The Zodiac Cleanup - Photo Essay and Hole Count Chart


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Social climber
The Deli
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 15, 2007 - 07:58pm PT
Well, here we are – December, 2007. The forum appears to be in need of climbing-related material. Why not time-warp back a few years ‘cuz I never had the chance to scan my slides… until my sister moved out of the country and kicked down everything she had that runs on 120! Score mediocre slide scanner (it’s OK but not great…). Cool deal. And, I have an ‘indoors’ to scan… So here we go! Hope it keeps your wall psyche alive this winter!!!

August/September 2004
Bryan Law, Gabe McNeely, and Ivo Ninov

(…borrowed from somewhere on the net…)

1. The view from the base, with our fixed lines on Shortest Straw.

2. Chillin’ at the ledge below the Black Tower, belay 6.

3. OK, enough lounging in the portaledge!!! Back to work!
Gabe’s helmet: “Just a Pirate Chasing Booty” Yup.

4. Ivo freeing the lower portion of the Black Tower pitch in approach shoes with the Cyclops Eye looming beyond. (Ivo also freed pitch 14, the wide flake above Peanut Ledge, without clipping any of the added ‘chicken’ bolts. He did, however, put on his climbing shoes for that pitch. Bring yer wide cams!)

5. Morning coffee at the bivy, belay 7.

6. Chillin’ at belay 7, just below where the not-so-steep meets the steep.

7. An original (FA) 5/16” buttonhead at belay 6 of Shortest Straw. The two hangers at the belay were cut, flattened, and rotated upside down. This vandalism appears to be a misguided attack on the Huber’s free variation. Beyond that, ONE only knows…

8. Screwed up bolt? Got tuning forks? POP!

9. One of three shiny new replacements, courtesy of the ASCA.
(Don’t forget to donate to your favorite ‘No-Pro-Org’ this holiday season…!!!)

10. Time to clean a few fixed pins! Gabe jugging, Ivo at belay 9.

11. Gabe… just being a Monkey. Ivo at belay 9.

12. More portaledge lounging… belay 9.

13. Ivo heel-hooking The Nipple for the camera, pitch 10.

14. Ivo cleaning his own lead and Gabe playing Space Monkey, pitch 10.

15. Air – Belay 11. Fixed line courtesy of Gabe’s handiwork.

16. Ivo on the radio to the Monkeys, Peanut Ledge. Photo by “Platinum” Rob Miller (aka the big air pastry delivery man). Thanks Rob!

17. What a pile of junk! Got booty?
It took quite a bit of work to remove all of this stuff – something that I could have never done on my own. I would like to thank Gabe and Ivo again, for signing on to the controversial mission in the first place, for putting in a SuperMonkey effort, and for being great climbing partners (not to mention great friends…). We had a lot of fun up there!

Zodiac Hole Count Chart, 2004

This info would probably be a little more relevant, had I posted it shortly after the cleanup. Oh well, no time like the present…! This chart includes all of the information that I could squeeze in – the number and type of bolt/rivet for every one of the 16 pitches on the route. Thanks to John Middendorf and Steve Rathbun for their help in turning an Excel file into something that you can now click on and read (if you are interested in staring at a grid of numbers and info…). If there is anything that is unclear about the chart, don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Have a look:

You might have noticed that in photo #16 I am wearing a way stylee shirt, complete with blue flames! Do you suffer from “bad style syndrome” when you are wall climbing? Do you look like a faded newspaper? Well, fear not! You too can be way stylee on the Big Stone, simply by clicking on the link below and hooking yourself up with an Aloha Shirt – the best in stylee Big Wall attire!


The Eye of the Snail
Dec 15, 2007 - 08:26pm PT

Big Wall climber
El Cap
Dec 15, 2007 - 08:33pm PT

Nice photos Minerals. Here's another one:

Wade Icey

Big Wall climber
Indian Caves, CA
Dec 15, 2007 - 08:51pm PT
looks like project Chop-a-loop.

Big Wall climber
Reno NV
Dec 15, 2007 - 08:58pm PT
Yeah, it's about time Minerals!

That's the first picture of all the removed junk that I've seen. Wow.

Thanks guys!

Big Wall climber
El Cap
Dec 15, 2007 - 08:59pm PT

Ha, that's pretty funny Wade. I actually posted this photo on climbing magazines photopost and won a 200 dollar jacket, which I donated to Gabe.

It was titled: Another day at the office

It's not staged, however. I was at the base for the launching celebration, Ivo's phone rang... I gave a loud monkey call and then, SNAP.


Dec 15, 2007 - 09:40pm PT
So I saw all these photos and this weird question popped up in my head.

Yeah, I have a head. Well anyways ...

How do we know the first guy wasn't wrong?

Mount Everest first recorded ascent was by some outsiders, not locals although they needed the locals help as without their help they would have been hosed? No?

Fast forward to El Cap. The first guys up were not locals either. The Indians had no desire to climb it either?

Only a bunch of white devils showed up for this madness and they make all the rules as they go along.

Anyways ..... I said all this just to fuk with your heads.


Social climber
The Deli
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 15, 2007 - 10:02pm PT
Yo got it.

Great shot, Ammon! And Wade is making me laugh again…

Thanks, Werner. You always have a unique perspective on things. Maybe Charlie was wrong. Maybe we were wrong. But I don’t want to get into that now. I just wanted to post some pictures. Hope you enjoy them.

Hmmm… I checked out this thread on two other computers here and on one, the reds and oranges are over-saturated. On the other, it looks like Gabe’s shirt and Ivo’s portaledge are connected to a 12-volt car battery. Do the pics appear that way to you guys? It might help if I wasn’t using a laptop from the 90’s… Guess I didn’t turn the color saturation down enough, and maybe this scanner doesn’t like Fuji Velvia… I dunno… stuck…in…analog…mode… …must…learn…digital…mode…zzzzzcrkk… zap… tink…clank…clank…

The Eye of the Snail
Dec 15, 2007 - 10:14pm PT
So Porter drilled 147 holes on the FA? Am I reading that right?

Spreadsheet make noodle hurt.

Social climber
The Deli
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 15, 2007 - 10:55pm PT
Yeah, Ryan, I know what you mean…

Porter drilled something like half that many holes. Chris has the number listed in the SuperTopo wall guides… don’t have one here but I think it was like 70-something. Many of the extra bolts are at belays that have been beefed up over the years. If we left the hole count just as Porter did (provided we knew EXACTLY where he drilled), I don’t think we could have climbed the route. Some features may have fallen off since the first ascent (probably did...), and bolts were added. We removed the blatant “extraneous” additions and left the rest, figuring that if we removed more, we would create a route that no one wanted to climb, and a mess. So, as of our ascent (there may be more now…) there were 147 holes on the route. The chart lists how many on each pitch and rough rivet/bolt types. There are separate totals for the original route, the route including the first pitch variation, and the route including the fifth pitch variation. The two totals between slashes ( /13/ and /48/ ) are the cumulative route totals if you substitute the variation pitches (1 & 5) for the original pitches. It’s a lot of stuff jammed onto two pieces of paper, but it might help to print out both pages and then line them up – makes reading it a little easier.
Jerry Dodrill

Bodega, CA
Dec 15, 2007 - 11:06pm PT
Cool. Thanks for posting all this.
Wade Icey

Big Wall climber
Indian Caves, CA
Dec 15, 2007 - 11:20pm PT
It might help if ya print em out, say 200%.
Tack 'em up in yer swaging lab
Study it while doing a zen head fest, say 100 heads-3 contemplative breaths per swage.
Trust me. I've known him a long time. It's the only way to understand.


Oh yeah...some Iron Maiden might help too.

Trad climber
New York, NY
Dec 16, 2007 - 12:12am PT
Very cool. I got vertigo looking at some of those photos! Big.

The last photo reminds me of the Cirque de Soliel sort of rope dancers.
Ottawa Doug

Social climber
Ottawa, Canada
Dec 16, 2007 - 12:29am PT
Amazing shot of all the junk carted off the route. Great work on the clean-up guys. It was still pretty clean of gear in Oct. '06. Lounging at the belays always produces the best shots!

Thanks guys.
Handjam Belay

Gym climber
expat from the truth
Dec 16, 2007 - 12:48am PT
I climbed Zod in a push shortly after the cleanup. Having climbe it twice before it was a greatly different ride. Only had oned #4 camalot, and a fish hook for pitch off of peanut...good times.

The Eye of the Snail
Dec 16, 2007 - 01:43am PT
Okay, you removed "42?*" bolts, leaving 147. Printing out did not help, Maiden only slightly.

The ladders on pitches 3 and 5 look to be about half of Charlie's holes, plus some other lead bolts here and there prolly leaving him with maybe one per belay. I'm curious what the belays were like.

When Jake guided me up the Straw in I think '05 there were some rusties up there on the last couple pitches that looked old. Seemed weird. Did the Chop-a-loop dancers remove every fixed pin?
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 16, 2007 - 02:02am PT
Thanks, Bryan & gang, and good work! That should be good for a FaceLift Merit Badge, for sure. Plus it looks like you had some fun.

Funny, I still almost always take a small knife when climbing - never know when it might be useful. For routes involving rappel descents, particularly, I often remove a few old slings - every bit helps.

Big Wall climber
El Cap
Dec 16, 2007 - 02:29am PT

yo! your funny, like haa haa. let's climb!

edit: werner your funny too, don't fukk with us like that :)

Cardiff by the sea
Dec 16, 2007 - 10:27am PT
Thanks Minerals You are right we have needed more climbing threads on this climbing forum. There are few other routes that could use that same effort I have no doubt.

I will be on the Zodiac for the fifth time this comming year, I will be curious and look forward to see what state the route will be in 4 years after the clean up. Thanks for the effort gentleman !!

Dec 16, 2007 - 11:42am PT
Thanks for the particulars on your effort, BL. And, repeating T, the climbing content generally. Good to have you on the board again. Cool photos (Ammon's too)! Thanks to all involved for the effort...nice one!

Bamanay Khada, bro.

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