Tightrope- Clevenger and Carter's Apron Madness 1975

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 31, 2011 - 05:35pm PT
Now that I have a second story via Bruce Morris of taking THE BIG ONE on Tightrope, I have to start a thread about this Apron thriller. According to the yellow Meyers guide Tightrope was finished in 1975 by Vern Clevenger and Tom Carter, et al. I would be curious who all was in on this route!



I am shamelessly fishing for stories about this route. I did it in the late seventies and thought it was the best 5.11a/b friction route on the Apron. Pitch 5 as drawn features an angling runout along the edge of a big arch that has solid 5.10 smearing way out. Kinda like Grack Marginal on steroids. I didn't even want to think about taking that fall but several folks have and will hopefully help me get something in the boat on a Tightrope!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jul 31, 2011 - 05:42pm PT
I went up on it with Rik Rieder, I believe it was, and we didn't finish it. Can't recall the reason, but Rik was in his cool headed prime, so if he couldn't lead it, it must be Sporty!

I DO recall it was the best Apron climbing I'd done, as it follows a subtle and sinuous obvious line of features on stellar rock.

A continuation seems likely these days, but my guess is that it never gets done, even to its original high point.
mastadon

Trad climber
crack addict
Jul 31, 2011 - 06:10pm PT

Bill Zauman and I had a total epic on this route in the mid to late 70's. I had just turned the roof on the 5th pitch when thunder clouds boiled over the top and started to hail/rain on us almost immediately. There's a reason the rock is so smooth as it's a water runnel. We had shorts and t-shirts on. By the time we hit the ground we both were hypothermic. Bill wasn't able to manipulate biners so I had to set up his rappels and basically push him off and hope he could clip the anchors. Never went back.....
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 31, 2011 - 06:23pm PT
It will be interesting to see how many parties finished it. John Steiger was my partner with possibly a third...I'll ask him.
nature

climber
back in Tuscon Aridzona....
Jul 31, 2011 - 06:31pm PT
sounds like someone should retro bolt it so the masses can enjoy this classic ;-)

TFPU
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Jul 31, 2011 - 09:25pm PT
Nobody?

I guess slabs are for sissies.

Heh
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 31, 2011 - 10:15pm PT
A couple of Futuristic Little Utility Bolts and the sucker's pedestrian...

Better get up there and taste the rust right now while the buffalo still roam.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jul 31, 2011 - 10:25pm PT
Rust? Roger and I replaced all the bolts in July 2009 with 3/8" stainless except for the upper 3 on p7.
We couldn't seem to find anyone to lead it in midsummer when we had the ropes fixed.
We approached from far above - had ropes fixed to Perhaps and traversed left above a huge roof, then rapped down on a several ropes tied together and tensioned left. Getting the ropes back down from that thing when we were done was quite a chore. :-)

It does look pretty nice, sadly I don't have the skills to climb it.
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=912351&tn=0



tom Carter

Social climber
Jul 31, 2011 - 11:15pm PT
Clint

Thanks for the tough work of upgrading the pro.

Started out with Chuck Cochrane and me for the first two pitches.

I was in until pitch 6? Then Vern grabbed someone ... Who?

TC
tom Carter

Social climber
Jul 31, 2011 - 11:17pm PT
Clint

Thanks for the tough work of upgrading the pro.

Started out with Chuck Cochrane and me for the first two pitches.

I was in until pitch 6? Then Vern grabbed someone ... Who?

TC
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 1, 2011 - 10:57am PT
Clint- I wasn't sure if you guys got to the top of that one...glad you did!

Did the route end as drawn in the Meyers topo or were any more pitches visible above?

Tom- Did any of you guys take the ride on #5 working it out?
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Aug 1, 2011 - 11:05am PT
Any details on Bruce Morris' plunge for us Steve?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 1, 2011 - 11:10am PT
Bruce had this to say over on the New Golden Dawn thread...

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1276383&msg=1568830#msg1568830

PS- I too took the big ride over the lip on Tight Rope BITD. When I first met Dave Austin that was one thing we had in common. Didn't hit anything either, which is surprising, given the length of the fall. My toes just touched the slab underneath the roof.
tom Carter

Social climber
Aug 1, 2011 - 04:21pm PT
This just "in" from Vern:

"Thanks for being in touch .... but who knows why or with who I went back!!!"
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Aug 1, 2011 - 04:47pm PT
I have some old photos but they're prints and I have to get them scanned. I'm in Hawaii but will try and do this when I get back in Sep. Vern was climbing quite strong back then, doing a lot of new routes up in Tuol. as well.

JL
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 1, 2011 - 09:10pm PT
John- Did you lead #5 and finish the rest?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Aug 2, 2011 - 03:22am PT
Steve,

> I wasn't sure if you guys got to the top of that one...glad you did!

We only replaced one bolt on the top pitch (p7; for some reason I called it p9 in my old report). That one bolt is barely off the belay. The original belay anchor was 2 fixed pins in a LFC (not 2 bolts as the topo might suggest).

So there are still 3 bolts above on the pitch to replace. So, yeah, a little rust up there but the remainder of the route has pretty new SS bolts.

> Did the route end as drawn in the Meyers topo or were any more pitches visible above?

I did not see any extended anchors above on the route. I did see the next bolt, quite a ways up, and another bolt above that. I don't remember if I saw the highest bolt shown on the topo, but I do have a high point marked with a yellow dot on the overlay, which suggests I saw a loweroff sling up there. We were wondering if we found somebody to lead to that last bolt, if we should double it, or if it would be feasible to extend the pitch. There is a steeper headwall above which would stop the friction climbing at some point (probably within 200 feet). But there are arches/cracks, so who knows? :-)
You can see where the headwall starts, because the sun angle on the rock changes:




We also found a nearby route which is not shown on the topo.
It had 5/16" bolts, so it was likely done around 1988.
p1: goes up p2 of An Udder Way for the first 3x, then goes straight up where that route goes right. One new bolt, to a 2x anchor; looks 5.10?
p2: 5x, out slightly right then up, to a 2x anchor.
p3: 3x, reaches the anchor at the end of the 5.10b traverse on Hoppy's Favorite.
p4: 3x, traverses left to an LF arch, then 2 more bolts and looks smooth and unfinished. This pitch heads in the direction of the anchor atop p5 of Tightrope.
k-man

Gym climber
SCruz
Aug 2, 2011 - 11:19am PT
Again, nice work Clint and Roger. I've been slowly going around checking out your work. It was a joy to climb Shakey Flakes, Sailin' Shoes, Rambler, Ocher Fields, and some others. Now I think I'll check out this one.

Recently went over to do Transistor Sister--I always wanted to try that thing, but was afraid to go into the Demilitarized Zone wasteland after the rock fall. But Joe D. said he cleaned out the crack last year and that it was fun, this year I did the same.

The point: The face routes in that area look Primo! And they all have nice bolts now, so back I'll be. There is one in particular, a .12b, that looks most impressive, unbelievable vision had the FA of that route, it traverses out onto beautiful golden ripples of nothingness. Wild at Heart is what I'm talking about. (Not that I have those skills, but Man-O-Mighty, that thing is beauty!)

Also, I wonder if Slam Dance has ever seen a second. For some reason, somebody keeps pulling the hanger off the first bolt. Odd that is.

So few slab climbers these days...
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Aug 2, 2011 - 12:54pm PT
My partner, Jeff Vance and I, attempted Tightrope in the spring of 1978. We got past the crux pitch and up to pitch 7. For some reason, Jeff wouldn't go down a bit from the belay to start the last pitch. He was trying to climb straight across from the belay and it was blank, blank, blank. I was so blown from the earlier pitches that I wasn't about to jump on the sharp end.

So we rapped after doing 6 of the 7 pitches. Vern was waiting for us at the base and came over and put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'a lot of good climbers have been shut down on the last pitch of Tightrope.'

I still think that if you climb down a bit from the belay the start of pitch 7 looked a lot easier.

Some more thoughts.

There was no protection on the 2nd pitch of the climb and the last 50 feet or so was 5.8+ friction. That means that you could hit the ground from almost 300' up if you blew the last moves to the belay on pitch 2. I think I got to lead that pitch twice.

Pat Timson was leading the devious friction on pitch 3 (underrated in my opinion at 5.10b) when he looked down to see that he had failed to complete his tie in knot. There was no way he could let go to finish his knot so he was basically soloing the third pitch.

And yes, in my opinion, this is the best route on the Apron.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Aug 4, 2011 - 01:39am PT
I remember leading the first 6 pitches of Tightrope back-to-back, including the 5th pitch with the long fall over the roof, and feeling twisted for days afterwards. Feeling different, as the French would say, outre, OTHER. No place on that route where you don't have to concentrate 100% of the time. The consequences of a mistake would not just be in your head. My partner, a total stranger I'd grabbed out of the C4 Parking Lot, never wanted to get on the sharp end. Dave Austin had told me about the route and suggested I go do it (while skillfully withholding the missing detail about his huge fall over the roof). When I got back to the Parking Lot Dave asked me about whether I'd enjoyed the route? I told him about my fall and then he told me about the same ripper he'd taken at exactly the same point. That was when we both discovered we were into the same kind of crazy things, things that other people thought of as crazy, but we both enjoyed.

I seem to remember that on the crux 5th pitch you pull over a roof, clip a fixed pin, then walk a ramp directly above the roof drop-off, until you reach a small sloping stance where you have to jump up and grab a friction mantle hold. If you jump and miss, you're air bound. I missed the first try and can still see the coils of rope below me in the air as I arced over the roof, stopping just about adjacent with my belayer who I could wave to. A truly amazing fall! But the best part was yet to come. Going back up and jumping and making it on the second try. The 5.11 crux above there is academic with the bolts right at your waist. I'm sure my recollections are blurred in the same way combat experiences are altered in the memories of soldiers who were actually on the ground and taking fire.

PS- Didn't do the 7th pitch tho.
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