Runout classics - ever take the ride?


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Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
Nov 24, 2012 - 11:15pm PT
splitter, I just about blew the beer out onto my iPad'd be welcomed around my campfire. My dark humor I suppose but what is it about someone about to take the ride, like hey lets get the belt sander out and knock down some of those extremities.

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Nov 24, 2012 - 11:17pm PT
Steve, the 2nd clip is quite doable from a good stance.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Nov 24, 2012 - 11:19pm PT
The route I took the hundred footer from is "The Big Bite." It was named after the name of an ice cream sandwich that was a favorite if you had any money.

At Quartz Mountain in Oklahoma. There are quite a few other routes there that are super crazy runout.

Nowadays few people do those routes. They TR them or do one of the five or so no pro routes that were retrobolted by broad concensus 15 years or so back.

Some of the hard men to that route. They walk right up it. I was in EB's. It dropped big time in difficulty when Fire's came out.

I had no idea of risk at 18. Duane would just hand me the rope and tell me to get after it. Sure!!! Boy did I get sandbagged. In the EB days it had spit off some really good climbers. I think that would have been the 2nd ascent if I had made it five more feet.

Trad climber
Cali Hodad, surfing the galactic plane
Nov 24, 2012 - 11:21pm PT
BASE104 - I took a one hundred footer off a 10b slab route when I was 18 or sumpthing.

Dang dood, talk bout "chilling". And on the LAST move, YIKES!

I had a very similar experience in TM ('76/'77?). We were climbing in two ropes of two. It was a 5.10c route that I forget the name of on the far right side of Stately Pleasure Dome or maybe the next dome over, that I don't recall the name of.

My two friends, Kevin L & Art H were on the first rope and ended up on a narrow ledge on a steep face. My partner, Rick L, took the lead up to them. I was the last person to get there and the three of them are clipped into one manky looking 1/4" bolt that was protruding and angled down and the hanger was a spinner/twirler. The ledge was about a 12-18" wide and Rick, who was belaying me up, was being braced/griped around the chest and shoulders by Kevin & Art who were on either sides of him to support him.

Grim situation since the sketchy looking bolt probably wouldn't even hold all four of our combined static weight, let alone should I fall and pull them off the the narrow stance applying a dynamic force upon it! So, I simply led on through to avoid the possible complications that could arise while switching belayers, etc!

There was a bolt at what we presumed was the crux about 15-20 ft above on the nearly vertical (very steep) face. I went up clipped it and climbed on through the 5.10 moves without much difficulty (as far as I recall). About 10-15 ft above the crux the steepness eased off and it became easy to moderate 5th class. It was up, up and away. No more bolts as far as I could see. No big deal, fairly customary for the TM at the time. It never got harder than maybe 5.5 or 5.6, just nice clean stone with an occasional slight bulge. That is until I got to about 100+ ft out past the one and only bolt I had clipped. I was sure I hadn't passed any bolts. Then, I suddenly came to this steep bulge with a stud and no hanger on it.

YIKES! I could tell the thin face moves were in the 5.10 category since i had done a fair amount of climbing in that range in TM and at Tahq/Suicide in the past. I quickley searched the rack we had thrown together looking for a small wired Chouinard stopper that could have been used as a hanger by slipping down the stopper so part of the cable protruded, then slipping it over the stud and sinching it back up tight and clipping into it. Better than nothing and hopefully it would hold at least a short fall.

No dice. There were three small wired stoppers, but they had all been epoxied/barge cemented into place so they would not slide around and be difficult to remove from a tight placement.

GREAT, I was pretty drained by that point. We had done a few different routes earlier in the day, I recall one being The Vision, and the whole fiasco we had just gotten ourselves into suddenly added an additional and significant burden. I was looking at a 200 ft plus fall. I was pretty certain their was little and most likely zero chance of me surviving it. There were ledges and flared dihedrals below the belay ledge which, itelf, was some 125 ft below.

Furthermore, I didn't have much faith in the single 1/4" bolt, that I had clipped into, being capable of holding both my fall and our combined weight (650+ lbs) once they were pulled off the ledge and their bolt most likely failed/pulled.

I made one move up past the stud, and checked out the scenario. It wasn't simply one 5.10 move, it was a sequence of moves. And there was more than one possible sequence, more than one way to solve the problem. I would have generally went up and felt out the most likely way to try it. Maybe tried the first move of the sequence and then backed off if I felt it was the best way, recouped my energy and then gone for it. Or, if it didn't feel quit right, maybe take a second close up look at it without totally committing. In other words, figure out the most likely sequence without totally committing, go back down and rest a few seconds and then go for it.

But not that day. I could literally feel my energy reserve draining like a thermometer slowly dropping on a cold winter evening. I new I had one, and only one shot at it. I thought of my three friends, fearfully gripping each other on the ledge far below, and new the were probably wondering why the rope had come to a sudden stop and was slowly rising and falling. I was certain they had figured out that I had encountered a sudden obstacle! And there wasn't anyway I could communicate with them, no voice communication because of the distance, and they were out of sight, and it was slightly windy.

I also new I couldn't hesitate any longer. I had to gather all I had, focus, and go for it. I did. I chose the right sequence out of a couple possibilities and pulled it off. It was a very close call. A classic TM runout, that, had I fallen, would have ended up in "the ride" of a lifetime. Without a doubt, it would have been my last ride!!

Btw, I was living on the eastside/Mammoth then. My climbing partner and friends still are.

And, if I had known then that I would have been posting to this thread I would have just gone ahead and taken THE BIG ride and won the contest for longest runout, longest ride! Wudda beat BASE104 even! AH SHUCKS!! ;)

Charlie D. - LOL,! it ( Fingertrip Traverse) is the calssic n00b tail of lack of forsight in that I waited tell it was to late to get some pro in safely and at the last moment I pull a classic YIKES move like in one of those old silent movies/comedy's, eh!! I learned a LOT that day! Glad ya got a chuckle out of it!!

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 24, 2012 - 11:26pm PT
Damn you guys making me feel like a wanker...

Can't say I'll be doing EBGB's anytime soon, LOL! How is it compared to Decompensator of Lhasa?

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Nov 24, 2012 - 11:28pm PT
Decompensator is more of a friction crux...EBGB's is more edging....and more sustained.

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 24, 2012 - 11:30pm PT
ahhh thanks. I love edges.

Splitter... Christ, man!

my palms....

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Nov 24, 2012 - 11:30pm PT
It's 10c.....just a sustained route at that grade. And as I stated up thread, it's position makes it feel harder.

Nov 24, 2012 - 11:52pm PT
I also fell off EBGB's above the last bolt.

Didn't Tucker break his leg/ankle on it BITD ?

Social climber
Portland, Oregon
Nov 25, 2012 - 12:34am PT
I don't remember a single edge on EBGBs after you 'round the corner onto the slab proper. Insecure smears in little dishes is all I remember.

IIRC, Vogel calls it 10d. 10c == sandbag IMHO.

Nov 25, 2012 - 12:37am PT
EBGB,s BITD, I was told the crux was the start, WRONG it's at the top thats we're I fell on my first try in 1983. I took a wipper all the way to the bottom in the center of the face. I had a hip belay from one of my friends that had just started climbing weeks before. I climbed the route in EB'S and the new wave rubber I always thought the route to be 510D.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 25, 2012 - 01:42am PT
I have taken a bunch of falls on aid but most my gnarly freeclimbing falls have been on Middle Cathedral.

I was taking my boss from Curry Company, Tim Arnst, up FreeWheelin' on the Cathedral Apron. He only climbed with me but got pretty good as a second. I was one handhold away from completing the final move of the last 10b crux and the 1/4 inch bolt was down there somewhere. I leaned in a little too far (and the rock was gritty there) and my feet popped off. The rope caught under my led and flipped me upside down like a nunchuk just as I finished the 30 something foot arc.

Smacked my face in rock and felt half my front tooth sloshing in my mouth along with some blood. Took stock of my self and decided I was shook up but not otherwise hurt except the fat lip and tooth. Played it cool with Tim with a sorta "Pardon me, but would you have any Grey Poupon?" attitude. We bailed and I went to the dentist and got a crown. He emplored me not to bite the rope when I clipped.

Years laters I went back for "Revenge" on that route. Got up to our previous high point and was looking for the protection bolt I feel on the last time. Took forever to find the broke off stud even with the wall. No Thanks, revenge is not that sweet.


Took a long one way high on the North Buttress of Middle with Tim once. That 5:10 thin face/shallow corner before the squeeze chimney. Didn't have fancy pro back then if there is any. He wasn't a leader and going down seemed worse than sucking it up so I just had to go up and do it


Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Nov 25, 2012 - 01:46am PT
I knew this would be a good thread. Always wondered what pitching off the end of the plank on Sidewinder would do.

There's a 10c pitch high on Shakey Flakes where you'd fly over a roof after an infinite fall if you blew it.

Was taking some guys up Stoners and whipped off this committing lieback (not as hard as most stoners climbing but weird and steep. I flew over backwards again and almost crashed into my belayers. They joked later than one of them pulled me off. Later I found out he did indeed pull me off (Not intentionally of course) There was a sicking smack on my back when I hit upside down and backwards looking right at their faces. Wondered if I was hurt but turned out to my my camera punching into my back. It didn't survive



Social climber
An Oil Field
Nov 25, 2012 - 01:58am PT
Does anyone notice that these are pretty much all on slabs?

You all know the old rules. All bolts placed on lead, often from stances that you had to peddle on to keep from falling off.

What sucks about slabs is that you bounce and slide the whole way down.

I think even Bachar said that soloing a 5.9 slab was spookier than a nice 5.11 crack.

I was raised on slabs, so when I first visited the Apron we did nigh every route harder than 5.9 on the whole thing, except for some that we didn't know about. It was in the old Reid binder guide era.

Later on my slab ability was of zero use. I had to start doing pullups.

Trad climber
Costa Mesa, CA
Nov 25, 2012 - 04:09am PT
Three little ones I can remember...

1) Fred, out at Tahquitz, fell about 30' with only one piece in, an original #1 rigid friend... bounced on the end of the rope about 3' from the ground. The friend was bent like a C.
2) Run for your Life, out at Joshua Tree, fell about 35' getting ready to top out. Got startled by a girl sitting on top who gasped when she saw me and popped off.
3) Figures on a Landscape, Joshua Tree, fell about 20'. Amazing route. :)

When I was young I never worried about who was belaying me or how they were belaying me... how much rope was out or anything regarding the belay system. I just climbed and when I fell I took my licks. Oftentimes I fell way further than I would have with a great belayer. But, I didn't care or think about it... I do now. lol

One serious route for me, I remember, (sidewinder is exciting, but I can't imagine anyone coming off, nor would you want to, lol) is Cheap way to Die on Saddle Rock in Josh. I don't know if they ever put some bolts back on that thing, but when I did it you got one, maybe two, bolts right off the ground, in the first 10'. Then nothing but a rusty little stem (put a wired nut on it but it was good for absolutely nothing) for the next 70 or so feet... until you got to the roof. I put a cam under the super gravely crack under the roof... turned that roof knowing I was definitely going to deck from around 90' up if I didn't. Nothing after the roof for a few feet until you get to the hanging belay which was two rusty old 1/4"ers that look like they wouldn't hold my body weight, let alone a fall from my follower. Cheaply put up cheap way to die. lol The guidebook shows a bunch of bolts on it now... I don't know if they're really there or not. Anybody ever get on that thing?

Nov 25, 2012 - 08:30am PT
Hey Blue
rumour has it that a conservative approach won't cut it on EBGB's; you'll need to have confidence that government regulation (or at least those dreaded CEN standards) will stand you in good stead should things go a little different than planned.

Trad climber
Nov 25, 2012 - 10:03am PT
BASE104's fall on the Big Bite was legendary in the OK/TX area. Quartz slab routes were stout and run out. Some people claim they saw the smoke from the burning EB rubber all the way to Waco.

PTSS my ass. BASE went on to do a lot more radical things, like walls, jumping off cliffs and having kids.

Trad climber
Washington DC
Nov 25, 2012 - 10:29am PT
Honestly never did take a big ride. A few 30' falls spead out over 25 years. Been scared to death a few times though.

Escondido, CA
Nov 25, 2012 - 10:54am PT
Hey Rudder, I (almost) know the feeling on Run for your Life. I was at the top out move when my foot popped. I smacked my chin so hard on the sloping top that it split wide open and was spewing blood all over the rock, but I didn't fall. Blood on the rock, blood down the front of my shirt, blood on the sleeve of my shirt trying to stop the bleeding. My climbing partners were asking "What the hell happened up here?" I still have the scar on my chin as a happy little remembrance. But supper glad that I didn't take that whipper.
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
Nov 25, 2012 - 10:57am PT
Many moons ago a friend suggested I climb with Joe, a talkative large middle age man with a fair size front butt. Joe called both of us repeated in his quest for a climbing partner having just moved to the community and not knowing any of the local climbers besides my buddy Jon.

Finally Joe and I roped up at our local crag and I lead to a broken up section of rock on top of the first pitch. Joe scratched and cursed, kicked and gasped coming up the pitch arriving covered in persperation hyperventilating. I started to rack up for the second pitch which starts out in a steep off width when Joe says, let me lead this one. The ever talking Joe would hear nothing of my suggestion that I lead the OW and the sustained crack above insisting he take the sharp end. The idea seemed obsurd pointing out that the second pitch was harder and tricky, I finally relented to his repeated insistance.

I reexamined the anchors nerveously as I watched Joe feet road running in the poorly protected off width as my palms increasingly sweated as he gained more distance above his pro. Progress utimately stopped as poor Joe desparately fumbled with gear trying to protect the sustained crack above as pieces collected above my belay device. I realized if he were to pitch off which seemed imenant the landing in the broken rock was going to be horrific.

Poor Joe let out one last cry, "Oh God I'm coming off!" I turned my head away and yarded in the rope and on the second reel-in the rope refused me anymore and I looked up in disbelief to see Joe spread out nearly horizontal having pitched backward with his arms stemmed out catching the rock on the adjacent buttress a full body length and extended arms length away. Joe was over 6 feet in height with a huge reach.

Joe was in a hell of a fix, spread between two surfaces in what looked like the worse nightmare chimney you can imagine. Somehow the poor man managed to grab something on the butttress, let his feet drop, climb up and back onto the route. A physical feat that surely drained the last bit of energy he had stored in his body. I followed up and arrived at the belay where Joe sat silently with color slowly returning to his face. He finally mumbled, "Jesus, that was a close one."

My friend Jon later asked, "so how was it climbing with Joe?" and I replied, "really fun you should go out with him sometime" Joe never called me or Jon again.
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