Beggars Buttress tr

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Roadie

Trad climber
Bishop, Ca
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 6, 2014 - 11:25am PT

Rachel caught me at a weak moment, I was totally baked.

"I want to do Astroman!"




I looked at the phone, wondering why I'd picked up, "Great, have fun."




"No, you don't understand, I wanna do Astroman with you."




"That's in Yosemite."




"You're so astute."




"I f*#king hate that place." I can feel a mini tirade coming on: rangers, crowds, ten years trolling the ditch, the Harding Slot... Its been a solid decade since I've been back and I can't say I've missed it.




"No, here's the deal, meet me in Mammoth at eight, I'll drive, we get to the base about noon, we go up to the slot and work those pitched on the way down. They call it Astroboy!"




"You mean you want to go up to where it gets hard and then go down? Sounds more like Astro-gay-man."




There is a pause. "The fifties are over Steve, we're not supposed to talk like that any more."




She's right of course, "Right, I'll work on that."




"No, think about it. No stress, no barbaric start, some of the best cracks around..."




I have to admit she does have some good points. Plus it'd be fun to lay in the meadow and look at El Cap again.




In a moment of weakness I say "Ok, you've got me 50% convinced. I'll think it over."




A little background here, Rachel and I are like, second best friends. She likes her husband better than me because he is a much nicer person than me and he is, well, her husband. For me first place vacillates some depending on my mood and who is letting me get away with more but Rachel is a solid number two.




Anyhow, over the next few days I find I'm struggling with an aesthetic crisis, to-wit, getting on the most iconic free climb in the world with failure being the sum of our ambition. Call me archaic if you wish, I call it old school.




In the intervening days Rachel and her husband Andy go up to the slot, to my dismay it only makes her more psyched.



"Andy thinks you're being dumb you know, when he did Freerider he worked it all summer."



"The difference being Rachel, there's about ten guys in the world who can just walk up to Freerider and send it and about ten thousand who can just hike Astroman and they probably have jobs and kids and mortgages and they deserve to not have us in their way wanking off..." I'm getting testy, I invent an excuse to hang up.



Later that night I send a text: Its like punting on second and five. I can't do it, I just can't! We'll go to The Cookie, get pumped, strong. Confident. When you're ready to DO Astroman I'll be your little belay bitch all day. Promise. There, maybe now I can get some sleep, plus I have a plan B. Love, your second best friend, me,



"What's plan B?" Its 7:30 on a Sunday morning, we're in Rachel's driveway.



"Beggars Buttress!"



Andy and Rachel exchange a look. They've done the route before, I haven't. "I'll go get some more TCUs" Andy says.



"I'm so glad you didn't tell me till now," Rachel says.



Oh man! It didn't look so bad on paper. Is there some memo I never got?



Its about 90 degrees in the shade and the first pitch is blazing in the sun. More sweat drips into my eyes, awesome! I'm doing a surprisingly complex rock\tree stem and thinking 5.8? did I get on the 5.11 by mistake?



"No, that was the right start," Rachel says at the belay. Ok then, its going to be a burley day. Rachel starts up the .10d pitch, I settle into an alcove and look east to the Turret, Thirsty Spire in profile.



Rewind, September, 1989: My first big season in The Valley, the DNB,my first big route. Special Ed and I lost in a nebulous sea of granite. John Bachar was king in the late 80s. and if we couldn't climb like him at least we could look like him, so there we were, decked out in muscle shirts, bandanas, nylon running shorts, bandanas... so cool!



A droped pack and an hour spent terminally off-route landed us at the Kat-Walk at dusk. A bivy seemed prudent.



We ripped up the surrounding bushes and piled up our twigs. If it gets bad we'll make a fire, no sweat!



At about 9;30 we lit our twigs, they might have lasted fifteen minutes.



Some time later Special Ed spoke up, "Roadie, I gotta cuddle."



"Um, ok," I just didn't want to be the first one to say so. A breeze had come up, pushing a light drizzle.



We must have slept because the sky had cleared and the moon had come up. Special Ed woke me up, he was clearly in distress.



"Ah! Ah! Ah!" he said.



"Ed, wake up! What's wrong?"



"My c*#k! my c*#k! I can't feel my c*#k!"



"Take it easy Ed."



"What d'ya' mean 'take it easy' I can't feel my f*#king c*#k!"



"Um Ed, that's my cock."



An awkward pause, "Oh, um, sorry dude."



Another pause, "So Ed."



"Yeah?"



"I didn't say ya had to stop, I just said take it easy." I thought it was funny, Ed didn't.



"Are you watching me? This is harder than I'm making it look!"



Fast forward. "I'm watching Rachel!"



It is harder than she made it look, thin hands out a Bombay roof, hard for sure but not ridicules.



I lead a very reasonable 5.9 pitch up to an ant-infested ledge. So far I've seen no bolts, chalk or fixed gear. The route is highlighted by a distinct lessening of lichens where the climbing goes. Reports of lose rock I have since read seem greatly exaggerated. There is a moment of confusion as we eye the Cosgrove-Braun Road to Nowhere but in the end we pick the right line. Rachel stops short of an overhanging corner above a ledge. "Sorry," she says. "I didn't want to do that with you so far away."



I tell her its ok, that moms shouldn't do overhanging fist cracks above ledges with their belayers out of sight. Its not too bad, 40 ft brings us to a better ledge.



One of the things I really like about climbing is that I never know when I'm about to step into one of those unforgettable pitches. Topos are utterly worthless in that regard. There was a welded pin ten feet to the right, the first we'd seen. Getting to it was not that easy. Then it got hard. "Was that the crux?' I asked, passing the pin.



"Maybe the tweaky crux but stay with it!"



Tips to fingers to ring locks, for a long, long ways. Steep. 11b said the Big List of Lies. Wahtever dude, think Leanie Meanies pissed off big brother. Then a hand jam, thank god, to a squeeze. If I can only get to the squeeze. I do, except its an off width. Fight to place a shitty #4, deep inside, Rachel has been out of sight since I passed the pin. Fight higher, the shitty #4 fades away. Stall out. Maybe I should jump. Punk out. Maybe Rachel will fit. F*#k it, punch on, then an edge, again thank god! Ten more feet to a steep flake, into a corner. Some tat dangles above, the rack is getting thin but its too cool to stop. There is a no-hands-rest at the tat. I slam in a cam another nut and collapse. I want to puke, I'm shaking all over. "Off Rachel." I pull up the last 5m of rope, "On Rachel." She fights through, fails to fit into the so called squeeze, and slouches onto the belay, shattered.



"Was that as hard as the enduro corner?"



"Can't talk." Pant pant pant. "Gotta breath." Pant pant. "Don't wanna puke" Pant pant pant. Then, "My friend," pant pant pant, "That was miles harder than Astro-punter." Pant pant pant.



"Whew, here's the rack." I hand her the black Alien. "Jeesh! that might be the most macho thing nobodies ever seen me do!" What I'm thinking is it might me the most macho thing in the history of rock climbing.



"Oh, I know we couldn't see each other but I've learned that whenever you make that cute, squeaky, moaning sound it's gonna be dire."



Huh? Cute, squeaky moaning sound? my macho illusions begin to crumble.



Eventually she's off. The first 100ft isn't too bad, hands in a corner. I look east towards the West Face of Sentential Rock, that was quite a day but my thoughts are on Yin-Yang.



Rewind, summer 1997: Linda and I had the place to ourselves. It was hot. I took off my shirt, so did she. The twin distractions made it hard to high step, to get any blood into my arms.



"Lets go wash our hands," she suggested as we walked through the Lodge a few hours later.



Hmmm.



Later, in the dark confines of my cave, we talk, sip beers, we edge closer, she leans in and...



And what? you ask. What exactly transpired between you and the alluring Linda in the dark recesses of your cave? The answer, my friends, is this: Its none of your f*#king business! This is not some skanky site to ease the loneliness of your empty lives but a climbing porn site and if you think... "TAKE STEVE!" huh?



"Fast Forward: "Take!"



"No way, yer five feet from the top, just try!"



"NO, take, I've been pulling on gear for ten feet!"



Oh, that's different, I thought she looked suspiciously composed for what is undoubtedly super sandbagged .11c.



With a herculean effort I got five feet above where Rachel began to aid. I got this, I thought, then I looked up. Hopeless, I'm just anatomically incorrect for that overhanging hyper-thin nonsense.



I'd never been so thirsty in my life. We got hopelessly lost on the decent, 5.8 downsoloing through overhanging dirt. Three extra raps lead to the final talus field above the road. Rachel ditched me as I coiled the rope. I think she just didn't want to see my cry any more.



In the falling light we lay in the meadow looking up at El Cap, pounding water and eating. "...and that roof way up there, right of The Nose, I droped acid up there Rachel, so fun! And ya know, I never did free The Chouinard Herbert. Next week maybe?" We look right, over our shoulders at the grey monolith in the faiding light, we look back at eachother and smile.



To be continued...



Thank You, Steve Seats






























NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Dec 6, 2014 - 11:54am PT
Inauspicious start with the valley bashing, but pretty funny and entertaining :)
mikeyschaefer

climber
Sport-o-land
Dec 6, 2014 - 12:30pm PT
Nice one Roadie.

Remember when we did Astroman? good times! feels like a lifetime ago.
Studly

Trad climber
WA
Dec 6, 2014 - 12:59pm PT
That was a delightfully painful read. There has to be a reason that route is Hans Florine's favorite route, and you've explained it I believe.
John M

climber
Dec 6, 2014 - 01:20pm PT
too funny.. Good stuff. I understand the valley bashing. Its a love hate thing.
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 6, 2014 - 01:58pm PT
excellent, as always.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Dec 6, 2014 - 05:32pm PT
Fun story Steve....as usual!
snowhazed

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
Dec 6, 2014 - 05:58pm PT
special ed is the jam
labrat

Trad climber
Erik O. Auburn, CA
May 3, 2016 - 01:07pm PT
Bump!

Thank you for posting ;-)
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
May 3, 2016 - 01:31pm PT
It was great fun reading that TR. Like Warbler, I'm a bit puzzled about your misadventures on the descent, assuming you were headed down the Gunsight, but with such studly climbing in your rear view mirror, I can see how disorientation could result.

Thanks for the TR. I look forward to the continuation.

John
Studly

Trad climber
WA
May 3, 2016 - 05:27pm PT
That was a worthy read.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
Sep 6, 2017 - 09:27am PT
Aaahahaha, a good and little bit f*#ked up TR, I appreciate it.

Rarely do I finish a TR that has no photos in it without thinking this is bullsh#t, this thing needs photos. Didn't think that on this one.

Love this paragraph, captures that lucky beat-to-hell feeling in a partnership. God I love it. This good sh#t right here is why I'll keep driving 3.5 to the valley whenever I can instead of taking up stand-up paddling or somesuch.

Tips to fingers to ring locks, for a long, long ways. Steep. 11b said the Big List of Lies. Wahtever dude, think Leanie Meanies pissed off big brother. Then a hand jam, thank god, to a squeeze. If I can only get to the squeeze. I do, except its an off width. Fight to place a shitty #4, deep inside, Rachel has been out of sight since I passed the pin. Fight higher, the shitty #4 fades away. Stall out. Maybe I should jump. Punk out. Maybe Rachel will fit. F*#k it, punch on, then an edge, again thank god! Ten more feet to a steep flake, into a corner. Some tat dangles above, the rack is getting thin but its too cool to stop. There is a no-hands-rest at the tat. I slam in a cam another nut and collapse. I want to puke, I'm shaking all over. "Off Rachel." I pull up the last 5m of rope, "On Rachel." She fights through, fails to fit into the so called squeeze, and slouches onto the belay, shattered.


Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
May 5, 2018 - 05:21am PT
We beggers keep begging for
More to feast
On at this banquet
originalpmac

Mountain climber
Timbers of Fennario
May 5, 2018 - 08:32pm PT
Gold! Pure gold!
L

climber
A place with cats...lots and lots of cats
May 5, 2018 - 09:13pm PT
Don't need no stinkin' photos when you gots writing this good!

Thanks for posting it.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
May 5, 2018 - 09:54pm PT
This thread rocks!
Gratuitous homo AND heterosexual curveballs:
"What d'ya' mean 'take it easy' I can't feel my f*#king c*#k!"

"Um Ed, that's my cock."

It was hot. I took off my shirt, so did she. The twin distractions made it hard to high step, to get any blood into my arms.

Plus, the obligatory climbing imagery, always appreciated!

....................................................

I'm thinking Beggars Buttress & Freestone are my favorite Valley free climbs. (Ie. exotic.)
Quality-wise, of course Astroman is in a league all its own, and Crucifix always thwarted me at the Ear. (... did A-man & 'Fix twice each, still, Beggar's is special.)

'Been up Beggars twice, and loved every minute of it each time.

First time with Larry Zulim and Mari Gingery in 1983.
Rushed down the descent in twilight, got back to the car and smoked some hashish: yeah baby!

Second time, with Helga Brown in 1988. Probably the most memorable line we did together. Easily as romantic an outing as the Rostrum North Face.
(Three times up RNF, so perfect and clean, undeniably a desirable line, but that isn't always where you find adventure.)

BB used to have quite a reputation for those last two crux pitches. I'd still say it's the most cruisy of the five routes.

The longer endurance pitch (1st of the final 3) seemed to suit me, and I just love that boulder problem style pitch right at the top. Tight fingers: couple of powerful moves with feet scratching around on black floral lichen debris. Very atmospheric and with some pretty good exposure at that point!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
May 6, 2018 - 06:41pm PT
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 21, 2018 - 07:26pm PT
another best bump
johntp

Trad climber
Little Rock and Loving It
Jul 21, 2018 - 08:22pm PT
Full value fun reading. Thanks Roadie.
Messages 1 - 19 of total 19 in this topic
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