Zodiac -- then and now ..


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 1 - 20 of total 139 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Gym climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - May 28, 2007 - 12:41am PT
So I am finally back home after a great week in the valley ..

A TR will be forth-coming, and a slideshow also .. but meanwhile i wanted to make some 1st person comments on the zodiac cleanup ..

AWESOME IDEA!!! -- those guys did this route a great service in my opinion..

.. the quality of the route is ALOT higher than when i did it 4 years ago .. -- the difficulty is also higher.

I'll do a pitch by pitch comparison soon in a TR -- I'm not sure how many folks have repeated the route since the cleanup, but I wanted to see first hand what the big deal was about .. and i've gotta say that i really enjoyed the cleanup. -- the route is not a clip-up anymore, there are severeal heads-up sections, (DFU) ..

    on top of that i'd like to suggest that we keep the zodiac clean .. i cleaned up most of the fixed gear from pitch 7 and 9 .. -- 5+ pins, 1 large beak, and 3 heads that my partner had placed, (came out fairly easy)

.. the addition of fixed gear from our ascent was 1 head that i welded into pitch 8 ..

.. the route requires minimal nailing in its current state (for the average climber -- some dude posted that he did it clean a little while ago -- IMO that requires a large commitment) .. (i nailed 4 times (pitch 8, 10, 13) -- but did not lead 7 or 9) -- though i think that those 2 pitches require at most 3 or so placements ..

Mountain climber
May 28, 2007 - 12:58am PT
But dude, you're a Shortest Straw vet at this point. Are you sure your standards are fair? Would you have made it on your first attempt if in current condition? I think I'm being squeezed out of the game. :-)

want to see your slide show though.
feelio Babar

Trad climber
Sneaking up behind you...
May 28, 2007 - 01:02am PT
by "cleaning" that gear...does it now go clean easier...or will it need to be re-nailed again and again?


Gym climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 28, 2007 - 01:02am PT
.. thats something that i was saving for my TR .. i think i would have been in a heap of trouble climbing the current zodiac as my first wall solo ..

.. i think pitch 9 and pitch 10 would have been pretty damm hard to get through that first time .. -- i dont know what the outcome would have been .. but most likely i would have lobbed hard on those pitches .. perhaps even met Mr Werner personally...

.. to answer the other question (does claening the gear mean it needs to nailed again?) -- that depends on the climbers level of proficiency -- its always easieest to pound in an angle or a lost arrow -- but those same placements will almost always take an offset alien, a camhook, a lowe-ball, or an offset brassie.. --

.. when the cleanup crew went by .. they removed alot of non FA bolts and rivets .. so one of the things that i found "FUN" this time around was figuring out how the climbing was supposed to be done without those rivets.. on a large number of occassions it was hooking .. which IMO made zodiac more enjoyable to me now.

I was disappointed to find that somemone has stolen the hangers from several bolts ont he route though .. totally lame! -- and that someone thought it was a good idea to pound a head into a bathook hole! ..
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
May 28, 2007 - 01:05am PT
Hey Ricardo..

..Congrats on another ascent! And thanks for the radio call when we were over on the Tower..it was great to hear from ya, mate..

..Planning a rematch on the Captain in another week or so....

..Maybe Tom will take pictures..

Big Wall climber
El Cap
May 28, 2007 - 01:48am PT

Good work Ricardo! I also enjoyed the "cleaner" Zod when I did it last.

Big Wall climber
Phoenix, AZ
May 28, 2007 - 02:29am PT
Looking forward to reading your comparison. Congrats on the climb!


Trad climber
May 28, 2007 - 02:49am PT
"i cleaned up most of the fixed gear from pitch 7 and 9 ... and 3 heads that my partner had placed, (came out fairly easy)"

I have very little granite aid experience so could easily be wrong but I always thought it was bad to clean heads, given that they are likely mashed anyway and placeing a new one can damage the rock.

Gym climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 28, 2007 - 12:24pm PT
usually you leave the heads in place, since cleaning a welded head would most likely just break the cable and leave a dead head.

.. in this case, my partner had just learned how to place heads a few days ago .. and i pulled them for a few reasons ..

1 - to see how well he placed them
2 - they looked poorly placed and i didn't feel like leaving obvious time bombs for someone else

.. they cleaned very easily .. -- i didn't clean any of the fixed heads that were already there ..

Trad climber
May 28, 2007 - 12:54pm PT
nice job man! looking forward to your trip report, had some beers with my mates the other day, and they were all sorts of psyched to see if i would head out and climb that with them towards the end of the summer.

i'm glad to here its a bit heads up! my gut reaction was to try to talk them into something harder, but it looks like such a classic route that i really want to do it.

lol, with chicagolands 'a' team all on the injured list, the 'b' team feels an obligation to at least go send somtin! hahaha!


Ice climber
Ashland, Or
May 29, 2007 - 05:04pm PT
congrats on your send ricardo!

Gym climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 30, 2007 - 11:59am PT
.. in my opinion.. post cleanup .. there are a few places where you dont want to blow it ..

Pitch 1 - you can deck here now.. (test those heads well -- i had one of the fixed heads pull while testing).

Pitch 7 - of course the tower was always heads up. -- right now it has about 2 or 3 pieces of fixed gear. -- including a fixed pin up high that caught my partners fall from the exit moves.

Pitch 10 - heads up if you do the nipple clean, this is as before though no real change, other than when i did it originally it was fully fixed, and this time it had only 1 fixed nut about 2/3rd of the way through. -- bad ass pitch to do clean. I got about 2/3rds of the way to the nipple through on cam hooks , and backcleaned aliens, and then finally placed a sawed off pin to keep me from swinging into my belayer.

pitch 14 - although its C1 -- bring the right size gear.. doing this wide stuff with only #4's .. (4 of them) .. was in my opinion sporting .. a #5 would have had me far more secure .. the #4's are almost fully expanded in some placements, and you'll have about 20 to 30 foot runouts in between placements if you only bring 4 #4's .. solid C1 crack --- also a part of this flake is going to break soon IMO ..

Gym climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 30, 2007 - 12:20pm PT
i equalized the first 2 heads .. and then proceeded to test them hard (not with a bounce test, but with a stomp on one aider).. (since they are so close to the ground) -- the top one fell out --

i'd rather have a head fail under testing -- i feel so much more secure when i've placed the head than on a fixed head.

Big Wall climber
May 30, 2007 - 11:11pm PT
Regarding the first pitch.

I was the first person to climb the first pitch after it was cleaned, and at the time there was only one head fixed (the first). after that first head, the thin seam to the next rivet was all deep enough to take solid beaks. Within a couple weeks of the cleanup, these beak placements had all been filled with copper. Seems like they still are... For future parties climbing the route: if you pull one of those fixed heads in a test or fall or whatever, don't replace it, use a beak. Safer for you (and the next guy), and better for the rock. Still a potentially dangerous pitch though in any event, so be careful.

Just my opinion, others' may vary...

Trad climber
Portland, OR
May 31, 2007 - 01:12am PT
Hi Ricardo,
When you are talking about pitch 14, and the #4s, do you mean the old style Camalots in the purple color? Thanks.

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
May 31, 2007 - 01:56pm PT
Zodiac use to go clean all the time...now it's ok to bang as many pins on it just cause it seems like the right thing to do....

Trad climber
San Francisco, Ca
May 31, 2007 - 02:14pm PT
Ricardo, thanks for the report...

Disclaimer: I haven't climbed the route post clean up. The initial "Cleaning" of fixed heads in good condition wasn't a good idea IMO. If you feel it makes a huge difference in the quality of the route if you have to personally place a handful of heads or bring extra big cams for p13. I guess it makes a big difference to you. Without the p13 bolts I would just bring the extra cams -still C1. I can't comment on the removed rivets -unless I know where they were removed from.

I'm sure that most of the route benefited from the cleaning, it had sections full of unusable and unaesthetic fixed gear -broken pins that actually made it harder to climb (I'm remembering in particular, the Black Tower pitch full of broken crap). Most of the other fixed gear that was on the route it wasn't in places where it was difficult to place gear anyway (for instance, the underside of the nipple pitch, before it thins out). There were also chopped bolts that I hooked past pre-cleaning. Were those replaced? It still required plenty of hooking and specialized gear (offsets and lowe balls) for a n00b like me to climb it "clean" in '03.

I'm responding mostly because of the uproar of righteous indignation that so many people were climbing Zodiac that came out mostly in 04' -people said it was only possible because of fixed gear... I just don't know if that is true based on what I've heard. And it irks me because I was determined back then and don't really want to climb it again now. I attribute the surge in interest during that time to the Hubers, Ammon's ascents and Ricardo's ascent, not fixed gear. (I climbed it because I was inspired by Ricardo). Ricardo nailed on it the first time... and nailed on it the second time as well. We had plenty of iron and not a problem to use it if needed back then. My partner almost nailed on the nipple, where it thins out -he fully intended to do so. He was going to place a knife blade and then... dropped it, ended up using a cam hook instead.

Big Wall climber
El Cap
May 31, 2007 - 02:49pm PT

Thanks Alik, you beat me to it. I've never placed a single head on the Zodiac and other than the corner (pitch 13, I think) where Beyer chopped, it shouldn't need any… not sure because they’ve been there since he placed them. Anyway, I enjoyed the route last year more than ever before.

The duct tape, endless multi colored and sun beaten tat, cheater webbing, bail biners and slings, fixed nuts, pins, heads, rurps with shoelaces attached to them, it was all pretty embarrassing. I will try and find the photo of all the garbage they cleaned up there and post it.

The Zodiac has never seen a clean ascent. It doesn't make since to claim to do it clean but rely on others to do your dirty work by clipping fixed gear. With that rational you could make every hard nailing route "clean".

Oh and, Ricardo… try two #4’s, super sporty!

Trad climber
May 31, 2007 - 05:18pm PT
Sounds like a great deal of work has been put in on it. Great job!

I think cleaning it and restoring it as close to the FA left it is definitely something to strive for. I think some of the comments here are right though in that some people will undoubtedly nail more on the route without so much fixed junk up there.

When we did the RNWF of half dome last year I was amazed at the amount of tat on that route. After a while our motto became "clip n go, don't look just clip n go!" It would be super to have done the route and not run into fixed gear throughout the whole thing like the clip up that we ran across in the zig zags.

Then again when we got on the Nose there was nothing fixed in the stove legs which made my lead on two #3's on the spicy side for me :)

Ammon is right though, fixed gear is nice but it sure isn't "clean", it just seems more sanitized because you didn't hammer in the piece yourself.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 10, 2007 - 02:00pm PT
From El Cap Report 6/8/07 thread.
Bravo Oli and Chris for some fine English mettle and a hammerless ascent of the newly cleaned Zodiac. A solid committment goes a long way toward a memorable adventure. Good job gents.
Perk up your ears locals and allow a little inspiration to creep in. The Zodiac was once A5 and deserves a little effort and respect while repeating it. Hammerless means hammerless, a very different prospect with respect to adventure than hammer in the bottom of the bag though the impact is the same. I am calling BS on the fixed gear means no meaningful clean ascent ploy. Just another weak rationalization for not trying. Clean means do no damage and leave no trace of your passage. Simple enough.
Sack up wall climbers and stop viewing rock scarring as somebody else's problem. It is everybody's problem and responsibility to preserve and maintain the big wall environment to avoid the ugliness where humanly possible. Honestly do your best first before settling for destructive force.
Messages 1 - 20 of total 139 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