Photos of the last pitch of Astroman. Show em off!

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micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 4, 2016 - 10:53am PT
This pitch never seems to get photographed despite its reputation. I've always heard how scary or sketchy it is and how its a slap in the face after a long day of battle and how many parties underestimate it. But I never see any photos of this notorious ball buster. My guess is that typically by pitch 12 its late in the day and parties are worked and sick of taking photos. But a pitch with that kind of rep on a climb as legendary as Astroman deserves some love! So if you have em post em up. Share the stoke.
brotherbbock

climber
Alta Loma, CA
Apr 4, 2016 - 11:22am PT
You got any Micro?
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 4, 2016 - 12:06pm PT
You got any Micro?
You kidding me Brotherbock?
I flail on Valley 5.9 and epic on Grade II trade routes. I looked up there once on our approach to the South Face of The Column and knew with every fiber of my being that I'll never do that route. Just love the history and the stoke that comes from it.
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
Apr 4, 2016 - 12:54pm PT
It's not all that of a looking pitch. Not very long, starts out of in a little shallow corner, a fix pin and some face moves to the top. The 10d if just a few moves. Of course this is from memories of climbing it a few times 25 to 30 years ago.
drewsky

climber
Seattle
Apr 4, 2016 - 12:55pm PT
If memory serves, it's not really a photogenic pitch and much more of just a mandatory meat-and-potatoes 'alpine' style pitch: ie, if it was a single pitch on its own it would probably get even less attention. 'Blue collar' climbing adequately describes it.

When I did the route we made the mistake of getting a really early start on what would be an 85 degree day. Our Camelbak also emptied somewhere during the Enduro corner. Having been in the sun all day without water, I just remember thinking everything was fine because I'd either get through it or pass out at a belay, at which point I wouldn't care anyway.

The last pitch really didn't seem bad at all, but I was climbing 7 days a week at the time and feeling pretty fluent. I actually remember it being fun, perhaps due to its reputation for being anything but. I think reports of the pitch sometimes tend a bit towards the hyperbolic. The gear in the infamous grainy flake isn't great, but I really don't remember having to climb 20 feet of 5.10 above it, for instance. I remember a few grainy, delicate moves for maybe 5-10 feet and then it getting much easier. There's a pillar from which you begin this section that you could hit during a fall, however, especially if the gear pulled: hence the 'R' rating. You could get into trouble if you were really battered by the rest of the climb. It's not a trivial section and I'm certainly not playing it down, simply drawing from what I remember about it. One thing that's certainly true is that if the rock were better, the pitch wouldn't be much of an issue; it's pretty grainy and that probably adds to its reputation considerably.

Sorry, no photos to further erode the mystery. I think it's kind of nice that there's this grim question mark surrounding the pitch, because for some it's a nice surprise to get there and realize it's hardly an issue at all. For others I could imagine it being the worst on the route and a hair-raising experience besides.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Apr 4, 2016 - 01:12pm PT
But, but, but didn't Largo write a Viking Epic about it?
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Apr 4, 2016 - 01:14pm PT
deschamps

Gym climber
Flagstaff, AZ
Apr 4, 2016 - 01:24pm PT
I don't think it is grainy at all any more. Maybe it used to be but the rock is fine now.

I didn't think it was too bad. The 10d bit was not R at all in my book. The 10b bit is only R if those 3 or 4 pieces all pull (they are all mediocre but I thought something was bound to hold). Plus it's only a couple of moves of 10b right off the bat and then the runout is on much easier ground.
shylock

Social climber
mb
Apr 4, 2016 - 01:50pm PT
The 10d part is not runout. I think part of the lack of photos is in part from the fact that your belayer can't really see you in the business of it and you can't see your follower when bringing him/her up.

The most obvious/natural way to climb it is to the right of the downward pointing flake. This would mean one would not clip those top 3 pieces in the photo Alexey posted. I think those are a bunch of copperheads and I've always wondered how do people even clip those things??

The first 5 pieces in that photo are all bomber and there's a pin in there somewhere now too. maybe it's lower, out of view. The pieces in the pointing flake are pretty good, but they'd have to hold if you whipped off the top, or it would be bad. Might be bad either way. The photo above is taken from the top of a pillar which you'd nail in a big fall. I'm sure someone has taken this fall, would like to hear about it.
brotherbbock

climber
Alta Loma, CA
Apr 4, 2016 - 01:52pm PT
I flail on Valley 5.9 and epic on Grade II trade routes.

Hahah that made me laugh.

Shows the relativness of climbing though... and how grades and ratings don't necessarily matter.

Whoever is having the most fun is the one that is really winning.

Number chasers are usually more stressed out and tend to get mad if they flail on something.

Just go climb....forget about the rating is what I say.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Apr 4, 2016 - 01:58pm PT
^^^Good call.

Merry Braun tells me she asks Werner, "Can I do this?" She either can or can't and he knows better than she, so the numbers just don't matter a bit.

Confidence is confidence. Ya got it or ya don't.
Grippa

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 4, 2016 - 02:02pm PT
This is getting me stoked. Astroman has always been more line, and lore than grade and send. Figure if I can climb 5.11 weird funky junk pro on notch peak then the last pitch of Astroman should be like one of notch peaks "bomber" rock pitches! haha
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 4, 2016 - 02:16pm PT
Here are link's to Mei's back-to-back weekend trips up Astroman:
http://www.mxi2000.net/mudworm/2005/10/how-many-hard-511s-can-one-handle-yosemite-astroman-and-the-rostrum
http://www.mxi2000.net/mudworm/2005/10/astroman-improved
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Apr 4, 2016 - 03:14pm PT
All I can remember about it was the heady scent of pine wafting down from the top, and not having a care in the world.
drewsky

climber
Seattle
Apr 4, 2016 - 05:29pm PT
Wow, it's way more photogenic than I remember! Nice pic. I didn't know/realize clipping out left was an option at all. I think I just fired one in under the flake and kept going. Then again, there's those days where you just know you're not going to fall. Maybe I'm remembering the graininess wrong. I love the end of the pitch on that nice ledge with the tree. Pine scent indeed!
Mei

Trad climber
I'm back!
Apr 4, 2016 - 06:50pm PT
I've seen that pic before.

Now that mystery has been unveiled, who wants to jump on it?
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Apr 4, 2016 - 06:50pm PT
Okay it was about 15 years ago, but I don't remember anything that looked like that picture.

My recollection is being on a nice ledge, climbing up on a pinnacle/pedestal to an expanding downward facing flake. Pathetic gear, face climb up to the top with some 5.10 along the way. Any copperheads etc. were way too far left to be of use, I figured that was the old aid finish.

I was swingin' leads with E on the thing and he didn't seem to think I did anything kooky but who knows.
Scrubber

climber
Straight outta Squampton
Apr 4, 2016 - 07:16pm PT
I was too terrified to take any pictures! At the end of a long day, that pitch really rattled me. Partly because of being tired, and partly from underestimating it.

If my memory serves, from the ledge on the right side of that photo, I stayed out right of the arete following a thin crack with a couple of mank pins and a copperhead. I certainly didn't find the quantity of gear placements that the leader in that photo found!

Maybe I was off route, or maybe my memory is failing me. Either way, I was freaked right out. I was so tired that my fingers were opening up off of the crimps, and all I could think about was the useless pro I had clipped, and the ledge that would snap both of my ankles after my gear ripped.

I've been on things rated much harder, but the combination of circumstances made it mentally, one of the hardest leads of my life.

Kris
Mei

Trad climber
I'm back!
May 2, 2016 - 04:31pm PT
You don't see other people's photo of that last pitch is because you can only get a sight of the crux after you've climbed 20' or so from the belay. I guess most people don't bother stopping and breaking out their camera like I did, or it's too dark by that time.

As of the day of this reply, where the serious business starts, there is an extruding angle down low from good stance. And there is one rusted small wire up high on the left (below the "downward pointing flake").

After following up the pitch this Saturday (lucky me since we swung leads), I will say my earlier partner, user mynameismud on ST, must have an eagle's eyes to spot placements.

A natural line is: you protect at the bottom of the flake, make a committing move (kinda reachy for shorties like me), and then climb up the face until you reach the horizontal crack under the roof. By that time, it is R, but the moves do get easier and easier.

I talked to mud about the pitch before the trip in case I end up getting the lead, he says moves would be harder if you want to protect on the left once you leave the bottom of the flake like what he did in the photo. [Edit: I vaguely remember from 11 years ago that the moves for me to clean the gear were super duper reachy, but I did not need to execute those moves this time because my partner went straight up.]

Hope that helps.
Texplorer

Trad climber
Sacramento
May 2, 2016 - 05:41pm PT
I am wondering how all that gear got over there on the left too. Mei's description match but not the pro.

You can fit in a 0.4 in the tongue of meh rock before committing but when your doing the committing moves it is several feet below you and I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing was expando.

Well, hope to be going up again this summer so will try to snag a few shots then.
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