Abracadaver - FA Pics and Story


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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 24, 2007 - 02:59pm PT
As a crack route, Abracadaver is the gem of the Cochise Stronghold in AZ. I couldn't find a formation shot of the Rockfellows but I'm sure somebody can post one.
Starting the first pitch.

Eyeballing the wideness above.

Wide crack man Dave Baker leading the second pitch to his highpoint from an earlier attempt.

Mike McEwen leading the ultra classic third pitch. All the way up this lead the vultures were constantly hovering nearby acting as straight men for our macabre sense of humor, hence the name, Abracadaver! Those of you that have done this pitch should be able to appreciate his skill in managing this onsight with just three pieces of protection and the hungry harbingers nearby!

Following Mike's brilliant lead. Note the huge lichen flakes. There used to be a bowling ball case sized loose block where the crack finally pinches down to deal with on the sharp end. These days there is a nice triangular bucket to pull out of the thinning layback.

Paul Davidson in a state of frightful pumpage tried to latch onto the unsavory beast and ended up falling the entire length of the layback past the hanging belay! We swapped ends and I got well into the lead before noticing that I was tied into my leg loops alone!
Fig also took a long fall on this pitch, struck a shelf on the flake edge and completely tore one of his ankles apart. His three point descent of the approach gully was epic and the ankle took about half a year to heal. The worst part of the ordeal by his account, was the seasickness induced by neophyte driving on the way back to town!

Leading the fourth pitch in retro attire. What you can't see are the pink spots on my flimsy pants from grinding my knees due to poor OW technique back then.

For all you footware fetish folks out there. This is the only photo I have showing my all-time favorite pair of shoes, the Hawkins Masters.

Mike responding to being razzed about his bolting prowess. Despite his construction background, Mike was famous for placing poor bolts and neither Dave nor I had any intention of falling once he yelled down that a bolt belay was in order!
Probably the most gifted climber in Tucson, Mike defined local boldness and climbed on a tiny rack of less than ten pieces! He liked to mark his biners by drilling a shallow hole and filling it with red paint. The trouble was he chose to drill right at the failure point on the radius, further accentuating the old school maxim that the leader must not fall! Mike made quite an impression in Yosemite while he was active in the 70's, his talent being apparent to anyone watching him climb.

Heading down from the Friendly Flake after a perfect climbing day........
Don't let go

Trad climber
Yorba Linda, CA
Feb 24, 2007 - 03:08pm PT
Very cool. Old school guys had big huevos.

Social climber
The West
Feb 24, 2007 - 03:30pm PT
Thanks Steve! Great photos and history of a spectacularly cool route.

That was the first route I climbed in the Stronghold. Climbed it with Chris Raypole -we took no photos and some of the memories are up in smoke.

Trad climber
one pass away from the big ditch
Feb 24, 2007 - 04:03pm PT
That's one of those lines after checking a guidebook where I thought... 'man, wish I could get down there and do that line' ... but not having the skill or cajones to pull it off I deftly maneuvered to not make the "long" drive from So Cal. Now that I'm in Nor Cal, things have changed, it's DEFINITELY too far to drive for now. :)

killer TR, thx

Social climber
Feb 24, 2007 - 04:15pm PT
Fantastic pictures. Thanks.

Here's a picture of the Rockfellow group. I think Abracadaver itself is out of sight on the left (umm, sorry...), in the shade, but the pic gives a nice sense of this proud formation.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 24, 2007 - 04:19pm PT
That's definitely the End Pinnacle in the foreground with Abra and Knead Me, the two striking parallel crack systems, hidden around to the left.

Apparently, Wizards of Rock has a write up of Abra and perhaps a photo.

Abra, as all climbs, waits patiently, and is getting nothing but easier as the pro options improve.
Off White

Tenino, WA
Feb 24, 2007 - 06:47pm PT

Here's the shot you want, lifted from Avitripp over on cascadeclimbers.com
J. Werlin

Feb 24, 2007 - 08:08pm PT
Enjoyed this historical post of a super-classic route very much. Thanks for making the effort to post.

Feb 24, 2007 - 08:12pm PT
"Fig also took a long fall on this pitch, struck a shelf on the flake edge and completely tore one of his ankles apart."

Yikes Steve, that sounds nasty. Cool looking climb that Abracadaver .
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 24, 2007 - 08:27pm PT
Thanks for the perfect Rockfellow Domes photo, Off. Sure makes me want to be there right now, on a warm windless day of course.

Werner, Fig's injury was a freak thing in that he happened to be falling close enough in to strike a sloping area on the flake edge that you could barely rest on otherwise. I have all the luck when it come to big fish on the line for this route!

Trad climber
Feb 24, 2007 - 08:55pm PT
We waited out rain squalls in the slot at the top of Friendly Flake. A cool spot.

Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Feb 24, 2007 - 09:00pm PT
Don't forget the perfect apres-Abra trip through the bowels of the 'fellows!


Feb 24, 2007 - 09:07pm PT
Good classic chimney shot.

Social climber
The West
Feb 24, 2007 - 09:50pm PT
Cool shoes, too!

write up but no photo, in Wizards.

Feb 24, 2007 - 09:55pm PT
Werner, that chimney above is part of what's called the Inner Passage. An unroped traverse with a bit of sideways chimneying.

Fun to do during Bean Fests. People have been in both directions in ALL states of mind.
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Feb 24, 2007 - 10:47pm PT
Nice pictures and write-up, Steve.

For both you and Werner, is 'Fig' Mike Breidenbach, the 'Fig' I knew and climbed with a few times in the Valley?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 24, 2007 - 11:22pm PT
sunglasses are, of course, necessary

Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Feb 24, 2007 - 11:37pm PT
I never noticed those sunglasses Ed, but that is a crackup...that's George Bell Jr. smiling for the camera.

For anyone that hasn't given it a go, the Inner Passages is pretty cool. Just don't relax at the wrong time or you might get stuck!

Feb 24, 2007 - 11:38pm PT

Steve is talking about a different Fig not Mike Breidenbach.

Trad climber
tucson, az
Feb 24, 2007 - 11:49pm PT
Speaking of Cochise Stronghold, the following arrived in my inbox this week:

Hear Ye All!

I, the newly appointed Bean Master declare April the 28th the 255th semi-annual Bean Fest!

Fellow brothers and sisters of the gilded few of the heights come join in a day of high adventure and a night into the depths of debauchery. The site of the infamous activities will be the fabled east side of the Stronghold of the fearsome Apache warrior Cochise. For those of competitive nature there will be a test of skills on boulders and top-ropes, one arm hanging, rope jousting and other daring exploits. Strange, exotic, expensive prizes will be awarded to the brave souls that finish at the front of the pack.

For the kind folks that want to pitch in to make this a Bean Fest of all Bean Fests feel free to summon me for your assistance. We'll need food and drink. Firewood. If you have an artistic talent a t-shirt design would be highly coveted. Those that contribute will be truly gifted by the spirits that dwell in the Stronghold. They are known to love and protect climbers.

Pass this important message around to our fellow climbers. All must know about the most important of events to be occurring soon!

Bean Master Fred
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