Biting Rock, Sucking Bugs
50185-Meteorite3b.jpg (83 downloads)
This is a short report of some Adirondack slabbing on (unpublished) Sugarloaf Mtn near Indian Lake. Sam Vona ('strat'), my son Ryan, and I did the second known ascent of fine 2 pitch 5.8 route I call Meteorite. After passing some bushes just off the ground, it weaves fairly continuously up the 55-65 degree face, passing all kinds of neat features: flakes, tiny corners, and a bizarre eye-like feature that looks like a chunk of space rock imbedded in the granite.
The hard moves are protected by micronuts behind thin flakes that may be solid. Or not. I was thankful that we had Sam's 9 mm ropes, as these would soften the blow if I fell on any of these dinky pieces. I believe this was the ropes' first time on rock. Sorry about the pine sap on them, Sam. Maybe when you have them out ice climbing the aroma will take you back to a warmer place and time. Or you can soak them in cat urine; I hear that dissolves pine sap.
As Sam started cleaning the second pitch, he couldn't remove the first camming unit (#2 Metolius TCU). I found this hard to believe, but it wasn't coming out, so we left it to be worked on later as we rapped down. A few moves further and he yells up that he can't get out my big old Chouinard, purple-roped Stopper. I assured him that it only needed a tap and then it would come out sideways, but he had no luck. The next piece was a wonderful Wallnut that should come out easily, but again he couldn't clean it. After a brief discussion about Sam being a gear dick, monetary compensation etc, he finished the pitch. The crux involves a layback up a right facing flake that becomes a square corner which gets progressively smaller. At its top the edge is a one-pad pinch. See attached picture. The exit bucket is just visible in the lighter colored rock at the extreme upper right corner of the shot. It's hard to keep the feet stuck while stretching for this hold. It's also hard not to barndoor off the vertical edge.
Armed with my sturdy homemade nut pick and a large rock, I spent upwards of 45 minutes cleaning these pieces on rappel. Sam is not a gear dick. What had happened is that we started the climb under overcast skies, and the sun came out after I'd led the second pitch. All these pieces were placed behind large exfoliation flakes, and we were being treated to a case of thermal expansion. The rock literally had clamped down on these pieces as it warmed up. The TCU was completely compressed, even though I placed it at mid-range and it had not walked. It took every trick I knew to get it out, including driving a piton into the crack below it. Believe it or not, this made a significant difference in how much I could get the cam to wiggle, and we're talking about a 12 inch thick flake, at least 20' high and twice that wide, apparently anchored into the rest of the slab on 3 sides.
After this we did the first pitch of the only other route that I know there, "It Ain't Over". There's more information on this route available on Dawn's tradgirl site for anyone interested. This is a bold 5.9 route with a scary crux coming at the very end. Doing the first pitch again, with its initial 25 feet of unprotected 5.8, would help me feel better about someday repeating all three pitches. It went well, albeit still scary and hard, and the birch tree anchor set up a TR of a ridiculously insecure smear-fest, which we also did. It was a great confidence builder, and my MocaSyms felt better than the Aces I wore here last time. I know, you're thinking, "friction climb in Aces!!??"
With a few hours left, and still looking for the line that will access the upper slabs, we moved right, towards the middle of the slab. Most of the base here is vegetated and unattractive, but we found a clean corner that offered fun 5.5 climbing with excellent gear. The second pitch teased us with tree-covered ledges and glimpses of the remaining 400' of open rock above, but the climbing was dirty and much less pleasant than anything else I've done here. With the right tools, the open slabs may go, but it was not to be this time. Nevertheless this latest line seems to be the way to go. Next time...
The black fly situation was bad, much worse than I'd hoped for. We accidentally left the industrial strength, melt-your-rope, "keep away from open flames" DEET in the Jeep, and paid the price. I counted 29 bites in a 5 inch section of my upper arm, and 42 on my neck.
Edited by webmaster (07/10/02 02:55 PM)