Central Pillar of Frenzy - A Whimsical Trip Report

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Gunks Guy

Trad climber
Rhinebeck, NY
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 26, 2007 - 12:42pm PT
whimsical -
a: resulting from or characterized by whim or caprice; especially lightly fanciful
b: subject to erratic behavior or unpredictable change

A few years back I spent 3 weeks in Yosemite Valley with some friends. The first week was going to be spent climbing with my friend Dave. We had come to the Valley together 3 or 4 times during the prior years and had always had a blast. For the final 2 weeks several other friends were planning to join us including Dave’s new, non-climber, girlfriend.

Well, as luck (or should I say Love) would have it, the two lovebirds couldn’t bear to be separated for the first week so I found myself for the first week of my climbing trip spending it listening to the sounds of young love (or should I say lust) emanating from the, oh so ever soundproof, walls of their nylon tent. Oh well, I might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even I could tell that waiting on Dave to fulfill my climbing desires was a losing proposition. Thank god for the Camp 4 bulletin board.

Now, truth be told, I did manage to get a few stellar climbs in and met some fine folks in the process. But still, there was a lot of down time and I was pretty frustrated, when along comes the California surfin dude, Dhuuude for short. Wild hair and a valley boy accent, he was up for anything. I met him because he wanted to borrow a pair of ascenders so he could hook up with some other guy to do some big wall. Cool, a big wall climber and like dhuuude, he was like totally solid on tens, ya know. Ye ha, I thought I’d hit the jackpot.

I kind of remember that he wanted to run right over and speed climb the Nose or something like that. I had less lofty goals and suggested Central Pillar of Frenzy. I figured Central Pillar would be a good low stress intro for Dhuuude and I to get to know each other. He was stoked and I was psyched since he agreed to lead the first pitch (the only one I don't really care for). Plans were set.

Next day, Dhuuude starts up the first pitch. Pretty soon it becomes apparent that, well, maybe he isn't like, ya know, totally solid on tens. Actually, it becomes pretty apparent that he isn't like, ya know, totally solid on nines, or eights, or whatever. The first pitch goes at a well protected, albeit awkward nine. About 10 feet up he begins to mutter. Pretty soon the mutter turns to swearing, and then swearing to whining, and whining to whimpering.

He got his first piece of gear in at about eight feet up. By the time he'd made it to fifteen feet, he'd gotten another four pieces in and resorted to blatant hanging and pulling on the gear. An two or three hours or so later, he was at the belay. Good thing he brought that big wall rack with him.

When I got there the first words out of his mouth were a shrill: "I want to go down". Now normally, I'm a pretty understanding partner, but this guy passed himself of as some big experienced climber and I'd turned down several other people after I'd told old Dhuuude that I'd go climbing with him. I knew if we went down now, my day was shot, so I was a little bit, shall we say, unhappy about the prospect of going down. After explaining that it was my lead and that all he would have to do would be to toprope the next pitch, he agreed to go on.

Let's just say that the second pitch wasn't much better for old Dhuuude than the first one was. The book calls it a nine, but it's pretty straightforward. Well, old Dhuuude fell, and hung, and called for tension all the way up. I kept him on a tight leash because I knew he was nervous, and frankly, I didn't want him bailing on me.

The belay station at the top of the second pitch was a pretty good stance, but since I was afraid of old Dhuuude bailing, I wanted him to be as comfy as possible when he got there. I shifted all the way to one side so that I was basically in a semi-hanging belay. Now picture this, he has this pretty good two person stance all to himself, and there I am, hanging out on this shitty old rats nest of slings. Of course, as soon as he gets up, he wants out. I try to reason with him. I beg, I plead. I offer to lead all the pitches (pretty generous of me, huh?).
Pretty soon I realize that I'm in a losing game and relent to go down. Well, no sooner do the words pass my lips when all of a sudden I see the flash of cold steel. A silver blade slashes through the air as Dhuuude starts sawing away at the webbing that is my only connection to this earth!

I was perfectly reasonable with him as I explained the laws of physics, climbing etiquette, etc. to him. That was of course, AFTER, I ripped him a new as#@&%e and shoved his head into it. But when I found out that the reason he was cutting the webbing I was hanging on was to replace it because he didn't trust it to rappel on, I was much more understanding, NOT!

Well, the story has a happy ending……....I survived.

Actually, there is a little postscript. A couple of days later I was climbing with this Canadian up on Camp 4 Wall. He starts telling me how he's going to go do some big wall in a few days with some laid back California Dhuuude as soon as the Dhuuude can borrow some ascenders....

Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
Otto, NC
Jun 26, 2007 - 12:48pm PT
Hideous. Perhaps we should start a 'worst pickup partner ever' thread?

Mookie, are you listening?
Ksolem

Trad climber
LA, Ca
Jun 26, 2007 - 01:00pm PT
Wow. The first time I ever did that route was also with a partner I picked up in camp 4. His name was Mike and he made hats. Anyway, I led P1 in standard safe style. He came up, laughed at me, and took off up P2 and did not put in a single piece of gear. I realized this was going to get wild, and somehow I had to top that, so when we got to the usual rap, I played dumb and said "what? you want to bail..??" So we continued to the top. All I can recall is that the pitch above the normal bail off was my lead and it was kind of crazy. And somewhere up there we had the added treat of being able to watch as someone stole our sh*t from the base.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jun 26, 2007 - 01:01pm PT
Pretty nice read there Gunks Guy.
For your sake, I wish it were fiction, but the fact that it is actual reportage gives it a nice kick.
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jun 26, 2007 - 01:06pm PT
"And somewhere up there we had the added treat of being able to watch as someone stole our sh*t from the base."

That's so brutal.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 26, 2007 - 01:16pm PT
Great slice of Valley life.
spyork

Social climber
A prison of my own creation
Jun 26, 2007 - 01:17pm PT
Is Gunks Guy named Walt? I climbed with a guy named Walt who told me a similar story. It sounded funny as hell, unless you were there, hehe.

Sounds like the guy in front of me on Leaning Tower. "I climbed Tissasack, I started solo up NA wall, etc." Sometimes smoke is just smoke I guess...

Hey Mel, I'm gonna meet Jaybro at IW tonight. Show up and you can laugh as I flail once again on the thin fingers.

Steve
Gunks Guy

Trad climber
Rhinebeck, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 26, 2007 - 04:23pm PT
Hey Steve,

I am one and the same Walt. I see you posting here occasionally. Great to see you are out there climbing. My kids have slowed me down quite a bit. Serves me right for having kids after I officially became an old guy. I will be in the Valley the week before Labor day. If you are around maybe we could hook up for a day of climbing. I'm looking to escape from the family for a couple of days to climb.

Walt
spyork

Social climber
A prison of my own creation
Jun 26, 2007 - 04:51pm PT
I'll be here. I'll bring my knife...
Gunks Guy

Trad climber
Rhinebeck, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 26, 2007 - 04:53pm PT
Rhodo,

I like the worst pickup partner ever idea. Dhuuuude was definitely my worst. Most have been great.

What about worst pickup line ever: Hey man, you got a nice rack.

One guy I hooked up with once (man, it feels weird to say that!) was this guy named Joseph who claimed to have invented Rock-n-Rollers. Super nice guy. Him and his girlfriend had just sold everything, bought a van, and had started the week before on a yearlong climbing trip. His girlfriend informed him the day before I met him that she was pregnant and they might have to call off their trip. Man, can you spell bummer. I always wondered what happened.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Jun 26, 2007 - 07:50pm PT
"I'll bring my knife"

LOL!!!!!


Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jun 26, 2007 - 08:42pm PT
Thanks for the offer, spyork, but I was just there last night. My parnter didn't do anything weird and even bought me dinner afterwards, so I've got no relevant story.
My Name Is Drew

Big Wall climber
Dogtown, LosAngeles, CA.
Jun 26, 2007 - 08:47pm PT
Since when did any of the first 5 pitches get bumped to 5.10?
All I remember is 5.9 handcrack delight.
Off White

climber
Tenino, WA
Jun 26, 2007 - 09:04pm PT
Well, like hey Walt, I just didn't really groove on climbing with you and your east coast vibe, ya know?
Gunks Guy

Trad climber
Rhinebeck, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 26, 2007 - 10:15pm PT
Hey, Whitey, Dhuuuude, I didn't know that was you! Wannna go solo Astroman?
GOclimb

Trad climber
Boston, MA
Jun 27, 2007 - 09:44am PT
Great TR, thanks for sharing!

GO
rockermike

Mountain climber
Berkeley
Jun 27, 2007 - 12:16pm PT
Pitch 3 roof has always been the crux for me (5.7d?). I've been "bailed on" more than once after that first pitch. It ain't gym climbing, and it ain't crack climbing, and it ain't face climbing...

Bad camp 4 whore partners; best trick is to go for a wall sight-unseen. On the prow my partner of one day (competent enough I'll admit)has to spend two nights on shitty little sloping ledges.I had my single point "cushy" hammock (state of the art at the time).By the last day he refused to speak to me - period - not a word. And he kept dropping my gear - accident - yea...

But I've also met some of my best partners off Camp 4 board. They come in all flavors.
Off White

climber
Tenino, WA
Jun 27, 2007 - 04:44pm PT
It was just such a good story that I couldn't resist trying to shoehorn myself into it, even if the role isn't that choice.

Here's a couple pics of the route in question circa 1978

Pitch 1

Pitch 2 on the way down

The snow cone makes the first pitch easier, right?
Gunks Guy

Trad climber
Rhinebeck, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 27, 2007 - 05:30pm PT
Here's my "first ascent" about fifteen years after your pic...

Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 27, 2007 - 07:44pm PT
Hey Off White and Gunks Guy, thanks for posting those pictures. A flood of memories. None involving bad partners, so maybe this is true thread drift. Cool nonetheless.

Best, Roger
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