Chockstone Chimney TR

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Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 20, 2005 - 01:29am PT
Bob and I climbed chockstone chimney on Saturday. Ever notice how there is no descent information in any of the Reid guide books? I had to go all the way back to Ropers "71 guide to get scanty info. Just wondering if you all noticed.
We drove up from Berkeley and were sorting gear at 8:00. I've found that after folks climb with my mixed rack of Trangos, Camelots and Forged Friends we usually climb on their gear the next time. All I brought was a set of TCUs, a few RPs and my green Big Bro. All in all we had a few micro nuts, a set of stoppers, double set of TCUs, a #.5 Camelot, 2-#.75, 2-#1 , 2- #2, a #3 and a #4 Camelot, a #4 forged friend, and the big bro. The rack was fine but if you are a scaredy cat 5.9 leader like me take another #3 Camelot.
We hiked up to the base in about an hour. We then dropped our gear and hiked a little farther just to look at the wild water and the walls of rock in the amphitheater. The climb up to Roper's rope up spot is not class three, you come around a little corner and suddenly, it's class four with exposure. The first pitch was mine. There's great 5.8 hand jamming and bush climbing then hand jamming again. I finally got to use my big bro, in the belay. It was bomber. There's an old bolt as well. Bob led the crack and out onto the "5.8" face and then into the tree. I was way to casual on the "5.8" face and slipped off. I concentrated a lot harder and pulled of a hold/block before falling this time. All the little features of the rock were a little clearer now and I managed it on the third try. Don't worry it's only "5.8". The tree was fun- I thought only kid's got to do stuff like this. After that it was just pitch after pitch of wild chimneys. There are places where you just shout/laugh out loud it is so wild and cool. On the third pitch I misjudged where I would go and didn't sling my pieces enough before the chockstone move. The roped jammed and Bob had to self belay until the rope would run. Then amazingly he had the same problem while leading the technical crux (5.9 squeeze) on the next pitch and I had to self belay for a while. The 5.8 blocks shown on the topo on the last pitch are great but you better have some gas still in the tank. I left my pack hanging from my harness to walk/squeeze through the "tunnel through" at the top. We were starting to be concerned about the time so we stayed roped up and simulclimbed across Sherwood Forest. It goes fairly level and easy until it cliffs out. I was thinking we would need to climb up when we found the tree with the slings and rap ring. We backed up with one of our slings. The next rap was from a tree with slings as well. Bob rapped down about fifty feet and there was no obvious place to go. Just huge cliffs. I came down and it was daunting. But just as daylight ran out we found a tree with slings. We discussed bivying but we had little gear and there wasn't a lot for firewood. We hadn't' expected to bivy so we hadn't warned our families of the possibility. I knew my wife wouldn't be sleeping well until she got my call. So... Bob rappelled over the edge into the dark. I turned off my light to save the batteries. I was wondering if rappelling was futile and he would end up having to prussik the rope, that we would need to bivy anyway. Hope returned when he yelled up "Off Rappel". The flashlight was hanging around my neck and waving around, lighting the vertical rock as I rappelled down to where he was threading a sling through a funky two bolt rappel station. I swung into a nearby chimney and hooked myself to a couple of stoppers while he finished setting it up. We rappelled to a big slung block. Then an overhanging rappel to another funky two bolt station. One was a button head and the other was a machine bolt with wire cinch hanger. I know you supertopo folks do this all the time but to me it looked freaky. I backed it up with a stopper. The next anchor was a tree. At this point our luck ran out. Bob rappelled to a blank face and had to prussik back up 80 ft. before swinging over to a tree. I rappelled the off the other side of the tree and fortunately found a ledge and tree. One more and we were down. I filled my water bottle in the creek.So good. Bob pulled a chunk of Black Diamond cheese out of his pack. It was delicious. And appropriately named. It was 12:30 am. We returned to the truck by 2:30. We had almost no slings left. We made our phone calls and then crashed at the entrance station for a few hours.
This is a great climb. Full all day value. The fun meter in the green the whole time. Now if someone will just tell me the real descent I'll be happy.
Zander
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 3, 2006 - 06:33pm PT
Descent from Chockstone Chimney

Chockstone Chimney 5.9, 9 pitches, Ribbon Falls, Ribbon Creek Area, FA 1962 Les Wilson, Wolfgang Heinritz, Andrzej Ehrenfeucht, Leif Patterson, FFA: 1976 Ray Jardine, Mark Moore

Gaston Rebuffat's Introductory to Starlight and Storm has always been a source of inspiration to me. It is one of the best introspections of climbing that I have read. As I was standing in slings at the first rapel off Sherwood Forest, listening to the echoing tink-tink-tink of my hammer drilling a bolt, I kept an eye out for the stars to appear. The stars, we learn from Rebuffat, "...have a life of their own, yet in a sense they belong to the mountaineer's life, too; for on them depends his fate."

We were late, much later than I thought, getting off Chockstone Chimney, we had found the belay tree, or one of the belay trees, and I had recognized a sling from Eric grouped with a bunch of others. One blue sling lay in the duff, strange, seemed untied... after passing through the birth canal that forms the final bit of the climb, a squeeze to escape, we had collected our thoughts and took off across the forest to find the exit from this long day. The manzanita (Arctostaphylos viscida) was the understory of this thin forest, with oak, bay and pine occasionally occupying the precipice. "Where is the belay tree?" it was clear we were running out of light. The only beta I had was from Eric, who told me: go east and down, fourth class but you might want a rope in spots. So that is what we did, so dead tired, we roped across, and down, lowering occasionally. At some point I spy the tree, I can't believe it, but there it is with the slings. Now I know we won't be spending the night out.

"...some mountaineers are proud that they have done all their climbs without bivouac. How much they have missed! ... We should refuse none of the thousand and one joys that the mountains offer us at every turn. We should brush nothing aside, set no restrictions. We should experience hunger and thirst..."

I am sitting trying to figure out how to eat my second Cliff Bar, but knowing that I cannot because of its dryness, and the fact that I have no water. But we are about to rap 600' to the deck and I would really like some sugar for my brain. The manzanita is rather interesting, its seed pods are sticking to everything as our thrash proceeded. In earlier days it would have annoyed me, but now it makes me think of Debbie at home. Not that I could get her up here, and not that I can do anything to quiet her concern which will be large tonight, as we are going to be very late.

From the tree I rap first, Zander had thought you could bypass the bolt belay and hit the blocks below with two 200' ropes. This is not possible. I show up at the bolt station and it is everything advertised: a quarter-inch button head, a stud with a swaged wire hanger, about 6 slings rigged "American Triangle" fashion and a single, hollow, aluminum rap ring. I radio to Gary "I'm at the station" he asks "can you go further?" "No, should I add a bolt" "Yes"... it is the last of the golden sunset, viewed high on El Cap's West Face, what spectacular views, and there is the enigmatic KP Pinnacle, so obvious from here... a future adventure... but today I have some work to do.

The bolt goes in, a little slowly, and the light leaves the sky and is replaced by the mantle of stars. Summer time and tonight Scorpio is the companion over my left shoulder.

"OK, it's in, come on down!" and a few moments later, a pebble shower and a looming brightness portend Gary's arrival. A bright, fat three-eighths bolt is a welcome sight for him. He clips in and we pull the ropes. We add our sling, now through the new bolt and the old bolt, and a second ring.

From here Gary drops down and finds the block. I can still make out the scree in the stream bed draining El Cap gully reflecting the twilight. "Can you see any trees?" Gary has a very bright spot, "No", "OK, let's take the block". And down I go. We add a sling, and a big fatty steel ring, Gary goes again... the radio crackles "Here is the other bolt station" "How does it look?" "Not so great, but both bolts have hangers!" "OK, that'll have to do" and off I go. When I get there, the knot in the end of one of the ropes is hung up below, so I launch off, looking for the stuck end which has freed itself and a tree, which I find, with slings.

Gary follows, and pulls the rope, so far so good on rope pulls. It looks totally improbable by head lamp, our good fortune with the pulls, but I ain't complaining. By now the night is a profound black. We see the stars, and occasionally we can see the lights of cars making their way around the North Loop.

Sling on oak, one last rap? off I go. I can hear the sound of water cascading down the stream. It is wonderful, knowing that I will be able to drink soon. I don't care about giardia that is something I can deal with next week. Right now my body has been pushed to the max. It has been a pleasantly warm day for the Valley in the summer, but our effort has sapped everything out of us. "I'm done, your turn" is my radio message to Gary. I look around, but we are still a half-rope from the ground, even though I know I could find a way down in the day... I wait, Gary arrives, we pull the rope and once again the "rope-pull goddess" blesses us. I coil one rope and the other goes around a tree and we are finally down. Putting on his shoes Gary recovers his watch "11 pm".

The next hour and a half has us thrashing down the brush to the creek, and eventually finding the use trail which gets us to the woodlot road. I am exhausted but the arrival at the car, shedding our ropes, and gear, and harness brings the usual joy. We fire up the car and drive off, both of us trying to get a cell connection, Gary does, calls his wife and has her call Debbie as I can't connect.

We are driving home, probably to arrive at the hour we left early Sunday morning. A 24 hour effort.

The climb? well it is an adventure we did in 7 physical pitches. There is an assortment of chimney sections, including a very cool one where you tunnel through in complete darkness. The last bit on the last pitch is a real asskicker... and features two fixed ring angles which somehow escaped being a part of the Climbing Museum. The granite is hard and slick. But the route is very loose. And there is a tree climbing section which will have to be modified once the tree departs.

Gary's comment to me on the drive home was "that is enough adventure for me this season!"

"It is the hour when mountaineers go out on the hut terrace to scan the sky, test the wind and the snow. It is cold, and cold nights mean a fine day. It is the time to light the lantern and start out...
Here I am in Paris I dream of high hills."


That is the unescapable fact, something that I have lived with since I started climbing, to "dream of high hills." And I know it will not take too long for Gary's dreams to place him on an adventure in the high hills.

I am already dreaming.
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 5, 2006 - 09:25pm PT
Ed,
Thanks for the TR and for adding that bolt at the rap station.

"The last bit on the last pitch is a real asskicker... "

Hey Ed, the topo says it's just "5.8 blocks".

See you on the rock,
Zander


Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jul 5, 2006 - 10:00pm PT
This is great. Stories that show all the iffy, hardship-ridden situations that real climbing involves. And the very stimulating adventures that come with it. And in my favorite area in the Valley, too.

I remember Les Wilson's slide show of this route, back in 1963. It turned out that this route was his best in the Valley. And note, there was basically nothing up there at that point (1962). Les lives in Berkeley btw and does these wild adventure trips to S. America and other places.

Best PH
Jaybro

Social climber
wuz real!
Oct 4, 2008 - 02:38am PT
Can you get back home with just one rope?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 4, 2008 - 03:16am PT
I remember Elliott telling me the story of the rappels with Greg. At one point, Elliott was dangling on the end of the rappel rope, well out in space. So Greg starts pushing on the rope at the station, swinging Elliott back and forth until he can contact the rock and grab a tree.... Full adventure.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
Otto, NC
Oct 4, 2008 - 01:50pm PT
I'm pretty sure those are 2-rope raps. Did it this spring. Friends who brought one rope spent the night in Sherwood Forest a couple weeks later...


There's a cool Outer Limits- like topout flake to the left of the squeeze exit- check it out! Harder than the rest, but not disastrously so.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 4, 2008 - 02:17pm PT
It sounds like a great adventure, the sort of thing that Leif very much enjoyed. Some of his old gear (giant LongWare bongs, etc) has now been given to the Yosemite Climbing Association, for the proposed museum. Perhaps including things used on Chockstone Chimney.

I met Glen Denny at the FaceLift, and discovered that he had not only known Leif, but had been to the Cordillera Huayhuash with him in 1964.
spyork

Social climber
A prison of my own creation
Oct 4, 2008 - 05:15pm PT
You can never go home Jay!
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Oct 4, 2008 - 05:20pm PT
With a thread title like that, there HAS TO BE PICS!!! WTF??
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Oct 4, 2008 - 05:41pm PT
Great post. Visuals would be a nice plus.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 4, 2008 - 05:46pm PT
funny thing about that... I had my camera, but it was acting rather odd. Shot pictures the whole way up... then the next trip up Loggerhead Buttress.. when it continued to act odd. Eventually I had it rewind, when I opened the back I found that I hadn't put any film in it...

...I do plan on doing Chockstone Chimney again, and maybe I'll take a camera and provide images. On the other hand, maybe it would retain more of it's allure without... the written word can be so much more interesting in its imprecision.


Gary Carpenter

climber
SF Bay Area
Oct 4, 2008 - 05:50pm PT
I believe that Chockstone Chimney was one of the climbs that we had a camera "malfunction" on that season. Guess we'll have to do it again.
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 4, 2008 - 07:09pm PT
Hey, from what depths did this baby surface from?
Yeah Jay, you can get home with one 60 meter rope, we did, but two ropes would make it mellower. The raps in the trees might not be easier but once over the edge you could skip the hanging switch over on the face (with Ed's new bolt) and go right to the big chockstone. From there you could skip the really funky two "bolt" station to go to the tree. Then only one more two rope rap to the ground. If it is in the middle of the night you might be happier with two ropes.
I really want to do this again so I can lead the even pitches.
The alternate finish sounds good, if I only didn't remember how the "5.8" blocks had hammered me on the last pitch.
good times.
Zander
spyork

Social climber
A prison of my own creation
Oct 4, 2008 - 08:25pm PT
I am up for it for next summer, and I will bring a camera!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 4, 2008 - 11:46pm PT
Great TR of another obscure valley classic. Thanks for the post. Ribbon Falls Amphitheatre is a special spot even for Yosemite.
Interesting that it is Les Wilson's favorite FA. A few years ago I bought a mint set of steel and aluminum Longware bongs on ebay including a rare 5". As I examined the lot, I wondered who they had belonged to and soon discovered a magic marker "Wilson" faintly drawn inside several bongs. Inside the one oddball old Chouinard 2 1/2" was a clear L WILSON. How they made their way to market, I still don't have any info. It definitely made me pay particular attention to his routes and want to contact him.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 4, 2008 - 11:50pm PT
Steve - see http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=597341 for photos of LongWare bongs and other goodies. Including one that measured 5.8" at its widest, probably the largest bong ever commercially made.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 5, 2008 - 11:11am PT
Yup, that's the bong that I would like to have after the Rapture.......If you would.? LOL
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
Otto, NC
Oct 5, 2008 - 11:16am PT
The "5.8 blocks" are some full-value 5.8 for sure...maybe one fell out or something.

I think Ed's concept of the picture-free mystery route is appropriate. No-star classic!
Larry

Trad climber
Bisbee
May 11, 2010 - 12:44pm PT
Anybody ever climb to the rim from Sherwood Forest via "Hidden Chimney?" See the Roper guide.
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