SPANKED! Cookie, Left TR


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Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 21, 2007 - 09:26pm PT
Of course there are a lot of ways to approach something like this...

It looks like a layback out of the pod to the top, mostly because you can get a big cam up in the exit crack and then pull hard for 4 to 5 moves. But even that is hard, both because of the steepness but also the shape of the crack as you exit. I gotta believe there is an "offwidth" way to grunt it out... but it wasn't apparent in all our attempts.

Also, the "dihedral" could conceivably be stemmed, but I don't have the skills to do it, there are really no features on the left side of the faces. And while it may go that way, it would be much harder than just doing classic offwidth technique.

I'd say the 5.10a section should probably be rated harder than that. But until I get it, and do a few more similar things at harder grade I couldn't really suggest a rating. And it doesn't matter anyway, the crack pros well with big gear.

The pictures of people in real pain set in a beautiful place look grand, and they might be thought to be having fun.. but we really worked that sucka all day milking every lesson we could out of it.

Why do offwidth? cause it is a Valley full of cracks, and those cracks have all sizes... so someday way off the ground you're going to get someplace that will only be doable with that technique. An unless you take those huge cams that Pete likes so much, you might not even be able to get up "french free," sometime you just gotta climb!

Apparently, not many people are willing to admit that they climbed Cookie Left... Probably a truely forgettable climb given what else is in the area. But good for a short OW problem.

Thanks for the comments and encouragement!

And Russ, I haven't got a partner yet for the romp on the elephant! so maybe I'll take you up on your interest!

Social climber
The West
Feb 21, 2007 - 09:42pm PT
I'm jonse'n the weekend I lost with (from) you guys, my bald spot would have fit right in.
I was up north checking out other options;

What an f-ing moroon I am.
Seemed to work for these sport climbers, though.

Note the belayer in down jacket And shorts!

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 21, 2007 - 10:17pm PT
Ed, point well taken relative to getting up routes with an OW component, just haven't encountered any yet. A studied avoidance no doubt. Regardless of the status of any wall aspirations I do plan on being schooled hard on a couple of these beasts when I finally make it down there. You folks look like just the crew to do the spanking. I may be begging for a lesson someday...

Social climber
Land of Green Stretchy People
Feb 21, 2007 - 10:50pm PT
Perhaps hiding from past deeds, the author shields himself from Paparazzi whilst the leader climbs on without a belay?

Gary heading up the 5.9 chimney on the sharp end

Crowds? Schmowds!!! Look at the lonely Offwidthmobile. Contrary to lore, riding in the vehicle does not grant you ability to climb 10A OW. Perhaps driving it does...

Gary on the sharp end again! Looks like he is going to make it!

Almost there!

Nice Catch Ed!

Zander Rapping from P3 anchors.

Our Doom Awaits...

Embarassing pictures of me fumbling the lead on the 5.9 alt were thankfully lost...

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 21, 2007 - 10:59pm PT
healyje offwidths can certainly be avoided, but when you walk around in the floor of the Valley looking at all the great lines, you hate to have the thought that you couldn't jump on one of them just because you don't like offwidth.

While we might be making it a fetish of sorts, if there is a point to all this, it is that there are lots of climbs in the Valley which aren't climbed. Alexey pumped us for beta on the Cookie Left as he intended to give it a go, and we were glad to oblige. But there is truely no one on these climbs, same for a whole lot of other worthy climbs.

And even though "SuperTopo" has become a verb in the climbing areas that are the subject of one of the SuperTopo books, the Forum is a great place to remind everyone that there is a whole other world out there worth playing around in... some stellar climbs that few have touched. Not great for spray factor... but climbing would be pretty bleak if spray were all it was about.

Happy and Healthy climber
the Gunks end of the country
Feb 21, 2007 - 11:32pm PT
Nice pics! Looks like he was just an inch from a helmet jam before Ed needed to catch him.

Anybody ever spike a climber after a good catch? Mix a metaphor?

This stuff looks like fun - sorta - in a perverse way. :-)

Climbing it's all fun, except when it's not. - Yogi Bear 46.
john hansen

Feb 21, 2007 - 11:33pm PT
I always enjoy your TR's Ed . Thanks

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 22, 2007 - 12:03am PT
Ed, I haven't really actively avoided OW's, just haven't run across them in any abundance of them in the areas I've been to and on the routes I've done. Hell, I only recently got on something passing for a real chimney the first time in 30 years while doing Epi in Red Rocks a bit ago. Last time I did an OW we were using CMI IBeams in it. In fact, the hollows I came up in basically had no cracks and no edges. It was mostly pockets and knobs on steep sandstone and roofs. I've learned to adapt to basalt and edgier sandstones over the years, but have never been around granitic rock long enough to really get comfortable with it.

I view the Valley sort of like Mecca or the Vatican of climbing and I've basically been bad in my faith having only made one five day trip there in all these years. I do need to get down there and grovel again as is typically my want on granite. Who knows maybe later this year if I can swing it. Like I said, I'll be looking for an OW tour guide and usually grovel in a somewhat determined silence. Crimper has the right idea - get around and try it all; just haven't had the chance between raising the girl and work...
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand.... man.....
Feb 22, 2007 - 12:05am PT
nice pic on that one titled DOOM...... you guys are A OK!
Standing Strong

Trad climber
offices & honkytonks
Feb 22, 2007 - 01:46am PT
nice tr, thanks for sharing :)
Rick L

Trad climber
El Dorado Hills, CA
Feb 22, 2007 - 03:22am PT
Well, I'm not afraid to admit having visited the dreaded Cookie Left. I don't remember much except that it was annoying- dirty as I recall. I have to smile at some of the young (and old) guns who struggle on the OW's. It is just a matter of putting in the time. The problem with OW's is that you really can't see what the hell is going on when someone is climbing. In fact, the better the climber, the more mysterious it becomes. I remember watching Barry Bates walk up to Generator Crack, stick his left side in and begin making a non-stop series of almost imperceptible moves. Like magic,he simply floated smoothly up the crack without breaking a sweat. I have also watched people struggle, gasp and generallly thrash but all it amounted to was a tutorial on what not to do. Although OW's appear to succumb to brute force, the truth is that there are many subtle techniques for arms/hands,torso, hips, legs and feet that make the process immensely more efficient and less exhausting. I recall getting an unbelievable rest more or less in the middle of the crux on the L Side of the Slack that was a product of my body size and utilizing various pressures. The rest was unavailable to my smaller and more talented partners- Dale and Alan Bard. Taking advantage of your unique body dimensions is one of those OW secrets that unfolds over time.

I think it is great that there is a renewed interest in OW's. Have fun and go get'em.


Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 22, 2007 - 04:34am PT
I think one of the most interesting aspects of OW's is just that you folks talk about them as 'left' and 'right' and many are essentially two different climbs in each orientation. Not something you run across in most venues.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 22, 2007 - 10:34am PT
Maybe a bonus feature of OW is that they do not posses a chiral symmetry (Werner edit: WTF?!). So you often get two very different climbs in one.

Gary and I noticed this on the initial setting of his OW machine, where his right-side-in worked for him and my left-side-in worked for me first, and we had to learn how to do the other-side-in over some time period. I think this is because the specific body characteristics could be different... different size foot, different joint flexibility (probably due to different injury sites), different strength.

Approaching an offwidth you are always thinking "which side in?" and you reflexively start moving gear around on your harness and your rack. This also makes for some stressful times when you realize that you have to change side-in... probably the best advice is don't take too much gear up the thing. It is probably true that they were "easier" in the old days because you didn't have a modern gear selection, so you pretty much ran out the pitch without... "technique is our protection."

I know I'm doing it right when I am mostly resting, wrong when I am panting like a dog in the august mid-day sun...
Rick L

Trad climber
El Dorado Hills, CA
Feb 22, 2007 - 11:46am PT

You are right about the L side- R side issue. I have always felt much more comfortable L side in for some reason. There are a number of climbs that would initially appear to be best climbed with the obvious side facing in but, I think, are easier with opposite way. For example, the OW at the top of Reeds (right side or P 3 of the triple direct) seemed to be easier L side in so you can use the foot holds on the main wall and the L arm chicken wing seems more secure. Some climbs also seem easier if one is willing to change directions as the rock dictates- L side of Moby Dick is an example- although it is really a chimney and not an OW. You know your technique is getting there if you are able to take somewhat of a rest most of the time.


Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 22, 2007 - 12:24pm PT
Great stuff Ed! But you missed the great disconnect line when Arthur concludes that "We can't risk another frontal assault! That rabbit is dynamite!"

But full frontal assault it was! LOL
del cross

Bay Area
Feb 22, 2007 - 12:59pm PT
Hey Ed, nice to meet you and your friends.

Alexey and I will likely go back there to thrash up that nasty thing someday. I'm not sure I'd get around to it without him. He made me climb Moby Dick and Ahab in the rain on Sunday. Despite the water running down the crack Moby Dick Center was actually kind of fun. Ahab was a different story, even though it was dry in the lower squeeze. Alexey assured me that the five years that had passed since my last attempt meant that I was now much, much stronger. But as it turned out I made it the exact same six and half inches above the ledge that I did last time before admitting that I had no idea what to do.

Alexey: "Lock your upper body and move your legs. Then lock your legs and move your upper body."

Yeah, thanks...

A question: How do you protect your harness? I've ruined two harnesses by deeply abrading the webbing where it passes through the buckle by thrashing in OWs. Or maybe that's the problem, I'm thrashing?

Feb 22, 2007 - 02:53pm PT
Another TR score by Ed and co. Thanks for the cool read & pix!

Monument Manor
Feb 22, 2007 - 03:13pm PT
Jaybro - Transmoggnifier in the shade no less!

Social climber
The West
Feb 22, 2007 - 03:49pm PT
Orientational dimorphism. Lof OW's are harder/easier, dextral/synestral. Relative body part sizes can completely overlap, even eclipse, this, though.

I believe ow ratings are among the most indivually idiosyncratic of all.

Sport climber
Buzzard Point, TN
Feb 22, 2007 - 04:03pm PT
looked to me (donner) like it was that old Woodward (+ Mr Big???) R/X route "Totem Pile". heard that thing was cleaned up and sprouted some stainless. Talked to the 2nd ascent party (Bob H.) eons ago, remember him saying he couldn't believe Woodward had the wingspan to do the cruxes---Bob's 6'3 or taller.

Transmog is the chalked holds on right iirc. Nasty bizness near the horizontal...

On the OT, yeah, it's great to get your technique down for longer routes. Roughly 1/3 of salathe is fists or wider. Even classics like Higher CS sport a 5.8 flare or two...

Think yer right, Jaybro...definitely a "sized up" kind of thing--hollow flake chim (1 pitch above) felt way worse than the Flake itself. I was facing out, maybe that was the issue...
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