under Mount Barrille racking up for a single-push attempt of the famous Cobra Pillar. It was all happening too quickly. We wanted a week of snow, a bit of mental rest to try and absorb the all-too-recent losses. The alarm went off the next morning and we decided to just go and have a look. Before we knew what was happening we were halfway up the route feeling great. The weather was good enough and the climbing was fun. Twelve hours after starting we topped out, possibly the fastest ascent to date. We descended the Japanese Couloir in the coldest hours of the 24hour day and reached our tiny tent at the base after 20-hour roundtrip push. Renan The weather kept holding so after recovering from sore "cankles" (calf-ankles) we skied to the base of Mount Dickey's 5,000-foot East face. We had both been dreaming (part happy fantasy, part nightmare) about this mountain because of the free climbing potential on one of the largest walls on the planet. We had the beta, the conditions were perfect, we trusted each other… but when we woke in the morning we found ourselves still lingering in the tent with racing minds thinking about our lost friends. Listening to our instincts we decided the time was not right. Our objective shifted to a project we felt was not only safer but more of an unexplored concept.
Renan Ozturk cruising the Cobra Pillar—Z. Smith
15 Renan crossing the Tooth Traverse—Z.Smith
Zach Back home we had talked about the possibility of enchaining the major summits of the Tooth group: starting on the Sugar Tooth going up and over the Eye Tooth, onto the Bear’s Tooth, dropping down and then tagging the two summits of the Moose’s Tooth. The link-up would be enormous, technically challenging, committing and aesthetic. On the morning of the July 4th we started up Espresso Gap, which gains the unclimbed South Ridge of the Sugar Tooth. After a few hours of simul-climbing and soloing we established a new route to the top of the Sugar Tooth for its third known ascent (2,000 feet, 5.10, two rappels). After a 70-meter rappel into the notch between the Eye Tooth and Sugar Tooth we climbed onto The Talkeetna Standard. On the summit of the Eye Tooth we rested and collected water. For the next eight hours we climbed along the insanely exposed snow ridge between the Eye Tooth and the Bear’s Tooth. The climbing proved to be much more time consuming and taxing than we had anticipated. Because of the warm temperatures we became soaking wet, and we were getting more and more committed to an unknown descent down exposed snowfields. We stopped at a spiky summit between the Eye and the Bear that we suspect is unnamed and unclimbed. The climbing ahead of us looked more difficult and exposed than what we had already encountered. After a cold “night” wrapped in our tarp without sleeping bags we decided to turn around and started back the way we had come along the ridge, painfully retracing our steps. When we arrived back at the summit of the Eye Tooth we rappelled the 3,000 foot The Dream in the Spirit of Mugs down to our skis. A rough estimate is that we climbed about 5,000 feet of rock, ice, and horizontal snow. I think we were less than halfway across the Tooth Traverse. -Renan Ozturk and Zack Smith
California West Face VI 5.13 A0, Leaning Tower June 2009 Madaleine Sorkin (’04) and various partners A “SEND” Report: Free climbing the West Face of the Leaning Tower this past June tested my ability to take ownership over my individual goal and patience to see it through to completion. I was inspired by a friend’s free ascent of the climb the previous year. I knew the route’s overhanging nature would present a different and difficult challenge to redpoint in a day. The final week of my time working on this route coincided with reality; Jonny, Micah and Wade were presumed dead in an avalanche in China. While encouraged by friends that someone needed to be putting “sending” energy into the world during this dark time, it was a raw and somewhat surreal week to remain so focused on my goal. The powers of these men and thoughts of life and death became present features of my experience on the climb. As often happens, reality and plans do not match up exactly. I arrived in Yosemite partner-less, fixated on my goal and obnoxiously restless. Stretched over 16 days, I went up parts of “the Leaner” five times with five different partners. This proved to be enough of a formula for a send on the sixth time. When Kate Rutherford (’03) showed up in the valley, she offered to support me. On the day I went to red-point the route, she jugged each overhanging pitch with a pack of food and water and reminded me she was working on her bicep definition--which kindly alleviated some of my guilt.
Madaleine Sorkin freeing the West Face of “The Leaner.” - M. Schaefer
I had to pull the rope at the bottom of the 13a pitch and then managed to climb the hardest pitch in a focused, determined manner. The red-point crux came at the penultimate 12c roof pitch, a thousand feet off the ground. I fired through the roof section while ripping new duct tape off of various areas (I made sure to whine considerably that the slippery trash left plastered to the rock by a misinformed aid climber would be the end of me). The upper part of this pitch was a physical
chore. My heel popped off the rock multiple times as I tried to heel hook. I shook my way down to a marginal rest and dug around for some composure. Falling here would be too much for me to repeat that day, and as I scraped my way to the next ledge I remembered how close the line can be between sending and not sending a pitch. That roof pitch drained my energy and I fell on the last 5.12 pitch. Lying on the ledge below, Kate timed my 15 minutes of rest. I closed my eyes and let fatigue wash over me. Exhausting effort had the satisfying effect of making me less attached to the outcome. The time to climb arrived all too soon and I trudged upwards. I found if I remained focused I had energy to execute the pitch. I took in the summit of “the Leaner,” basking in golden light and a new perspective on the Valley. I relaxed at the top and let tears fall. -Madaleine Sorkin
The Nose VI 5.9 C2, Yosemite Valley June 2009 Jeremy Roop (’06) and James Woods In early June 2009, James Woods and I climbed the Nose of El Cap in 13.5 hours. The climb started very smoothly and we cruised the opening pitches. After 5.5 hours of climbing we had completed 21 pitches and were at the base of the Great Roof. Somewhere around pitch 23 however, things took a turn for the worse. The sky darkened, the temperature dropped and we soon found ourselves 2,000 feet off the ground in the middle of a ferocious rain and hail storm. This slowed the climbing down considerably. Luckily it soon passed and we were able to continue, albeit more slowly, up the wet cracks. I was in the middle of leading the Changing Corners pitch when a second storm hit, this one even more powerful than the first. One lightning strike was exceptionally close, and we later learned that it had hit the summit of El Cap a few hundred feet above us causing a German team to lose feeling in their lower extremities for over an hour. Luckily we emerged unscathed and I raced up the remaining pitches as fast as the wet cracks Jeremy Roop and James Woods hanging in the hail on the Nose.—T. Evans would allow.
One of the highlights of the entire route was the penultimate pitch, a 5.10 flake that I was able to layback with 30 pitches of exposure under my toes. We topped out at 6:30pm, celebrated with water and marzipan courtesy of the German team and ran down the East Ledges. James had insisted we only bring one pair of sneakers between the two of us to save weight, so we each did the descent with one climbing shoe and one sneaker. This was not enjoyable but it was all worth it once we reached the Pizza Deck in time to order the requisite refreshments. -Jeremy Roop The Muir Wall VI 5.9 C4,Yosemite Valley May 2009 Jeremy Roop (â€™06) In early May of 2009 I drove into Yosemite with a mission. I wanted to rope-solo the Muir Wall on El Cap. I had not climbed El Cap before and had only recently taught myself to aid solo. As I caught my first glimpse of the big stone during the descent into the valley I was terrified. After waiting a day for the weather to clear, I fixed the first 6 pitches of the route, hauled 9 days of food and water to Heart Ledges, took a rest day, and then blasted. For 7 days I lived on the wall, pushing 3 or 4 pitches higher each day. Most of the experiences I had while there have all melted together into a single indescribable memory, but there are several exceptional moments from the climb that I distinctly remember: Opening my eyes in the middle of the night on Mammoth Terraces to find a full moon bathing the valley and the 20 pitches of climbing above me in a pristine silver-white glow. My first ever C4 lead, where, strung out three hook moves above a collection of meaningless gear I began to truly understand the appeal of hard aid climbing: you just don't blow it. And then, screaming wildly into the wind on one of the countless perfect pitches, wishing that someone else was there to witness the lonely beauty of sweeping granite and open space. On May 16th, after spending 6 days without contact with another person, I topped out and emptied the remaining contents of my haulbag on a flat rock. I spent a timeless hour perched on Looking down into the void on the Muir Wallâ€”J. Roop a boulder, contemplating
the setting sun while shoveling spaghetti-Os into my mouth. Two wall rats eventually showed up and offered to guide me down the East ledges, and I spent that night (and most of the next day) asleep under the pine trees in the meadow, exhausted and victorious. -Jeremy Roop
Red Dihedral IV 5.10 and Positive Vibrations IV 5.11, Incredible Hulk, High Sierras September 23-25 2009 Richard Brereton (’07), Hayden Miller (’10) and Kevin Brumbach (’07) Three weeks of spectacular climbing in Yosemite Valley fed Rich’s and my thirst for long granite routes. However, the very hot days and difficult to avoid crowds in the Valley stimulated our interest in the Incredible Hulk. Our good friend Hayden had met us in the Valley and was going to join us for a day in the Sierras. We left the Valley and drove to Twin Lakes to camp out for the evening. As we were exploring the forest service roads in search of a camp site our rugged 1994 BMW sedan (The Red Scare) found itself backed up on a large microwave sized boulder, caving in the trunk and preventing us from going any farther (forward or back). Hayden and I pushed The Red Scare as Rich gave it some gas, but after burning through all the rubber on the right rear tire we were no further off the rock than when we started. Thankfully some bear hunters came upon us and had pity. With the use of their Yamaha, the car jack, and a few beers we were able to remove the rock and extricate The Red Scare without further damage.
Rick Brereton feeling the good Positive Vibrations—K. Brumbach
20 Kevin Brumbach attempting to scare the Hulk.—R. Brereton
The next morning came sooner than desired after an evening of car tomfoolery. We left the main hiking trail to find the climber’s trail which would lead us to the Hulk. After some light scrambling and a little bush-whacking we found the climber’s trail. I fell behind Rich and Hayden to “water the flowers” and as I was catching up the only sounds to be heard were the horrified, bloodcurdling screams of Hayden. Expecting broken bones and deadly carnage, I ran up the trail to see what the matter was. Before I knew it I was running directly into the middle of an enormous swarm of angry hornets hovering over their hive! I jumped to the right sliding down boulders and bushes escaping unscathed. Catching up to Rich I found him stoically rubbing his four stings, while Hayden was running wildly through the scree field swinging his arms and scratching his bites. The rest of the approach went smoothly and we soon found ourselves at the base of the Red Dihedral. Leading in blocks, Rich headed off linking the first two pitches to the base of the routes namesake. The corner was beautiful, sustained, and clean but ended all too shortly. I had the next block leading around the arête and up the rambling ledges to the base of an Indian Creek splitter high above the basin below. A couple pitches later, Hayden led us to the ridge and the final pitches to the summit where we squeezed through the final summit notch. A long descent back to the car brought on hunger and a thirst for beer. We slogged into the Twin Lakes grill, ordered greasy meals with a local pint and watched Hayden pick at his swollen bites. The next morning Hayden headed off to Joe’s Valley for some bouldering and the call of a lady. Rich and I decided to hike back into the Hulk that day to camp out and attempt the route Positive Vibrations. As we loaded our gear into the car to head to the trail, we discovered that playing The Clash for an hour was a bit much for the battery and we weren’t headed anywhere until we got a jump. Hiking back to the Hulk was even more exciting the second time, knowing we would be sleeping in one of the most peaceful and impressive basins around. We slept soundly under the stars humming the tune to Bob Marley’s “Rastaman Vibration.”
We woke slowly in the cold morning air, bagels with cream cheese and a pot of tea got us out of bed. Rich took the first block of the day starting with a quick link-up of the first two pitches making it a 200+ foot pitch. As expected the pitch was full of clean rock, and perfect features making for a nice warm up for the many pitches to follow. I met Rich at the belay, gave him the rack and a quick high-five and he was off to tackle the first of the two 5.11 pitches. He ascended the initial corner with ease and stopped briefly at the crux to realize that the only gear available would have to be placed behind a very loose flake. Placing a #8 BD nut he ventured out onto the face to make a couple delicate moves to access the perfect hand jam in the next crack system to the right. Moving upward proved daunting as the gear was still sketchy and the climbing slightly awkward, but he flawlessly made his way to the belay. Rich finished up his block with two more pitches of fantastic and fun climbing and happily handed me the rack for the 180 foot sustained 5.11 crux pitch. Starting the crux pitch proved to be the mental challenge of the route for me as I was delicately stemming up a corner placing the smallest micro nuts made. After several moves I finagled a perfect 00 BD C3 and progressed upward to a locker roof. The roof was easy in comparison to the awkward flair that followed. The flair forced out several grunts, and a waterfall of sweat but I was rewarded with a small ledge to rest on below the 10+ fingers. The fingers were amazing and the perfect introduction to the 5.11 steep tips I was about to encounter at the end of the pitch. A small nut protected the start of the tips crack and after a few moves I placed my last small piece of gear, a blue Alien. Several strenuous moves and an airy mantle brought me to the end and with a burst of excitement I yelped “off belay”! The final two pitches to the ridge were smooth, minus some route finding difficulties. We heard reports that The Venturi Effect (another amazing looking route) could be rapped to prevent the rambling pitches back to the summit. We chose this option. Our second to last rappel proved the most terrifying. Rapping a full 70m we knew that if the ropes hung up, we would be screwed. As luck would have it, after pulling the ropes for 30 feet, our knot became stuck in the crack above. Several minutes of panic and many large pulls released the knot and we were able to continue the descent to the ground. We left that afternoon vowing to return to try many more of the amazing routes offered by this towering hulk of granite in the High Sierras! -Kevin Brumbach
Colorado Childhood’s End III 5.12-, Big Rock Candy Mountain, South Platte September 2009 Jeremy Roop (’06) and Joe Forrester (’06) The third definition given by Webster’s Dictionary for the verb “ to suffer” is “to put up with especially as inevitable or unavoidable.” Jeremy Roop flew into Denver on September 15th in preparation for our upcoming climbing trip to Malawi, Africa. His goal was to whip me into the climbing shape. I hadn’t touched rock in at least five
22 Jeremy Roop on approach to the Big Rock Candy Mountain—J. Forrester
months and had spent the last three months on an extended kayak expedition. Needless to say he had his work cut out for him. Jeremy suggested that we go into the Platte and try something on Big Rock Candy Mountain. The Big Rock is notorious for long run-outs and I immediately agreed. The entire two-day trip proved to be quite the adventure. The day Roop flew in we threw his bags in the car and charged down through Sedalia to the Platte. Passing Turkey Rocks in the dark, we turned on what we thought was FR 205. Only the next morning, after our descent to the South Platte River, did we recognize our mistake. We had inadvertently turned onto FR 206. We were not dissuaded from our plan and four-wheeled back up the road until we found FR 205. After another prolonged 4WD descent we arrived at the Big Rock. The skies were moderately cloudy but we felt great so we started the descent at 11 am. Quite the “gentlemen of leisure” start time. The first seven pitches flew by and we felt great switching leads every other pitch. Then came the crux. As I yarded thru on quickdraws, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of wonder as to how Jer managed to on-sight the pitch. Jeremy then led the next 5.10 pitch. The clouds were starting to coalesce and a light drizzle had started. By the time he was finished, the light drizzle had turned into a deluge. Only three 5.6x pitches were between the summit and us. There were rivers on either side of us and no protection between anchors. As Roop neared 120ft of unprotected slab climbing in the rain, I paused to consider what I would do if he fell. Would I unclip myself from the anchor and fall a bit so that his fall would be shortened? Or would I pay out a little slack to soften the fall to prevent ripping the anchor? How would I drag his broken body out from the bottom of the cliff when I only had flip-flops? Thankfully, the decision was never forced. Jeremy finished his pitch and then I got to lead the remaining two unprotected slabs in the pouring rain. The suffering was nearly complete; we were wet, cold, scared and tired from the climbing. As a grand finale, thunder claps filled the valley as we summited the Big Rock. Only after we’d finally arrived back at the car and finished with the four wheeling, did we accept that we were done. Did I get in better shape because of the climb? Probably not. Am I ready for the next suffer-fest with a great climbing buddy? Most certainly. -Joe Forrester
All Mixed Up IV WI4-, Rocky Mountain National Park January 2009 David Hoven (’06) and Kyle Davis This was the first climb I have ever done in the Park that did not involve frostbite temps, nasty spindrifts and horrendous winds. It did, however, involve a long and tiring trudge through several feet of untracked snow from Mill’s Lake up to the base of the climb. The climb itself was in less than ideal condition, with mostly very thin ice and lots of mixed climbing. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic day and loads of fun. We topped out the excellent route right as the sun went down, then got “all mixed up” on the walk off and didn’t end up back at Mill’s lake until about 9pm. - Dave Hoven
X-Men III 5.10 R, X Rock, Tarryall Mountains Brendan O’Donoghue (’12) and Will McDonald Staff Training is one of the more fun parts of a summer of guiding, but even better is the off days between such tedious exercises as climbing at the Turkey Rocks “for recon purposes,” and seeing if I can eliminate one of the 6 pieces of gear I use for guiding the Staircase (5.5) at 11-Mile (a.k.a. work). On one such day off Will and I decided to get on X Rock, a prominent line in the Tarryalls. To prepare we called the first ascensionist and our former boss at Outpost Wilderness Adventure, Quentin Keith. His beta boiled down to these key points. -Use mountain bikes for the approach -Bring doubles of camalots through number 4 -Stay to the left of the ‘X’ -The descent probably isn’t bad because he couldn’t remember it -If you do the right half “Bring your leathers” The scariest part of this list is the rack suggestion. After all, Quentin has sandbagged me into bringing much less gear than I should have. His vaguest suggestion, “Bring your leathers,” had me and Will scratching our heads. After a quasi-alpine start, we loaded into Will’s 4-Runner and began the age-old tradition of hitting prairie dogs and potholes on the Tarryall Road. With loaded packs and biking gear we forded Tarryall Creek at the Allen Ranch and began the 300 ft vertical hike-a-bike up to Bradley Pass. After 30 minutes of hiking, we reached the jeep road which would take us up to the Lost Creek Wilderness Boundary. At the wilderness boundary, we ditched our bikes, wrung out our sweaty cotton T-shirts, switched shoes, and started hiking. Eventually we got to the base of the climb with only a few major flesh wounds inflicted by overgrown shrubbery. Will took the first lead, through a dirty, loose, vegetated seam (5.9ish). Now, I thought Haley’s comet was disintegrating in the Earth’s atmosphere as small debris kept raining down on me, but it turned out to be crystals that Will’s feet kicked off. After Will’s successful lead I followed the pitch, using some of the loosest crystals I have climbed on. Will then started on pitch 2 which involved pulling a rotten roof into the bot-
tom left of the X and continued to a belay in the middle of the X. He canoodled with various options for protecting the overhanging crack and launched into it. About two moves after he pulled the roof and he looked back and gave me the unmistakable ‘I got a bomber jam’ look. In the words of Will, “The Tarryall Valley started coming towards me very fast.” We didn’t pull the rope after the fall thus ruining the free ascent we hadn’t been shooting for, but it’s not like a 15-footer onto a .3 camalot makes us bold or anything. After thanking me for the catch, Will promptly got back on his pony and cruised the pitch. I followed and my feet cut in the same place that Will’s had. The belay in the center of the X was not as magical as I had anticipated. It was over grown with rather large and unpleasant bushes. The center of the X gave us perspective on the unclimbed right half of the face. It would have been about squeeze chimney size, on sharp, loose Tarryall granite, tilted left at about 55 degrees. A good route for leathers (although I’m still not quite sure what sort of leathers Quentin meant, but I know that I would have wanted them). My lead of the second pitch was 71 meters, and I had 3 or 4 pieces that would fit in the crack. That’s about as terrified as I’ve been on 5.9 slab. I took the epic 4th pitch. It turned out to be another rope stretcher maxing out at easy 4th class. Now the question was: walk off left or walk off right? We decided left. Our decision turned out to be correct. On the descent I found a geology hammer and tour packs. We destroyed some peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches. As predicted we had a quick and AWESOME descent back to the creek, and drove back. Awaiting us was the traditional reward of fame, money, and chicks that climbers always get after an epic. That’s what makes the climb worth it. -Brandon O’ Donoghue
The Scenic Cruise V 5.10, The Black Canyon of the Gunnison July 11, 2009 Joel Irby (’06) and David Hoven (’06)
Dave Hoven getting ready for a Scenic Cruise.—J.Irby
Joel and I crept out of our tent one Saturday morning around 4:30 am, downed some coffee and bagels, racked up, and headed down the Cruise Gully for a long day of climbing. We found the start of the Cruise and
were off the ground by around 7:30, simul-climbing the first several pitches to the base of the really fun stuff. We opted for the ‘Scenic’ variation in lieu of hauling around a bunch of big cams for the infamous off-width on The Cruise. The first third of the climb could not have been better, the climbing was superb and the weather was perfect. Around 11am we climbed ourselves into the searing hot July sunshine, making us feel (and look) like one of those lonesome pieces of pepperoni pizza that gets left under the heat-lamp at the 24hr truck stop in Limon, CO. As luck would have it, the sun didn’t stick around for more than a few hours. It was replaced by dark clouds that drizzled rain on and off, but we managed to top out just before the sun set. Regardless of the weather, the climbing and the setting were fantastic. I can’t wait to crawl back into the canyon with some bigger gear for the original line. -Dave Hoven
Tague Yer Astrodog (V 512), The Black Canyon of the Gunnison Madaleine Sorkin (’04) and Chris Kalous “Ode to Black Dreams” Four raptors fly together overhead. Their outstretched wings are still as their bodies shift with the moving air. The sun is going down. The moon is already visible and looks full. We are some 500 feet from the canyon’s rim. My feet are swollen and throb. We began at 6am and now are out of water. My stomach is cramped. I sigh and let my eyes water slightly. In the process of achieving, I am here. The rope pulls tight and I hear Chris’ voice above. I begin to stir. It’s time for me to leave this ledge and start climbing again. At the rim, I belay Chris up to me. I’ve managed a final wet corner system, protected by slinging chockstones, and now sit limply on the gravelly rock with my legs splayed out. I click my headlamp off. Clouds move fast passing under stars and a full moon. It’s a comfortable temperature in a long sleeve shirt, windbreaker and pants. I let my eyes settle on another rock on the rim. It looks like the profile of an old woman. She has a pronounced nose and thick strands of hair flowing away from her face. Her eye looks down into the dark canyon, the river 2000 feet below. Tomorrow this day will be a dream: no more real than any other memory. I will try and remember what he said, what I said, how I felt, what color the sky was … if someone asks, I may say, “It was a great day. The weather was perfect. Chris and I got along really well. I felt fairly open to the challenges and enjoyed being there. I was really tired from the beginning and moved slowly. We topped out at 10 pm! I onsighted everything! Including four 5.12 pitches with tricky gear, etc…. I’m psyched!” My descriptions and even memories will fall short of the actual day and I’m sure different parts of me—ego, mood—will highlight events accordingly. Familiar voices surface. Stresses and struggles that I brought to the canyon’s rim this morning are still here. I feel stuck again. But just for a moment. I breathe
deeply--slowly filling my stomach and chest and releasing as I exhale. Right now I take in my perch on the edge of darkness. I observe my cycles of thoughts and emotions and the sobering impermanence of it all. Thank you Black Canyon. There are a thousand ways you sustain me. Today I strive for the sake of striving. I am exhausted and you give me strength for another day. -Madaleine Sorkin
Escape Artist III 5.9, The Black Canyon of the Gunnison June 7, 2009 Joel Irby (’06) and David Hoven (’06) This was a great introduction to my first experience climbing in the Black. Just about every pitch was excellent, and the traverse pitch is super exposed and exciting. We had originally planned to climb Journey Home, but conveniently slept in until about 10 am and thus decided to change our plans. Escape Artist was an excellent replacement with lots of fun climbing. Unfortunately we were caught in the rain while Joel was leading the crux pitch which led to a surprise whipper off of the 5.6 slab traverse that ends the pitch. The skies cleared for the upper slab pitches and we happily scrambled our way to the rim beckoned by the cold beer that awaited us at the campsite. Joel Irby escaping the Black.—D. Hoven
Suffer Pony at the Disco IV, 5.10R (FA) Black Canyon of the Gunnison September 20th, 2009 Joe Forrester (’06) and Jeremy Roop (’06) Early in the morning of September 20th, 2009, Joe Forrester and I made our way down the SOB gully in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison with the intention of climbing the Porcelain Arête (IV, 5.10). We didn’t climb the Porcelain Arête, but rather found
our way back to the canyon rim via a new route to the right of the intended line. When we arrived at the base of the Porcelain Arête buttress, we were somewhat disheartened by the lack of any significant crack or corner system that would indicate our desired line. Undeterred, we simply roped up and began climbing. We later discovered that we had followed the first pitch of the Porcelain Arête before we heading right. Several relatively easy (mostly 5.7) and low angle 70m pitches wandered through the occasional bush and onto the arête proper, where Joe led up through a steep, sharp roof crack at 5.9. The next pitch managed to remain directly on the arête via tricky 5.10 face moves, before we followed a 5.9 crack around the right side of the buttress. More committing face moves (5.10R) led straight up, back to the arête, and after opting to traverse around a giant pegmatite tower, we climbed two easier pitches to the rim. Our route, named Suffer Pony at Jeremy Roop understanding the meaning of the Disco (IV, 5.10R) is by no means a Black Suffer Pony.—J. Forrester Canyon classic, but offers a moderately graded adventure with spectacular views of the canyon. A topo is available at the ranger station at the north rim. -Jeremy Roop
The Casual Route IV 5.10a, Longs Peak The Diamond, Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park Emily Reinsel (’09) and Drew Thayer (’11) Psyched for a big day, Emily and I woke up at 2 AM, threw our sleeping bags in the back of the car, cranked up some Tool and jammed to the Long’s Peak trailhead. We hiked through pitch dark for a couple hours, until a slight graying to the east began to reveal the outlines of Longs Peak and Mt Meeker above us. By the time we reached Chasm Lake we could just make out the snowfields, talus slopes, and granite ramparts forming the north face of Longs Peak. The sun rose as we inched our way up the Mills “glacier” at the base of the Diamond. The snowfield was glazed hard with ice and ascending the 200 ft or so was pretty tenuous; I tried not to think about the ice-luge. I would certainly enjoy if my shoes failed to grip the slick surface. Seeing that the North Chimney was wet, we opted to rope up on the upper edge of the snowfield. With the growing daylight, we got our first real perspective on the Diamond which loomed above us; staring up at a thou-
sand feet of pure vertical rock, straddling a rib of icy snow and clipping cams to my harness, I had one of those dizzying “what the hell am I doing here?” moments that many of us have experienced at the onset of a climb. We swung leads up the face, following finger cracks, chimneys, and an exquisite dihedral up the wall. Clouds gathered tightly around the summit of Longs Peak as we prepared to climb the final crux pitch, trailing telltale dark fingers of rain. I was pretty fatigued by this point after more than twelve hours of constant movement, but getting this high on the wall had taken longer than we’d anticipated, so there was no time for rest. The crux pitch was physical and varied, including a long stem-box and a good grunt of a squeeze chimney. When I reached the anchor on Table Ledge rain started to spit down, but Emily managed to stem up the smooth, wet rock and squeeze through the wet chimney without incident. Given the light rain and rumbles of thunder in the distance, we opted to rappel instead of walking off over the summit. Emily led an airy traverse over to the first rap bolts and we started down. Unfortunately, the bolted rap anchors are very hard to find and there are numerous tat anchors all over the Diamond, so we lost the official rap route on our first rappel and forged our own path down the wall, meandering back and forth between old gear anchors left behind on other climbs; to reach one we had to pendulum along the wall for 50 feet to lunge out and grab a flake. On our last rappel to Broadway ledge the sky opened up with hail, but we pulled our soggy ropes, climbed up on wet jugs to retrieve a few snagged loops, and walked on towards the final rappels down North Chimney. Again, we found the first rappel bolts but I couldn’t find the second pair, and since I was almost out of rope I swung around a corner to an old gear anchor. We were stuck for some time here while trying to pull our ropes, but luckily the hail abated and I could lead up a slab and get a better angle to pull from. After several tense Emily Reinsel enjoying the exposure of the Diamond.—D. Thayer minutes the ropes finally pulled, and as darkness fell we
made another rap; this time, searching for anchors, my headlamp beam filtering through the hail glinted off two shiny points of light…anchors! Another rap took us halfway down the snowfield; we successfully pulled our ropes, which were covered with a lovely ice-sludge, and glissaded down the snowfield to our packs. 9 PM at the base of the Diamond, six miles to the car in the dark with two sopping, icy ropes, but we were warm and pretty dry and I’ve never felt such relief and exhilaration for the adventure of rock climbing in the high mountains. Of course, we got lost for a while in the boulder field and stumbled back to the car, utterly exhausted, at 12:30 AM, but it was perhaps the best climbing day I’ve ever had.
The Casual Route IV 5.10a, Longs Peak August 23, 2009 Joel Irby (’06) and David Hoven (’06) Joel and I started hiking at about 5am on this beautiful Sunday morning and caught a spectacular sunrise right as we hit tree-line. We trudged up the all too familiar hike to Chasm Lake, and reached the base of the North Chimney by around 7:30 am. The North Chimney was free of snow and easy going all the way to Broadway. We started the route in what most climbers would consider perfect Diamond weather and cruised the first five pitches. Joel headed up the crux pitch and finished in fine style right as a nasty black cloud engulfed the previously deep blue sky. As I donned my shoes and the pack, the party behind us took one look up and decided to rap down. I observed their descent to safety as I reconsidered the intelligence behind our decision to bring only one rope. I climbed the 6th pitch as the heavy rain and thunder began. At the belay Joel and I huddled in a tiny alcove to wait for the worst of the storm to pass, watching as lightning bolts tickled the ridgelines of Meeker and Storm Peak (no wonder they call it that). We climbed the final pitches in the rain and got pelted by hail as we scrambled up the last couple hundred feet of Kiener’s. At the top, we downed a Dave Hoven crushing the Diamond—J. Busch Light and then scampered Irby down the slopes of the Key Hole route as more storms rolled in. In the end it was a successful ascent, but it certainly didn’t come without the fear, trembling, and excitement that seem to be present with every route I try in the Park. -Dave Hoven
Relics III 5.10 C2, Grand View Spire, Colorado National Monument November 2008 David Hoven (’06) and Kyle Davis Kyle and my ascent of Relics went awry before we even got to the base of the tower. Rapping into the canyon via Grand View Point, Kyle mistakenly went down the wrong way. He was dangling over 100 feet down, rapping off a huge overhanging capstone before he could see that the end of the rope was about 80 feet short of the base of the canyon. The poor guy had to jug back up to the rim and we readjusted the ropes to hit the saddle between the rim and Grand View Spire. We scrambled our way down to the canyon floor and finally got our first look at the route at about 2pm. The first pitch consisted of spectacular 5.10 desert crack climbing that offered everything from off-width to perfect hands to scary lie-backing. In lieu of starting the long C2 pitch an hour and a half before nightfall we fixed a line from the top of pitch one and decided to return the next day. Thinking we had a casual day of climbing we did not make it back to the base of the route until 10 am the next day. Even though the climbing went well we did not reach the summit until after the sun had set. On the summit we set up a tyrolean to the canyon rim. (We had dangled a piñata donkey head from the center point of the Tyrolean rope to entice the many on-lookers). Kyle set off first but as he reached the center point between the two anchors his Gri-gri somehow got jammed and he was more or less stuck, hanging between summit and rim in the middle of the cold, cold night for well over an hour. From the summit, all I could see of Kyle was the small white light from his headlamp. Kyle was dangling in black space much like the piñata donkey head while I sat and shivered on the small summit. Employing my arKyle Davis with the Pinata. Both have a creepy, yet happy look.—D. senal of rope work trickery Hoven along with a grueling effort from Kyle we were finally able to get him back to the summit of the tower where we rapped down to the saddle. The summit was attained, but not without a heavy handed lesson in humility.
Southern Colorado Bouldering Development Fall/Winter 2008/2009 Hayden Miller (10’) “I swear it was right around here,” I yelled to my friend Byron Johnson, a close friend and local Colorado Springs boulderer I met when I arrived at CC. He gave me a skeptical look from his location 100 yards down the hill. Byron and I had been on enough exploratory hikes looking for new rock that we were usually better than this at returning to things we already discovered. This time, however, I was the only one who had seen the boulder and I had approached from the opposite direction. After over an hour of hiking, we dropped back down to the road in Elevenmile Canyon and returned to the car. I try to console Byron, telling him how tall, clean, and proud this boulder was but it was just as much an attempt to console myself. We returned the next week and managed to find the boulder quickly. Unfortunately, we had been within 300 yards or so on our previous attempt. We set about building a landing for one of the more striking lines on it, which was above another boulder and a sloping landing. Within the hour, we were working the problem. It turned out to be harder than we thought. Typical. I cannot even count the number of times I think I’ve stumbled upon a sweet V7 only to not even be able to do the moves. A few weeks later and another 300 miles on my car’s odometer, I topped out Where the Wild Things Aren’t (V8) for the first ascent. The line to the right, Nathan’s Couch (V10), remains undone. I fall into an interesting group of climbers. My two favorite aspects are multipitch traditional climbing and bouldering. I often get weird looks about one or the other of my favorite pursuits depending on the group I am talking to. Trad climbers ask me what attracts me to pebble wrestling and boulders ask me what attracts me to fighting my way up a painful crack. Well, I like problem solving and I like getting onto huge things, so both genres make me happy when I do them. However, it was now late fall, and things were getting a bit cold to be tied into a rope. During this bouldering season of my junior year at Colorado College, I bagged first ascents of nearly 30 new problems. However, I want to share the story of a few special ones. Newlin Creek was the first place I headed, which, due to its location in the Wet Mountains and the tight, heavily forested canyon, would be the first to get snowed out. I had my eye on two tall lines on one of Newlin Creek’s largest boulders. However, these climbs were more of a solo than boulder problems due to their 20 plus foot height and terrible talus landings. I decided to go head point style on them and rappelled in to chalk the holds and try the moves. After determining a sequence I thought would work, I gathered as many pads as I could and starting trying them ropeless. The first to go was Tick, Tack, Attacktics (V7). While this was the taller of the two, the landing was slightly better. After jumping from 15 feet because I did not feel secure enough, I chalked up and climbed all the way through, quickly but delicately moving off of the bad slopers at the 20-foot mark. Then it was onto Peanut Butter Pudding Surprise (V6). This problem was shorter but likely more dangerous since a spotter must successfully body check the falling climber onto the pads, otherwise you are going to miss the small landing zone and fly another 15 or 20 feet into more talus. This problem proved a bit easier, however, since the compression moves fit my style perfectly.
In December, my friend Dave Jones, another local climber, started making some interesting claims: he spoke of a climbing area that combined the patina crimps of Bishop with the featured roofs of Hueco Tanks. I figured if the area was half of what he professed, then it would still be worth the hike. My first visit I was awfully hungover, and the hike seemed hours longer. However, my mood changed immediately after arriving at the boulders. The rock was not the typical featureless South Platte granite but actually had holds up overhanging faces. Through the middle of the winter, while the skiers complained about how little snow they were getting, we were happily climbing in t-shirts and shorts. The first to go down was an amazing patina face as good as any in Bishop. But it was the fact that the boulder was balanced on top of the area’s highest slab that made it so interesting. I called it Moment of Clarity (V8). For the remainder of the season, I picked off the best lines one by one, including my personal favorites Rocktown (V9) and Clubbing Baby Fur Seals (V7). However, as things started to warm up, it was time to bring the rope back out of the closet and get that endurance back. The fine-grained, red desert sand still remained in little crevices of my car and was calling me back. - Hayden Miller Maroon Bells Traverse, 4th class, Aspen July 2009 Ben Lamm (‘01) and Brian Sohn (‘01) Chris Barlow (’04) made some jokes about Ben and I coming all the way out to Colorado to climb huge piles of choss, but, at least up until a certain point, it was going well. We camped above Crater Lake in Minnehaha Gulch and tried our best to avoid making little jokes (pun-intended). Starting around 5am, we followed what was mostly a super-highway across the rock field and into the gullies. The “Deadly Bells” are notorious for horribly rotten and loose rock but we did not find more of it than one might expect anywhere else in the Rockies. We were met in the second gulley by a confused, fur-shedding mountain goat that was trying to figure out what these two ugly, unstable, two-legged creatures were. Unfazed by the goat’s stare-down, we climbed onto the ridge through a series of ledges and 4th class moves and arrived on the summit at 8am. The spring rains had made the mountains green. I thought it looked like Wales or something but I’ve never been there, so take that for what it’s worth. The clouds were looking nasty, so we got right to the traverse. We did not bring a rope, nor did we don climbing shoes. The down-climbing was mild 4th class and even when you’re a couple of old farts with lots of mountain experience, it turns out you don’t even need to take off your gloves. South Maroon peak went into a cloud, and we did not want to get into a whiteout on the extremely exposed ridge so we dug deep and moved quickly. Just our luck, the clouds cleared when we summited South Maroon at 9:20am. There were a few other folks up there with whom we shared our extravagant lunch of goat cheese and summer sausage. For the first time in my life from a summit, I sent some text messages to family and fiancé. At 14k in CO, “Sorry I haven’t called.” I was tired having just come from
sea level a few days before, but psyched about my lack of alti- View from the Maroon Bells.—B. Sohn tude sickness and my ability to keep moving. We were having so much fun, until on the way down S. Maroon, Ben noticed a snowfield. “Let’s go down this and do some glissading!” he suggested as he began to descend. I stepped on it and noticed the snow was too hard to do such a thing in tennis shoes. Ben was already selfarresting/glissading down the 55-degree snow. I looked down and thought how fun and easy it would be to ski. But there were no skis and no heel-plunging. I tried, slipped, and started selfarresting for dear life. This was some 2000 vertical feet (fearinspired estimate) of petrifying descent from hell. Ben was apologetic. “I’ve been more scared,” I said, “but I’m really scared, and have been for so long that I feel like I’m going to puke.” I didn’t puke, but I did nearly freeze my fingers off sliding and falling all the way down. I decided to stop my mental tantrum, knowing that fear, tiredness and a bad attitude are a good recipe for getting hurt. “Just a few hundred more vertical feet and it’ll get fun!” I said. I don’t know if Ben was convinced, but I was and it helped. However, the slope didn’t ease off. It remained steep until about the very last 100 vertical feet, which we were finally able to boot ski. “I guess we needed a ‘and then,’ for the story, right?” I asked. “Oh well,” Ben replied. “We did the traverse, and now we’re almost down and we’re not hurt.” So there you go. I could have skipped the gripping part of the story and focused more on the goofy guy from Toronto on top of S. Maroon that made us all take a picture with a finger up our noses. Of course, I am partly to blame for agreeing to go down the snow field. But we didn’t get hurt. We rocked it. Now I get to write for the local Pikeville, KY newspaper, “KENTUCKY BOYS ROCK THE SWEETEST-ASS TRAVERSE IN THE COLORADO ROCKIES!” -Brian Sohn
Anaconda 5.11, Garden of the Gods Dan Dalton (‘08) I have been climbing seriously for about four years now, but I still remember how I felt when I was first introduced to climbing at Colorado College. In such a gorgeous environment, so close to quality climbing of every kind, it was hard not to become addicted to this unique sport. My first lead climb ever was in Garden of the Gods on a route called Potholes. From that point on I became obsessed with the Garden and would make two to three trips a week during school to fill my thirst of sandstone climbing. I would poke and prod around; dragging anyone I knew to come along. If they couldn't belay, I would teach them how. One line in particular caught my eye: Anaconda. This climb tackles a crack broken up by face holds, all tucked away in a massive dihedral on the northwest face of North Gateway rock. It was first put up on aid by the great Layton Kor and then later freed by Colorado Spring's own Jimmy Dunn. While there are places to put in gear, the whole route is protected on old pitons jammed into the sand, just far enough apart to keep me on my toes. The first time I climbed the route I couldn’t even pull the crux moves. I returned a week later and after falling many times at the crux, finally made the moves. I knew I could do the climb, but it would just be a matter of time. I continued climbing around the Garden and expanded my view of the climbing scene near Colorado Springs. Frequent trips to Shelf Road, the South Platte, and Ute Pass helped me grow stronger and gain a better understanding of how to climb. A year later I was finally back at
Kevin Brumbach sending the pencil.—partner
Getting bit by the Anaconda, Dan Dalton takes the whip.—S. Berger
‘Anaconda’ and sent it first go. It is now one of my favorite climbs and I love taking people to share this local gem. I have since moved away from the Springs after graduating and rarely make it to the Garden, but I know its lessons helped me grow mentally and physically as a person and as a climber. I hope others climbers in the Springs won’t take one of America’s oldest crags for granted and will add to its rich history. -Dan Dalton
Montana The Last Hurrah, WI4+/5- (FA), Hyalite Canyon March 28, 2009 Kevin Brumbach (’07), Matt Steen and Dylan Taylor When deciding to move to Bozeman this past winter to focus on ice climbing I hadn’t the slightest clue as to what was in store for me. I soon discovered Hyalite to be a Mecca for short to long ice climbs all with an alpine feel. Being one for isolation I frequented the long approaches through deep snow in search of obscure routes. On a very sunny March day, absent of a climbing partner, I headed up to Hyalite to climb Silken Falls. After topping out the route I decided to trudge up the gully above to check on the conditions on The Climb above the Dribbles. Upon reaching the base of the climb, I spotted a flow that was not quite touching down, which I later learned had never formed before. Having heard that, I was immediately consumed with the route and quickly made plans to return with two great friends: Matt and Dylan. Heavy snow all that week and the very avalanche prone approach posed a very real concern. The morning dawned with another snow storm and light winds, but the desire to climb before the canyon closed on the 1st of April proved too strong. A careful solo up an approach pitch brought us to the ledge system leading to the route. Concerned about the potential for avalanches, we spent two and a half hours wallowing through waste deep snow and traversing cliff bands fueled by our anticipation for the ice flow above. Upon reaching the base I was happy to find that the ice pencil, now 12 inches in diameter, had finally reached the ground. Racking up with several stubby screws, a couple pins, and a lot of webbing, I began the Kevin Brumbach on approach to The Last ascent delicately tapping my tools and cram- Hurrah.—partner
pons into the pencil. About 10 feet of tenuous climbing and I was at a small stance and able to place a screw and shake out. After the initial pencil the climbing remained sustained, and nearly pitched me off near the top due to the extreme flash pump incurred from the difficult start. The urge to successfully complete this route proved stronger and after screaming a few profanities, and sticking a couple sloppy picks I topped out on a narrow snow ledge. Placing an angle in the rock band above I slowly traversed the snow ledge to a tree to set up the belay, ending with a delighted cheer at the completion of my first FA! Matt followed flawlessly up as he always does. As Dylan started, the pencil had taken all the stress it could and it collapsed, forcing Dylan to traverse in from the left on rotten cobblestone Hyalite rock! With the three of us safely at the top, we noted the accumulation of new snow and decided to high-tail it out of there before the avalanche danger increased. Back at the car realizing that we likely wouldnâ€™t get Kevin Brumbach sending the Last Hurrahâ€”partner anymore climbing in that winter, we aptly named the route, The Last Hurrah! -Kevin Brumbach
New Hampshire Whitney-Gilman Ridge III 5.7, Cannon Cliff September 2007 Ben White ('05) and Andrew Labonte "Is the rope alright!?" Andrew said, his gaze as stern and serious. Although I was alright, Andrew's face reminded me of just how serious the situation might have become if that old piton hadn't held. "Look at it. Did it cut on any edges?" I could see every inch of the rope and it appeared to be in good condition. "I think it's alright, I'm going to keep climbing" I said noticing the slight quiver in my voice.
I had fallen in a particularly airy location, Pitch 3 of the Whitney-Gilman (III 5.7) route on Cannon Cliff in central New Hampshire. Although the climbing is easy, the route takes a tricky and blind step left onto the arête from a small ledge about the size of a paperback book. Beneath that ledge, the Volkswagen sized boulders at the base of the Black Dike Gulley look like small scree and there is nothing but 400 feet of air between me and those jagged rocks. I became interested in technical routes at the Ritt-Kellogg Climbing gym where I spent the majority of my freshman year, watching folks like Renan Ozturk (’02) and Dan Mirsky ('04) with a mix of envy and awe. Andy Newman ('05) was infamous for his ability to carry conversations in “climber-speak”, often with people who despite having learned French in school, furrowed their brows at his excessive usage of the words 'gaston' and 'arete'. I found myself half repelled and half intrigued by a particular conversation with Andy about his plan to climb Crestone Needle via the old CC professor’s route, The Ellingwood Ledges. It was a strange concept to me then, I'd never even placed a nut but that conversation began a long love affair with mountains which would begin to end that autumn day on the Whitney-Gilman. Instead of making the step onto the ridge I continued straight up the north wall, following a line of old pitons that appeared to join the ridge after about 25 feet of steep and exposed climbing. As I approached the first piton, I could see that it was old. It wiggled a little but I clipped it anyway and kept climbing. As I climbed higher the rope wavered back and forth with the movement of my body, tugging gently at the piton. It shifted slightly in response to these moderate forces. I saw a small pebble dislodge from the crack where the piton was lodged. "Don't fall on that thing", I thought. That same thought ran through my head with that other piton 10 feet below me. The climbing wasn't terribly hard but it was enough of a change from the mellow 5.7 terrains that we'd been climbing that my muscles tensed up, I lost focus, and I fell. It’s a strange feeling to know that you’re about to get hurt and then to find yourself unscathed. As I hung above the Black Dike, the vastness looming below me, I tried to slow my breathing. It was Andrew’s voice that pulled me back to reality. I climbed the next two pitches after the fall on adrenaline alone. In almost a full 70 meter rope length, I placed maybe 3 pieces of gear. Perching myself at the last belay, I began to tremble as I thought of my girlfriend. I was leaving her in New York so that I could return to Colorado. Climbing and being in the mountains was intimately tied to my decision to leave and as I belayed Andrew in the disappearing daylight I resisted the urge to quiver and began to question my choice to leave Sarah. From the parking lot our friend Joe (last name unknown) watched Andrew turn on his headlight for the last pitch. It was dark by the time I got to the top and we descended in the blackness of the forest to find Joe nervously walking the bike path looking for us. Joe had started the climb with us but rappelled after the first pitch because of a shoulder problem. He had watched us the whole way from the parking lot. When it got dark, he got nervous -- perhaps sensing some of my fear from a mile away, and decided to report the situation to a passing state trooper. The police notified Search and Rescue and they had set a 'rescue time' for 10 PM; if we had not safely returned by then, we would have been targets of a full rescue mission. Andrew and I reached the parking lot about 9:15 and were shortly followed by a state trooper and a nearby friend of Joe's that he'd called in panic. Unbeknownst to us, there were people all over
central New Hampshire minutes away from donning their harnesses to come and rescue us. Swallowing some frustration at having to deal with all this, I converted what little anger I had at Joe into appreciation for his concern. I apologized to the officer, told him we were fine and that was that. Starving, I scoured my car for some food and emerged with only a fortune cookie left over from dinner with my family a week prior. My heart jumped before I opened it expecting, as I sometimes do, an eerily appropriate fortune. The paper read - Serious trouble will bypass you. -Ben White
Black Dike, WI4 5.6, Canon Cliff, New Hampshire January 2009 Michael Wejchert (’08) I soloed the Black Dike a couple of times this winter. I had never done the route proper, so the first time crossing the rock traverse was plenty exciting, especially with a hangover and encompassing darkness. I never brought ropes or gear to bail because that negates the purpose of soloing. The first time I left the parking lot at around 2 p.m. to beat the crowds and to have enough motivation to move quickly. As chance would have it, I met a kid who had been on my cross country team in high school in the Cannon parking lot. He and his partner had bailed due to thin ice mushrooms on the last pitch. I figured I’d find a way to climb them once I got there. The next time I did it, the uncertainty had gone and with it the entire reason of climbing in the first place. I climbed it car-to-car in 2:03, running down the trail and to the parking lot. Keep in mind the route was soloed by John Bouchard in 1971 for the FA. Then, I drove to North Cornflake and enjoyed free PBR and company of other climbers (some of whom had been on the route) at the New Hampshire Ice Fest. Other fun training climbs this winter included: Repentance (WI5), once with Everett Phillips and once with Majka Burhardt, some mixed climbing with a girl whose name escapes me, and climbing all the gullies in Mt. Washington’s Huntington’s Ravine in an afternoon. -Michael Wejchert
North Carolina Various Activity, Whitesides and Table Rock, NC March 2009 Joe Forrester (’06) and Brian Sohn (’01) Two days, two thousand feet and too little training. Experience matters. That’s what I kept telling myself as I was looking up about 50 feet up to see the first and only bolt on the pitch. Surrounded by country clubs and summer homes at the base of Whitesides Mountain in North Carolina , Joe Forrester and I had slept in a gravel culde-sac a few miles from the cliff. Early in the morning we hade driven to the trailhead and made the rhododendron-choked descent to the base of the wall. I spent the last three years well under 800 feet off the deck and lost any semblance of my base level of fitness. These factors contributed to my anxiety as I finally spied the bolt. The stories of Whitesides as told by Arno Ilgner and others as a place the meek should avoid also didn’t help. The run-out is serious, but the first pitch of the Original Route is only a 5.7 slab. By the time I was within a few feet of the bolt my nervousness was gone. Joe linked the next two pitches to reach the base of the first hard section, a 10c bulge in an alcove. I whipped going for it the first time, and almost blew the clip when I did send on my second try. As we gained height, more and more summer homes came into view. A few more pitches led to the 5.11a crux, a bolt ladder and my lead. I clipped, yarded on the nylon jugs, and pulled another A0 move as I exited left to link up with the final pitch of Traditions. Joe led a nicely overhanging 5.10a and a jug that Joe swore he’ll remember for a lifetime. “It’s like the kind of jug you’d only find in a gym!” he yelled down to me. “Savor this one, man!” And he did, looking around behind and below him at the 700 or so feet we had climbed in less than four hours. “Brian! I found some donuts!” said Joe. We were back in the parking lot where a lady and her two children, waiting on her husband to get out of the porto-john, witnessed dumpster diving for what must have been the first time. Joe’s extensive scrounging skills really paid off in a box of half-eaten donuts which he consumed in front of the horror striken mother. It was only 2:30 pm, so I was glad I had brought a bunch of papers to grade. Considering that I was skipping Brian Sohn enjoying the bullet granite of Whitesides.—J. Forrester
school, grading--along with the pluton we’d just climbed--assuaged my guilt for abandoning my students. After a nap and a few beers, we decided to go climb on the Carolina Wall in the Linville Gorge. First, we stopped for a fuel-up at the Mexican restaurant because with our tomes of experience, both of us had forgotten to bring a stove. In the Linville Gorge, Ginger Cake Road brought us to a bed of pine needles that felt like feathers compared to the gravel of the night before. Rested and ready, we drove to the parking lot to find the road to the Table Rock parking area gated and falcon closures posted for the Carolina Wall; we had neglected to read the section in the guide about “road closures.” We got our approach on and none too soon, considering the barely-above-freezing temps and overcast sky. When we started soloing Jim Dandy, a 5.5 on the right side of the east face of Table Rock, the cold slowed us down and numbed our fingers as ice fell off the rock above. The crux was at the top, where we happened upon some exposed, overhanging 5.7 traverse moves with frozen fingers. We counted at least six double-ring belay stations, so our pitch count for the weekend was up to 13. We had almost reached our goal of doing more pitches at Table Rock than the seven we did on Whitesides. By the time we got back to the base, the sun was shining and the birds were singing so we kept climbing. We decided to try A Tall Climb to Be Good On (5.9), this time with a rope. Another 500 or so feet and a little North Carolina bushwhack led to the top of Table Rock for the second time. Discussions of economics and memories about our previous glory fueled the quick descent for a final route. Cracker Jack is a two-pitch route on the shorter south end of Table Rock. I got to lead a wandering but nice, long 5.7 dihedral with some airy moves near the top. Joe got the next pitch. After disappearing into the crack, the only thing I saw of him before we met on the summit was his left leg kicking wildly from what appeared to be a horizontal body position. “Why do I always get stuck with the off-width?” came his muffled l a me n t from above. Back at the trucks, we opened some beers and turned on some Warren Zevon. We ate the cold leftovers and congratulated ourselves on our epic achievement. It’s all relative after all. Just a week earlier at work I was out with my students in 20 degree temps stencil-painting some Spanish-themed t-shirts when I told them about the time Joe and I had open-bivied 13,000 feet up on the side of Long’s Brian Sohn taking in a view of the Piedmont on Table Rock.—J. Peak in October. It was the Forrester coldest I had ever been: I
was shivering too much to sleep. So for us (a couple of “older than we used to be guys”: Joe in medical school and me being a dedicated high school teacher), it felt badass to climb 2000 feet in a weekend. After all, it isn’t about the climb. It’s about the experience. -Brian Sohn
Utah North Chimney III 5.9, Castleton Tower, Castle Valley Drew Thayer (’11) and Dan Rothberg (’11) After climbing Ancient Art in the Fischer Towers the day before, Dan and I were excited to climb the classic North Chimney route on Castleton Tower. We thought a four pitch climb would make for a pretty easy day, but at nine in the morning, when we turned too early off the Castle Valley road and almost high-centered Dan’s Toyota Highlander in a wash, we set off a chain reaction of blunders that would plague us well past sunset. Since we parked south of the main parking lot, we missed the trail to Castleton and instead circled all the way around the north side of the tower, where we began an hour and a half slogfest up loose sand and scree, followed by some sketchy moves up the crumbling cliff band to the base of Castleton Tower in all its glory.—J. Forrester the tower. Our bungled approach took us over three hours, and just as we clambered over the cliff band we saw a large party easily walking up the trail… just a minute ahead of us. Of course, they were also planning on climbing North Chimney, and Dan and I spent the early afternoon reading and napping in the sun as a laboriously slow party-ofthree crept up the route. They finally left the first belay at 4:00 pm. Despite the late hour we roped up and I lead the stellar twin cracks of the first pitch, regretting that we didn’t bring more hand-sized cams. Dan quickly followed, and then linked the two chimney pitches in one lead to save time. The topo was confusing, however, and he placed his belay lower than we were supposed to be. When I reached him at the top of the chimney, the desert was sliding into beet-red dusk. We donned headlamps. We were suckered in by some tat on the other
side of the chimney, crossed and lead a long traverse which included an awkward “superman” move where I had to extend horizontally with my legs jammed and nothing but air down to the base of the tower underneath my chest and belly. I kept traversing until the rope drag got horrendous and suddenly I could hear Dan again, only 30 feet away. Damn. I’d just made a circle around a pillar, and now it was properly dark. Motivated by the darkness and increasing cold, I downclimbed the airy moves—less scary in the dark—cleaned my gear, and lead up the top of the chimney and up the final short face to the summit. We didn’t get to see the view we anticipated from the summit of Castleton, but it was a unique experience to be up on that tower on a new moon, with only the Rectory barely visible by starlight and the La Sals floating ghostlike in the distance. Luckily, we had observed a party rapping during our afternoon wait, and so had some idea of where the anchors were as I rapped down into the darkness. It was now 10:00 pm and we were beat, but we knew the trail now, so we’d be at the car in no time, right? Wrong. We lost the trail several times in the darkness, sketching over loose talus cones, inadvertently blundering across the fire road and bushwacking up another slope to find ourselves on top of a bluff looking down at the Castle Valley road. We tried to descend the slickrock, got cliffed out, retraced our steps, stomped around in the cactus and yucca for another hour, then finally found the fire road and made it to the car, where our friends had been waiting for 4 hours. 1 AM. We drove into Moab, laid waste to a platter of spicy chicken sandwiches at Denny’s, then drove back to our camp on Potash Road to recuperate for our drive to Red Rocks, Nevada the next day. -Drew Thayer
Something Wicked This Way Comes VI 5.9 A2+/un-ratable mud groveling, Gothic Nightmare, Mystery Towers March 2009 Jeremy Roop (’06) and Joe Forrester (’06)
Jeremy Roop straddling something wicked.—J. Forrester
In mid March 2009 Joe Forrester (‘06) called me up and asked if I was interested in climbing a route in the Mystery Towers with him. I’m not sure why I agreed to this proposal, but Joe’s exuberance can be infectious, and at 6 a.m. on a cold frosty morning, we were rallying his Trailblazer up Onion Creek, searching for the Mystery’s elusive
slot canyon approach. Our chosen route ascended the Southeast face of the Gothic Nightmare Tower and was essentially a curtain of mud. Thankfully Joe had volunteered to take the first pitch. Unfortunately, the first pitch turned out to be 210 feet long with several absent rivets, and took a joint effort and over 8 hours to ascend. I also learned how to use bird beaks on this pitch after Joe sand-bagged me into getting on the sharp end, and then gave me the sage advice of “just pound something into the mud and weight it.” The next day we woke up even earlier and made a push for the summit. I led a long wide pitch that involved strenuous arm barring on crumbling feet as I attempted to conserve the large cams we had brought. Joe led the crux pitch where an entire rivet ladder seemed to have ripped out and extensive trickery was called for. After a wild and poorly protected summit mantle, we were on top. A few hours later, we were back at the car, exhausted after a 17 hour day, but dancing madly in the middle of the road to bad techno music. Beer and tortilla chips were plentiful, and we were both psyched to be adventuring once again in the red desert that four years of block breaks had taught us to love. -Jeremy Roop
Various Activity, Castle Valley Commemorative Block Break: April 2nd-April 5th or so. Caroline Alden (‘07) Phil Armstrong (07) Richard Brereton (‘08) Kevin Brumbach (‘07) Adam McKinley (‘07) Elena Mihaly (‘07) Justin Strauss (‘06) Michael Wejchert (‘08) Caroline Alden (who is a treasure trove of geology info) picked me up in Boulder and we drove straight to the desert. I had just quit my dish-washing job at Pinkham Notch, NH the day before and sleeping in the desert felt really good, except that Rich, Caroline and I shared a tent because it was so cold. The next morning, Rich and Adam headed back to Colorado. Nothing felt Caroline Alden, Elena Mihaly and Kevin Brumbach on the Rectory.—J. better than to go climb- Strauss ing in Indian Creek, at least until it snowed, and then nothing felt better than to hike around Onion Creek trundling rocks all day while “Squar-oline” and “Elame-a” went to Arches. The Castleton approach didn’t feel any better the next day, and there was definitely snow in the Honeymoon Chimney offwidth. Oh
well. Phil, Justin, and I climbed it anyways, and even got to the top! Kevin, Caroline and Elena climbed Fine Jade, running into Chris Alstrin in the process (not literally). It really was a spectacular little block break. Same time next year? -Michael Wejchert
Kor Route, 5.8 C2 III, Dolomite Spire, River Road September 19, 2009 Dave Hoven, Joel Irby On September 19th, we had a perfect day for aiding in the desert. It was just under 80 degrees with no wind and clear blue skies. We did the route in 4 pitches and topped out on the excellent summit in the mid-afternoon. I was especially psyched to reach the top due to a previous failed attempt a couple years earlier that involved a monster whipper while rope-soloing. Each of the 3 pitches of aid had at least a couple of C2 moves to keep things interesting, and there was even a zesty hook move to bypass some chopped fixed gear. I would recommend the route to anyone who wants to bag the tower without the mental and physical burden of run-out, sandbagged, 5.11 face climbing on Dolofright. Plus the view from the summit is well worth the slog to the base of the tower.
-Dave Hoven D. Hoven and J. Irby on the summit.—J. Roop
Wyoming Owen Spalding III 5.4, Grand Teton June 2009 Lisa Van Sciver (’03) and Emily Stifler(’02) “Layers” For a moment we’re above the clouds, or perhaps, between layers. I watch Lisa down-climb steep snow off the top of the Grand, carefully plunging her ax and kicking steps. Her orange helmet sets off the milky sky and black rock. Hot air is rising, and towering clouds are building. Yesterday’s bitter cold is gone. It’s mid-June in the Tetons. We’re late atop the Grand today, and the air between us also feels hot, tense. Rockfall shatters the milky space below, ringing
out from the Glacier Route on the Middle Lisa Van Sciver on the Teton. Lisa cuts over to the second rap- Owen-Spaulding.—E.Stifler pel, and I start downclimbing quickly. I remember her cautious steps, and meter myself. I join her at the rappel station. “You’re so careful,” I say as I hand her both ends of the rope. “I still want to be climbing and skiing when I’m 60,” she says, threading the ends through the rappel biners. Lisa and I met when we were 12 in Vermont. She taught me how to ski in the woods and how to cause trouble. At CC, we climbed our first grade IV rock routes in the Sawtooths on a Ritt Kellogg Grant, took time off to ski bum in Utah, and read each other’s fiction writing theses. Now, we ski patrol at separate mountains, four hours apart – me near Bozeman and Lisa in Jackson. Two nights ago I drove down on a whim, arriving in Jackson at five p.m. We sipped red wine as we racked up, and were on our way by nine. I start the rappel on the Owen-Spaulding, and my crampons scrape like fingernails over the dark, swirling gneiss. Eventually the rap becomes free hanging, and I grip the thin rope as it runs quickly through my device. We pull and coil the rope, then walk over to our stash of skis and packs in the Upper Saddle. We trade gear, then stuff packs and throw them on. With a wet rope stuffed below sneakers, ice ax, crampons, climbing gear and extra layers, my pack feels like 35 pounds of dead weight. I swallow, and my throat is dry and gooey. Lisa skis first, weaving between rocks until we get to the top of the Idaho 500. “Careful,” she says. “If you go too far here, you’ll take the short route to Idaho.” She cuts to the wind lip on the left side, sliding and schmearing down the edge, and then skis the steady turns of a mountaineer through isothermic mush. She hoots and I cut the right side. The top foot of new snow oozes, slowly picking up speed. I traverse back to the wind lip and watch my sluff launch over the edge. A rumbling echo comes from below. I move down, nearly stopping between each turn. The watery slush grabs my bases, bending my knees all the wrong directions. I am top heavy. Below the new snow though, is a strong summer base of hard snow, supportive and rock solid. -Emily Stifler
Cirque of the Towers, Wind River Range, Wyoming Pingora, Northeast Face IV 5.8+ (5.9 var.) Wolf’s Head, North Face Right III 5.10 Wolf’s Head, East Ridge IV 5.6 Drew Thayer (’11) and Dan Rothberg (’11) Dan and I packed into the Wind Rivers during the first block break to catch some lateseason backcountry climbing before winter closed off the high country. The cold temperatures kept us off of many of the fabulous north-facing walls in the Cirque, but we still had some great options. After a day’s drive and pack in, we woke up early and climbed the classic Northeast Face of Pingora, following the sun around the massive curve of granite throughout the day. The route offered fun liebacks, fingercracks, roofs, and a 5.9 variation up a steep corner, which added some spice. The climbing was remarkably consistent at its grade, and we enjoyed a dizzying panorama of granite walls from Pingora’s summit. The next day we set out for the only other major sunlit feature, Wolf’s Head. A sparse route description guided us up some sketchy slabs to a rope-up beneath a beautiful splitter fingercrack in a dihedral. I brought us up this pitch, then Dan lead a powerful, steep lieback to the top of the ridge. Here, we realized we were quite near the start of the classic East Ridge of Wolf’s Head, one of the original routes in the Cirque of the Towers, so we joined the route and figured 5.6 pitches along the ridgetop would be a relaxing way to spend the afternoon. We had no idea what we were headed into. East Ridge involves some of the most convoluted, exposed climbing I’ve done; the route weaves above and below the fearsome summit blocks, including several hand traverses with a thousand feet of air between your legs, a squeeze chimney, and an awkward belay where I found myself straddling a granite fin with my feet dangling in the air and my head ducked beneath a roof. Definitely one of the coolest climbs I’ve ever done, with breathtaking views, strange maneuvers, and a ton of exposure to keep things interesting. Rope drag kept us from running full-length pitches, so the sun was dipping into the reddening western sky as we scrambled up the summit blocks. A combination of scrambling and short rappels took us off the backside of Wolf’s Head, and we crossed the col back into the Cirque of Towers as the sunset behind us. -Drew Thayer Soler, III 5.9, Devils Tower March 21, 2009 Joel Irby (’06) and David Hoven (’06) For Joel and I this trip marked our first trip to Devil’s Tower. The climbing in the area is fantastic and we were lucky enough to catch absolutely stellar weather. We started out the trip by climbing the first couple pitches of the super classic stem box El Matador. The 130ft of 5.10d stemming stretched our groins in ways I never thought
possible, nearly splitting the seam of my pants and leaving us with sore calves and hips for several days to come. The following morning we headed to the South side of the tower to climb Soler, a series of splitter hand and finger cracks that jut up the side of the wall for just over 300ft. We reached the broad grassy summit and rapped down in windy conditions. We climbed a bit the next morning and headed back to Boulder just ahead of a massive blizzard that swept in and closed I-25 and I-80. -Dave Hoven
Sunshine Daydream IV 5.11, Albright Peak, Grand Teton National Park July 19, 2009 Ted Hesser (‘08) and Elena Mihaly (‘07) I looked up at Ted’s face to see what his reaction would be. Ted and I were racking up at the base of a 5.11 route in the Tetons and he held two left footed shoes in his hands. I’d only met Ted once before so I was unsure how he would react to the situation. He was a CC grad though… he had learned to crack climb at Turkey Rocks and had inevitably gone on more than one last minute, poorly-planned block break trips. He grinned, slipped both shoes on, and shuffled over to the start of the first pitch. We moved quickly for never having climbed together drawing on some subconscious compatibility that many CC climbers tacitly possess. The capricious mountain weather kept us on our toes. It rained while we climbed one of the crux slab pitches and the route lived up to its name: Sunshine Daydream. -Elena Mihaly
The Snaz, III 5.10a, Cathedral Buttress, Grand Teton July, 2009 Sam Dexter (’10), Ted Hesser (’08), Cletus Blum My association with traditional climbing has been limited to a few less than ideal scenarios over the years; some epic off-route adventures on Cannon Cliff, New Hampshire and tearing through a pair of shoes and too many layers of skin in the Creek before I knew how to properly hand and foot jam. In Dave Hoven humping the arête on Soler.—J. Irby
fact, for the first few years of my climbing career, trad climbing brought only an old Jack Handy quote to mind: “If you define cowardice as running away at the first sign of danger, screaming and tripping and begging for mercy, then yes, Mr. Brave man, I guess I'm a coward.” So when CC alum Ted Hesser offered to lead myself and my summer climbing partner, Cletus, up a buttress in Death Canyon in the Teton Gorge, needless to say I was hesitant. Though I soon found there are very few things one will refuse after enough Climbing up on the Snaz.—S. Dexter Tecate. We arose at dawn at the Jackson Hole Ranch, looking north towards the unmistakable Teton Range as we geared up. Before I knew it, I was several hours into an early morning hike up Death Canyon, grumbling to myself about long approaches and inevitable bear attacks. We stashed our bags trailside when nearing the buttress, and Ted filled us in on the beta. We would climb The Snaz, a Tetons classic; seven pitches of phenomenal rock, from protected jug hauls to technical chimney squeezes to lieback roofs. One would lead while the other two would follow. The route earned its status as a classic. An unprotected class 5 scramble led to the first ledge and pitches, casual face climbing on solid rock. The line was perfect for the three of us to find a rhythm; a mix of jug hauls and hand/fist splitters led us up the canyon wall, where as we rose, views worthy only of beer-bottle labels and postcards surrounded us. The rugged Teton scenery in the ominously labeled ‘Death Canyon’ only got into our heads once, when while following the 6th pitch, Cletus became convinced he was stuck in a chimney. But our rhythm was quickly rediscovered after convincing Cletus that since the backpack with our spare gear was actually detachable from his body, he did indeed have the ability to move out of the tight granite slot. Before I’d even had the chance to replay any of my less than ideal trad climbing experiences of yore, we were on the ninth and final pitch. The line was, for lack of a higher vocabulary, absolutely rad. Mellow face climbing led up a gorgeous, 3-tiered roof, where the granite swirled with marble-like shades of whites, grays, pinks, and oranges. One by one, Ted, Cletus, and myself pulled over the roof system and out onto the defining dihedral feature, breathlessly half-joking about rapping and climbing the pitch again. Following three hundred feet of unprotected slab climbing and the reassuring assessment from Ted that “It just wouldn’t be a Teton climb without a little sketch!”, we found the descent trail and swung ourselves, tree to tree and boulder to boulder, back down the canyon and to trailside. We split up the gear, split up the food, and made it down in time to split up the bar tab. -Sam Dexter
CMC II 5.5, Mount Moran, Grand Teton National Park August 29, 2009 Justin Strauss (‘06), Rob Backlund (‘05), Dane Stevens (’04), Elena Mihaly (’07), Cody Lockhart As Justin, Rob, Cody and I were sitting around the CMC basecamp below Mount Moran we contemplated our decision to ask Dane to join us. It was after dark and we were searching for signs of Dane approaching. He had to complete a several mile kayak across Leigh Lake involving a small portage, and then gain about 4,000 feet via a winding, poorly-marked trail through the eroding scree fields under Moran. Our fears abated when Dane finally arrived “Gangsta Dane” and crew throw down on top of Mt. Moran.— and devoured the leftover unknown spaghetti. The next morning we simul-climbed up the exposed east face of Mount Moran, ascending carefully past toaster-sized loose blocks and peering down at the Falling Ice Glacier beneath us, a mass of ice flowing ever so slowly between the East and West Horns. The summit was expansive, and provided a spectacular panorama of the Teton Range. Highfives, smiles, self-timer portraits, and a long descent ensued. -Elena Mihaly
Teton Traverse (Wyoming to Idaho), Grand Teton National Park August 22, 2009 Justin Strauss (’06), Rob Backlund (’05), Dane Stevens (’04), Katie Steinberg (’07), Phil Armstrong (’07), Dana Larkin (’05), Elena Mihaly (’07), Cody Lockhart, Alex Norton. Before beginning this traverse Rob informed the group that he would be bringing a “secret weapon” for the trek. Justin, Dane, Rob, Katie, three non-Tigers, and myself, rested at the top of a pass we had just scrambled up. To the west lay Teton Canyon and a multi-colored patchwork of agricultural fields in Idaho. To the southeast rose the entire Teton range, visible end to end, casting shadows on the cirques below. We were hiking up and over the Tetons to get to the Targhee Bluegrass Festival on the other side.
The secret weapon you ask? A big bar of dark chocolate? A bit of fresh elk jerky? No, no, no, my friend, this is a crowd of Colorado College folk we speak of! Rob had bushwhacked all morning up Teton choss with nothing less than a 5 liter bag of Franzia Cabernet. A slap of the bag, a twist of the nozzle, and all mouths were quenched by the sweet taste of fermented grapes. The remainder of the hike was a happy blur of revelry, sliding down the slick stems of some sappy unknown plants, traipsing through boggy fields with a wine-break every thirty minutes. After 15 miles of scrambling we met our gracious designated drivers, Phil and Dana, at the trailhead in Idaho. Bluegrass, PBRs, and hula hoop spinning were enjoyed by all after a long, very dehydrating day. -Elena Mihaly
South America Peru North Face, VI- Huandoy Norte, Cordillera Blanca Erik Rieger (‘12) and Jimmy Ashley Having been in the Cordillera Blanca for five weeks, I was starting to feel pretty confident. I wanted to end my time there with a beautiful and technical climb on a big face. For some reason, the four peaks making up the rarely climbed ‘Huandoys’ seemed to entice me. I talked to my partner Jimmy. We decided the North Face on Huandoy Norte would fit the bill. With the Huandoys grouped relatively close, our plan was to send the face and then traverse to Huandoy Oeste and Huandoy Sur, eventually down-climbing the south ridge of Huandoy Sur to the opposite valley. It was a big goal, and we weren’t sure what to expect attempting to summit three 20,000+ft peaks in a few days. Despite the unknowns, our only concern seemed to be going light considering we’d be carrying almost a week of food up the steep North face. We began the approach from the Paron Valley carrying only the essentials and a small rack consisting of three screws, some snow pickets, a few medium sized cams, and a handful of stoppers. The approach required a lot of bush-whacking up steep slopes to reach the moraine, but we were soon staring up the face. As we scoped out the route, Jimmy said, “Wow mate, that’s big”, and I couldn’t help but grin. After some sketchy scrambling, we found ourselves at the foot of the glacier. It was more cracked than we imagined and it took a couple hours of ballsy crevasse-crossing and steep serac climbing to get below the bergshrund. It was a long day and we sipped coca tea and indulged in a sweet sunset below the face before crawling into our bags for an early start. Finding a way over the massive bergshrund in the dark proved challenging, but we eventually found a bridge, which turned out to be more like a slackline than a solid
crossing. The climb started on some moderate 65 degree snow, which soon led to steep fluting consisting of 70-80 degree ice. Jimmy and I felt confident and the ice was solid, so we simul-climbed up the flutes to the rock band; swapping leads and catching a breather every pitch or so. As we neared the rock band, though, Jimmy was roasted and bad weather had moved in causing some major rock and ice fall. We decided to look for a bivy spot and take on the rock band when conditions were better. We eventually dug a ledge below the rock band and hunkered in for a motionless night close to 20,000 ft, hoping the spot would hold on the unstable terrain. We awoke at sunrise and traversed over some vertical ice, hoping to gain a good line to the summit. We eventually found some rock that wasn’t too overhanging and gave it a go. Most of the blocks were loose but protection was decent and I felt somewhat confident with every pull. Unfortunately, after a solid pitch the rock ran out and we found ourselves on more steep ice. Realizing we were too far right and still had a considerable amount of climbing to the summit, we began traversing more. Unfortunately, the weather had turned ill like the afternoon before, and as I belayed Jimmy, I grew increasingly tired under the heavy snow. As I began to drift, I heard Jimmy yelling back to me, “My calves, my calves mate!” It was hard to see him, but I soon realized he’d run it out quite a bit and was starting to cramp. I yelled back, “Jimmy, place that screw, place that fucking screw!” I heard a clip and felt the rope tense. “Fucking close…”, I said with relief, as I saw Jimmy lay back, giving his calves a well earned rest. There was no doubt he was starting to suffer; the bulk of the climb, while rather uneventful, had been quite steep, and the climbing had become increasingly technical and strenuous as we gained altitude. Despite the suffering, there was no turning back in the bad weather; we were so close, we were committed. I took my block, leading some steep rock, which proved very touchy with crampons. Once again,
Huandoy Sunrise—E. Rieger
though, the rock seemed to disappear too soon, and I found myself running it on some thin ice. The exposure and shitty protection left me a little uneasy but, like always, the feeling was soon forgotten to the overwhelming sense of the alpine. Jimmy followed the gear, and quickly took his block, leading a tough section that looked like it would gain the cornice. The rock was covered in the fresh snow and Jimmy took a big whipper trying to get over a steep bulge on the face. After finding his bearings, he sent it again, running it out a scary fifteen feet before finding a solid cam placement. The ridge to the cornice was hard to gain because of unconsolidated and overhanging snow, but we eventually charged through after digging deep for protection. A final pitch of mixed climbing gained the cornice, but without a visible line to the summit we decided to bivy, hoping for better morning skies. We awoke to a room with a view and quickly tackled the cornice, dropping packs on the way to the summit. Jimmy was generous enough to let me take on the chest deep snow, and we gained the summit just before another storm rolled in. As we down-climbed, it looked as if our plans to traverse to Oeste and Sur had been dampened. It had taken an extra day to summit and there was a copious amount of snow on the plateau linking the Huandoys. Determined, however, we set up the tent hoping for a weather window. It proved hopeless, though, and we enjoyed a two day suffer-fest near 21,000ft instead. The storm never faltered, bringing heavy snow and the coldest nights I’ve ever endured. We made an attempt on Oeste, but bailed due to deep snow. Running low on food and motivation, we decided to rap down the North Face and bail on the big traverse. Each rap proved time consuming due to the huge amount of snow the storms had left on the face. It was the same story every pitch; looking for ice, finding lemons. After twenty raps, the light began to fade and the weather had worsened. We tried to find the bridge over the bergshrund but couldn’t see anything. As it began to snow harder, we heard falls all around us and decided to seek shelter until the morning. We found some seracs above the bergshrund and enjoyed a scary bivy over a large crevasse. We spent the night listening to avalanches and snow pouring into the crevasse below us. Luckily, we awoke to sunshine and quickly found a way down. Hours later, off the face, we found ourselves weaving through the last bit of boulders near the road. “We’re back to it”, I said to Jimmy, and he sighed with relief. The valley was wet, quiet, and there had been no sign of a car on the road. We faced a 25km walk out of the valley, it had been a day since we last ate, and as it began to storm again we simply threw up our hoods and began the walk out. We weren’t suffering anymore though, we knew where we had to go, and each step brought us closer to a state of peaceful meditation.
North East Ridge, V Ranrapalca, Cordillera Blanca Erik Rieger (’12) and Nicolas Madueño After about a week of being sick, Nicolas and I were laying out the gear again. We had just climbed the classic SW ridge of Chopicalqui (6345m) in a single road-toroad twenty hour push. While not a particularly technical climb, our light and fast style on the fourth biggest peak in the Blanca, left us feeling accomplished considering it is usually climbed over the course of three days. We experienced deep snow on the south facing slopes and had since heard that the north faces were shaping up, so we headed for Ranrapalca (6162m) – hoping to open the ‘Scandinavian Direct (VI)’ for the season. Coming up through the Ishinca valley, we ran into some Argentineans that had waited for a week below the route, but never made an attempt due to avalanches and rock fall. Regardless we hoped to make it happen. We arrived at the moraine camp before dark, got the rack out, and ate a big meal hoping for an alpine start that night. We rolled out of the tent around midnight but a storm had moved in so we crawled back into the bags hoping for a better window. The next two days were spent around base camp enjoying the confines of the tent due to weather ranging from hard rain to snow and even a quick squall that brought a foot of marble-sized hail. On day two I wrote, “Here we are – eating, watching, smoking, sleeping, and eagerly awaiting a chance at the ‘Scandinavian Direct (VI)’ on the north face. Nicolas just finished telling me of his three attempts on Fitzroy’s ‘Super Couloir’ and some big-walling adventures. His broken mix of spanishportugueseenglish keeps things interesting, but we’re itching to climb to say the least, and never has time moved Chopicalqui—E. Rieger so slow.” Ranrapalca was our second pursuit of the fast and light style on a big peak. Because the route on the North Face was very committing, we decided that the shifty weather was too dangerous and decided to climb the slightly easier/less exposed NE Ridge. It was a tough choice but in the end we were glad we did. We once again started from the moraine camp rather than the Col (as we had on Chopi). As we racked up, we saw the American team, who’d been waiting to do the ridge, illuminate
the slopes. We climbed quickly around the laguna up to the glacier and ended up simulsoloing most of the climb. We roped up a few meters after crossing the bergshrund and passed the American team that had started two hours before us from the Col camp. Following the bergshrund, we simulclimbed 70 degree slopes, and began to pitch it out as things got steeper. After three 60m pitches, we found ourselves at the rock band, where we climbed three solid pitches on mixed terrain, which had some technical moves and good exposure. We topped out without a view, but were psyched to have summited in fast time, ascending in just six hours from the moraine. We rapped past the American team on the way down, leaving a few pitons and snow pickets behind. As we reached the glacier, we were glad not to be on the Scandinavian route, as the snow, which Camp below the North East Ridge.â€”E. Rieger began on the last few pitches, had intensified and would have undoubtedly left us suffering. It took four hours to descend and we arrived back at the tent stumbling from exhaustion. I soloed Ishinca (5530m) early the next morning and hiked out with Nicolas afterwards, hoping to climb the West Face (V) on Tocllaraju as well. We arrived back in the Ishinca valley to a frostbitten Argentinean team that had spent over twenty-four hours on Tocllaraju, and in our opinion was lucky to be alive. They told us of the deep snow on the lower half of the route, and it was enough to deter Nicolas and I from making an attempt. Nicolas hiked out and I stayed to solo Urus (5420m) that night, summiting quickly and in perfect weather. I logged a lot of meters over those few days and felt accomplished after having climbed three classic routes; two of them solo. Beyond that, my frame had been stripped of all excess and I was in true sending shape, ready to take on something hard. -Erik Rieger
Africa Malawi Lower Eastwood Route III 5.10d (FFA) and Nkhalango Khoswe IV 5.10 (FA), Mulanje Massif, Fall 2009 Jeremy Roop (’06) and Joe Forrester (’06) In late September, 2009 Jeremy Roop and I left the United States and headed to Malawi. Situated south of Tanzania and west of Mozambique, Malawi is a small country in Southern Africa most famous for the lake that bears the country’s name. A year earlier Jeremy and I had stumbled across a website describing a half mile long, 5,500 ft wall on the west face of Chambe Peak, one of many peaks comprising the Mulanje Massif. The wall was described as being broken after the first 2,000 ft by a large broad jungle step on top of which was an additional 3,500 ft wall. After comparing firsthand accounts from two South African climbers: Alard Hufner and Mark Seuring (who had climbed on the face in 1997) and Frank Eastwood’s guidebook published in 1988, we decided the west face of Chambe warranted further exploration. Through our research we were able to find only two routes on the lower face and two routes on the upper face, three of which were pioneered by Eastwood in the late 1970s. We felt certain we could find a new route to the top, preferably to climbers left of the original Eastwood Route. Five days after departing the States we arrived at the CCAP House in Likhubula, a small Scottish Mission where we camped for a nominal fee. We hired a local guide for our first day The West Face of Chambe.—J. Roop of hiking who showed us the path to the lower west face of Chambe and the start of the Eastwood Route. This turned out to be an excellent decision, as the approach required us to transect private fields and intricately weave our way through increasingly thick jungle. In addition, our guide Edwin helped us learn rudimentary Chichewa, the local
language, which proved invaluable during our future unguided treks in the region. On October 3rd we awoke in the predawn hours and walked the four hours to the base of the Eastwood route carrying a rope and a light rack. Our goal was to climb the Eastwood Route on the lower face and then spend time perusing the upper West Face of Chambe for a potential new line. The first thousand feet of the lower west face went quickly as we soloed this section with difficulties up to 5.7. The climbing was surreal. Large vellozia bushes and clumps of grass on the face had been recently burned in a large wildfire and we climbed upwards amongst ash and charred trees that lent a very postapocalyptical feel. The first major obstacle we encountered was an overhanging headwall created by a roof system transecting the lower face. According to the Eastwood book, the natural crack feature had been attempted unsuccessfully during the first Joe Forrester getting his “jungle” on.—J. Roop ascent necessitating the placement of a bolt ladder. Approaching the crack we found it thoroughly entrenched with vegetation. Undeterred Jeremy headed up and on-sighted the pitch rating in 5.10d. The climbing was “fully jungle”, with the crux consisting of overhanging fist/ offwidth to a “tarzan vine” move. As we continued upward the difficulty began decreasing but the level of burned vegetation and ash increased making climbing difficult. Despite these obstacles we eventually climbed onto the jungle step breaking the lower face from the upper. We had completed the first known free ascent of the lower Eastwood route. What looked like a short horizontal jungle step from below turned out to be a horrendous jungle devoid of trails or paths. Constantly fearful of cobras, mambas and troops of unruly baboons of which we had been warned to avoid, we clawed our way through knife sharp grass and pricker bush patches. After three hours of ”jungleling”, we arrived at the base of the upper Face of Chambe and the upper Eastwood route. To our disappointment, the upper face of Chambe to the climber’s left of the Eastwood route looked devoid of any continuous natural features. While the granite did contain numerous edges, there were few crack lines and the face was densely covered with grass. We felt that heading on to this portion of the face would require siege tactics and substantial bolting. Not wanting to embark on such a mission, we traversed
the jungle step to the south. Much to our excitement we spotted a continuous crack system to the climbers left of Roshnik’s Route, the other known route on the west face. Stashing our gear at the base we hiked off the jungle step and walked back to Likhubula. After two days of rest (necessary to heal the horrendous wounds received while “jungling”), we headed back up to our gear stash and bivied at the base of the route. Early the next morning on October 7th we headed up the crack. What looked like a relatively clean crack system from below turned out to be a nightmarishly vegetated slot for 3,000 ft requiring every jungleneering skill we had. We simul-climbed difficulties up to 5.8 pitching out 4 sections with difficulties up to 5.10. The majority of the climb was 5.5 in difficulty. The highlight of the climb was the 600ft section “Shelob’s Lair.” This huge bombay chimney was dark and ominous; it was also filled with Jeremy Roop ready for a nap after Nkhalango spiders and scorpions and other nasty Khoswe.—J. Forrester critters. The climb became increasingly vegetated as we approached the summit and we became quite adept at finding loosely adhered vellozia trees that we could lasso for protection. Six hours after starting our climb, we summited. We had managed to climb the route placing no fixed gear ground up and on-sight. We decided to call the route Nkhalango Khoswe (Chichewa for Jungle Rats) and graded it IV 5.10 3,000+ft. The Mulanje Massif was a truly magical place to climb; the adventure level was fantastic and the local people were incredibly friendly and took us into their homes, making us feel a part of the community. Two highlights included eating matembe (two week old-sun dried minnows) and sampling kachusco (local moonshine) with an elderly woman who spoke no English . This trip was made possible by the American Alpine Club Mountain Fellowship Grant.
Namibia Southern Crossing V 5.11+ May 2009 Kate Rutherford (‘03) et al Namibia in southern Africa has lots of rock. It shares that similarity with most of Africa as well as the fact that much of it is unclimbed. Namibia also has fairly good roads, Kate Rutherford stemming through the Southern Crossing.—partner access and food. So for the month of May 2009, Majka Burhardt, Peter Doucette, Chris Alstrin, Gabe Rogel, and I headed over the Atlantic, rented a few trucks, and went on a road trip. We climbed at Spitzcoppe for the first few weeks with fun established slabs and great camping. Then inspired by some random photo, we drove north, almost to the Angolan boarder to find a blocky face baking in the sun with a thorny bush strewn, bouldery approach. It took us three days to drive the 100 km back to the Brandberg, where we knew there was a huge face in the shade. In the last ten days of our trip, we found our line, cleaned it, climbed it, hiked out, bought baskets, flew home, and whew, there I was back in Yosemite. The memories are a swirl of red granite, bird poo, a 2,000 year old painted giraffe, hidden water holes, beautiful wildlife, and corrugated roads. The road to the Brandberg and the Southern Crossing route that evolved was long and hot, but in the end the beautiful 13 pitch 5.11+ corner system we put up was well worth the adventure. Go climb it before the bushes grow back. -Kate Rutherford
Asia Thailand Humanility III 5.11, Tonsai September 2008 David Hoven (’06) and Charles Ince On an extended motorcycle trip through Southeast Asia, Astrid Brouillard (’06)
and I made a five day pit stop at the beautiful beaches of Southern Thailand. Along the way I met a new friend Charles Ince; together we ventured up the spectacular route Humanility. At the crux of the third pitch I was stemming two tufa formations when I came face to face with a small but plump squirrel that had apparently made its home on one of the intermittent deep pockets on the face of the wall. With an act of boldness the squirrel leapt out of the pocket and onto my arm. I screamed like a 3rd grader getting his first wedgie as the rodent fearlessly crawled around my back from one shoulder to the other, tickling my neck with his whiskers. The crowd on the beach below immediately took notice as I frantically tried to coax the squirrel from my body back into his home. As my forearms tired and my calves began to burn I decided to just keep climbing, and when I had ascended to the point where my foot was at the entrance to his den site the little bugger jumped from my shoulder down to my shoe and back into his home. The fourth and most fantastic pitch of the climb (not counting the fiasco with the squirrel) climbed a steep face to a point where the holds completely disappeared into a blank wall of pale limestone. I looked behind me to find a huge 30 ft tufa hanging down just within reach of a groin stretching stem. The route transferred onto the huge stalactite for about 20 feet and then back onto the main wall. The last pitch of the route went to a large cave with a fabulous view of Tonsai. When we threw our ropes for the final rap they actually landed on the roof of the beach side bar. I descended the ropes and actually ordered a beer before I even came off rappel. As I sipped a cold beer and watched Charles Ince try to finagle the ropes from the roof of the bar, I realized that this place is very conducive to my style of climbing. - Dave Hoven
Multi-pitch sport climbing on the beach = paradise.â€”D. Hoven
Community Happenings: Congratulations to Lahla Deakins and Brian Sohn (‘01), engaged to be married June 2009! Congratulations to Rebecca Schild (‘05) and Chris Barlow (’04) engaged to be married! Kate Rutherford (’03) has started Suspended Stone Design at www.suspendedstonedesign.com
The Titan at Sunset—J. Forrester
I hope that you have enjoyed the 2009 Colorado College Alpine Journal. When I first began compiling stories for the Journal four years ago I really didn’t know if the idea was going to gain widespread acceptance. However, this past year has seen some very exciting advances with the CCAJ. Not only do we have a very impressive and far reaching alumni audience but a record number of student stories were submitted. On the managerial side Dave Hoven (‘06) took on the monumental task of organizing the Journal staff, setting up meetings, contacting printers and helping provide assistance to the students in getting the 2007 CCAJ in print. Matt Franco (‘11) took a strong leadership position and organized and compiled all of the student stories and photos in addition to overseeing fund-raising for printing. The rest of the student staff, Erik Rieger (‘12), Drew Thayer (‘11) and Rachel Harris (‘11) were instrumental in publicity, acquiring funding and editing student stories respectively. Finally I would like to give a special thanks to Michael Wejchert (‘08), my fellow Senior Editor, who has tirelessly provided editing, formatting and moral support throughout the past three years of the CCAJ. The day after I finished the rough draft of the 2009 Colorado College Alpine Journal I took off for a winter sojourn by Chasm Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. While my initial plan was to solo Dreamweaver, the Park had other plans (as usually is the case) and deep snow and poor conditions sent me up another peak. Despite the failed attempt on Dreamweaver my hike was not a waste. Thinking about the number of fantastic adventures my fellow CC climbers have, are and will continue to experience was truly refreshing. So many new students are climbing harder than I ever imagined possible when I attended CC and many alums continue to establish new and challenging routes the world over. However, reflecting on the profound and seemingly uncharacteristic number of deaths many of my friends witnessed this past year helped ground my enthusiasm. The fine line between unnecessary risk and passion is often times a blurred one; a line most poignantly defined in retrospect. Thinking about all of the post-trip campfires, long drives home, and unplanned bivies, I knew that each experience would seem pathetic and hollow with the loss of any of the participants. Please be careful out there. Thank you for reading the 2009 Colorado College Alpine Journal. I truly hope you have enjoyed reading the stories and adventures of such a wonderful group of people. It has been my privilege to once again be a part of this production. Be Safe and Happy Climbing,
Joe Forrester (‘06)
Want to submit a story or photo for next year’s CCAJ? Want to make sure your friends received a copy? Want to make a contribution to ensure future editions are printed?
Fisher’s in December—J. Aslaksen
Email any questions, comments or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2009 edition of the Colorado College Alpine Journal.