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#51214 - 04/11/10 02:53 AM Zion
cfrac Offline
addict

Registered: 04/26/08
Posts: 462
I had a partner and plans to go to North Carolina for Spring Break and a couple of weeks before leaving he couldn't go due to hand surgery. So, I thought I would stick around here climb and maybe do a Tuckerman's trip but I got the itch to do something bigger so I started shopping for plane tickets and found one to Las Vegas for $400 at the last minute. All of my prior trips to Zion had been prefaced with some training and practice aid climbing, it seemed a bit crazy to drag out all the aid trinkets a week before leaving. I practiced setting up the porta-ledge, purchased and borrowed some big cams and thought I would remember the important stuff once on the wall. What I forgot was just how much shit you need to aid climb! The rack included doubles of all cams with quadruples from yellow aliens to #3 camalots. I boarded the plane with a carry-on backpack with 2 ropes and 2 haul bags totaling 104 pounds!

I drove into Springdale late at night and got a hotel. When I awoke the next morning and took in the scenery I was dumbfounded, I had forgot how beautiful this place was. I just wandered around for a while getting my bearings while soaking in the colors and sweeping walls everywhere.



I got a backcountry permit for 3 nights on the Gatekeeper Wall an obscure cliff behind the Watchman Tower with 2 routes put up in 2006. I had done some of the trade routes in Zion and wanted to get off the beaten path. That meant a longer approach and solitude. It took 2 trips to lug the 100+ pound gear to the base. No approach trail meant route finding and a bit of boulder scrambling and tree thrashing. My first foray took 2 hours up and about 40 minutes back down. The second trip went much better and I was at the base of the wall in 1.5 hours.

The next morning was cold, it was raining and snow covered the mountains. I waited for things to clear before heading up and started climbing around noon. The first 2 pitches reminded me how laborious and slow aid climbing is. It took until dusk to get the ledge set up and settle in for the night. Soloing a wall means climbing every pitch twice, once to lead it and rapping to clean it and haul. The route was nice and steep so the hauling was straight forward but it took its toll.

I'm not sure what I was thinking by choosing a North facing wall but at least I wouldn't get hot?! It was snowing when I had dinner and never got out of the 40's for the next 2 days.



The second pitch climbs for about 130 feet behind a huge pillar and since this route has seen little or no traffic since the FA there were several loose rocks, breaking flakes, and expanding blocks. It took just over 2 hours to lead this pitch despite its C1 grade.







The pitch above looked to be more of the same but MUCH steeper slightly overhanging for 100 feet. At about mid-height I encountered a stack of small microwave sized blocks just sitting in a wide crack. I was terrified of the rope dislodging this unstable tower when I jugged the pitch so I dissembled it throwing down the rocks one piece at a time. The crashing echoed from the Watchman tower as they exploded at the routes base. The climbing was strenuous and time consuming but never dangerous because it was so steep.





The next pitch was stellar! Dead vertical with a single .5 camalot crack splitting an otherwise blank wall. This was C1 leap-frog cruiser heaven with solid rock, but it didn't last long. The crack narrowed and I was using smaller and smaller gear. By the final 50 feet of this 165 ft pitch it had become a seem and I was farming our RP placements with the nut pick.



Lots of #0-#2 RP's, Lowe Balls, and HB offset brassies!





The final move of the pitch was a bit of free climbing in the 5.9 range but there was now way I could climb it with all the gear, aiders, trail line etc... weighing me down. There was a Knife Blade crack and nothing else! With a bit of farming I got the #0 RP in but it kept ripping out every time I weighted it. The sandstone was very soft here so on each attempt the piece would go in a bit deeper. Finally the cable slipped in and I hammered the head of the rp with the nut pick, this time it held! I was at the belay! I decided to spend the night there.






Edited by cfrac (04/11/10 03:20 AM)

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#51215 - 04/11/10 03:19 AM Re: Zion Part 2 [Re: cfrac]
cfrac Offline
addict

Registered: 04/26/08
Posts: 462
Cleaning the crack after cutting the haulbags loose:





I was able to get one bar on my cell phone and got a text of the NOAA weather report from my wife back at home! I was happy to hear that there was bad weather and heavy winds moving in the following day, I had the perfect excuse to go down!

Rapping with haulbags (an important lesson):

On one of the final raps my prussik back-up became firmly stuck on a piece of tape I had used to mark the middle of the rope! It took rapping the lower section of rope around my foot and several attempts to unweight the prussik by doing a leg press to lift my weight and the weight of the bags off the knot. It did work but I learned my lesson, don't use tape to mark the middle of a rope!



Finally, looking back up the route with an arrow for my high point.



It was a long slog back to the car and weird to be back among all of the tourists after being totally immersed in wall life for a few days. It was a great experience and though there were many times I considered bailing earlier I had a fantastic time. I would like to have topped out but later that night the wind was gusting to 50mph and I was in Nirvana in a hotel room eating Pringles and watching the worst Sci-Fi movie ever made.




Edited by cfrac (04/11/10 03:27 AM)

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#51221 - 04/12/10 11:53 AM Re: Zion Part 2 [Re: cfrac]
AOR Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 08/27/04
Posts: 392
Excellent trip report cfrac...THAT is what climbing is all about.

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#51222 - 04/12/10 12:08 PM Re: Zion Part 2 [Re: AOR]
RangerRob Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/06/00
Posts: 3764
Loc: Ulster County, NY
Outstanding. Success is measured by how good you feel after you finish, not by whether you summit or not. Sounds like you were successful!

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#51225 - 04/12/10 02:39 PM Re: Zion Part 2 [Re: RangerRob]
ianmanger Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 04/25/03
Posts: 319
Proud. Great report and pics.

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#51226 - 04/12/10 03:00 PM Re: Zion Part 2 [Re: RangerRob]
chip Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/06/01
Posts: 2675
Loc: Sittin' Pretty in Fat City
Awesome. Everyone should get to experience Zion and your's was all the better for the way you did it. At least it wasn't as wet and cold as your trip up High E!

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#51232 - 04/12/10 08:52 PM Re: Zion Part 2 [Re: chip]
acdnyc Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 11/10/04
Posts: 208
Loc: NYC/Kerhonkson
Good job and nice report. Love Zion. I just got some pics from a trip there in 2004! A climber rapping the route took some pics. He just found my email and sent them to me. Seeing those pics and your trip report makes want to go back again!
Nice!
_________________________
jugs or mugs

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#51235 - 04/13/10 12:41 AM Re: Zion Part 2 [Re: acdnyc]
cfrac Offline
addict

Registered: 04/26/08
Posts: 462
Originally Posted By: acdnyc
Good job and nice report. Love Zion. I just got some pics from a trip there in 2004! A climber rapping the route took some pics. He just found my email and sent them to me. Seeing those pics and your trip report makes want to go back again!
Nice!


Thanks! Can you post you old Zion pics? You inspired me to dig out some of my old zion pics. These were from Space Shot in 1999 and Moonlight Buttress around 2001. These were taken with slide film and I think Rickster helped me to get these images transferred into digital images.



















Edited by cfrac (04/13/10 12:42 AM)

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#51236 - 04/13/10 12:41 AM Re: Zion Part 2 [Re: cfrac]
cfrac Offline
addict

Registered: 04/26/08
Posts: 462







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#51256 - 04/13/10 01:25 PM Re: Zion Part 2 [Re: cfrac]
Smike Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/01/01
Posts: 3143
Loc: in your backyard
Nice Chris! lot-o-work, for sure. Its a pain in the ass to aid even when you happen to score a second hand. (Willing or unwilling)

Here is some pics from 07 with RR:

Touchstone the 5.11 crack pitch.


Organasam


Ashtar Command

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#51260 - 04/13/10 02:32 PM Re: Zion Part 2 [Re: Smike]
chip Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/06/01
Posts: 2675
Loc: Sittin' Pretty in Fat City
Hey everybody! Smike is back! Nice pictures and now there is no way I can post my amaturish shots from Prodigal Sun.

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#51295 - 04/15/10 01:44 AM Re: Zion Part 2 [Re: Smike]
cfrac Offline
addict

Registered: 04/26/08
Posts: 462
Smike, that crack on Touchstone looks delicious (from an aid climbers perspective!)
Chip, why wouldn't you post your photos from Prodigal Sun? It's a wild Zion route on one of the best places in Zion? I don't think there are any trivial routes in Zion.

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#51410 - 04/19/10 03:11 PM Re: Zion Part 2 [Re: cfrac]
chip Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/06/01
Posts: 2675
Loc: Sittin' Pretty in Fat City
Christian, I just enjoyed your video from Gatekeeper Crack. Nicely done.

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