Queen of Spades FA (Mountain 106)


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Trad climber
Feb 16, 2008 - 07:36pm PT
Yes Pete, we did the "tunnel" with the rope out the hole trick. It is the only way to cross 60 feet of blank rock. It is the weirdest maneuver I have ever done on a climb!! It baffles me how Cole managed to figure it out on the first ascent.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 17, 2008 - 01:10am PT
Great thread!

Charles really relished that feature of the route. That tunnel, the opposing hooks move and the torrential downpour at the summit overlaps are what stand out in my memory. Almost every pitch was old school A4! Very cool second ascent for you and the Wide Eyed Boy, as I liked to call Sean. Whenever we were hanging out telling tall tales about hairy aid climbing his eyes would just about leap out when things got interesting. I bet he was especially dilated when he snapped off the tip of the Space Flake on Zenith while soloing the beast.

Is that third photo of the stud traverse on pitch ten?

Trad climber
Feb 17, 2008 - 09:58am PT

Yes, bolt traverse, pitch 10.

The first two photos are pitch 7.

The second to last photo is looking down on "The Pier" at the top of topo pitch 2, which is actually the top of pitch 3. There is a whole pitch missing from the topo. Pitch 2 is actually a long steep wide crack, mixed free and aid.

The "tunnel" can be seen in that photo. Just to the right of the climber standing on the ledge there is a spot where the crack behind the slab gapes open a bit. That is where you squeeze in. From there you chimney 60 feet straight up into the darkness, guided only by a spot of light that comes in through a hole in the slab. The hole is about 4" in diameter. Luckily, it is directly above The Pier so that when you feed your haul line out through the hole the end makes its way back to the belay. After chimneying back down to the ledge, it is then possible to jug up the haul line to the hole. From there a shallow corner is just within reach.



Gym climber
Otto, NC
Feb 17, 2008 - 11:22am PT
What a cool adventure! Miles of groaning flakes...

Leave the glow sticks for the roadside stuff. I wouldn't feel that great hanging out at the base of that thing one second longer than I had to, anyhow. Not exactly a party spot.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 17, 2008 - 12:48pm PT
I was scoping Charles from Mirror Lake while he was drilling that ladder on ten. I was in the habit of riding him about the quality of the drilled anchors that he left behind. In this case, he was at it again with a line of bare studs and not a hanger in sight. Rather than place nice keyholes, he was leaving them out and using tieoffs which had me grumbling away down below.
At about the midpoint on the sideways ladder it dawned on him that the tieoffs likely wouldn't hold real loads in a fall and that he needed to improve the situation the old fashioned bonehead way. He took his hammer and began bending the projecting metal upwards! He knew that it was bad news and said he could hear me howling at him in his conscience. Little did he know that that the shrill voice was already fully activated far below as I watched and cursed his laziness.
We had a good laugh about it later.

Trad climber
Feb 17, 2008 - 03:35pm PT
I think the Queen had about 100 bolt, all 1/4" button heads. All but one or two were very well placed. Hangers were not employed anywhere except on one bolt at each belay station. The other belay bolt was a bare stud. Sean and I added a 5/16 button head with a stainless hanger to nearly every station.

Overall I was very impressed with how clean Charles left the route. We found the remains of two small heads that he apparently broke while trying to remove them, and one fixed pin which he must have simply overlooked when cleaning, it was easy to remove. Otherwise the route was pristine.

Bill Mc Kirgan

Social climber
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Feb 18, 2008 - 12:44pm PT
Wow, that was an exciting story to read. Tough on the eyes, but worth it.

Where was it published?

Mark -- those 2nd ascent pics are fantasic. Please post up with more when you can.


la la land
Feb 18, 2008 - 03:16pm PT
On the second ascent you guys added that many bolts???

I would love to see more pictures Mark! As I said I'm stuck on my ass not moving around much. Probably the only reason I am back to posting! Sean has got be be a damn good expando climber! At least post some pics of his rad clothes.

Social climber
The Deli
Jun 3, 2008 - 10:20pm PT
Is Nick up there right now? What a sick looking route!

Best of luck, Monkey Man!!

Big Wall climber
Auburn, CA
Jun 4, 2008 - 12:20am PT
'The monkeys are sending' . . For sure Nicki is up there like a mofo as we speak - right on man! oohh oohh!

Santa Cruz
Jun 4, 2008 - 03:50am PT
Nicoli is up there now.

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jun 4, 2008 - 08:09am PT
Awesome! Hard on the eyes yes, must be getting old.
Bump for a cool climbing thread.
Here's my bolt and hook traverse.

x. ... .x .. . . .. .x... . . .. .. ..x..x x x. x. .x.. ..

beneath the valley of ultravegans
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 2, 2009 - 09:18pm PT
Blinny 1 and 2--what happened to those photos?
bubble boy

Big Wall climber
Apr 2, 2009 - 11:27pm PT

Tacoma, Toyota
Apr 3, 2009 - 01:11am PT
my eyes! im blind!! what a story. proud send. great to hear the behind the scenes stories on some of these fabled routes. Now I wanna her about Real Nose and Central Scrutinizer!

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Apr 3, 2009 - 02:43am PT
An incredible effort and equally well told.
Was the route named for the Pushkin short story?
Must have been the reason the russkies chose to
do it.

Boulder climber
Jul 10, 2011 - 03:31pm PT
Any hope of reposting the missing photos?

Gym climber
wussing off the topout on Roadside Attraction
Jul 11, 2011 - 02:47am PT
My eyes! I can't see anything!


Trad climber
Jul 11, 2011 - 10:07am PT
About the Queen of Spades photos. . . for years Blanchard and I shared "BLINNY" (his nickname) because TheTaco couldn't handle having 2 avatars per email addy. . . then somebody hacked that account and some weird stuff happened. . . then I created eKat (dirtineye made that one up for me). . . and Blanchard and I changed webhosting for BlanchardGuitars.com and all kinds of photos (you used to have to host your own to post photos here) took the chop. . . so that's why the Queen photos are gone.

I'll see if he's into rescanning them. . .


Sorry dads.

It was a RAD route. . . he did a professional level slide show of it - complete with music - and people loved it. He used to show it a MMSA for me and my environmental ed/interp program on the INYO. It as a crack up, we'd hang his portaledge from the climbing wall at Main Lodge and do the show out there on the lawn. HUNDREDS of summer ski area visitors would come and watch it. . . pretty weird show for mainstream "Traditional Forest Visitors."



Big Wall climber
total Disarray
Nov 22, 2011 - 01:47am PT
Serious BUMP.
Half Dome is REAL. The real Deal. Beware the Queen Of Spades.
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