Sea of Dreams?

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Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 16, 2013 - 08:40pm PT
I think the title of Tom's photo "contemplating the Hook or Book pitch" is a little misleading. My photo of Simon attempting the pitch was taken at 5:03PM, hours after Tom usually leaves for the day.

Credit: Mark Hudon
elcap-pics

Big Wall climber
Crestline CA
Oct 16, 2013 - 08:53pm PT
Right you are Mark... contemplation can happen any time! After my many bails on EC I always contemplated the many reasons I bailed... often the trumped up reasons seemed to be rational at the time... but later...oh later!... the house of cards quickly collapsed!
Nice shot by the way! Looks like Simon was in the correct location on the route..... He is a great guy and a great climber and felt, I'm sure, that it was not in the best interest of the team to continue on the route.
NBB

Social climber
Boulder
Oct 16, 2013 - 09:10pm PT
Maybe he ran out of rope. It looks like he's combining pitches. Maybe his aid climbing gloves were too thick to find the copious and ample drilled hook placements. This pitch is A2+ at best on a bashed out, drilled, mank-head infested and basically destroyed now-A3+ route.
John Mac

Trad climber
Littleton, CO
Oct 16, 2013 - 10:13pm PT
I think the people at the anchors are at the top of pitch 9 and he is on pitch 11?
Valerio

climber
Oct 17, 2013 - 03:59am PT
in 1997 when we climbed SOD we found it virtually on its original state. We found only a few modern drilled hooks and a very few fixed gear in the whole route. HOB had only the original drilled hooks...I say this because they could not be confused with the modern ones.

My memories on HOB:
-I remember a move very hard to reach the second rivet with a very bad fall too
-the pendulum was also very hard... especially finding the right position to start it
-hook on the fly the pocket where start the long hooks traverse
-in a few point of the hook traverse I had to decide which way to go... up, down or right?
-potential death fall

I do not know the HOB condition now but at that time for me was an A5 pitch.

I think that Dave has made ​​a masterpiece with this pitch ... he was very creative and courageous and he showed the full potential and the high level of American aid climbing at that time.

I think that link together the two pitches (p10 and p11) is not a good choice... bad rope drag and long pitch around 190 feet.

Val
Tarheel

Trad climber
San Rafael, CA
Oct 18, 2013 - 06:11pm PT
Single leader's not unheard of. Having a single climber lead an entire route is a traditional approach for Russian teams. Carlos Buhler came out to Yosemite to do a winter wall with me so he could limber up his wall skills before he went to Changabang with the Russians. After he got back, he sounded pretty bummed that the Russians didn't want to let him lead. He told me that their system was to have one climber do all the leading.

SOD... Valerio did an awesome job leading HOB! On SOD, I kept having ths same experience over and over...just about the time I would start to feel really gripped, I would find a bomber alien placement. Then I would shudder to think that would have been a shallow tied off 1" for Bridwell and his team. SOD made a strong impression on me for the great beauty of the route, and personally I never did another route that would have been harder if you used the same gear used on the first ascent. I don't remember being worried about loose rock, but that may be bad memory or I just wasn't paying attention. I know that Mark and Chris did the route around that same time frame in half the time we did. We climbed slowly and carefully which helped make it feel safer. There were long sections of deadheads which made me wish the previous party had done a better job of cleaning their gear or had just left the small heads in place.
Valerio

climber
Oct 19, 2013 - 03:47am PT
find deadheads is hateful especially when you're top step and you're tired at the end of long day of climbing ... cleaning copperheads is a tricky task as much as put them and it's a very important job to preserve rock.

Also we did not find loose rock... only small section but not so bad... also in the diorite section...

SOD was also for me the most nice route I've done... and was hard!!!

Val
Nanook

climber
Oct 19, 2013 - 11:18am PT
Wow, interesting Valerio that you found SOD pretty stout. I did it in '99 and thought it was surprisingly all there. The loose pitch is the Ace in Space(on my topo, different from Chris' topo). SOD is a must climb route because it goes to all the cool features around and through the North America rock....you can still smell the non-filtered cigarette smoke in spots ;)

Valerio--you thought SOD harder than Tempest?

Amen for the Alien placements. It just keeps getting better and better with Totem and Link cams and big beaks. All we had was regular Aliens in the 90s. Woot!
Valerio

climber
Oct 19, 2013 - 12:31pm PT
hi Nanook,
SOD was my first hard route I did and Tempest was the last...
I think that SOD Could be a little more difficult than Tempest... at that time...
I don't know the routes condition today...

Val
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 19, 2013 - 12:43pm PT
Levy's comment about it being too loose and difficult to be fun made me take it off my list. It looked simple frightful from the AO Wall!
Double D

climber
Oct 19, 2013 - 01:13pm PT
It's funny but other that the 9-5 pitch which I don't think anyone has ever repeated and the big refrigerator that came off the 2nd pitch (?), I don't remember loose being a major factor on SOD. I just remember how many cool places it wander through and the scant line it followed. You might want to reconsider it for your list Mark.
Levy

Big Wall climber
So Cal
Oct 19, 2013 - 01:40pm PT
My comments about it being loose & scary were intended to convey the somewhat serious nature of SOD compared to other routes that are commonly considered difficult. FWIW - I found SOD much harder & scarier than the AO or Native Son. The Hook Or Book pitch was difficult but you had to get in your top-steps & search around for the next hook placement. Sometimes it was above, sometimes it was way out sideways, sometimes it was a enhanced dimple, and a few were natural edges that were thin but located near one of the few rivets on the pitch. I don't recall any pendo to a hook on the fly like Val said but I do recall a nest of junk heads near the end that came out in my hands which I had to replace with new heads. The loosest pitch was the Blue Room, where as I aided above, chunks of rock were falling down inside & dropping out by the belay down low, which is all natural gear at the tip of the flake.

Compared to the other 28 El Cap routes I've done, it ranks right up there in terms of quality. It is not as hard as Jolly Rodger, but it is more sustained. It is a bit harder than the Sheep Ranch I'd recon.

Nate B - If you called Hook Or Book A2+, what did you think was the A3+ crux then? The "real" Ace In Space pitch? Don't Skate Mate had a big fat 3/8" chicken bolt part way up so that didn't seem too bad but I didn't lead that pitch.
BrentA

Gym climber
Roca Rojo
Oct 19, 2013 - 03:59pm PT
So lucky to lead the bulk of this route.

FWIW- I climbed this is 98 and thought it was pretty there...but I thought the nest of heads at the end of the HOB was bomber too :)

I expected the peregrine pillar to be more like the Coral Seas.

A beautiful route up a great part of the wall. Sick history.
Valerio

climber
Oct 20, 2013 - 12:45pm PT
more infos and memories about HOB:

Hook Or Book
Hook Or Book
Credit: Valerio

1 1st rivet
2 2nd rivet
3 3rd rivet
4 very bad, old and long reach fixed heads to reach 2nd rivet
5 bad hook to reach point 4
6 fixed heads nest 10/15 feet under belay
7 belay

to correct the photo perspective... the point 6 is at the same height of the point 3



HOB from belay
HOB from belay
Credit: Valerio


Levi I've done a wide pendulum on a totally blank face to reach a small pocket to hook... these are some photos from web site of Dave Diegelman on the pendulum:

DD choosing hooks
DD choosing hooks
Credit: Valerio

DD pendulum
DD pendulum
Credit: Valerio

DD hooked on the fly
DD hooked on the fly
Credit: Valerio
this is a frame from Dave D. movie



here some very interesting SOD and HOB photos from Dana Eubanks.

Mark in the 97 we found these crux pitches: HOB, don't skate mate, peregrine pillar, ace in space, bull dike... but as you know, these evaluations are subjective... depends how many ascents has the route and the skill level of the climbers. SOD is not a route too funny but it's very beautiful.

Val
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Oct 20, 2013 - 04:39pm PT
A few pics from Mark's and my early ascent (believe it was the fifth). It's amazing to hear (and see) what's happened to HOB over the ensuing years. There were no "head stacks," etc. when we did it, and it seemed pretty heads-up at that time.

On an "ethical note," I was impressed with the number and quality of the enhancements to make the hooking go on HOB. Plenty enough to not kill you, and the pitch is indeed pieced together in intricate fashion. A true classic that would not have gone without the judicious use of the drill tip! Bravo!

I'm with Val on the "trick" aspects of HOB. I found that getting the pendji distance just right, so that you can catch that sideways hook with a sling (then that delicious, scraping rotation of the hook as you settle down onto the first normally-placed one!) to be just enthralling. SO well done.

Laura Scudders in a violent updraft
Laura Scudders in a violent updraft
Credit: madbolter1

LS belay
LS belay
Credit: madbolter1

Cleaning Groovy Arch
Cleaning Groovy Arch
Credit: madbolter1

Way out on HOB; note no "head stacks" at this time!
Way out on HOB; note no "head stacks" at this time!
Credit: madbolter1

HOB belay; note "enhanced" hook in foreground.
HOB belay; note "enhanced" hook in foreground.
Credit: madbolter1

Workin the pendji!
Workin the pendji!
Credit: madbolter1

Mark cleaning... I don't remember which pitch this is &#40;too long ago&#41;
Mark cleaning... I don't remember which pitch this is (too long ago)
Credit: madbolter1
NBB

Social climber
Boulder
Oct 20, 2013 - 04:49pm PT
What everyone thinks I'm doing ...
What everyone thinks I'm doing ...
Credit: NBB

What I'm really doing ...
What I'm really doing ...
Credit: NBB

Photos from FA, captured from youtube link, in post above.

This just about sums up my opinion of the route, and aid climbing in general. There is no way that pitch went across that face on the FA w/o numerous drilled hooks, and oh by the way, check out this photo! It's just for one of the [many] rivets, I'm sure. These aren't the stories you hear, though, not the truth. You hear about A5, death, blah blah blah...whatever.

While we're on topic, I recall Bridwell admitting the necessity of bolts at the RURP belay - that he placed just to the right of the photo. Did you know that? I didn't until years later. I had thought they were retro.

The real problem with the Sea is that the diorite it follows is much more fragile than the surrounding rock. Small features and a couple decades of no talent fools fumbling around up there with their hammers had done this rig no favors.

The best routes I've done on El Cap were all early ascents. I did the Sea in 9/96, maybe 15-20th or whatever ascent. I arrived too late, and I was disappointed about that. We figured Ace in Space was the hardest pitch, maybe A3+ by 90's standards, A4- tops.

madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Oct 20, 2013 - 04:59pm PT
NBB, I understand that it's pretty widely known at this point that the FA of the Sea was heavily drilled up. Mark and I counted over 300 full-on holes on the route, and HOB has quite a few (and they are obviously necessary). Note the foreground one in my pic, which is just into blank rock.

That said, I feel that (at that time) the drilling was done with a highly developed "artistic sense," which cannot be said for the later chicken-drilling.

Mark and I found one 1/4" bolt at the RURP belay. It looked very old and was slightly protruding. That anchor was pretty mank, even with the bolt. But the start of the next pitch isn't horrendous, so you live with it.

Yeah, the later retro-drilling has not been kind to the route, but I think that the original was a masterpiece!
NBB

Social climber
Boulder
Oct 20, 2013 - 05:04pm PT
You're really going to have to expand on this "artistic" vs "chicken" drilling in order for me to understand it. I call it a bolt ladder with missing bolts.

I'm jealous of your early ascent of this route...congrats, and thanks for the pix...!
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Oct 20, 2013 - 05:32pm PT
Appreciate it, NBB. Regarding your question, to me the "artistic" side of the drilling was in doing the absolute bare minimum to make the route go at all. Drilling was NOT done to "bring the route down" to a certain fear-factor. It could be called "artificial difficulty," but that argument is really difficult to stand on its own two feet. ALL of climbing (unless you are barefoot, naked, and chalkless) is "artificial difficulty." So all that's left is "playing the game" of how you are going to conform to what the rock presents. And evidence of that "conformation" is found in whether the drill is a "light touch" or obviously just willy-nilly.

I felt like the FA (even with the sheer quantity of drilling) used the drill with a very light touch, connecting things and JUST making things work. This all starts to get very aesthetic and subjective, and opinions (obviously) vary wildly. But I felt like the route was a masterpiece, very scary in quite a few places, and "pieced together" artfully rather than with a heavy hand.

What you see there now are TRENCHED heads (multiples) in totally blank corners. They are not needed to piece anything together. They are there strictly because later parties were chicken-droppings.
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