Jazz Ascent of WOEML in New D4 Portaledge


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'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 3, 2017 - 11:46am PT
How's it goin', eh?

It's been a pretty crazy last few days, that's for sure. Utterly petrifying to watch an apartment-sized block lob off the wall - ten to the 7 pounds my guess - fall a thousand feet, explode against the slab into a million chunks of deadly shrapnel, and strike the base of the wall. Two climbers were passing by at the base and got hit, and it is a true blue Big Wall Miracle that one survived!

The rockfall the next day was truly an earth-shaking experience, as we felt the granite of mighty El Cap quaking beneath our feet! Ten to the 9 pounds this time, we watched in horror and amazement as the rocks cascaded all the way down, across the road, and into the Merced River which subsequently turned white from the dust. As we walked quickly under the fall that night, it was like Christmastime in Canada, with a light dusting of "snow" everywhere.

We cheated certain death by about 24 hours, and had we been climbing at our usual "big wall camping" pace, I wouldn't be here typing at you. We watched our route get scoured off of the face, and that nice A1 crack you saw in my photos along with everything else is no more. Evidently it was not "our time", and for this we are thankful beyond words. We are truly blessed, TBTG.

Facelift and Meat Fest were welcome diversions, for sure. I have been feeling pretty amped on adrenaline the last few days, but I think I'm more like myself now. It was a ton of fun jamming on piano with Andy/Timid Toprope and Travis/Vegas Climber, and thanks to Fattrad/Jeff Elfont and all the McTopo gang who put on a great affair. Thanks to Dean/Cragman for donating three 2-4's as well. I got to drink at least one I think..... You've heard of FA's of routes? It was funny when our friends credited us with the LA of Waterfall Route - ha ha! Plenty of gallows humour lately.

Anyway, we had so much fun jamming, that Andre Kovacs on guitar and Jacob Raab on trumpet are joining me and my little piano, and we are going to make a Jazz Ascent of the Wall of Early Morning Light. Evidently I want to get back on the horse what threw me off! From here on McTopo, we see that the first three pitches have been repaired, and it looks like we have two more to do up higher. I have all the kit thanks to ASCA and others, and we're going to do a proper job to restore this classic route [again]. It was very silly of Jim Beyer to chop it when he crossed over it on his route, I still don't understand why.

If anyone knows anything more about what repairs are needed than what is already noted on this website, could you please post up here?

Having had the opportunity to test-drive the John Middendorf D4 Ledge on Adrift this spring with Sean Warren, I can tell you that is is one fine machine. Though good ol Deucey is desperately in love with his four-strap design, I think I and others have finally convinced him to switch to six, for the simple reason that four straps suck. ;)

The ledge you see in the video linked below is the ledge we will be taking up WOEML, with the four straps replaced with six. John Verbeck and crew will be assisting with this hopefully today. We will need to put in two small semi-circular holes in the centerpoints of the air-side and wall-side tubes, and then reinforce them with some stitching and of course our ever-present Shoo Goo.

Dr. Piton Big Wall Repair Tip of the Day - forget Seam Grip, it is too expensive and takes too long to dry. Use Shoo Goo for ALL of your waterproofing needs! Thanks to Deucey for this tip.

Gospel John by Maynard Ferguson. I haven't played it in twenty years, trying to remember the chord changes!

What is really rad about this ledge design is that is actually STABLE while hanging against the rounded tree trunk! You know how on the wall, if you aren't up against a flat bit, and you are on a rounded edge, the whole ledge rocks and swings? Not the D4 - with the asymmetric tube design, this thing didn't even budge. Truly a marvel of modern portaledge engineering. Now, if only Deucey would explain to me what the heck he means about attaching the suspension point using prusiks, because I just don't get it. Duh.

Waterfall Route was about as epic as something can be, but never quite crossed the line from Class 2 to Class 3 fun thankfully. Though we continue to give thanks we're still here! And hey, get this - we know why they call it Waterfall Route! The first night on the wall, the forecast was for one-tenth of one inch of rain, and instead we got over an inch. We were situated directly underneath Horsetail Falls, and we got hammered. It was the worst place you could be on El Cap at the second-worst time, right during a major rainfall! [The worst time to have been there would have been about six days later .... heh heh]

I was under the new D4 rainfly, while my partners Ryan Sheridan and Patrick McRedmond were three feet away under a traditional old school rainfly. While those poor buggers were fighting for their lives as their ledge filled with water, kneeling in the water to conserve body heat and with every layer soaked through to the skin in icy cold rainwater, I was lying beneath my D4 rainfly warm, dry and comfortable. I sh|t you knott - it was the raddest damn thing. I was SO warm and dry, that I didn't even bother to put Anita's brand new camera into a plastic bag. The only moisture that came in was from a few pinholes around my feet, probably caused by me in my haste to get the fly set up around my ledge before we got hammered. [Note to self - Shoo Goo this]

Unbelievable - the D4 fly is really that good. Deucey asked me to "put the fly to the test" - well, never in my wildest nightmare would I have guessed under Horsetail Freaking Falls!!! Bloody 'ell, what a ride....

Anyway, it should be a blast up on WOEML, doing the repairs and playing jazz, and oh yes, I almost forgot - climbing rock. Beers could be involved, We hope to do a good job on the repair work and make y'all proud.

PtL and PtP Pete

P.S. Tell Tom Evans to watch us for Stick of the Day! We plan to cheat stick past whatever has been chopped, in order to be able to do a better repair job dangling from a toprope rather than standing on lead. It is, after all, a holiday.

Hobart, Australia
Oct 4, 2017 - 04:34am PT
Looking good Pete. I will be in touch about the modifications on that demo ledge you have to convert it to a six point. Sorry we couldn’t get you one of our latest models, we are still catching up with production of the Kickstarter orders.

Glad you survived the recent rockfall. At Arapiles now and was just trading rockfall stories with HB. But nothing comes close to having 800’ of wall drop out beneath you! Cheers, eh?

Trad climber
Valles Marineris
Oct 4, 2017 - 05:01am PT
Gospel John by Maynard Ferguson.

Killer chart and I think Ksolem would agree.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Oct 4, 2017 - 05:32am PT
Booze is a helluva drug.......apologies to D Chappell
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Oct 4, 2017 - 12:35pm PT
I hope your rhythm while hitting a drill bit is more efficient than those piano chord changes... (I'm joking of course)

Good luck on WOEML !

Oct 4, 2017 - 02:36pm PT
Thought it would have been rock, not jazz. I bet you play pretty outside stuff...

from out where the anecdotes roam
Oct 4, 2017 - 04:25pm PT
click here for an airing of peter's keyboard mastery recorded during
a portaledge outing to test a competitor's satin and chenille model:


note the baby grand and string section
not to mention sting's git-guy on loan

they named it "close to you"
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