Say it ain't so.
My ropes neeeeeeeeever get stuck.
Or loaded with cactus spines.
Or wet and sandy turning into flexible rat tail files.
And the proper descent is aaaaaaaalways obvious.
And nobody eeeeeeever leaves misleading slings on the wrong anchors,
And the anchors are aaaaaaaaaalways so bomber,
And there's never any bushwacking,
Rainbow Wall - Woke up on Over the Rainbow Ledge to a storm some Thanksgiving weekend. That route is a watercourse and the hike out is through a riverbed. Getting down and back to the car took all day and lasted well past sunset. We were soaked the entire time. Putting on dry clothes was pure bliss.
Mescalito (Red Rocks) in the dark - mantled onto a ledge and didn't see the pointy plant (agave?) before I got a puncture about 1 cm from my eye that started spurting blood. Bivy resulted, but at least there was plenty of fuel for a fire.
Lone Pine Peak - I lost my shoes on route and had to do the talus/scree descent and hike out in my climbing shoes
Bailed off the North Ridge of the Grand Teton in a snow storm. Heavy wet snow not conducive to downclimbing. Had to leave gear and last rap was off an ice bollard. Actually wondered if we were living or dying. Easy to laugh about it now but it was serious at the time and a genuine "experience builder".
Karl's comments on NDG and the first cut ring true.
7 years ago, I had just arrived in the states, and RA was my intro to Yosemite climbing. No SuperTaco back then - so descent route was scribble on a piece of paper by a friend.
We ran out of water at top a RA, with no filter or tablets, and too dumb to realize that ground spring was prbably OK. We were terrified of giradia, so we moved on.
We then came across the gully on the RA side of Washington's Column. We started to descend until we found the sign on the wall describing "danger of death" or some other pleasantry. We then debated for an hour as to wheather this sign was meant for hikers or dumb ass climbers.
We then climbed to the top of the column to get a better view. At the summit, we found a black PVC tube with something sloshing around in it (remember we were a brit trad climbers with no idea what was involved in aid climbing). My partner was tempted to pop it open to see if there was anything to drink, but forunately I had guessed at its pupose before it came to that.
We moved on and were finally releived to find the tatty piece of rope that leads into the gully itself.
It was dark by the time we reached the woods, and I was grateful for the reflector pins that have been stuck in trees to help you navigate back to the trail.
A year or 2 later I was staying with a mate at the Ranger Club. We left the house at about 8; walked to the foot of the climb; roped every pitch after the 5th; descended the gully; and were back at the house, sharing a beer shortly after 4.
I think the challenge with ND is the first time route find - find the gully and then find a way down it. Once you have done it once, it is easy (in day light atleast).
The gully of Mid Cathedral was "interesting", and I haven't done it since the rock fall a few years back. I have heard it is even more "interesting" now.
Weather is always a bitch - I had an experience on some route on Pingora in Windrivers a few years back. We got caught in a thunderstorm, and the wet ropes kept getting stuck. It seemed to go for hours, but I don't think that weather really counts.
Finally, worst descent for me was a walk out of Palisades. We had climbed V-notch that day, but needed to get back to car. We were late getting down and hiked past midnight to the trail head. We managed to keep it together with the thought of a greasy burger and fries waiting for us at the 24hr Denny's in Bishop. When we finally got there, we were told that is was the annual kitchen steam clean, and we could only have soup and a salad. I mean I had just burned 6000 calories and they were offering me soup and a salad!!! To this day, I still gag at the smell of cheese and broccoli soup.
Agazzi Col, west side. We precariously ascended the east side with full packs on steep snow praying not to slip and loose precious elevation and maybe some skin. View was great. Then the decent; perilously loose to the point that we were forced to stay no more than 7-feet from each other as rocks and scree flung downward around us. Hideous. We renamed it “Agony Col.” It took us an hour or more, picking our way.
Arrowhead Arête. For me, everything was just fine until the steep gully ended at a 4-foot chock stone festooned with probably 30 sun-bleached slings tied around the rappel tree or rock (I can’t remember). The late Walt Shipley placed yet another (“This looks pretty crappy”), and we each made the awkward swing/rope-scrape to get into mid-air beneath the chock stone for the full 160+ overhanging cave-drop; the rope was freely swinging somewhere above the landing ledge. The elasticity of the rope did get us each to the landing with a minimal no-rope drop finale, but it was altogether unnerving.
Edit: Arrowhead Arête must be on the "Olde English 800 Classic" list, as it looms prominantly in view above the Deli. It was there Walt talked me into this fine outing.
1) Almost anything by headlamp.
2) Anything by headlamp when you don't have a headlamp because you didn't bring a headlamp because you were supposed to be off of the thing before you needed a headlamp.