Pacific Ocean Wall tr


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 1 - 20 of total 43 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Trad climber
moab UT
Topic Author's Original Post - May 30, 2018 - 12:57pm PT
Day 2

I have no idea what I'm doing up here. By 'here' I mean the Continental Shelf, eleven pitches up the Pacific Ocean Wall. But that's not really true. I know exactly 'what' I am doing. I just can't figure out 'What the f*#k am I doing up here!'


Let me start over. What the f*#k am I doing up here! I am no wall climber. I'm an imposter. The fact that I have all the systems dialed changes nothing. I think I have most people fooled but then 'most people' can't see inside my head, which looks something like this: I will not cry, I will not cry, I will not cry... In fact the only reason I agreed to this fiasco is that if you are one of those guys who hangs out in the valley all summer and don't climb a wall, you will be ridiculed. Weighing that against days of toil, fear, hunger and dehydration all I could say was, "Sure, sounds cool."

Climbers are dicks.

Mr. Lenox is the exact opposite of me. He thrives up here. He is happier up here than he is in the parking lot. I suspect there is something terribly wrong with him. I would ask him about it but we are not on speaking terms right now. It's all his fault really. I told him if he played that Sublime tape one more time I was going to kill it. He pressed play. I pressed eject and smashed it with my hammer. That was over breakfast. It's been a pretty quiet day.

"Hey Roadie!"

What? He spoke first! which meant I win! Awesome!


"I just found three gallons of water behind these rocks!"

"Whoa dude!"

Suddenly we are rich. The one thing I do like about wall climbing is that it reduces your needs and expectations to the lowest common denominator. It is a lot like what I imagine being a cave man to be. Except for the exposure and the gear and the Sublime tape, which, it turned out he had another one of. Prick.

"What do you think about taking a rest day tomorrow?"

What do I think? I think he has totally lost his f*#king mind is what I think. Then I think about the Central Latitudes, which is only three pitches above and I have heard nasty thinks about and has been hanging over my existence like a giant Sword of Damocles since I agreed to this madness and I say, "Sure, sounds cool."

Day 3

We are listening to NPR and enjoying a second cup of coffee when Mr. Lenox makes THE BIG DISCOVERY. He is rummaging through his haul bag and judging from his excitement I think he has discovered a winning lottery ticket or an inflatable companion. No such luck. What he has found is a bag of mushrooms. The special kind.

It's been a long time since I jumped into the deep water but WTF, it's not like I have anything to DO today. "Dude, set me up."

We go back to our books. He is reading David Sedaris or Nick Hornbey or something. He keeps chuckling to himself. I think he does this to annoy me. I am stuck with Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian.

A little tip for aspiring wall climbers here: bring a book that is lite and funny, not bleak, dense and brutal. I begin to suspect that Mr.Lenox may be smarter than me. Which annoys me further.

Time passed and nothing is happening. NPR has recycled. "Dude, these things are expired."

"Oh, just give it time." Mr. Lenox says between annoying chuckles.

More time passes, :OK I'm bored. I'm gonna fix a pitch."

"You sure?"

I'm all ready racking up.

It's weird that nothing continues to happen until I pass those lower hook moves that I don't dare reverse. Then that freight train starts rolling up my spine. I look back at Mr. Lenox who is grinning and paying more attention to those little red bugs than he is to me. Just wonderful. What an as#@&%e.

Day 4

Mr. Lenox is looking at the meadow through his monocular (we'll get to that later). "Anything interesting down there?"

"Yeah, kind of. I'm watching family of bears come out of your van."

He's so full of sh#t. "Yer so full of sh#t." He hands me the monocular. "Shit! there's a family of bears coming out of my van!"

"I couldn't make that up."

I'm not making any of this up. (Except the green bucket. It just goes straight down.)

He's amused.

I am pissed. I am not sure if I am more pissed that there is a family of bears living in my van or that he finds this amusing. I tell him I am not talking to him any more. Again.

So the Central Latitudes are not that bad. A bunch of horizontal RURPs, (which I totally overdrive just to annoy him) followed by some circle heads and about ten hook moves. Mr. Lenox's' eyes are like saucers when he gets to the belay. "Wow" he says, "Nicely done."

"Thanks, sorry I wailed on the pins so much."

"No, most of em came out by hand."

I fight the urge to cry, or throw up. I have no idea what I am doing up here.

Mr. Lenox takes off. It's easy at first. A loos(ish) flake leads left to an aręte. I was advised by The Village Idiot to avoid leading this pitch. Usually I just ignore whatever The Village Idiot says because, well, he is the village idiot. That's how he introduces himself whenever some new girl shows up: Hi, I'm The Village idiot. I don't think he gets a lot of dates. Anyhow...

Mr. Lenox looks around the aręte. He looks back at me. "Watch me good here, it looks really dire as far as I can see."

"Sure thing Bro." After he's around the aręte I go back to playing with the tiny red bugs.

Upon cleaning the pitch I have only three things to say: I am really impressed to have seen no tear stains on the whole pitch. In thirty years of climbing I have never seen a pitch I was so glad not to lead. I owe The Village Idiot a beer.

Day 5

Mr. Lenox is really, really mad at me. I think he has lost his mind. Is it my fault he put his head between my porta-ledge and the wall? This is like the fourth or fifth wall we have done together and he knows full well that the only way my ledge goes together is if I slam the corner into the wall as hard as I can! did I tell him to put his head there? Geesh! Now I have to stay awake all night because he will probably stab me as soon as I go to sleep. And he just told me the bears are going back into my van which no longer matters since I will probably be dead by morning anyhow.

Day 6

The good news is I am vindicated! the whole porta-ledge up side the head incident is forgotten! The bad news is: Mr. Lenox dropped the food bucket.

It all happened like this. I was minding my own business, watching the bears crawl out of my van and eating my breakfast (salami cheese burrito with mustard and an orange) when I heard, "AAAAHHHH! NOOOOO!"

I turned my head just in time to see the green bucket topple, catch the wind, hang just out of reach for a moment before being carried west and our remaining food slipping into the grasp of the wind and gravity. Which really sucked. Then I calmly finished my orange, stood up, unclipped a long, thin Lost Arrow from the rack and stabbed him in the neck.

But only in my head.

What I really did was look at him hatefully and say, "You realize of course that as of ten seconds ago all the bars and the 3/4 liter of trail mix belong to me."

"Yes Roadie, I'm well aware of that. But thank you."

I will not cry, I will not cry, I will not cry.... Ok, I am about to cry. I look left to Mr. Lenox at the belay who is surreptitiously stuffing one of my bars into his mouth. I am hooking out a loose flake on the Illusion Chain. It's the size of a box car. With every hook move the flake creeks and moves farther from the wall. "So, " I say between sobs, "If this flake blows tell my parents I'm really, really sorry."

He mumbles something encouraging through mouthfuls of stolen food. I don't care. I have bigger concerns that petty theft right now. Eventually I get in a head and the death flake rocks back into place. It is followed by more heads (shitty) and a string of knife blades (shittier). By the time I get to the rivet (missing) I've about lost it. "GODF*#KINGDAMNIT! EITHER YOU'RE LEADING THE REST OF THIS F*#KING F*#KED UP F*#KER OR WE'RE BAILING!!!!!!!"

Which, in retrospect, is a pretty stupid thing to say since we are 22 31/32 pitches up an overhanging wall. Finally I replace the rivet, get to the belay and look up. "So this next pitch is really short, I'm going to keep going."

Upon jugging the pitch Mr. Lenox tells me I am both funny and emotionally unstable. I don't see much point in arguing.

"Hey Roadie, can I have a bar?" We are at the Highbrow Bivouac, three pitches from the top.

"What do you have to trade?"

"How about a cam hook?"

"A cam hook gets you a raisin, how about your truck." I am really enjoying this.

"No f*#kin' way!" Punctuated by a mean look.

"Ok Ophelia then." Ophelia is his girlfriend. She is really quite attractive.

He launches into a tirade on how women are not chattel and I am an as#@&%e....

"Ok, ok, forget that then. Let me see your eye."

Careful readers are by now no doubt wondering why I have been addressing my friend and partner with the honorific: Mr. The answer is this: He only has one eye. He's not a Cyclops or anything, though it now occurs to me that it would be sooo f*#kin cool if he was. It also occurs to me that this explanation makes no sense whatsoever.

Ok, back up. For years Mr. Lenox was referred to as 'One Eyed Scott' or 'Scottie-two Tees one eye'. His first name is Scott, which is obvious by now. I hope. He lost the other one in a BB gun war or something. Anyhow, this spring Mr. Lenox announced that he never really liked that nick-name. Were The Village Idiot or Special Ed to make such an announcement it would only serve to codify said nick-name but we actually like and respect Mr. Lenox and someone asked, "Well, what would you like us to call you?"

He paused thoughtfully, "Well, my students call me Mr. Lenox." He said.

Ok, much longer explanation than I planed on. Back to the eye. For years Mr. Lenox has steadfastly refused to let anyone see behind his fake eye. Unless they give him fifty dollars. Ten of us pitched in five dollars a piece once but he said that it was fifty dollars-a person.

So it really wasn't that amazing. I thought I would see sparks flashing around his brain or something but it was just a bunch of muscles. Whatever, he is my friend and he is of more use to me malnourished than starving so I give him half the food.

Day 7

Burk sticks his head over the rim, "Hey Roadie, Mr. Lenox! You guys ok? Need any water or food?" He is working on freeing the upper pitches on The Nose and has a phat camp set up.

"We're ok." Mr. Lenox yells back. "We just need to finish under out own power." He looks at me, "We are ok aren't we?"

I am really hungry but deep down I know he is right.

"Well hurry up. I'm making pasta burritos for dinner..."

Day 8

We got down to the meadow early this morning. The bears were still asleep and my slider door is laying on the side of the road. They ate all my food but left my girlfriends crappy health-food. I really can't blame them. We chased them away and used some bailing wire to fix the door. We were bickering the whole time about the best way to do it. Then we decided it would be best if we take a break from each other for a few days.

It's mid afternoon and I am sitting on the benches in the lodge, soloing my second pint of Ben and Jerry's. All these people are just way too much for me. I am a little surprised to see Mr. Lenox walk up. His eye(s) have that same lost, overwhelmed look that I am feeling. "Roadie," he says. "There's just way too many people for me to deal with right now. Do you want to go hide in the woods for a while?"

I just hand him my half eaten thing of ice-cream and nod.

Thank You
Steve Seats


Just livin' the dream on the California coast
May 30, 2018 - 01:28pm PT

G Murphy

Trad climber
Oakland CA
May 30, 2018 - 01:53pm PT
Excellent! Nice flashbacks to the Illusion Chain pitch.

in the land of the blind
May 30, 2018 - 02:33pm PT
Good times.

I remember when Roadie and I were either climbing the PO or WoEML, and he was having trouble leading a heading pitch.

Nothing would stick, and Roadie started talking about being lowered and having me do the hero lead. But then he started getting pissed off and sputtering various obscenities.

Suddenly he yelled down that he needed for me to tag up his toothbrush and a roll of toilet paper RIGHT F*#KING NOW!

I couldn’t figure out why he needed the toothbrush— him not being any more hygienic than the average dirtbag climber—and I didn’t give that much thought to it because I was terrified that Roadie was literally (as in actually) shitting his pants because, number one, he was directly above me, and number two, after spending some time on walls with Roadie I concluded the unnatural foulness of his BMs must speak to some terrible, and possibly contagious gastrointestinal disorder.

But I dutifully tagged the requested tp up to him, and I continued paying out rope while hiding behind a haul bag for what little good it would do. And after much grunting on his part and much cringing on my part Roadie yelled down, “off belay!”

It turned out that the toothbrush and toilet paper were both used to clean out a very wet section so that he could finally get his heads to stick, and it was a very proud lead . . . for a non-wall-climber.


Mountain climber
Timbers of Fennario
May 30, 2018 - 02:49pm PT

Trad climber
May 30, 2018 - 03:03pm PT
Just super! Not knowing Lenox at least his avatar now makes sense.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
May 30, 2018 - 03:28pm PT
Awesome. Great trip report and great memories. The PO was my last route on the Captain and, sadly, too long ago. I had wanted to climb it after reading Greg Child's terrific Mountain article about the second ascent (dating myself I know). Thanks much for posting up.

Social climber
Wise Acres
May 30, 2018 - 03:36pm PT
Pasta Burritos, Sublime!

Big Wall climber
Ridgway CO
May 30, 2018 - 03:49pm PT
Classic stuff from the way-back machine.
My memories of the PO have faded, I’ll just use yours, thanks!

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 30, 2018 - 04:22pm PT
Super Cool!

Trad climber
May 30, 2018 - 05:26pm PT
Two thumbs up! Sweet read.

Trad climber
Talkeetna, Alaska
May 30, 2018 - 05:39pm PT
That was a fun read, and it brought back some good memories.

I vividly recall the Central Latitudes...not very difficult, but a consequential fall, particularly for the second, which had potential to swing into the big corner of South Seas. So to protect my partner, after clipping the first few RURPS that were within reach of the belay, I backcleaned the entire first half of the pitch until reaching a line of rivits that led up to a big flake- put screamers on the rivits and then a fat cam behind the solid flake, at which point it was easy to free climb the rest of the way to the belay for both leader and second. This would keep the second from hitting the corner. But it was heady for me until I got those pieces clipped.

I also remember being glad that I maneuvered the lead sequence so that I didn't lead the arete pitch that is mentioned and has two photos of Lenox on it. I remember being scared that if my partner fell early in the pitch, that the rope looked like it could potentially catch on that sharp pillar/flake just left of the belay (which Lennox has his hands on). It's a long head seam right above him.

I led the Illusion Chain at dusk, finishing the pitch in the dark. Memorable! Someone had pounded a fat piton into the base of the expando flake, which made it seem A1 to me. I nutted the whole flake just to be sure.

Thanks for the good read.
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
May 30, 2018 - 06:12pm PT
Highly entertaining. TFPU Best -lars

May 30, 2018 - 06:19pm PT
Roadie is near singlehandedly making supertopo great [again?]...

seriously: as always, thanks for another sweet story...

in the land of the blind
May 30, 2018 - 07:41pm PT

Oakland, CA
May 30, 2018 - 09:12pm PT
Is that photo of the famed Scott Burke camp on top of El Cap then?

in the land of the blind
May 30, 2018 - 09:27pm PT
Is that photo of the famed Scott Burke camp on top of El Cap then?


L to R: Captain Kirk Bland, me, Eric? (Scott’s subbie), & Scott Burke—out of frame, Ammon & Roadie

Circa 1997 or 1998

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
May 31, 2018 - 05:33am PT
Ha,! Good times, thanks!

Trad climber
Valles Marineris
May 31, 2018 - 06:38am PT

Trad climber
moab UT
Topic Author's Reply - May 31, 2018 - 12:46pm PT
Is that photo of the famed Scott Burke camp on top of El Cap then?
It was 98. I think Scotts subbie that year was "Sam I Am"
Messages 1 - 20 of total 43 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta