A look at Lost Arrow Chimney

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Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 24, 2006 - 07:44pm PT
I long ago decided that if I ever climbed Lost Arrow Spire I would do it by way of the Lost Arrow chimney. The 5.10a rating put it, theoretically, within my ability. That assumption was put in doubt when I got my butt handed to me on a platter getting to the top of the Steck Salathe. Never the less, I figured that knowing the approach could be helpful. Plus it would just be cool to go up and take a look around. My gym buddy Chris couldn’t turn down the allure of seven plus hours of driving and a thousand feet of scrambling to climb a couple of pitches. Last Friday the web had the valley temperature at 19 degrees so we were expecting to be cold and to hike through snow.

Fortunately, you can see in this picture by 8:30 Saturday it was already a beautiful day and the slope below the spire was snow free. We went up the talus behind the maintenance yard as described in Reid. After you do the first 20 foot section of class three he describes cut back to the left for some yards to find the trail. Otherwise, if you go up and right you’ll end up soloing 50 feet of Yosemite class 4 - about 5.3, no pro. The first pitch we climbed is in the broken area below the sweep of the main chimney. Almost a rope length with a bush and about six feet of 5.8 chimney. The second pitch has a choice of two cracks. The left crack was wet so I took the right, which runs out of pro in about 40 feet. A quick re-read of Roper suggests the left crack. Then a later look at the Geek Tower topo seems to show that the “first pitch” I climbed was actually an approach pitch and if we had scrambled farther to the left we could have 3rd classed to the base of the climb.

I took these pictures looking up the Lost Arrow. At this point we decided to head down. As the day progressed the snow and ice kept falling off from around Yosemite Falls. It crashes and explodes and echoes and rumbles. Pretty cool.

If you compare the picture I took in the morning with this later shot you can see how much has fallen. We rapped the Sunnyside Bench regular route, which is a good idea if you like getting soaked banging around on wet, rock and enjoy constantly tangled wet ropes. I’d be interested if people have an opinion on which is a faster approach, climbing this route or walking over from the maintenance yard. When dry that is.

Another good day in paradise.
Zander
kevin Fosburg

Sport climber
park city,ut
Jan 24, 2006 - 09:25pm PT
Awesome post! I never knew the Lost Arrow Chimney formed into a mixed route this time of year (3rd photo). Thanks for the cool pictures.
David Nelson

climber
San Francisco
Jan 24, 2006 - 09:41pm PT
I concur: great photos! I have never climbed up to the gully, although it is legendary in Valley history. Anyone have more?
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 24, 2006 - 11:31pm PT
Kevin,
The photo does not show, the ice was kind of shimmering there in the dark slot. I'll take more pics when I get up there. (notice the ever optimistic "when")
Zander
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
Jan 25, 2006 - 08:10am PT
I agree Radical, great thread and pix. I'm envious, I've got to get back home and to the Valley and the Sierras.
Leroy

climber
Jan 26, 2006 - 06:37am PT
The La Chimney was the hardest day of my life.It doesnt have anything to do with the Steck Salathe.Itś more like Astroman on steroids.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Jan 26, 2006 - 11:18am PT
I remember an almost overwhelming sense of forboding, and bad rock at the crux. Though technically easier than Astroman, more work than Steck Salathe and more serious than either. Scary Larry's cracked pelvis may color my recolections, plus running out of water. Took the longest of the three, also.

Reminded me more of some scary mountaineering epic. Like the Grand, with chimneys.
Rhodo-Router

Trad climber
Otto, NC
Jan 26, 2006 - 01:24pm PT
Bone frags?
pc

climber
Eastside
Jan 26, 2006 - 02:11pm PT
Nice pics Zander.

Man that thing looks like it's coming off sooner rather than later. Don't push too hard in the chimney ;)

pc
kevin Fosburg

Sport climber
park city,ut
Jan 26, 2006 - 07:19pm PT
Hey Jaybrau, what's the honest modern grade for the "safety valve" in your opinion? It seemed kinda stiff for 5.7 I thought. How about that ice though?
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Jan 27, 2006 - 05:07am PT
Kev fos, I'm too pre-modern to know, like wise my dated topo collection, (which one is the Safety valve? at top?) anything up there sounds stiff for 5.7! If it's a euphomism for the h-slot, I was too bulbous even when honed.
kevin Fosburg

Sport climber
park city,ut
Jan 27, 2006 - 08:34am PT
The '87 Reid guide has the 4th pitch labeled the "safety valve" 5.7 yikes. Joe, I think your valley claim to fame is doing the NWFHD as your third roped climb.
Ditch Trad

Trad climber
CA
Jan 27, 2006 - 10:46am PT
Don't worry Joe, it'll always be the first winter ascent.

Nice pics Zander~have fun and climb safe.





Sacherer (paraphrased), "The LA is the hardest day of work in your life."



Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Jan 27, 2006 - 11:48am PT
'94 guide calls 'The Safety Valve,' 5.9. But I only vaguely remember it. I think it is was hard for That grade. I think we were running late, I was anticipating the pitches ahead, and might not have been fully in the moment. Glad to get past it and on to the epics above?
Grug

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Jan 30, 2006 - 06:40pm PT
Great pics! I hadn't seen this thing since '79 and had forgotten what it looked like. I'm glad this climb still gets done from time to time.
Grug

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Feb 2, 2006 - 02:28pm PT
Sitting here recovering from shoulder surgery and going through this site is bringing back a flood of memories. Only a few friends know this hopefully interesting free-solo story - so here it is.

The inspiration, really, was Henry Barber's free solo of the Steck Salathe - in 1977, I think. I was intrigued by this, and in 1978, I too, free-soloed the Steck-Salathe. I did it the same way Henry had done, I brought a long sling and a carabiner with me to protect the one scary piece of face climbing. The whole climb took about an hour and a half to complete.

The Steck-Salathe was a climb I had done several times before, and, frankly, free-soloing it did not seem to be such a big deal, in retrospect. It occurred to me that an on-site free-solo of a Yosemite classic would raise the stakes. I don't remember what made me think of the Lost Arrow Chimney - it wasn't a climb that was really on my radar or anything, but I was very confident in the wide crack arena and figured there was no way that I couldn't free-solo 5.10a.

So, sometime in the late Spring of 1979, I let some of my friends in on it and told my buddy Alan Chase that if I didn't show up for dinner the next night, to walk up the Falls trail the following morning and throw a rope down to the notch so I could prussik out.

I left in the morning, excited, of course. I brought a paperback book, "The Myth of Sysiphus", that I stuffed in my cotten warmup pants, just above the ankle. The climb went quickly and rather uneventfully. Because I figured that I might have to hang out at the notch all day anyhow, I took my time - hanging out at certain ledges - but still the whole climb took only about 3 hours. Like on the Steck-Salathe, I took a long runner and a carabiner. I used the runner on a fixed pin at the scary, flakey section discussed in this post, and then abandoned it.

When I topped out on the notch, there was a party setting up to do the tyrolean traverse of the spire. Two clearly inexperienced guys were at the notch, and one guy in particular, was really spooked and could not believe that I had soloed up to that point. I asked if I could use their ropes to get out. Both guys ended up jumaring up to the top of the wall. I was expecting that maybe they would send jumars down for me, but after the second guy went up, nothing happened for like 15 minutes, in spite of my yelling. So I got out two small cords and prussiked their rope to the top of the wall.

I hiked back to Camp 4 with little fanfare. I do remember John Long congratulating me the next morning.



Crag

Trad climber
Feb 2, 2006 - 02:51pm PT
WOW!
Sewellymon

climber
.....in a single wide......
Feb 2, 2006 - 04:01pm PT
ditto. that is SO burly.

and we all knew about it back then. us late 70's So Cal climbers, everybody was flabbergasted... light years outta my league, of course. and apparently most everybody else's ....not too many other free solos happening on the thing? more likely none..
WBraun

climber
Feb 2, 2006 - 04:05pm PT
Awsome solo Grug, what was wrong with those fools who wouldn't help you out of the notch?
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Feb 2, 2006 - 05:14pm PT
Very nice grug, Bravo! had heard the story maybe 8th hand, before. I think I met those same guys, a few different places, when I wanted to share a rappell.
kevin Fosburg

Sport climber
park city,ut
Feb 2, 2006 - 08:36pm PT
That's an awsome story. I didn't know that had been done. I remember somehow hearing Eric Gompers was psyched to solo that route too but not sure if he ever did.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Feb 2, 2006 - 10:44pm PT
Incredible accomplishment.
alik

Big Wall climber
edmonton
Feb 2, 2006 - 10:53pm PT
Very impressive solo grug. I wonder if anyone else has even repeated this feat?

If you don't mind me asking, what's the story behind your solo of Pipeline at Squamish. The fact that you soloed the first free ascent of a 10+ offwidth always kind of blew my mind. Had you done the route before? If you don't want to post specifics I'll understand; soloing is, after all, a very personal matter.
Grug

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Feb 3, 2006 - 11:31am PT
Hey, thanks for all of the kind words. By today's standards, these accomplishments seem like nothing.

As for Pipeline, it was an on-site free-solo. Never even saw the thing up close until the day I did it. Perry Beckham was the one who put the bug in my ear. I did in the Fall of 1979. I remember before I did it, Perry had already come up with the free ascent name for it...Pipeloads. Needless to say, it didn't stick. Pipeline was interestng in that, back then, there were a number (perhaps, four) of fixed pipes that had been sawed off and hammered into the crack. On the free-solo, not only did I not want to taint the ascent by weighting any of these pipes, I was actually afraid to weight them and it was difficult to get around one or two of them.

Luckily, this whole free-solo stuff wasn't something I did for long. I remember backing off a free-solo of the NE Buttress of Higher Cathedral Rock about 10 pitches up in 1981. Ended up down-climbing those 10 pitches and then doing no more soloing until 1995. In 1995, after not climbing for over a year, I was visiting the Valley with my girlfriend, soon to be wife, soon to be ex-wife. I was showing off by free-soloing Generator Crack (in shorts with no shirt on, no less), when I fell and broke my back. Had to get helicoptered out of the Valley and all.

No more free-soloing for me.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Feb 3, 2006 - 11:48am PT
I heard that generator story, 3rd hand as well, man!
congrats on still being here!
Leroy

climber
Feb 6, 2006 - 05:50am PT
I have cited the Lost Arrow solo various times and gotten no response at all .Hmmm.Wow ,didnt hear anything about your brokeback.Back in the day it was pretty scary climbing with Greg Sometimes.You'would be around a corner and hear sum scuffling around .I would look around and find Greg trying to solo some improbable thing.
Gomp

climber
San Diego
Feb 6, 2006 - 06:35pm PT
Kevin, Yes you're right. I had wanted to solo that thing really bad back then. I was so into offwidths and chimneys at the time and after on-sighting the left side of Reeds figured that I was good enough not to get spit out of anything on the Lost Arrow. Then I talked to Walt in the Village Store one day and he told me about the flakey face climbing part. I knew I wasn't good enough to feel confident on that so I started boning up on my edging skills but it never came to pass....

Talking to Walt every now and then kept me out of trouble. : )
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Feb 6, 2006 - 08:11pm PT
Goes to show ya, no one listens to dick. Ha ha

gomp, I wanted to free solo it onsight too, but when I finally climbed it, I was SO glad I had not, for the reasons you mentioned.

--contrarywise, walt greenlighted me on Fairview reg, which gave me the umph to do it solo, even though the first time I'd been up it had been as a wide-eyed pants-pissing teenager.
kevin Fosburg

Sport climber
park city,ut
Feb 6, 2006 - 10:16pm PT
O.K. so all day long I'm thinking about downclimbing 10 pitches on the E. Buttress of Higher on the solo. From what point was that Grug? I did that route last year after having soloed it a long time ago and this time found it not so easy. It's interesting how one can get into the free-soloing mindset and everything seems straightforward- a pleasant illusion?
kevin Fosburg

Sport climber
park city,ut
Feb 6, 2006 - 10:17pm PT
P.S. to Jaybro, maybe that's because they "don't know Dick"
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Feb 7, 2006 - 12:59am PT
I consider Grug's on site free solo of LA Chimney to be one of the boldest ever done in the Trench. There's just no way to get really well plugged into that upper section--just too grainy and akward and those pin scars are full of dirt. I congratulated you then and I do so now.

JL
Grug

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Feb 7, 2006 - 02:27pm PT
Thanks Largo. With Bachar, Werner, Croft, Rearden and others free-soloing 5.11 and harder (I still have a hard time fathoming this), it's hard to believe that a solo of a 5.10 route commands much respect (but I'll take it).

Kevin. I may be wrong about the pitch number on the NE Buttress of Higher Cathedral. There's one scary, big step with nothing much for your hands around the 9th or 10th pitch. I remember beginning it, then backing off several times. Finally I said to myself, "This is stupid! I'm going down"
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
Jan 27, 2012 - 09:18pm PT
Little-known, on-site free solo bump.
David Wilson

climber
CA
Jan 27, 2012 - 09:38pm PT
Missed this - that is an impressive solo. Who, if approved to reveal, is Grug ?
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 27, 2012 - 09:39pm PT
Now posts as eeyonkee, IIRC.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 27, 2012 - 09:53pm PT
Forward links of Zander's Lost Arrow Chimney progression since this 2006 recon:
2007: beta gathering and planned attempt http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Supertopo-Lost-Arrow-Chimney-Beta/t134n.html
2009: trip report! http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Lost-Arrow-Chimney-Trip-Report-9-19-09/t416n.html
dogtown

Trad climber
Cheyenne, Wyoming and Marshall Islands atoll.
Jan 27, 2012 - 11:04pm PT
Hey, Man
It’s a sporty solo by any standard back then. I too thought about it. When I did climb it we got a late start, had to spend the night up top in T-shirts no water. Someone had gathered a big stack of firewood before us, but it was still cold. Man that was a long time ago.
steve shea

climber
Jan 28, 2012 - 11:01am PT
Wow, LA Chimney solo! In 77 with Larry Bruce made a trip to the Valley to do wide stuff and a tour of the early Pratt 5.9/5.10s. We were pretty honed and had been to the Umph Slot, Crack O' Fear, Virginia Dale and Vedauwoo lapping wide stuff. Jack Roberts joined us for part of our Pratt research. We had a blast over a two week period and finished up with the Steck/Salathe in a day and the a few days later the LA chimney. We jugged out of the notch on ropes that Molly Higgins and Barb Eastman kindly dropped for us. One of the best, most fun trips ever to the valley. Impressive solo Grug!
stich

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Jan 28, 2012 - 11:44am PT
This is a great thread! One, for the nice into story with pics. Two, for Grug's tales of the solo on Lost Arrow and then more bonus stories.
ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
Apr 24, 2014 - 02:31am PT
bump
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Apr 24, 2014 - 01:21pm PT
Awesome stuff.
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