Wide World of Yosemite Valley Off-Widths

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marty(r)

climber
Berkeley, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 28, 2004 - 07:10pm PT
Forum at large,
Everyone seems to have a different take on the "Valley Hardman OW Circuit." I'm interested in what others consider the best of the best wide cracks in the Valley. Mussy Walling made me a list once, comparing Quality versus Grimness--three star scale. Example: Space Invaders--Q, G; Jaws--Q; G*. The major exception was Twilight Zone that he gave three stars for quality and four for grimness (he apparently punched himself when a handstack popped and "I was held in by the rivet on my jeans!") So what's your take?
Marty
dirtbagaaron

Trad climber
i get around
Jun 30, 2004 - 12:10pm PT
what are the grades on these climbs?
marty(r)

climber
Berkeley, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 30, 2004 - 03:00pm PT
With OW, it's all jingus...Here's the list I've got: grade/quality/grimness. Jaws isn't actually on here, but I think it's 12a, double overhung, and rarely done (one story has Michael Paul knee-locked off in the upper crux, dry heaving, after having left big blood splotches where his shoulder wore through the skin...the whole way up!) Jay"bro"Anderson also did it, and I think Rick Cashner was there when Dale Bard put it up. I'm sure they have great stories as well.

Valley Wide Tour
Grade Name Quality Grimness
10d 1096 *
12a space invaders
11+/12a bad ass momma *** *
10c twilight zone * **
11a cream *** *
10d stepping out *** *
10c chopper * **
10c edge of night * ***
10c generator *** *
10a doggie do * **
9/10a chingando *** *
10b vendetta
11c cool wheel * **
11c river boulder *
10c meat grinder *** *
Fingerlocks

Trad climber
where the climbing's good
Jun 30, 2004 - 04:28pm PT
Ahab would be high quality/low grimness on your scheme.

And what about Mental Block?
Russ Walling

Social climber
Bishop is DEAD, long live JT
Jun 30, 2004 - 07:08pm PT
And what about Mental Block?
grade: 5.10c
quality:
Grimness: *

Super route. Easy for the grade.
Melissa

Big Wall climber
oakland, ca
Jun 30, 2004 - 08:11pm PT
Bridge for sale! Get yer shiney new bridges, here! Golden Gate offered for a limited time at a 10% discount to qualified buyers!
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 30, 2004 - 10:33pm PT
Come on Melissa:

Fuse with the art. Torque those feet. It it's that small, climb inside--I'm guessing that you have short toes. Off widths are cool, once your are in the groove, bridges are free.

On the other hand, Ms Hill stuck those skinny digits into the Nose and no one has followed.

:-) Roger

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 1, 2004 - 12:44am PT
This thread has me wishing for fall climbing in the Valley already!

Just have to get my jollys running it out in the Meadows... though it seems the summer of high sierra peaks this year for some reason.

And there are offwidth in the Meadows, what fun.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Jul 1, 2004 - 01:39am PT
Considering the general high quality of Yosemite Rock, I don't think any Valley OW has a palpable grimness factor.-haven't done the Burner, though.
As far as qualty goes, I pretty much go with Marty's ratings, assuming he's using a 3 star scale.
ad to the list;
Peter Left 10c *** with unexpected thin stuff after the crux
Moby Dick Left.9 ***
second Pitch of Yinyang ( or is ir Manana?) 5.10-
That pitch on Steck/sally (The Narrows?) possibly the best of all, rated variously from 5.7-5.10
The Harding slot on Astroman, 5.11c for the pitch, the squeeze part is easier.
Plumbline 10d *** solid for the grade
Skye 11c, three stars, but approaching grimness on the loose, lower part
The Owl 12c, at least three stars
Elephant's Eliminate 5.? probably lots 'o' stars, but I can't say, as I couldn't manage it the one time I got on it.
For a yardstick Grim OW try Glue-sniffing Squishheads,12b? Near Bluff Utah, if the wind hasn't eroded it yet.
Mental Block is very cool and about two letter grades lighter than the rating.
Jay
Melissa

Big Wall climber
oakland, ca
Jul 1, 2004 - 02:41pm PT
Roger, a few weeks back, a bridge was exactly what I was wishing for! I guess I've got time on my hands this morning and a story about a supertopo forums sandbagging to tell...Not really that worried about splitting hairs about grades, but your insights might be interesting.

A month-or-so ago I headed over to Mental Block with my favorite ropegun. I'd read Russ's suggestion that it was light for the grade and in his estimation was easier than Generator, and thought I'd be fine following it. I got SPANKED! I got up the ow with a couple moves that were french and with some hanging, spitting, and cussing, and then got totally twarted on the '5.8' bottomless traversing squeeze roof where my legs couldn't span the gap under the squeeze but I couldn't get myself in the roof sideways to start moving toward the anchor. I actually cried. It was one of those days where I got such a schooling that I was depressed for a couple of days to follow...afraid to get on a commiting route with any pitch marked harder than 5.6.

A couple of weeks later, we were hanging out in the meadow and ran into one of the FAists for that route. Prompted by discussion of grade inflation in this modern day, he started talking about a reverse case where this route that he put up many moons ago that he thought was solid 5.11 was downgraded. He shocked to learn from his partner the route was now the standard for 10c ow. The route...Mental Block, of course.

Is there some kind of tradition of sandbag around Mental Block? Or do you guys really think that it's light compared to, for example, Generator, Peter Left? Two grades lighter means that you'd think it's the same difficulty as Chingando, Doggie Do, or Bongs Away Center? Athough our different sizes made obviously different cruxes for my partner and I, and perhaps I was having an off day or was running up against some subtle technique that I haven't got very honed yet, I found it in a whole 'nother universe than any of these other routes.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jul 1, 2004 - 03:31pm PT
Are you acusin' Russ of a Lyin'? of having faulty inteligents?
Or maybe he's wider and fits better.

I don't know. Haven't climbed the route, but I will when I feel the need to repent

Peace

karl
Melissa

Big Wall climber
oakland, ca
Jul 1, 2004 - 03:34pm PT
Honestly, Karl, I didn't know which was the case...Don't forget the whole 'better climber' angle too.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Bishop is DEAD, long live JT
Jul 1, 2004 - 04:11pm PT
Re: Mental Block

True story. That thing is easy for the grade. No matter what you call them nowadays ratings wise, but Mental block is miles easier than:
Twilight Zone
Chopper
Edge of Night
Steppin' Out
1096

Back in the day (tm) all those were (and still are) 5.10+.

Why Mental Block is easy:
Crux is probably the thin start. You can push a cam the entire way. You can link pitches. You can stem the entire thing. It is low angle. Your leg is in it the whole way. It is a corner,so your ass dragging the wall keeps you in, instead of wacked core strength that a straight in OW demands.

Maybe JayBro just taught me too well.

Notes from the yellow guide by me:

pitch one, pro, in order of appearance:
sling, #1 cam, sling, #1.5, #2, #2.5, #3, #4, belay at bolts.

pitch two, pro, in order of appearance:
#4 cam, #4 tube, #7 stopper on rt. wall, #1 cam on rt. wall. belay at bolt.

pitch three pro, in order of appearance:
#7 stopper, 4.5 tube, #1.5 cam, #3 cam, #2 cam, #5 cam to push. Belay at ledge, 3 raps.

Try it, you'll like it......
Melissa

Big Wall climber
oakland, ca
Jul 1, 2004 - 04:20pm PT
Sounds like you may have had a leg in when I was struggling with half-an-arse cheek, an exhausted arm bar, and peddling down below like Jerry Lewis. Perhaps from the depths of the crack my arse could not stem over to the wall behind? Perhaps I just need to practice. Maybe I'll go back after practicing for another 5 or 10 years and find out.

If you'd be willing to lead that pitch stemming, I'll happily carry the gear, give you a belay, and buy you a beer afterwards just for the opportunity to watch. Someone else will have to second for you though. Karl...could it be your time to atone? I'm good with God now for a few more weeks anyway.

The first pitch may have been the real crux, but I do a lot better with that sort of thing...Thrashing on an endurance lay-back just doesn't involve the same kind of suffering as sliding up and down in a wide crack, going nowhere slowly.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jul 1, 2004 - 05:03pm PT
I'd second the Fish up Mental Block any day, and promise not to make him look bad.

As long as he promises not to come down and hand me the sharp end!
Russ Walling

Social climber
Bishop is DEAD, long live JT
Jul 1, 2004 - 06:29pm PT
As long as he promises not to come down and hand me the sharp end!

Never happen... I'm a crappy follower. I'm way more of a lead stealer.

Side note: I do not advise leading the MB with a stem. You will probably die. But, I had a follower (not disciple, but rope partner) stem the entire thing. Big guy though... 6'6" or so.... probably makes a difference.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Jul 1, 2004 - 07:45pm PT
Hmmmm .. maybe it Is a size thing. I'm pretty average size, the 70kilo man as seen in many medical references. 3/4 a fish? haha
But really, I thought it was slightly harder than Chingando and WAY easier than, say Chopper or Edge of night (the 10c, if I got the name wrong)
References are to the ow pitch(es-If you don't run them together)
I thought the first pitch was the crux, and a very good pitch that should be included in a list of similar pitches, along with the first pitch of Blind faith.
Jay
Brutus of Wyde

climber
Old Climbers' Home, Oakland CA
Jul 1, 2004 - 09:05pm PT
You OWies are makin me drool!

Any consensus on the (9th) pitch of Magic Mushroom?

"5.9"

Brutus, remembering one of the grimmest OWs I've ever led.

(But then I suck at OWs)
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jul 1, 2004 - 09:12pm PT
Hey Melissa:

No insights into the making of a day from hell.

I decided fairly soon in my climbing career that grading climbs was difficult and one's own experience was a bad benchmark. I was tall, skinny, and had very long arms (I am still tall and have long arms.) My favorite grading exercise was to bunch my feet and hands up under the crux of a hand crack, and then fully extend and reach 6 feet past it. Other times I could stem onto holds that were on different sides of the Valley--Well that sounds like unlikely. Anyway, the point is that body size at some point makes a big difference. I am thinking that off-widths are one of the types of climbing where this can make a big difference.

However, in one of your posts, you talk about your feet skidding. So, I have to ask, respectively, how many times have you actually practiced the foot work required--as opposed to trying new hard cracks? A lot of climbing is figuring out what will work by looking at the rock and visualizing the moves--doing lots of new climbs builds that skill. In off-widths, what you have to do is usually clear and repetitive--you could close your eyes and work out the moves by feel. Practicing this on the same crack is efficient. (Actually doing it with your eyes closed also helps with the concentration. Sometimes trying to use a hand hold takes you out of position and makes it harder. Top rope only, unless you are Karl.)

Maybe Mental Block is not the easiest place to do it, but if you can find the time and energy to do laps on an off width, you will really accelerate the whole-body-memory-staying-on-versus-moving-up thing.

You'll be giving bridges away with Russ in no time.

Best regards, Roger

(I wonder if I could actaully still do real offwidth. I am thinking I should rig up a way to improve my torsional foot strength and try.)
Melissa

Big Wall climber
oakland, ca
Jul 1, 2004 - 10:03pm PT
"So, I have to ask, respectively, how many times have you actually practiced the foot work required--as opposed to trying new hard cracks?"

I'm not sure that I understand the distinction? I have returned to a few practice cracks, but usually I try something new. A quick estimate tells me that probably a third of my ow pitches have been repeaters...usually 2-3 repeats, but I've been on Generator 9 times.

In my limited experience...it's always about praciticing the footwork whether it's a new pitch or not, or else I just plain don't move. When it gets really grim, though, everything starts thrashing around, most notabley the hands and feet. It's like a drowning reflex. I have the hardest time, when it's too wide get a good leg jam of sorts, but can't crawl inside yet. It's like my body gets confused at that size...and that's where I got the business on Mental Block. Of course, that's something that I need to practice. Still...I got up the other routes that I mentioned without falling, let alone crying. This route was way, way harder for me.

I've made a special effort with wide cracks, but I'll admit that I do have a hard time giving up a precious weekend to 'training' if we could be out exploring instead. I guess I tend to make my plans based on whatever sounds like the most fun rather than what will help me the most in the long run. I'm not going to get sponsored anytime soon, so it's working out OK for me so far. ;-) Thanks, as ever, for the feedback.
Dragon with Matches

climber
Bamboo Grove
Jul 1, 2004 - 10:37pm PT
Slightly on the topic of wide stuff, brought to mind by mentions above of Twilight Zone. Haven't been on it, won't soon, but rather curious as to how one might fare leading this as one's first wide crack experience.

Albeit the "one" in question isn't exactly your average joe...

I had the pleasure of meeting Yuji Hirayama a while back. Polite, humble, and friendly to a fault - very approachable. What a visual shock hearing a Japanese guy speak with a perfect French accent - but don't hold that against him. Anyway I was talking with Yuji about his near- onsight of the Salathe Wall. Was curious about how much OW experience he'd had before going up there. All those World Cup comps and 5.14 limestone I see in the mags don't seem like OW training to me. "Not much," he said. "I just practiced leading on one route to see if I could make the jams." Which route? Turns out he'd only climbed Twilight Zone as his one and only intro to wide Valley granite (or - I'm not sure - maybe his intro to OW) before going up and DAMN NEAR flashing the Salathe. I think his first attempt had only one fall, or falls at only one crux, though I'm unsure of the exact details.

Well beyond my comprehension.
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jul 1, 2004 - 11:07pm PT
Hey Melissa: I know what you mean--It's not a job, it's supposed to be fun.

Your post reminded me of something. So much of what we all do it seems, is based on our capacity to separate what we do from what we want to do in a way that sounds like, "yea, yea, I know, I'll do it right, just as soon as I get through this desperate part." Usually this has nothing to do with climbing--just regular life, but it applies equally well to climbing.

In some sort of in-the-now world, we should be able to focus ourselves to do the right thing in the moment. One of the sweetest things about climbing is that it is possible to do that. I have no idea why. It may be that the rewards--getting up really pretty routes--are linked directly to the ability to achieve that focus.

The best climbers I have ever seen never slipped (well almost never. As one one stated, "If I thought I was going to flail, much less fall, I'd stay in the cafeteria.)

The interesting thing is that they did not slip because they were great climbers (they were); they became great climbers because they learned not to slip.

There is no criticism here, just an observation of the direction of the cause and effect relationship: mind wins.

On the other hand, to paraphase someone, some times a bad hair day is just in the humidity.

My time zone is late. Best, Roger
Russ Walling

Social climber
Bishop is DEAD, long live JT
Jul 2, 2004 - 01:34pm PT
Anyway I was talking with Yuji about his near- onsight of the Salathe Wall. Was curious about how much OW experience he'd had before going up there. Turns out he'd only climbed Twilight Zone as his one and only intro to wide Valley granite

In all fairness, I would expect a 5.14 guy to be able to lead a lowly 10C regardless of size or configuration. Lets see... 5.14 - 15 letter grades or so = 5.10C... so even in my couch induced state, I can still probably do most 5.10's..... minus 15 lettergrades = 5.6c/d. Yep.... I'll declare it here, I can do any 5.6c just from the pure math of it all.
Ben Wah

Social climber
Jul 2, 2004 - 10:02pm PT
Hey M,

At the risk of putting words in Roger's mouth (forgive me Roger, if I speak wrongly), I think he's asking why you try OWs that are far burlier than any you've done before. He climbed in a day when the watchword was: The Leader Must Not Flail, and with good reason--their gear was often jingus and far-spaced. Hangdogging was considered less than ethical, so people made darn sure they thought they could climb something before going up it. Some (myself included, though I come from a later vintage) climbed many 5.8 and 5.9 OWs before ever attempting a 5.10 one--and found that technique is learned quicker in stuff you can do than in stuff that causes flailage. Something impossible for me will teach me less technique than something I can do--the best way to prepare for Cosmic Debris, if that were my goal, would be not to go dog Cosmic, but to climb as many easier fingercracks as I could. It is the same with slabs. You must learn to handle mind-numbing runouts on stuff you find comically easy before you jump on an R or X rated route.
Hope this helps.
Ben
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jul 2, 2004 - 10:56pm PT
Ben, your description of how I climbed is correct, but I don't recommend it. What I guess I should have said more directly...

Melissa wrote: "When it gets really grim, though, everything starts thrashing around, most notabley the hands and feet. It's like a drowning reflex....It's like my body gets confused at that size..." Been there...

After reflecting on my experience and what Jardine started with hang-dogging, my direct advice to Melissa is to go back and find that place where it got really grim and do those moves so many times that your body doesn't ever become confused in that circumstance again. Honest, that is what I was trying to say the first time.

My next observation was that the art of climbing hard occurs in exactly that moment when we fall apart. If a climber masters that moment, mentally first, and then finds the right combination that makes the moves feel secure, the art is pushed to that grade.

I think that everyone's approach to this is individual and I doubt that it can be taught. But, Melissa, I notice that you are pushing yourself so hard that I am guessing that you will get it. I was just checking your methods, and feeling envious.

Best to you both, Roger
Melissa

Big Wall climber
oakland, ca
Jul 3, 2004 - 12:08pm PT
Thanks, guys. I hope it's clear, although I realize that my dark humor sometimes seems more depressed than funny, that the whole point of my original post was that I thought that I got sandbagged (albeit by my own ignorant believe in someone else's comparative beta) and I thought it made for a funny story.

I probably am not so different from you guys when I'm doing my real practicing and learning...mostly climbing well within my limits, and sometimes stepping beyond to see what I can do. It happens that the person with whom I want to spend my days off is a much stronger parter...and sharing a mutually rewarding experience with him may mean that I follow and flail through some pitches to get to ones that will be at a better level for me. IMO, it's part of being a good and fair partner when he has done all the moderates ad nauseum and has been belaying me on them more than my fair share of late. Besides, sometimes it can be FUN to flail, and I often consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to do it.

Sure, back in the day I'd have gotten 20 feet of penalty slack and lowered in my bare feet to the snow covered ground for my 'unethical' behavior. ;-)
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jul 3, 2004 - 01:53pm PT
Oh no! Ya mean.....a troll. Arrrrrrrrrrrrg.
Melissa

Big Wall climber
oakland, ca
Jul 3, 2004 - 02:32pm PT
No...not a troll! Just a story. I do appreciated the advise, though. Sometimes the best advise is the advise that I didn't know to ask for. And with that...I'm going to get out of my $#%# office and go flail in the great out of doors finally!
malabarista

Trad climber
San Francisco, Ca
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 3, 2004 - 07:43pm PT
I'm envious of your strong partner Melissa. If I want to climb something hard for me, I have to lead it (or TR). It would be great to have a friend who could pull me up some hard stuff I'm not ready to lead yet.
Rhodo-Router

Trad climber
Otto, NC
Jul 4, 2004 - 05:42pm PT
I recall that strong partner dragging my flailing ass up an OW pitch that was, in the topo, actually unrated, yet that I could not climb. I eventually laybacked it with lots of tension.

Remember, it doesn't have to be fun to be fun!
Leroy

climber
Jul 14, 2004 - 05:01am PT
Im with Melisa. I actually popped off the second pitch of Mental Block.Thank god Altman led it.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jul 14, 2004 - 10:53am PT

Just a plug for my friend and partner, Tom Kasper, who manufactures and sells [url="http://home.pacbell.net/takasper/slcd/valleygiant.html"]Valley Giant 9" and 12" cams.[/url] These superb pieces of craftsmanship were made to defeat the fearsome offwidths of Yosemite.

They come highly recommended by Dr. Piton, who has used them extensively on El Cap, though only for aid because he is old and crotchety, having entered Free Climbing Retirement some time ago.
Leroy

climber
Jul 15, 2004 - 06:12am PT
Arent there any new hard OWs?
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Jul 15, 2004 - 11:06am PT
Interesting question, that.

There are plenty of hard face climbs - 13's, 14's everywhere - and they get climbed on a regular basis.

How hard is the hardest OW rated? 12 something? How often do those monstrosities get climbed? Are OW ratings really sandbag? People say "you need specialized technique". Well, sure. You need the same for 13 face climbs. Are OW's undergraded? [They sure seem so to me, but of course I don't have the technique]

Or are they just so horrid, that the top climbers never want to learn how to do it?
marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 15, 2004 - 03:09pm PT
Pete,
Well, hell, those wide pitches on Excalibur go free and at something a bit stouter than 5.12. I asked Schneider about it, and all he could recount was a story about Craig Luebben trying the line and getting spanked. Maybe that gives some impression of the toughness (your cam-jug methods looks better to me though.)
Um, there's some line called "Viva Gorditas" that Jason Smith and some others did. The slides look jingus. And there's a thing called "Cedar Eater" that, I think, is up Sentinal Creek. That new Huber/Zak book has a shot of it. Guaranteed to burn a calorie. Some locals or JayBro could probably tell where those climbs are.
If you get over to the east side, there's a pretty rad flared wide line, maybe 21 feet high that strarts with fists and digresses to full body wiggle up at the Druid Stones. Maybe 12a. Kevin Daniels ended up doing it calling it "Grovelicious", but it's also known as "Off Width Velour" (named for Billy Russel's attire) or "Inner Ear" (the outside lieback is "Van Gogh.") And in the Whitney Portal area there's a cool double overhung lieback or OW boulder that can be TR'ed. It's in the lower campground near the Meysan Lakes trailhead. And then there's a phenomenal line called (what else) "Wide World of Sports" on the Balch Camp Flake "above the road to Black Rock Reservoir." It's a 240 foot flake that detached from the main wall, split, and can be climbed. P-gucci ran a photo of it a while back, and AAJ #70 has a write up on it. Suffer little children...
Matt

Trad climber
SF Bay Area
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 15, 2004 - 03:43pm PT
that huge cam photo reminds me, i thought i once heard a story about some idiot releasing a haul bag full of that really big gear form something like 1000' up on el cap, i heard it was his partner's gear too!


anyone have the details on that one?
sounds like a pretty good ST slander story...

=)
Ben Wah

Social climber
Jul 15, 2004 - 06:14pm PT
Marty(r),

"Viva Gorditas" is my to-date testpiece; Jason Smith (AKA Singer, who is now at geographical antipodes to us) followed it with a hang, and Magoo (Cedar, he'll tell you his name is) flashed it for the second ascent. That was the last ascent of it that I know of. It's pretty cool. I'd like to know whether anyone else has bothered with it.
Ben Wah
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Jul 15, 2004 - 10:31pm PT
"Viva Gorditas"
Hmmm, ... what are the spatial coordinates and other necesary particulars of this climb?
Jay
Clayman

Trad climber
CA
Jul 16, 2004 - 02:50am PT
How many stars would you guys give the Harding Slot?
James

Gym climber
City by the Bay
Jul 16, 2004 - 09:40pm PT
Melissa
Mental block is "easy" for the grade compared to a lot of OW. I've been hanging up in Squamish and got on this route called Pipeline. The first free ascent was free-soloed and its supposed to be just a squeeze chimney. Only 10c right. I went for it 15' above the bolt no bros to help just balls and it started to nibble on my elbow, then bite my ankle, and finally it decided I wasn't tasty enough and spit me out 35' upside down. Makes Twilight Zone feel easy. I think all offwidths are sandbags-it's part of the fun.

Oh yeah There is a really cool 11- offwidth problem in the boulders above Camp 4 for those who are pysched. It's underneath and to the right of a big flat boulder with a tree on it. Cedar did the FA. It's rad Also in Toulumne On Phobos Deimos there is a rad corner as you approach the cliff called The Hipsters Handbook that got sent last year super fun a little dirty but good 10c and some big gear
Ben Wah

Social climber
Jul 17, 2004 - 01:09am PT
Jaybro,

Viva Gorditas is the obvious bombay flake on Lower Brother left of Maple Jam. It can be rapped with one rope.

James,

I also did Pipeline, and found it to be pretty equal in difficulty to Mental Block, not including the thin hands pitch of the latter, which was pretty burly for the grade. Funny how even similar climbs leave people with such different impressions. No wonder rating systems are a matter of such hot debate.
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jul 17, 2004 - 10:22am PT
Hey Pete:

I have been mulling over your question about why there are not more hard off-widths...as if 10c wern't hard enough. I thinking that ow are not generally under rated--at least not at the base 5.10 level, and since rating are comparative, it is unlikely that there is some big gap in the ratings above the base.

So I tried to think of what the hardest ow would have to be. My dream ow: No fists and no knees. Rounded edges but no flair to smear or knee/arm bar. Then really smooth rock, with no edges. Then overhung. Then continuous. (Sick dream)

Then it occurred to me that if there is any variation in the crack it generally gets easier--fist or hand jam if narrower...knee inside if wider.

Cracks like these are very rare, whereas increasingly featureless faces to climb are readily available. So I think that the reason there is an upper limit to ow is driven by the nature of rock, not the rating process itself.

Of course, none of this affects how hard those suckers feel.

Roger
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 12, 2008 - 01:41am PT
bump
Jaybro

Social climber
wuz real!
Nov 12, 2008 - 02:42am PT
Ed, Let's put Via Gorditas on the list for this winter.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 12, 2008 - 02:56am PT
It will be an adventure, unless we can get Ben Wah to provide a topo as it is not in the book... making it all the more alluring!

I'm in, we have to story book the "Wiggle in the Wide" flick...
tomorrow around 6:30pm WW pickup at D/P Bart

bt∨b²
scotty vincik

climber
up north, these days
Nov 12, 2008 - 05:26am PT
Melissa, Mental Block isn't that easy. Super clean 2nd pitch though.
Elephant Rock has some of the coolest wide cracks around. Crack of Doom, Crack of Despair, Left Side of the Worst Error (a chance to sample the free climbing prowess of Warren Harding) All good quality w/ rich history. Good adventures that stick with ya. One of the best places to get very deep inside a chimney. Haven't done the Right side of the Worst Error, rapped down it getting off of hotline (bad choice), looks wild. Also hear Plumb line is good. Pink Dream has a really cool funky sort of wide crack.

Also, Left Side of the Slack, base of El Cap. Long, classic route.
Norwegian

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Nov 12, 2008 - 06:39am PT
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Redlands
Nov 12, 2008 - 10:55am PT
Ed and Jay, you don't need a topo for Viva Gorditas. Walk up to the base of Maple Jam and look up, it's obvious. A 3rd class munge/hummock approach pitch then the goods. Bombayish flare trending left. I think there's even some pics of the FA in the random gallery at the Fetish.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 12, 2008 - 11:04am PT
ah yes, I remember it well...


[url="http://www.widefetish.com/gallery/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=1082&g2_serialNumber=3"]"Ben Wah climbing Viva Gorditas"[/url]


Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Nov 12, 2008 - 11:05am PT
Scotty,

The right side of the Worst Error is quite a bit more interesting and dramatic than the left side. You have to negotiate a slot/roof feature that is really tight. If you don't manage to get inside it it can be terrible. Most climbers can, especially if they relax their core enough. Again, perfect rock.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
Otto, NC
Nov 12, 2008 - 12:21pm PT
Winter core workouts! Can't wait.
Unfortunately I gotta go sell some trees for about a month and a half first.
Jaybro

Social climber
wuz real!
Nov 12, 2008 - 12:50pm PT
okay, I remember those little fatty shots, looks cool, I'm in!






See you at that rendesvous for wide du'jour, Ed, say did you get to meet Ahnold when he stopped by your day job Monday?
scuffy b

climber
On the dock in the dark
Nov 12, 2008 - 01:41pm PT
Gary's crack is set to Roger's ideal width: no fist, no knee.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Nov 12, 2008 - 02:01pm PT
Good thing I am out of state!
Jaybro

Social climber
wuz real!
Nov 12, 2008 - 02:14pm PT
It's not That far from the airport.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Nov 12, 2008 - 02:27pm PT
I've always heard about Crack of Doom but I don't know anyone (except Bridwell) who has actually climbed it. We all did Despair instead. But Doom has the history and I regret not doing it when I was up in the Valley all those years.

Anyone have any Doom stories? Isn't there an unprotected chimney on it? Where is the 5.10??

Also, is the River Boulder really rated only 11c? Seemed a bit stiffer.

JL
scotty vincik

climber
up north, these days
Nov 12, 2008 - 03:11pm PT
Crack of Doom is very worthwhile. I climbed it w/ Surfer Bob a few years ago. First pitch is steep 5.9. Second pitch is the intimidating chimney. It is a narrowing squeeze, very clean, but unprotected for some while. So, you're up there wishing for pro as the crack continues to narrow, and you think you're gonna get squeezed out of the thing, which would be desperate. You'd hit the ground from here, cause the first pitch is short. So you just keep shimmying up, and it relents, and they call it 5.8. Which I can't disagree with. It is a 5.8 which still makes me grin. The cruxes are above, a 5.9+ rattly fingers through a roof/corner, and the 10a bit, which caused me to grab a tree as spindly as my thumb. The "improbable 3rd class" traverse to descend is cool, rounds out the adventure. I always feel like the best way to get to know people is by climbing their routes, and this definitely tells you a bit about Chuck Pratt.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Nov 12, 2008 - 03:20pm PT
I did maybe the 4th ascent of The Crack of Doom back in 1972 with a newcomer from the Northwest, Mark Fielding (sp?). It is an incredible route, extremely burly looking; you feel quite serious doing it.

The first pitch is a very steep black lieback/combo flake and pretty bold looking (old 5.9). The middle pitches are long squeezes with hardly any protection, especially the 3rd pitch. The final pitch is very cool, goes up and right to a short bottoming-out squeeze forcing you outwards and then to surmount its blocked off top to a basin (5.10a/b). This move is protected (back then by a angle pin I remember).

Superb rock, steep as hell, exposed for the first 1.5 pitches, intimidating alcove with the easier Crack of Despair just to the right. Recommended for strong offwidth people who can also get aggressive on other types of climbing, and has to be done without loads of protection. Descend via Real Error rappels or much more preferable, continue to top via Crack of Deliverance (5.8).

I don't think you can rappel the route on a practical level anyway.
martygarrison

Trad climber
The Great North these days......
Nov 12, 2008 - 03:26pm PT
Largo, River Boulder is 11d and all of it! If it was high off t he deck in the middle of a pitch I would think it would go at 12a.
Jaybro

Social climber
wuz real!
Nov 12, 2008 - 03:31pm PT
My friends Kim Weaver and Mike Nickzich did it in the spring of '78? [it was the year Scarpelli got married for the third time, if anyone knows what year that was][Edit,Jim Adair who we met on that trip met his end on the Sentinal approach just before these events - saw him laugh over his cover shot on Climbing on his last evening]

Anyway

They went in from the top, climbed it and were benighted with no bivvy gear. Not sure if they were on top or at the base. They told us later that they were really hating life, that night, in rugby shirts, painter's pants and EBs.

Bob and I, always there for our comrades, went on rescue duty the next day. We found their addidas
Rom™s next to a tree they had rapped in from.

"This sh#t is spooky," said Bob.
We called for a while, then heard them bushwhacking back up, yelling at each other.

We all bailed for a Grateful Dead, Warren Zevon, Elvin Bishop Concert in Santa Barbara. And when we got back I had some sort of escapade with Cilley, while Kim 'n' Nick went for the Steck Salathe. Nick took, "an 80 footer, man," on the Wilson overhang and after a trip to the clinic to get him regrooved™, we slunk out of the Valley in Shame.

That, and the fact that we had to be in Jackson Hole that weekend (or whatever it was) for Bob and Connie's Wedding. Now that part of the trip really was, an epic.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 12, 2008 - 03:46pm PT
Jim Adair died on May 30, 1978.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Nov 12, 2008 - 03:52pm PT
Hey Largo,

There's good stuff about the Crack of Doom in Roper's Camp 4, including a vivid description of the crux OW. Here's a favorite excerpt:

"One fall day in 1962 Sacherer suggested that we do the Crack of Doom, Pratt's superb crack route of a year earlier. Everyone except Sacherer was leery of the climb -- even Robbins and Kor shunned it. I elicited a promise that he'd lead the 5.10 pitch at the top, and off we went. He led the short and strenupus first pitch brilliantly. On the second pitch, an overhanging, totally unprotected, and severely flared slot, I soon found myself sixty feet above Sacherer. I make the mistake of looking down at the naked rope arcing down to my partner and realized that if I popped I'd plummet straight down 120 feet into the forest. I immediately began wiggling downward, scared out of my mind. My friend, the one I'd been so patient with when he started climbing in Berkeley only two years earlier, screamed, "What the hell are you doing?"

"I can't do it," I announced. "I'm coming down."

"Stay up there, you checkensh*t," he shrieked.

I ignored him, fear of death overcoming fear of Sacherer. I slithered , barely in control, down the tight, black depths of the slot and arrived at the belay ledge quivering and with my ass on fire from the too-quick descent. I dropped my pants and craned my neck to see the extent of the abrasions. Sacherer stared at me silently, as if I were a worm. "Rest a minute and get backup there," he finally said in a monotone.

"F*ck you, Frank," I snarled. "You do it!" He refused to go up, muttering something about saving himself for the 5.10, so down we rappelled. On the drive back to Camp 4 Sacherer made small talk as if nothing had happened. Then, as we turned into the entrance, his face tightened: "Tell them it was your fault."

"Of course," I said. "It was."

A knot of people strode up to Sacherer's car as we parked, eager to hear if the fabled Crack of Doom had been conquered. Sacherer gave me a meaningful look and I dutifully confessed. Following my humiliation -- a minor one, really, since I simply told everyone I didn't want to die that particular day -- Sacherer offered me a Coke.
Jaybro

Social climber
wuz real!
Nov 12, 2008 - 03:54pm PT
Well, that nails the year.

Not being flippant, Jim Adair was a really good guy who I only knew for about a week. He had a bunch of good friends there who really thought a lot of him. That says as much as anything, about someone's character.
cragnshag

Social climber
san joser
Nov 12, 2008 - 05:54pm PT
This crack awaits a free ascent:


Harder than Generator Crack....

I'll try to post a TR tonight about this mean crack.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 12, 2008 - 06:06pm PT
Did the Crack of Doom in 70 or 71. I recall it wasn't as continuous as the Crack of Despair but had a harder crux.
scuffy b

climber
Bad Brothers' Bait and Switch Shop
May 20, 2009 - 07:00pm PT
Hey, Whoa,

Was there ever a TR about this crack?
I went and looked at it a couple months ago (by myself).
I marveled, I enthused, I pondered...


Then I acquired a big urge to visit a bathroom and maybe a
bookstore.

It looks a bit steeper in the "flesh." Good, though!!!
Larry

Trad climber
Bisbee
May 20, 2009 - 08:34pm PT
Jay, here are some additional details about Nick's fall, as I remember them. I wasn't with you in the Valley, but I heard about the fall at the wedding.

The sheath of the rope was shredded for several feet. They had to rap off on the shredded rope. Nick was unconscious immediately after the fall. Kim was yelling "Grab that tree, the rope is broken!"

The first words out of Nick's mouth were "Who did we go to the [Dead] concert with?"

I think he'd made it above the Overhang proper.

They'd borrowed the rope from Kim's brother. (I WAS there for this part.) They cajoled him into it, because it was one of the new 165 footers, which they just had to have for The Valley.

I didn't know they'd done Crack of Doom.
hooblie

climber
May 20, 2009 - 10:33pm PT
i don't know when the word beta came to be part of climbing vernacular, but when i first learned it, i linked it with a memory that harkons back to '76 on the left side of moby dick. on the lead up into the guts of the thing, my dignity was still intact but progress was eluding me. yvon appeared, out in the sun, making nice headway on whatever the neighboring crack is. in a conversational tone, as he came abeam my position, he offered i little tidbit about stacking heel to arch in a t-shape and the impass was no more.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
May 20, 2009 - 10:53pm PT
I set off to do the Crack of Doom with Rick Piggott in the Spring of maybe 1977. I was excited to do this classic route by one of my all-time heroes (Pratt, duh!). We figured we'd be able to cross the Merced from the Camp 4 side and told our camping partners as much, who went off to do various other climbs. Well it turns out, we were not able to cross the river, whereupon Rick suggested that we do the DNB on Higher Cathedral Rock, instead. I agreed, and we wrote a note that we left for our camping partners on one of the vehicles telling of our revised plans. We set off at around noon, hoping to complete it that day.

A storm moved in that afternoon that not only prevented us from finishing the climb quickly but the winds were so bad that they blew away the note that we had left for our group. We ended up bivvying maybe 2/3rds of the way up. A cold, no-sleep bivvy in long-sleeve shirts ensued. Our friends didn't know what to think. They thought we had attempted Crack of Doom.

We topped out early the next day, still not having done Crack of Doom.

I haven't been back. I thought I would.
Wade Icey

Trad climber
www.alohashirtrescue.com
Jun 13, 2010 - 03:43pm PT
why not just bump?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 13, 2010 - 04:47pm PT
funny this should float back up...

I've heard that the crack that cragnshag pictured above has been freed by susu who is a helluva climber.

Maybe the TR of the FA and of the FFA would be good to hear!

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 13, 2010 - 06:32pm PT

Now known as Dr. Knuckles 5.11c (R) and Mr. Wyde 5.10c (L).

Freed back in April by John and Susu, respectively.

This is not much of a substitute for a story, but the email exchange went something like this:

Susu: I still think feedback on the grade for Mr. Wide would be wise before settling on 10c. Though, no matter what, I know a grade will be too soft to some, sandbagged to others.

Bob: I recall hearing that someone who likes OW's fell headfirst out of it... so it makes me think 10c may be sandbagged...

John: Sandbag? As far as I have noticed, Sue climbs it differently than Steve and Gary did. She laybacks more through the crux than they did. They were trying kickthroughs and crazy sh#t like that. Those guys are scrappy! Perhaps she fits better? I actually havent tried the entire wide part for some reason (he he) so I have no say in it. Sue is more honest and modest than most in rating is my 2 cents.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jun 13, 2010 - 06:43pm PT
And she strikes one as so pretty and normal.....
Buju

Big Wall climber
the range of light
Jun 13, 2010 - 07:35pm PT
THE NARROWS!!!

Lots of quality...not much grimness. It will make you look good naked though...
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 13, 2010 - 07:40pm PT
Why do people say the Narrows is hard- lean body and big feet and you're good to go.
nutjob

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Jun 13, 2010 - 08:31pm PT
I thought there were 4-6 pitches on SS harder/scarier than the Narrows:
1) pitch before Narrows
2) Wilson overhang
3) pitch after the raps
4) pitch with the 5.9+ squeeze or the 5.8 flake out right... getting to the flake is scary
5) 2 pitches after the narrows (the squeeze into wider chimney). turns out not too hard, but scary committing to go up to the chockstone and 3-bolt belay station. Pancake if you blow it.
6) Glad I followed the face pitch 2 before the narrows

The only "most" I can say about the Narrows pitch is "most cool." But there are lots of cool pitches, so it's a close race.

At least some of these had OW moves, so it's mostly on-topic.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jun 13, 2010 - 10:17pm PT
The narrows isn't hard ( rated 5.7 when we first did it) just unique.

You don't even have to have the 'extreme' Donini build; 5.11 145 lbs, size 40 EB worked for me. -later heavier, 39 Kauk,solo.
scuffy b

climber
Eastern Salinia
Jun 14, 2010 - 04:06pm PT
When I got spit out of MrWyde repeatedly, that was a week after Woodson.
I can say I think Maria's OW and the Crucible are both absolutely
Piss Easy compared to this rig.
susu

Trad climber
East Bay, CA
Jun 14, 2010 - 04:23pm PT
Hah! Thanks Ed and Jaybro! Very nice to hear these kind things from you guys! Yeah, and I'm not very normal afterall, eh?! =) Love it!

Tired Trad Tales

Trad climber
southern cal
Jun 16, 2010 - 12:56am PT
The Narrows not so easy for the grade
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Dec 21, 2011 - 07:13pm PT
Bump for awesomeness & a question:

I TRed the Remnant, Left last weekend. Seems like it is mostly a lieback, but I was wondering if the start is typically tunneled through when led?

This route seems like it can be done without any OW technique if desired, though the lead would be pretty dangerous for the first 20'-30' or so if done this way (no pro, burly, definitely would deck). Would this be a case where liebacking works, but is really 'cheating' or 'poor form' versus climbing it 'properly' in a more secure or protectable technique?

For example, getting started on the tunnel through seems like it would be a lot harder than underclinging/liebacking until you turn the roof 10' up & 15' over, at which point you can slide inside or just cam a leg in to stand on for assisting the lieback (no pro though, so you could still fall out & deck). However, while neither variation is protectable until about 20' or so up at the hand-stacks+knee-jam section (which my friend liebacked instead), it seems like at least the tunnel-through entry is low and once inside it would be hard to pump out or fall out.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Dec 21, 2011 - 07:25pm PT
I went left side in. No tunneling, no liebacking, not much pro, but not that hard, consissitent with the grade/
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
Dec 21, 2011 - 07:40pm PT
When you say tunnel through, do you mean start on the right side and move
to the left? I have done that with no problem. You reach the left side
about ten feet off the ground.

However, the OW start on the left side is just not that bad, not nearly as
bad as it looks. It's really steep, but with really secure arm bars and
chicken wings, and only a few moves before you can get your chest inside.

I've never finished the climb, the crux has always been dripping when I've
been there, but I've gone up and down the start a few times.

There's a big thread on the Left side of the Remnant (formerly known as
Another Country):

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=466853&msg=1131104#msg1131104
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
Dec 21, 2011 - 10:02pm PT
Yeah. What I was imagining was starting on the right where the flake comes down low enough to reach your head in and get started on an armbar or chickenwing, back to the wall (facing out from the cliff), and maybe I could get high enough to throw a left hip in there and lock off to rotate my lower torso in, after which it looks like a reasonable squeeze up and right (facing out, or up and left if looking at the route from outside) to the edge of the flake where you'd continue ascending left-side in until it pinches off. I was thinking this through, but with a TR I was lazy and tried underclinging & liebacking the start until I could wriggle back in after the first roof. This was easy enough but very insecure if I were leading. I feel like I should go back and do it right!

The crux at the smaller roof was more awkward than it appeared from below and took me a little messing around to figure out - a very short set of moves to find a jam to move into an undercling/lieback to step over & turn the side of the roof and get back to jamming in the corner. It wasn't wet when I was there last weekend but there was a good amount of dirt & moss to clean off for the feet to lieback some sections. The top has a nice hand to finger crack.

BTW, Remnant Right was a fun lead and nice for learning to push a #6 C4. I don't see why it doesn't have any stars in the Reid Guide.

Thanks for the link.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Dec 21, 2011 - 11:24pm PT
Wyde wednesday style bump
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