Monday, May 25, 2009

Rock Canyon - The WIld - Gazelle 5.5

Mountain Project Route Description

Thunderstorms last night made the trail a bit damp, but it wasn't too bad on the rock. Got there about 11:00 and checked out the route for a good bottom pro placement. One of the keys of a safe Lead Rope Solo route is a bomber multi-directional bottom anchor.

When I was in Alaska with the Alaska Mountaineering School Advanced Mountaineering Course (a civilian version of the Guide Course) one of the instructors shared my love of Tri-Cams and helped me work on using them as part of a bomber anchor. So of course, I did use one.

I tested it and it held multi-directionally, though a tri-cam usually looks sketchy to the uninitiated. I also used a couple of SLCD's - a 1.5 and a 2.0, and used some webbing to equalize them. In the pic it looks sloppy because it's hanging down. I rarely use a directional piece above it to hold it "up" until I climb - dunno if that's style or technique.

I tied the rope off and piled the rest of it in my backpack at the base. I hooked in my Eddy (suitable with reservations), got a couple of draws, a couple of single-length extended draws, and headed for the top. I got to the first hanger, clipped it, then downclimbed to lock the Eddy and bounce-test the anchor. Great - held nicely. So up I went.

It's only about 25' and three draws before the chains, and as you hit the top you can go around the left side of the pillar and do the anchor there. I clipped in a daisy, but didn't really need to - it's pretty solid up there. Then I threaded the anchors, hooked in my Reverso3, and dropped the rope. I rapped down, and cleaned, then brought the rope down, piled it into my pack, reorganized my stuff (getting better at that) and made my "I survived" phone call to DW. I then talked a bit with the family working "Call of the Wild" 5.6 around the arete. A mom, dad, and handful of kids. Was really fun talking to them.

When they had arrived (just before I built my bottom anchor) they first asked "what do you use to belay yourself" I said "I could tell you but then I'd have to shoot you." Later when I talked to them, their 10 yr-old asked me to explain it again. I said "I could tell you in about 3 minutes, but it's something that takes a long time to learn. And if you don't do it right and go die, I'd feel really bad" and the dad said "Hence 'shoot you' - but only indirectly."

Pretty good day overall. My first lead solo of the year.