Runout classics - ever take the ride?


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Trad climber
Cali Hodad, surfing the galactic plane
Nov 26, 2012 - 07:23pm PT
Rick L,

I'm pretty sure it was 'Curve Like Her' (always what i thought, anyway)! So, I just looked it up again on and the one pic of the right facing dihedral looks very familiar (more on that in a second) and what little it has for a route description is right on target:

Curve Like Her - 10c - trad & one bad bolt.

Description: runnout sandbag!


You are right, its on Polly Dome (i cudn't recall the name of the dome next to Stately Pleasure Dome) here is a pic of it from!
it looks like it may have been taken from our perch on that narrow ledge with the "one bad bolt"!
Credit: splitter
I left part of the story out for the sake of brevity. But, actually, after I joined the three of you on that tiny ledge, rather than continue on up to the single bolt protecting the steep face moves, I thought it would be better to traverse right about 40' to a corner/different route that, as I recall, was rated 5.9 or so. From where we were it looked like it would take pro! So I followed the narrow ledge right and just before the corner (the ledge had, by then, stopped) I had to make this 5.9 face stem move over to the corner. I climbed up the corner for 10-15 ft and it became apparent that it was just a bottomed out groove that didn't take any pro and was wet to boot. So I back tracked.

When I went to reverse the 5.9 move, it was wet. I had somehow redirected the seepage from the corner, as it trickled down, over onto it. I can very clearly recall, while the three of you watched my every move, make a quick assessment of the situation should i had slipped/fell in the process of reversing that move; 1) i looked down the 'flight path' we would take to the ground below @250+ ft! 2) i looked over at that corner/dihedral, which, should the "bad bolt" not fail and actually hold our combined weight of 650# (my guess) and then followed the trajectory of my swing (i was directly to your left 40+ ft) and where i would slam into the corner/didn't look inviting. 3) i then looked at the three of you, and cracked up (well, i do remember a big smile and soft chuckle). I guess it was just the sight of three hardcore doods gripping/hugging each other and looking scared as sh#t. I wish I had a camera back then, lol! Now that I think about it, I probably could have weaseled something out of you guys, a complimentary dinner at least perhaps, ya gotta prepare for those situations (when opportunity strikes) oh well! lol I went ahead and reversed the move and, as I have already described, climbed "up, up and away"!

The other portion that I left out (for the sake of brevity) was, that after making it past the difficult face moves above the hangerless bolt, I ran out of rope. I came to a dead stop in the middle of nowhere. I new that I had nearly ran it out, but had hoped I still had enough line to make it to the left facing corner/crack which was still 25-30 ft away. No way!

There was ABSOLUTELY nothing I could do. Like I said, you guys were out of eyesight and hearing. I gave the rope a long and hard pull from my sketchy stance, and then let go. The universal climbing signal for slack/I need more f'n rope. I waited about a maybe 30 sec and did it again. No deal. I new there was only ONE thing I could do, and that was belay you from right there. ACTUALLY, there was one other thing I could have done, and believe me I did, and that was F'N PRAY! lol Believe me, I did.

That is, pray that you would pull off those steep 5.10 face moves that the bolt protected on the steep headwall right above the belay ledge. If you had slipped, even a slight slip which would have required tension, it would have pulled me (standing on the steep slab/no bolt or pro), you, and most likely, Kevin & Art into oblivion! BTW, thank you Rick for "pulling off those moves"!

So I gave two quick tugs, waited a few seconds, and gave two more quick tugs, the signal to come on up! YIKES!!! You can probably can imagine the "pucker factor" involved, that I was experiencing, for those extremely intense moments between pulling in the slack after you unclipped from the belay ledge and when you slowly made your way up to that bolt/5.10 face moves. I , personally, was looking at about a 250 ft fall, most likely to the deck, from that point. The first 100 ft or so would be sliding down the step slab and then I would have shot over the lip. That would have been one hell of a "ride"!! And, most likely for you, you may have been right behind me ... rather chilling possibility to imagine/picture, eh?

So, my prayers were answered, you made your way up over and past the 5.10 without incident, and I was able to proceed to the safety of the corner once you arrived at the stud missing the hanger!

So, perhaps I had a few more things to recall (speaking of PTSD, sheeesh). I do remember waking up at least one time late in the middle of the night in a cold night shouting, "DON'T F'N SLIP RICK, DON' F'N FALL...! LOL!!

Best also to you & yours,


EDIT: You were between semesters at law school then. You had bailed on the eastside dirtbag existence after many years of honing it, gotten married and entered law school. And perhaps, you were lamenting a bit, in regards to "the way we were" when you were one of us! lol But, I was sure that after escaping that route in one piece, it was a sort of confirmation that you had made the right move in regards to getting married and going to law school! ;)

edit/edit: Also, I do recall that you did a write up on it for one of the climbing rags back then (maybe 'Climbing') in regards to people scarfing bolts off of climbs & perhaps the manky belay bolt, or whatever. I never actually saw it/read it, but several people approached me over the next couple of years, mentioning it!

SO, my synopsis or conclusion: that was the day that I found out why they call it "the sharp end"!!

from SoCal
Nov 26, 2012 - 07:27pm PT
No big rides.

Took a 20 off Flower of High Rank and nearly decked head first. Saved by a great belayer who cranked in a couple of arm lengths before the end.

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Nov 26, 2012 - 07:29pm PT
The most classic one I've ridden is Coonyard Pinnacle. Fun times with davidji, we both took some long sliders:

Crest Jewel isn't known for its runouts, but end of linked P1+P2 I took 3 sliders in a row, ~20-25 feet. Partner wanted to bail, so I had to do it again if I wanted to climb more that day. 4th time's a charm! That was my first slab climb.

Ugliest and nearly life-ending one was an obscurity:

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 26, 2012 - 07:34pm PT
Yeah, this was for real. I forget it it was in Rivendell or Mordor.

Credit: Reilly

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Nov 26, 2012 - 11:22pm PT
I'm sure I told this story before...

I was lowering from about 40' off a boulder on TR, b.i.t.d. (80's, Full Moon Boogey, off-finger 11b, Campo, CA) when a long time friend of mine nearly dropped me seconds after I took tension at the anchor bolts. We had met eyeballs and confirmed with a head nod and verbal confirmation to each other that he was ready to lower me when I suddenly became weightless after leaning back, my focus becoming tunnel vision, and soon black, when I finally felt the rope become tight on my harness, my eyes opening and finding myself dangling about six feet from the ground. My belayer had taken a comfortable "sit" about thirty feet away from the base of the boulder, laying on his back, while he basked in the sun, thinking this was a safe place to belay. After the dust settled from the fall, I found him laying in the dirt, not far away from me, still holding on with his brake hand on the rope!

I asked him, after the fact, what had happened, and he told me that he figured he'd pay me back for a stunt I had pulled on him when we were kids growing up, so he gave me "some slack" to scare me. "I didn't realize I'd get lifted off the ground and you'd fall that far," he applogized. Thanks Joe!

Trad climber
Nov 27, 2012 - 11:14pm PT
Came off of EBGB's from the last bolt. Took a 25' slider when lycra was cool.
Way Back Machine......note the Kinaloa chalkbag!
Way Back Machine......note the Kinaloa chalkbag!
Credit: tiki-jer

Trad climber
Dec 5, 2012 - 07:39pm PT
for educational purposes only,,rob leshers first jug{pack on back}up washingtons colume didnt think to clip into anything,realizing at the top his folly and with last ounce of power ,cliped the anchor,first wall i belive,,mine was with rob ,and survial on tombstone wall ,smith rocks,having taped up,against my better judgment,AND getting up the perfect hand/to/wide trying to make an easy placment,but being so pumped ,letting go with one hand and the tape rolling off the other,i had to just let go,,fortunatly it was steep,,and now i had some pro above my head,,,

Trad climber
Dec 5, 2012 - 10:36pm PT
Hi my name is Chris and I'm a fallaholic....I fell just before the last bolt on Solid Gold, it was a big one. I also fell just before clipping the post-crux bolt on Rebolting Development, cracking two ribs, I fell almost all the way down to the belay. Pitched off the third pitch of The Vampire about 10 feet past the crux trying to fiddle a small cam in. Fell off the first pitch of Valhalla to the ground (slid off the black glassy knob, unaware that it had a timer), no harm done. Fell multiple times trying to get the crux of Season's End, but that wasn't too bad. Did not fall off Sidewinder, or the first pitch of Rebolting Development. Did ooze off Arcy Farcy once but it was a benign slide. Missed a clip on Edgehogs but managed not to take the 100 footer. Missed a clip on Battle of the Bulge but managed to hold it together. Took a big plunge off Abstract Roller Disco after reaching the final bolt but too far to the left to clip it.

The only climb I didn't get right back on horse with was Rebolting, mainly because I was injured. But I did go back and do it a few years later. Onsights are always nice but sometimes it doesn't work out that way, these are all great climbs and deserve the big push as opposed to the big TR.

El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Dec 5, 2012 - 10:42pm PT
Always eeked it out or pussed out.

Dec 5, 2012 - 11:06pm PT
My first lead in Jtree was 29 Palms, after watching me wobble my way up that (at one point he shouted up "forrchrissake put some pro in"), my partner, Duncan, wanted a mellow end to the day so we thought we'd try that nice looking 5.10 slab EBGB's. Being from Scotland, we weren't used to Granite Slab climbing, but hey, its only 5.10 right?

Unfortunately for Duncan, when he got to the last bolt he realized that the hanger had been torn through. Downclimbing wasn't an option, and neither was falling back to the last bolt since it looked to be the same as the one that had already ripped through, so he had to wobble up to the top with that horrible feeling in the pit of his gut, knowing that if he fell he was going to die.

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Dec 5, 2012 - 11:21pm PT
None other than Lynn Hill took a big fall off the top of EBGB's BITD

Oh yeah Bill. Believe it or not I witnessed that fall, it was '77 or '78 maybe? She basically fell from the last move and went damn near to the bottom with a big swing to the right tossed in for bonus points.

I didn't do it until 1987, and I only did it once. Total psychological trauma.

Trad climber
Dec 6, 2012 - 12:05am PT
I took a whipper off EBGB's in 81' I think it was. I forget which bolt it was, maybe half way up, but the biner blew right through the alum. I ended up hanging about 4' off the deck if I remember right!

Trad climber
Dec 6, 2012 - 12:59am PT
1979 I was in the valley with a friend from so. cal. He wanted to do Apron Jam for our first climb. I was game so off we went. I had no idea what we were in store for. He wanted to lead and was not about to argue with him as I had imagined a jam crack and not this off width thing. Up he goes with large hexes which he could not get to stick. Down he comes and finds a suitable rock which he drags up and promptly ties off about 15' up. He sputters up and about 7 or 8' above that chockstone he placed starts to quiver and shake. Facing out in the off width he rattles out, slides down and just below him at about the height of the chockstone is a small ledge which catches his heels. He hits that at speed and gets pitched out in space, meanwhile I am taking up slack around my hip belay as fast as I can. Luckily the chockstone pro holds and he ends up with his face about 8" from the scree. Seemed like something out of a movie. The gentleman and his young son who were watching were aghast, and their eyes were as big as ours. Two sprained ankles and 1 lucky guy. That was the last time I climbed with that guy.

Dec 6, 2012 - 01:36am PT
A little ways into the fall
A little ways into the fall
Credit: ianv
Not thinking, we set up the belayer where he couldn't see me past the first bolt or two. I was stepping up on a dish near the top and the rope went just tight enough to make my foot pop. Not sure how far I fell, but I ended up near the second bolt (first bolt on the face) A few hours later, had to drive for 22hrs with a couple of sprained ankles.

Dec 6, 2012 - 01:38am PT
Going for the ride!

Cool shot.

Trad climber
Dec 6, 2012 - 10:53am PT
Does ice count? I have pretty much viewed all ice climbing as run out. Years ago, I was climbing with my regular rock partner that was progressing on ice. We shot up Boulder Canyon as he was ready for an easy ice lead. Up Boulder Falls he went. He was out of sight when I heard the noise of whipping rope. I desperately was pulling in slack as I heard him falling/bouncing on the stepped ice above. He was ripping pieces as he went and I tried to reel in as much slack as possible. I bet I pulled 30'+ of slack in as he fell. I also back pedaled to take in slack. He ended up pulling 2 or 3 screws and was finally stopped by a tied off shrubbery/ his first piece of pro. He literally bounced on the rope directly in front of me and probably a foot or two above the ground/deck. He was looking at me like WTF as the screws he pulled lined up on the rope. Other than some good bruises to his body and ego, he was fine. Turns out the ice at the exit was rotten and failed with 4 points in. I do believe that he decided ice climbing was not part of his future from this incident.

Ice climber
Warren, VT
Dec 6, 2012 - 02:40pm PT
Nice stories from Cali, but as everyone knows, NC is 'First in Flight.' My buddy Mark was doing Double Dihedrals, a six pitch classic, when his partner backed off the last pitch. This was pre any guide except Rotert's underground pamphlet (for that matter there is still no guide for Wildcat), and what no one realized was that the FA, who had put the route up rope solo, had TR'd the last pitch several times first. Now everyone goes left to a dirty corner, but at the time the description said straight up. It was getting dark, though, and mark does not back down, so he climbed up to the first (only) piece of gear, a #4 Camalot about 40' up, scoped the rest, spotted a horizontal about another 40' up that looked like it would take a 2 TCU. Also looked like hard 5.10 the whole way, so he puts the TCU in his mouth and takes off. He was sketching when he got there and when he tries to slot the TCU he discovers it's too big. "This no longer has any relevance to my life,' he said, throws the unit over his shoulder, then comes off trying to get a smaller one. He clipped a ledge near the Camalot, broke a few ribs, and winds up hanging upside down below his belayer after an honest 80 footer. 'Eric, (the belayer), looked a little fried.'

But that's not the story, that's the preamble. We were supposed to go do Fathom over on Laurel Knob, which is the tallest wall east of the Rockies, but was totally verbotten, all access illegal and a huge thrash, and the climbs were strictly poaching. Being a caver first, Mark had dropped his 700' caving rope down the short side to rap in (and even that just got you to a tree for a couple of more raps down to the ground), but being all banged up he knew he was out of the game for awhile, so got our friend John to help him retrieve it. A couple of months later he decides it's time to start climbing again, and the first thing he wants to do is Fathom, 'but it's my first time back, so I want to take it easy, you'll have to lead anything sketchy. And oh yeah, I want to haul a John up too to repay him for his help.' Well, John was at best a 5.7 climber, but supposedly Fathom had only one .10 pitch and was otherwise pretty mellow, and I figured, how much trouble could three of us get into anyway.

Again all we had for info was a hand sketched topo, and above the crux pitch it just showed about three water grooves above a slab as potential alternates to traversing off to the right, which I guess was what the FA did, but no indication as to which groove was best. Now that the crux is done and we just have the mellow top out, Mark takes off for his first lead after his fall and spots a quarter inch stud about 30' up one of the grooves. 'This must be it,' he figures, loops a nut over the stud and takes off. And he's climbing, and climbing, and there's no gear, which he is constantly informing us in a progressively higher pitch. Then the rope goes tight. 'You're going to have to start climbing, Jim, and don't fall or I'm a dead man.' I'm a little concerned, but hey, I'm still connected back to John and the two fat bolts at the belay, and I'm not figuring Mark to fall anyway. So I climb up in the groove, clip the nut on the stud to the rope I'm trailing for the sheer perversity of it, and start doing the water groove shuffle, where nothing is harder than 5.8 and there is nothing positive to hold onto for miles. I remember thinking that I could see where Mark could be freaking pretty good on this with no gear, and every once and awhile I'd call up, 'You near the top?'
'Any gear?'
Then the rope went tight between me and John and things start to get serious. 'That's all the rope, Mark, is there any gear?'
'Nothing. It's still fifty feet to a tree.' oh f*#k.
'John,' I call down. 'You're going to have to unclip and start climbing.'
'Whaaaat?' At this point I think he may have started crying. I know I wanted to.
'And John, I can't say this any other way: You can't fall. You just can't.'
Which is how I wound up tri-mul climbing 800' off the deck attached to a guy climbing at or above his limits with one old rusty 1/4" stud as the only piece in the system, trying to convince myself that if he did fall I could somehow attach myself like silly putty to this smooth ass granite groove and somehow hold it. I can't even imagine how Mark avoided melting down completely, 300' out (still using 50m ropes in those days) on his first climb back after that fall.
Well obviously, John didn't fall, Mark got to the tree, and the world started rotating again. We went to the BBQ joint in Cashiers and Mark and I were jazzed on the adrenalin hangover, but John just sat slumped at the table muttering, 'I can't believe we just did what we just did.' To my knowledge he never climbed again.

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
Dec 6, 2012 - 02:46pm PT
I think ice falls have a place in this thread because those of us that spend a lot of time doing it, know in the back of our mind that in this climbing scenario, the leader must not fall.

Bridalveil Falls, Telluride. My second time doing the route. My partner, who is one of those extremely good and extremely bold ice leaders, leading the second pitch over and around a roof of sorts. (I couldn't see him.). I had wondered the what'ifs about this partner, only because he tends to run it out big time on hard ice to get to stances. Good strategy as long as things don't go south. When things go south ice climbing, they can go really far south.

So my friend is moving along smoothly and quickly, as he always does on grade 5+ ice, me paying rope out and all of a sudden, with absolutely not the slightest sound, the little bit of slack in the rope whips up and across my left eyebrow. My only thought was "holy $hit, he's fallen. He never falls on ice." Once my brain processed that he had fallen, I look down and see one tip of a frontpoint, just barely visible below the ice ledge I was anchored to. To make an long story short, he had fallen perhaps 50 feet, although I don't know; I couldn't see him climbing from my belay. Neither does he because he was flipped upside down, broke his shoulder, a hand and suffered a concussion with subdural hemotoma, and was totally unconscious and hanging upside down. (Which is why I saw only a tip of a front point *from above*.)

This story has a happy ending, but my friend doesn't remember any part of it. Not my desperate and successful attempt to get him rightside up (there was nobody in the vicinity to yell for help to), not the slow walk out once I was able to get us both down to the ground, not his refusing to be taken to the clinic in T'ride, and not my begging him to go to the hospital in Montrose. My eye where the rope got me was black and blue, and badly burned by the rope. This all happened on the pitch where Jack fell last year.

Trad climber
Dec 6, 2012 - 03:03pm PT
Enjoying my share of whippers, I've pushed my limits on stuff I didn't belong. Back in the day of 3 wrap swami belts, Gilje and I went to climb Giant Steps on the back side of The Warlock. Sustained 5.10 face with a few bolts requiring a lot of hunting and route finding. Half way up the first pitch the route traversed diagonally up and right and I spotted the next bolt 15' straight above. Gilje had done the route before and pointed up.

Of course I went straight for it and found myself on increasingly thin moves. Unable to move up, I attempted to down climb and pitched about 50' before coming to a abrupt stop, rearranging my organs and knocking the wind out of me.

Tom took the lead and attempted the same path, declaring it 5.12 before backing off and finding the correct route to the right. Tom later apologized, but I learned the value of leg loops and finding my own way on questionable ground.

Dec 6, 2012 - 03:57pm PT
Not a classic but I did take a monster whip on Repo Man, the climb to the left of Figures on a Landscape. Early in my climbing days a buddy and I went to climb Figures after doing Solid Gold the week before. Repo and Figures share a start and I knew the latter traversed right but for some reason that right turn just never happened for me. I climbed past three manky, manky bolts and soon found myself in territory I knew was not 5.10. I was way above the third (I think) bolt and decided to continue rather than bail. The moves were difficult and thin but I was progressing and it was fun and challenging. It continued to get even harder and I yelled out "this is hard, watch me! to my belayer. I made a couple more moves until right before the next bolt I blew. I weighed all of 140 lbs, my belayer maybe 135. I stopped inches from the ground thankfully due to my belayer who jumped as I was coming down, he ended up smashed into the rock close to the first bolt. Not sure how all that happened, but glad it did. It was a big fall, never forgot that one. I was okay, my belayer got hurt from smacking into the rock.
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