Monday, August 18, 2008

Adamants Part 3

Last time I left you (scroll down) I had just been HAMMERED by weather trying to free climb the Blackfriar. We spent the next day drying out and licking our wounds, ready to pounce the next day for another free attempt of this 2,000 foot wall.

Staring down Blackfriar from camp

The day dawned clear and cold and we headed over to try our luck again. Freezing cold temps met us as we climbed in the shade for 6 pitches back up to our previous high point in no time flat. We were feeling like we could do this, all free in a day, which would be a first for any of the big walls around here. The next pitch proved to be a bit alpine. Going light, all I had was a pair of running shoes to keep feet warm at belays. I quickly put them on for the next pitch, 5.9 ice/rock jamming between a snow patch and the wall. Gear doesn't work too well in this scenario, so I ran it out for a good 50 feet to a nice ledge where the snow was gone and I could put my rock shoes on. The pitch then started to ramp up a bit - steep and with a small crack, which I had to dig out protection with a nut tool on lead, only to reveal RP placements for pro. No time to stop and think of how scary it was, so I just kept on firing to the next ledge.

Following Craig's proud 5.11+ onsight gardening fest

Craig stepped up for his next lead which was more of the same, 5.11 free climbing with small gear while gardening out the crack. We began to watch the time add up, as cleaning and freeing your pitches on lead takes a LONG time; almost 1.5 hours per pitch. At this rate there was no way we were going to make it. In fact I slowed us down big time on the start of the next pitch, trying for a long time to make my self fit into a tight squeeze chimney right off the belay. At 6' 2" and a 180 lbs, size was not on my side, I just couldn't get my hips into the thing. So I handed over the lead and Craig wriggled his smaller frame into the crack and fired off another 50m of gardening after that.

2 hours later and 8pm in the evening we decided to make the obvious call. Gardening and doing this route in a day were not going to happen. We had broken the sacred alpine free climbing rule of British Columbia - stay on south facing rock! South facing alpine rock in BC gets dried off in the sun, and doesn't allow as much moisture and vegetation to thrive, keeping the rock clean. We were trying to climb a north facing route and it just wasn't working. Oh well, lesson learned. Back to camp with our tails tucked between our legs.

The next day we decided to test our theory and headed for a new variation start to the classic Gibson-Rohn route on Ironman. Looking at the line it was obvious that we had a few pitches of slammed shut corners that were still climbable, so we took the power drill in tow to place a few bolts for pro if need be. Craig led the first pitch and fired off a nice 55m 5.11c putting in 6 bolts on lead AND still managing to free the pitch while dragging up the drill. Impressive.

Me (Evan) drilling on lead, p.2

Pretty soon after starting it was obvious that my pitch was going to be hard with out much gear. I placed 3 bolts right early on while aiding the feature, and then was able to work over toward a super thin crack and place a few pins, and finally get some regular gear in. Craig followed the pitch clean at 5.12- with some wild full body bridging, so we knew our new route would go free. 2 more pitches of splitter clean cracks lead us into the regular route on Ironman, where we than rappelled our route so we could re-lead that 2nd pitch and free it. We called our new variation 'Man of Steel' being that we bolted a new line on Ironman, it is always fun to have a play on words.

Craig following the last pitch of Man of Steel

We awoke the next day to a vicious thunderstorm early in the morning, so pancakes and extra coffee seemed in order. By noon the weather was good and radio reports had the weather being horrible for the next 3 days after this. So we bucked up and left camp at the early alpine start time of 1pm to climb the standard route on Ironman, 10 pitches V 5.10+. As we started it was obvious that the weather was going to deteriorate, so not wanting to get caught in a storm we simulclimbed almost the entire route, getting back to the base 3.5 hours after we started. Minutes later the skies opened up and we fled back to camp.

10cm of snow the next day left us festering in the tent, watching movies on the Ipod waiting for the helicopter to take us out.

Now all I have to do is stop climbing every day in Squamish so I can get around to edit my hours of video to post up here!


1 comment:

blase said...

Evan -

Man, it doesn't look like you're having enough fun lately. :-p

blase