Monday, June 20, 2011

Define classic.

While Dan and Alex were on hard, high-quality projects at the Gunks, I was busy climbing the worst route I've ever been on: the Southwest Ridge of the Needle (IV 5.8). It's a wonderfully long route (1300 feet of ascent, 13 hrs car to car) in a commanding position, but the quality of the movement and rock are mostly crap. I cursed a lot while trying to navigate such a sea of choss, as did my partner. He said a few things along the way that capture the essence:

"If this doesn't go we're bailing." [during a mid-route block wall circumnavigation]
"That was the best part of the route. And it's not even on route." [regarding a pitch variation]
"This route ****ing sucks."

As I log the climb in Mountain Project, I scratch my head at its classic status. Oh well, chalk it up to training. At least we had a long day out.

Last pitch variation, 5.9 210':
Begin as for the normal last pitch: move off the grassy house-sized ledge through the blocky section of bizarre rock, clipping a pin. After slinging the tree, stay right at the major split (standard route goes up the left gully with pins). Gain the big, lower angle, right-facing corner. Work up the corner, keeping your eyes open for a tree 80' above and left, outside the corner system (can just see the top of it) - it will be your anchor. After maybe 40' in the corner, make an airy step left across the left wall to get out of the corner and onto the face, ending up under a steep groove. Go up the groove, top out of the steeps and move up the final 15' in the dirt gully to the tree. Protection is pretty good (a little spicy at the top) and rock is slightly above average for the route. Call it Redemption after the 1000' of variable garbage you climbed to get there.

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