Mother Earth - stories and photos from the first ascent

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Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 3, 2008 - 01:32am PT
First ascent stories and photos, all taken from the "Welcome to Kevin Worrall" thread, which covers a great deal more than just this.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=252358



Sep 18, 2006, 10:07am PT
Author: Largo [John Long]
Sport climber From: Venice, Ca

Yo, KW--

Tell us the story about you and three others on Mother Earth, and how you battled up to the big ledge after many heroics only to find that George had mistakenly bought dog food for dinner.

JL



Sep 18, 2006, 09:57pm PT
Author: The Warbler [Kevin Worrall]
climber From: the edge of America

George Meyers climbed with barely contained excitement - his fingers would flutter on each feature as he chose the exact position to move from. His gapped tooth grin was ever present on Middle, and his enthusiasm for the mind game played on her burnished flanks quickly worked it's way into some of us and grew to a passion ordinarily reserved for the fairest of maidens. John Long and I became two of her most ardent suitors.

General Meyers had found a weakness on the slab laying just right of the massive triangular North Face Apron, and had recruited one of my earliest climbing partners, Eric Schoen, to help explore the possibilities. As John will remember, we were together at the base of the Dihardral on Slab Happy Pinnacle when Eric, after sending the crux, uttered the classic "Jams are good, protection's good, I'm coming down!" All other versions credited to someone else are just that. Eric was the original. His mild manner, juxtaposed with an uncanny mantling ability and a herculean build, earned him the nickname "Mellow Brutus".

Eric and George boldly pushed upward little by little following the route as it led them. George's vision was a free climb ascending the entire slab, crossing the old North Face Traverse route, and continuing up the sweeping Northwest Buttress to the highest topout on the most massive Cathedral. An ambitious project for the era. I kept track of their progress as I climbed elsewhere, always pinning GM down for details after one of his skirmishes. Then one day they reached an impass. I don't remember the details, but chances are Mellow Brutus was a little too mellow for the increasing difficulty. General Meyers needed special forces.

George and Eric had pioneered six pitches of increasing difficulty and angle to a lonely belay seemingly within striking distance of a deep corner system leading down 200 feet from the North Face Traverse. Steeper climbing had stopped them, but George believed only a short section remained and that it was doable. I had been hoping for just such an opportunity, and John shared my interest. My regular climbing partner, Mark Chapman also joined the team.

Our plan was to stock the huge ledge on the North Face Traverse with bivy gear to eliminate hauling on the route below, and to have a base camp for the upper thousand feet of rock. That done, we spent the night at the base to get a jump on the first half.

We were immediately impressed by the beauty and boldness of the climbing. George's descriptions of the route deliberately hadn't done it justice, and he reveled in our experience as section after section of perfect stone and variety greeted us. The last pitch they had done was a continuous barrage of technical moves past bolts placed on stances that were difficult just to clip from. It follows a magical line up an otherwise unclimbable section of the wall and as such was used by Jay Smith and Paul Crawford to advance their own route nearly ten years later. It is surely George's best pitch on the rock, and it ends at a small ledge with lower angle rock only 30 steeper and smoother feet higher. I think George had even placed the first bolt on the next lead but was unable to continue.

Somehow the lead fell to me. I cinched my EBs, checked my swami, exited my butt bag, and went. Barely made the moves to the bolt, clipped and started toward the next stance. Thin smeary moves up a small fold in the stone brought me to a meager stance and I made the best of it. 15 minutes later, as I clipped the new splitshank, my toes were experiencing the kind of pressure that turns coal to shining gems. I lowered and handed the sharp end to Largo.

John moved on past my bolt and with his characteristic power and finess surmounted the headwall. Having attained the level of the beginning of the long corner system leading to our plush bivy, John placed a bolt and began the fifty foot traverse. As the three of us craned our necks fom the belay, we watched him steadily move toward easy ground and the skyline. But Middle is full of suprises, and John arrived at a sloper ledge surrounded by featureless rock, with the coveted crack system two feet out of reach. Much hollering ensued and John informed us that it didn't look good, but that he would place a bolt and do what he could. I had seen Largo blast bolt holes in half the normal time before and I always attributed it to his overall mass and thigh size forearms, but this hole was placed with the speed of light.

John's frame was a silhouette on the skyline, the afternoon sun piercing our eyes. When he announced he was going for it, we all hopefully squinted into the sun. A cumulus cloud of chalk dust rose on the updrafts, and John pulled slack, but did not reach higher. His bulk disappeared from the skyline instead, and our moment of confusion was his moment of decision. He suddenly reappeared, arms outstretched, not unlike Superman, flying upward. Another chalk cloud appeared as he slapped the target and swung sideways tugging the rope abruptly. After much cheering, the pitch was ours, and the ledge followed.

Meyers botched it and brought a family size can of some kind of artificial meat for our dinner. The serving suggestion on the label looked good, but it was false advertising. As John said, it might as well have been dog food. It was inexpensive though.

That night we built a big fire with oak branches cleared from our sleeping areas, and cast giant shadows of ourselves up the massive untouched Northwest Buttress of Middle Rock.



Sep 19, 2006, 06:24pm PT
Author: Jorge [George Meyers]

Kev

Okay, okay, that was a low blow and has forced me to totally refute your otherwise wonderful post about the BO. Unfortunately I have gotten lost in the cobwebs of my mind in trying to find anything that might for sure say that was NOT dog food.

Great to connect again.
Jorge



Sep 21, 2006, 09:30am PT
Author: Largo

It was dog food, Jorge, and sans vittles, we had to bail meaning when I returned to do the whole route I had to climb those lower pitches again, which was exciting. I remember being very proud that I made it all the way up those first ten leads with no falls.

I also remember Mark Chapman had just returned from Alaska and wasn't really dialed into rock climbing at that exact moment and he got out there on one of those 5.9 pitches down low-- with basically no pro--and things got a little sketchy. There's also a 5.10d pitch up high, like 2,000 feet up there--Kauk led it and it's a dandy. Ron also ended up with the short but chilling A4 bit.

Those adventures on Middle were amazing, none moreso than the first ascent of Stoners, before any of us knew what the hell we were really doing. Kevin was at the top of his game and did some amazing route finding out on the sharp end. There must have been like 20 people involved in all the probes of that route.

JL



Sep 21, 2006, 07:12pm PT
Author: Jorge

Hey John: Yeah those routes were special. Mostly the wandering into the big unknown that set them apart from the crack lines. I truly don't know how anybody could do similar routes any faster than we did. It just was mentally tiring to get out on the sharp end over and over, and placing those bolts by hand.
Stoners was a breakthrough climb. I've got some classic pics of you on stuff. We'll get it out there eventually.
I think I lost interest in the upper Mother Earth when we started putting in the ladder off the ledges. You know some young punk could probably sport it out free these days...
And remember the impressive wall above the traverse ledges? WHat stunningly steep and featured climbing that would be? Maybe 3 pitches, way up high and real steep. How we fanticized how it could be protected on lead with hooks and slings on horns, opposing slings held with bungies, etc., not rap bolted by some yahoo... And it's still there.... Certainly bigger than us...
Jorge



Sep 21, 2006, 11:09pm PT
Author: chappy [Mark Chapman]
Social climber From: ventura

Unbelievable...Kevin W., George M., Roger B., Largo ??., (well largo!...he always defied description) Mike G., Werner B., and others...What have I stumbled upon in cyber space?? To the Mother Earth crew: I have a photo of Kev in his RRs with George (chesire cat grin in place!)at the base of Mother Earth that fateful day the four of us set out...One of my favorites and a fond memory indeed.
Chappy



Nov 28, 2006, 08:27pm PT
Author: Jorge

A few more, mostly to show the line of Mother Earth...perhaps explains the allure...









Nov 29, 2006, 07:31pm PT
Author: Jorge

and mother earth: I particularly like the "staging"\














Kevin Worrall on pitch 6



Nov 29, 2006, 07:37pm PT
Author: Jorge

and then, above the traverse ledges on Mother Earth:









Jan 1, 2007, 04:04pm PT
Author: Steve Grossman
Trad climber From: Seattle, WA

Kevin, I came across the topo that you drew from memory circa 1977 of Space Babble and Mother Earth on a page in my old Meyer's guide. All was mysterious up there for me back when you passed on the treasure map and I started scheming on me own share of the riches!





Jan 1, 2007, 05:27pm PT
Author: The Warbler

I thought you were joshin' me at first, but that is my writing and what a flashback after these thirty years! Can't believe you've held onto it all this time.

I always thought, and have told Donny, that it would be really cool to have some original topos drawn shortly after the FA, in the hand of the first ascensionist, in the guide to give the book some soul.

Thanks for posting another blast from the past, keep 'em commin'!

-------

Jan 1, 2007, 09:49pm PT
Author: Steve Grossman

The "5.10 up&down" and "Leap or 5.12" on the Mother Earth topo are absolutely classic! Wasn't that 5.12 section "the hardest moves that I've done on rock" to quote Kauk after he did it statically? I just noticed that neither comment made it into the Yellow Meyer's guide topo. Donny, you checchecking this out?

-------
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 3, 2008 - 02:23am PT
More tidbits from other threads:



Jan 3, 2005, 09:55pm PT
Author: Largo

IT WAS WRITTEN: …another early-era rad similar to Arches Direct is Middle’s N Face (Kamps, Pratt, Roper). I think I read that Arches Direct and the Middle route saw ascents from Kor and maybe Bridwell. Bet few or nobody since.

And to the right of Middle N Face is Mother Earth? That was a storied route (wasn’t that the one Meyers tried for years?). Did/ does it ever get climbed?

So far as I know, Kor and Bridwell have the only repeats on Arches Direct. Mother Earth was tried about 6 times by George Meyers, once with Kevin Worral, Eric Shoen and me, who pushed it all the first aid off the big ledge 10 pitches up. We had to bail when Shoen mistakenly bought dog food for bivy rations and none of us could gag it down.

I later (78) returned with Ron Kauk and Mark Chapman and did the whole thing, and it´s a dandy, with a genuine 5.12 face pitch down low and some challenging mixed stuff up high--even a touch of A4. A real old style trad testpiece. You don´t realize how big Middle is till you get up there on Mother Earth. It´s gigantic. I am somewhat amazed that Mother Earth didn´t become a popular wall because we all thought it was one of the best in the Valley. Same thing with the Bob Locke route on Watkins.

I never did find out quite where the North Face of Middle actually goes.

All those routes have basically been lost in time . . .

JL



Jun 14, 2006, 01:07pm PT
Author: Largo

Yeah, George spent a ton of time on Mother Earth--like six or seven trips. A lot of tricky route finding down low and scary on-the-lead bolting, sometime pretty far out there. One of those 5.9/10A pitches down low only has one bolt and little else.

On my second try I recruited Ron Kauk and Mark Chapman and we did the whole McGilla, which sort of completed our education on Middle. We thought it was one of the best walls we'd ever done--the bottom ten pitches are steep and go-for-it, with supurb open face climbing up to 12a, and many interesting pitches of 5.10.
All on that perfect, orange, Middle C stone.

The upper part is truly big-wallesque, with several hard (some A4) and steep aid leads off the big ledge, then back to free climbing way the hell up there. We all thought (in '76) it would become a sort of hardman big wall. The location (some gigantic air on the upper bits), the climbing and the line were as good as anything we'd ever done, even on El Cap. It has an other worldly feel, especially on the last four or five pitches, above the aid--mostly 5.10+ face, all naturally protected, and so far up there you can't believe it. Middle is really huge right there, well over 2,000 feet high. Looking at the profile of the buttress from down by the Tower, you get the feel of the great size and vertical rise of the thing. It just sweeps up into the sky like a dream.

But verily, it's had few ascents to my knowledge, and I sure wonder why. That route absolutely rocked. One of those routes that left you with a glow for months afterwards.

I'm sure modern climbers would have a blast on those face pitches, which are probably exciting still.

JL



Jun 14, 2006, 02:50pm PT
Author: Largo

"Thanks for posting about your ascent of 'Middle Earth,' John. I have had no information since Geroge was working on it on the earlier tries. I do rememeber seeing a note somewhere emphatically stating that the pitches above the main ledges do not go free."

As I remeber, there's only two or three pitches just off the ledge with aid--but they're real aid pitches, like a bolt ladder off the ledge and a lot of blades and Rurps on the next pitch, all on vertical to overhanging rock. The buttress sort of scoops in there for a few hundred feet before kicking back a little up above, so the upper pitches have the feel of climbing above a sort of headwall. There's no ledges up there, and you're hanging right out there on the convex part of the buttress--nice and airy and with enough features that the free climbing is steeper than that normally found on Middle. And it's good right to the end. After one last hard face lead. There's a short 5.7 pitch off a sling belay and bam, you're on top. You wander right for a few minutes and you're in the Gunsight, which you can wiggle down pretty fast. Literally an hour or so after topping out we were hiking back along the base and looking up at what we'd just spent three days clawing up--always a strange experience. I remember we met a couple friends at the base, around the DNB, and they said it was a trip watching up earlier in the day, pasted way the hell up there, dead center on that buttress. It's all coming back to me now . . .

JL



Jun 14, 2006, 05:35pm PT
Author: Largo

I loved the North Face of Middle--it was like mountain climbing. And what a trip to hear someone did that traverse that cuts across the face and ends up, where?? In the U-Shaped bowl? That always looked way adventurous.

Per Mother Earth, I believe Max Jones and Mark Hudon did the second ascent, but who knows after that??

JL



Jun 15, 2006, 10:20am PT
Author: Roger Breedlove
Trad climber From: Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Here were my two cents in about 1974:

"There is another route, as yet unfinished, to the right of the North Face Slab. George Meyers began it in 1971, by climbing a pillar at the base of the wall. He has returned at least eight times, gone through as many partners, and is seven pitches up. Though slow, this sort of climbing project, which, as Steve Roper comments, 'sound like a job!", lacks none of the sprit and adventure of most first ascents. Climbing a 10ft. 'blank' section free can be as absorbing, time-consuming and serious as an entire pitch.

George often feels oppressed by his 'Big One', as it has come to be known, and would like to get it finished. He is not trying to do impossible feats on the route: he is doing what climbers know to be possible, but he trying it on a big, almost blank wall. His route in some ways epitomizes the newer routes on Middle, and perhaps points the direction for other new routes. Those who are repulsed by the elements of drudgery in his ascent should rest assured that some day the route will be a pleasant romp for some young climber."

I do not remember if the ‘began it in 1971’ is accurate. Might be. However, when we started climbing on the North Face Apron in 1973, nothing else was over there.

I guess that we are still waiting for the 'pleasant romp' prediction to come true. Ha.

ps: Note to what has changed over the years--originally typed on an Underwood manual typewriter, double-spaced, edited by hand.



Jul 23, 2006, 01:07pm PT
Author: Largo

You can't get a very objective rate value on the E. B. of Middle from someone (like Roy) who grew up at Tahquitz and Suicide. The East Butt is steep thin pure edging (unlike the smearing and "smedging" on most Middle routes) and there's about 500 routes with that kind of climbing at Suicide--but few with that kind of pro (bolt ladder).

Middle Standards look like this (IMO):

5.10 a/b: Powell Reed, Central Pillar (1st 7 pitches), Free Wheeling, Paradise Lost, North Butt., etc.

5.10 c/d: DNB, East Butt, Sachar/Fredricks, Stoners, etc.

5.11 a/b: Pratt/Fredricks (first 5 pitches), Orange Peel, Birchieff/Williams, Worral/Kauk (left of Central Pillar--don't remember name).

5.11 c/d: Black Rose, Mary's Tears, etc.

5.12a: Mother Earth (1st 10 pitches), Direct Start, Central Pillar, Crucifix.

JL

And on and on . . .



Sep 13, 2006, 09:05am PT
Author: Largo

He asked: "Anyone know how run out Mother Earth really is? What grade runouts w/ potential injury?"

This is another question beyond that of the spray paint but I'll say this: Mother Earth is pretty run out, but not horrifically so if you're tight climbing up to about 5.10A with little pro and 5.9 with no pro. The nailing above the big ledge has a touch of A4 but is mainly A2. I think pitch 8 has a short stretch of 5.12 by a bolt, and other places on the route have some 5.11, usually pretty well protected.

That route was put up (with Ron Kauk and Mark Chapman) in 1976 so the bolts--old 1/4 inch buttonheads--would need to be replaced. We all thought it was one of the best walls we'd ever done. Middle is really big right there.

JL

-------
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 3, 2008 - 02:26am PT
And some info on the second complete ascent, plus the 1982 topo:



Jan 30, 2008, 09:40pm PT
Author: Largo

I have no idea why or how but I never got to climb with either Max or Mark, despite us being in the Valley, on many of the same routes, at roughly the same time. My loss. I always respected how these guys always went for the hard stuff, even obscure stuff like Mother Earth. More heros . . .

JL

-------

Jan 31, 2008, 08:38am PT
Author: Steve Grossman

Did M&M do the entire Mother Earth or the lower portion?

Here is a classic Kevin Worral topo circa 1977 showing the lower part along with Space Babble. Mother Earth is still at the top of my Middle list!

[see above]



Jan 31, 2008, 08:43am PT
Author: mark Hudon
Trad climber From: Hood River, OR

Yeah Dave, which one is you?

Largo, Wow, thanks. I consider it to my advantage that I was taught to think for myself and not really care what other people thought about what I was doing. Max and I weren't out to make a name for ourselves, we were always amazed that we were doing what we were when we thought that there were other climbers who were much more talented than us around. We always thought "Why aren't these guys doing this stuff"?

Steve, we did the whole thing.

-------

Jan 31, 2008, 08:51am PT
Author: Steve Grossman

I would love to hear about it Mark. You guys got the first repeat I imagine with as little traffic as that one received. The little bits of aid up high was enough to deter most folks.
Which one of you got the infamous "leap or 5.12" pitch?

-------

Jan 31, 2008, 09:16am PT
Author: mark Hudon

We did do the 2nd ascent. I led the leap, but didn't leap and really didn't think it was too hard. We followed the free climbing and jugged only the aid. Max did the leap also.
Max and I had done the Mescalito, Zodiac and had been up on the PO (I dropped a rock on my finger and tore out the nail so we retreated) so aid wasn't foreign to us. We did it in two days with a few pitches fixed.
At one point, Max had some wide ranging, semi sketchy belay set up and I was climbing some pillar, maybe 5.10+, right above him when I thought I saw it move. If it had gone it would have killed us both. I freaked out, I yelled that this sucked and that we were going down and I don't give a F2#%K and we're out of there and all that. Anyway, I calmed down, continued on and we didn't die.
I have some photos but they're out in the garage.

...



Feb 1, 2008, 08:00am PT
Author: Steve Grossman

Very few pictures of Mother Earth ever made it out to press. I bet your slide box is a treasure chest, Mark. How about kicking down a few doubloons for some hungry old pirates! You guys may be amazed to know that the entire route hasn't likely seen another ascent since yours! I never heard of another party doing it while I was keeping track especially once the Little Mother Earth exit traverse became popular as an all free outing.

Here is the complete topo from the Yellow Meyers' guide.



Any other recollections about the climbing up there? Did you guys think that the aid sections would go free in passing through?

I have a memory that Kauk climbed the "leap or 5.12" crux statically, with great difficulty, calling it the "hardest moves that he had done on rock," at the time. Nice job on the send. Did you guys warm up on any of the other Middle Rock testpieces beforehand?

The complete Mother Earth is probably the rarest jewel in the crown of MCR gems as far as repeats. Again, outstanding adventure to bite off back then!

-------
coz

Trad climber
California
Jul 3, 2008 - 10:48am PT
I climbed the second ascent of the Smith Crawford. It shares the 11c crux of Mother Earth. I remember that 11c being full on 12a, with terrible bolts. Basically 12a x. Kurt was happy to follow and I was scared to death.

The area the two climbs goes up, is well featured, and has lots of places for some good gear. Me and the Kid thought the climbing to be some of the best we had ever done, still do.

We wanted to come back and do Mother Earth but after the bad bolt's on Space Babble and Mother Earths cruxs, we opted out.

I always wanted to go back, great hearing of the old adventures, and the photo's are killing me.

Thanks to all involved in replacing the bolts.
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Jul 3, 2008 - 10:51am PT
Coz

Please, grace us with your story of the back side of Half Dome. . . .
dickcilley

Social climber
Honolulu
Jul 4, 2008 - 02:26am PT
Reading this forum got me so hyped up yesterday that I went out and sent a project I´ve been trying for about 7 years.Love the photos.Reminded me of the deep shadows that you get in the vally.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 14, 2009 - 11:58am PT
Another Mother Earth thread.

I can remember sitting with my pipe and listening to those guys and their wide eyed stories..holy sh*t.

It scared me just listening to them. I felt like such a pup, and they were such veterens. To look at these photos now, THEY look like such pups!!

Thank you Clint for these inspiring threads.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 14, 2009 - 08:48pm PT
OK, let's try this again.

*First ascent.

*Great info and comments by the first ascent team.

*Also comments by the second ascent team (Mark H.)

*Climbed by real hard men, including a couple of our friends here on the taco.

*Pictures included.

*Climbed in the old bad ass way. Runouts and balls...

*8 posts???

* You guys are laming me out here....

Sorry, but it's bullsh*t to have nonsense threads with 100 posts and just let these fade away.

Studly

Trad climber
WA
Feb 14, 2009 - 09:29pm PT
Holy Shit! Good thread.
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Feb 14, 2009 - 09:47pm PT
This is an awesome thread. I also just can't understand why the young dogs of today are swarming that thing.
Zander
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Feb 14, 2009 - 09:56pm PT
Seeing those photos again reminds me of a wild experience I had in those parts a couple of years ago...

I don't get up to the Valley much lately, between the house, the kid, and the climbing in my backyard. But I did bust loose for a week or so and checked a few things out.

We left San Diego at around 9 PM and bivied off the side of I5 in the hills north of Newhall. We woke up on a little dirt road that obviously served as the local dump site. My buddy, Dave found a Fergie disc and an Eminem disc in the bush that morning, and we split our ghetto bivi rockin to "My Humps".

Our goal was to arrive in the Valley in time to hike up the gunsight and summit Lower Rock that afternoon. Have a little look around.

We parked along the river under Beggars' Buttress around 2:00. Our packs were already packed, so we got right on it. I wanted to walk the base of Lower and check out the Mecca routes I had heard so much about. I expected more bolts per pitch, as the routes were always described to me as sport climbs. But they looked pretty sporty to me, and good.

The Gunsight was a kick, as always. I love the way the rock structure up there allows you to climb unroped up steep intimidating sections that would be crazy on most Valley rock. The walls on both sides of the Gunsight are amazingly beautiful - so much color and texture.

As we scrambled up the backside of Lower from the Gunsight proper, we stopped often to gawk at the huge wall of MCR that Mother Earth climbs. So much rock, so many features.

The fast paced hike had made us sweat hard, and we were both shirtless as we made our way higher. During our climb, a huge dark storm had formed over the crest of the Sierra, and in our distraction with the terrain in front of us, we hadn't noticed until we almost reached the summit of Lower Rock.

With the afternoon sun on our backs, and not a cloud in the sky over the Central Valley, the wind began to howl in our faces, and big, cold raindrops began splattering all over our bare skin. All of Tenaya Canyon and Half Dome was being engulfed in dark roiling clouds. A rainbow appeared arching over the summit of Lower.

As we neared the summit I was amazed to see the rainbow double and then triple up, and when standing on the highest point, even more amazed to see the rainbows making nearly a complete circle, with the only missing section being where the narrow shadow cast by Lower Rock broke the spectrum. The pointy top of Lower's shadow where we stood was dead center.

The southern end of the arc plunged into the Merced at the base of the DNB, and the North end into the center of El Cap meadow. The Salathe Wall was shining with warm gold light, and the spectrum above the meadow blazed down through the center of the deep black shadow cast in the NA Wall recess by The Nose, just to make it more dramatic.

The rain continued to splatter in our faces, and the sun beamed on our backs as we beheld what was maybe the most spectacular scene I had ever witnessed in Yosemite.

Then, the wind became more intense, and suddenly it seemed that all the deciduous trees along the base of the North Face Apron and up the Gunsight gave up their autumn foliage at once, thousands of giant leaves began rising on on the updrafts between us and Middle Rock, swirling and fluttering like a huge flock of yellow birds, climbing up the giant wall that Mother Earth climbs, over the top of Middle, and away.

It was truly an incredible experience, heightened by the fact I hadn't seen Yosemite for a few years. From the ghetto bivi in the morning to that outrageous display of nature in the afternoon... it was sensory overload. I felt that I had been welcomed back in a big way.

Mother Earth is the perfect name for that buttress...

(Some of you youngsters outta get on it!)

KW
MH2

climber
Feb 14, 2009 - 09:59pm PT
High quality on many counts.
ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
pads are for girls
Feb 14, 2009 - 10:12pm PT
Yeah , this thread , and the (240+ posts) welcome thread are brilliant . Very Inspiring . I also have a slide I took of Kevin on a thin crack at the 140 entrance (on the river side) . Hopefully I can find it and get it scanned .
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Feb 14, 2009 - 10:51pm PT
It's my understanding that the first 10 pitches of Mother Earth have been rebolted so I suspect once the word gets out this might become a somewhat popular face climb, given that it's classic Middle quality and by modern standards, isn't end-all hard (5.12a).

JL
James

climber
My twin brother's laundry room
Feb 15, 2009 - 12:46am PT
I have always wanted to climb this thing to the top.
bob

climber
Feb 15, 2009 - 08:04am PT
Awesome post for sure!!!!!!!! Can't say I don't want to do it that's for sure.
A question to the older crew. Lets say someone's done lots and lots of routes on Fairview Dome. Many terror festivals included. Now lets say this climber has not done a ton of Middle routes, but would like to. Does Fairview set one up for Middle? Or, vice-versa?
Bob J.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 15, 2009 - 10:16am PT
Warbler, that was a beautiful post man.
We've all had amazing, touch of the divine moments in Yosemite, but that one sounds special indeed! I could feel it.

Bob,
"Many terror fests included" on Fairview would qualify you for most things, wouldn't it?

The rock does differ in the character of the polish, and it seems to my recollection that a lot of things on Middle are "rounder". But one of the big dogs might have a more detailed answer for you.

Terror is terror, run is run, smearing is smearing, headspace is headspace.
Good luck up there!!
east side underground

Trad climber
Hilton crk,ca
Feb 15, 2009 - 10:43am PT
nice! was roomates with mellow brutus back in early eighties, he was way into hang-gliding back then, cheers eric if you're out there. warbler you continue to be the man
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 15, 2009 - 03:00pm PT
More from Mother Earth Pleez??

I love this thread.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Feb 15, 2009 - 03:49pm PT
This is Max on the second pitch. It's a .10c mantle. He rambled right up there, pressed it out, stood up and promptly fell over backwards! It was hilarious!




survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 15, 2009 - 05:42pm PT
Very nice Mark.
Thanks for coming back!!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 15, 2009 - 06:10pm PT
Cool, Mark.
Last summer, I barely pressed onto the mantle (after aiding past the lower bolts). But I couldn't quite get stood up. Fortunately there was some old tat sling hanging down from the next bolt. I managed to pinch just the tail between my thumb and side of my index finger, and barely pulled up on it! :-)
le_bruce

climber
Oakland: what's not to love?
Feb 15, 2009 - 06:45pm PT

Killer thread. Cheers to Clint and Survival for making it happen and keeping it going!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 15, 2009 - 09:10pm PT
Oh my!
This thread is white-hot..
Saved to my hard drive & burned to CD.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Feb 15, 2009 - 09:49pm PT
Mother Earth! I remember hearing/reading about this unique project when it was happening and feeling pangs of jealousy not to be a part of it. What a climb...what a brilliant rag-tag cast of characters...

It's great to be able to participate vicariously all these years later.

-Jello
Jaybro

Social climber
wuz real!
Feb 15, 2009 - 10:12pm PT
So once upon a time, I, like Gregor Samsa, was a traveling salesman. In my case pedaling Misty mtn threadworks, (still a good buy if you ask me) . I paid a call to Jason Campbell's dad at the mtn shop in the
valley and then had nothing to do but head home over Tioga pass. Ran in to Walt and Maysho, by the Deli. for reference, I think this was when Peter told me the story of Bridwel's client's epic on the grand that forced Chouinard equipage to become Black Diamond. More immediate to me was that Walt encouraged me ( let me know I was ready) to freesolo the reg route on fairview on the way home to Az. But the part that has to do with Mother earth was that we went to lunch, at what's now the pizza place above Degnans and had been yosemite sam's, "Mother Earth" was an entree on the menu. A 'vegetarian' (not Vegan, pretty sure there was cheese involved) choice, I had about settled on it when Peter laughed and said, "Look at that, Mother earth" with a smirk. So I had dry white toast or a turkey sub or something, and then when it was Maysho's turn to order, what does he get? A Mother Earth! Too funny!

But it was a good day, and Walt gave me the confidence to solo That rte on Fairview (in fire flyers) which gave me the rush and mellow mojo to drive back to Maricopa county in a reflective, single push. But I always wanted to climb that route on middle, after that.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 16, 2009 - 02:43am PT
This project definitely fired my imagination back in the day.

I got to listen to those guys first hand talking about it when it was all fresh in their minds.

It made me want to climb the thing and yet.....
Stay far away!!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Feb 16, 2009 - 09:11am PT
Mark,

Those are some nice shots of Max on the second pitch. One of the coolest things about the route is that every pitch up to the seventh kicks up a degree or two more than the previous one. That makes the climbing generally harder, more continuous, and it gives you a nice view down the face to the ground. After all four of us had climbed it, you could see just about every chalked hand hold all the way down to the ledge atop the first pitch you took that picture from.

Back then, before the Smith Crawford was done, there were no other routes anywhere near where we were climbing, so the route felt extra adventurous. I've mentioned a factor about all the climbing on MCR before, or most north facing walls for that matter - the routes look real licheny, grungy even, from the base because you're seeing only the undersides of all the roofs and scoops on the wall. But after climbing a pitch you look down and see the true colors of the rock appear on all the upward facing texture which has been scoured by weather for eons. The foreboding lead you stepped out on, looks instead like a mosaic of bright colors and generous, clean holds. It's always a kick to watch your partner negotiate the pitch from above.

Speaking of the Smith Crawford, I bet a day that started with the first seven pitches of Mother Earth, and then continued up the Smith Crawford would be a good one. I'm sure nobody's done that. More pitches out on the open face - the corners leading to the ledge on ME are easy (after the leap) and pretty dirty.

KW
nutjob

Stoked OW climber
San Jose, CA
Feb 16, 2009 - 11:00am PT
Thanks guys for livin' large and audaciously and giving us couch-masters more fodder!

When I first started perusing the Yosemite Climbs book and dreaming about future adventures, just seeing the picture made it rocket to the top of my list.

Then seeing the 5.11-5.12 and A4 bits popped my bubble. If anything will push me into those realms, Mother Earth would be it.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Feb 16, 2009 - 11:58am PT
One of the things not yet mentioned about this route is the stunning exposure of the upper wall. Only an El Cap veteran can appreciate how big Middle actually is because you get to look across at it all the way up the Captain. Mother Earth's upper pitches follow the left edge of a convex headwall and once you get up there a ways it reminded me of being on the Shield, with all those lower pitches spilling down and looking like a sidewalk.

The main draw with Mother Earth is the improbability of the lower pitches ever being free climbed, and the fantastic location of the upper headwall (and the wild climbing way the hell up there). It results in a classic "mixed" wall with a touch of aid - some of it pretty hard - and a whole lot of varied free pitches.

Given the bomber bivy ledge half way up - a regular vertical campground - and the uniqueness of the climbing, it amazes me that more folk are not ticking the thing off. Hard - sure, but it was done 31 years ago, and folks have dramatically improved in that time.


JL
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 16, 2009 - 02:39pm PT
Just reading the variety of comments from the people in the know here makes it worth keeping threads like this alive.

As in, later on down the road, you guys are dredging up other aspects that weren't discussed in your earliest posts.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 7, 2009 - 10:22pm PT
Gov't Mule Mother Earth
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3Ic9IIJbJ0


Salamanizer

Trad climber
Vacaville Ca,
May 10, 2009 - 10:06pm PT
So, my partner and I took a ride up Mother Earth this weekend. Unfortunately we did not finish the last few pitches to the big ledge as we started up the thing at the crack of 2:00, but we did get to climb all the good shizzz.

The first pitch is poorly protected mungey doo doo, but easy (ish). Second pitch, sheesh... that mantle is a tricky s.o.b. You get the sequence just right and it's a cake walk, get it wrong and it's impossible. I got it wrong, twice:(

Third pitch leads up some gritty holds past a couple death blocks perched above the belay. I touched them to inspect on the follow than they trundled. Oops, oh well, good reddens. This pitch looks improbable, but is actually pretty easy. Total needless headcase pitch. You think you're climbing into certain death, but bomber holds keep appearing just where you want them, wild!

Pitch fours got good gear, not really run out, maybe just a little. In other words, if you make it to pitch four, you'll think it to be a cruiser pitch. Wild features, pockets, square cut edges through some flaky red rock. Kinda neat. The fifth pitch was really kinda mungy. Pulled off a couple flakes, skidded around on some kitty litter etc... The traverse wasn't too bad, you can get some pro in but it could use a bolt, which apparently it had, but wasn't placed by the F.A. so no longer exists. Apparently its not needed anyway. Really, it's no drama.

Pitch six is a bad MOFO! The whole time I was thinking to myself, how the fukk did they place these bolts on lead and how did they keep from stepping on their own balls when climbing to the next stance? I mean, holy sh#t, that whole thing is barely there. Climbing above the first bolt is wild, wouldn't want to peel there. Fortunately there's a bomber crack just where you want it. Next up is a traverse into a left facing corner with a pin. I touched the pin and it fell out in my hands. Seems to be a re-occurring theme with me lately. Anyway it now resides in the back of my truck as a memento. After the dihedral it's a relentless series of wild moves, thin edges good bolts and a little faith that bring you to the anchors. Killer pitch!

Unfortunately, we did not have the time to do the crux (quite bummed)and finish the route. Looked reasonable.

Anyway, the route gets better and better the further you go up. There were alot of loose flakes/holds and grit/dirt. Actually, the whole route was pretty freakin dirty, but what do you expect from a route as neglected as this? For this reason and the fact that because of that I thought I might actually die on this thing, I give the route two solid stars. My partner thought it to be kinda mediocre and would probably only give it one, but this kinda climbing isn't his cup O tea. He much prefers climbing some obscure chossfest offwidth ??? route on some less than traveled feature like Watkins. I thought the whole thing to be pretty reasonable actually. It's comparable to Stoners Highway, accept the cruxes are harder though well protected... all of them. If you can climb stoners, you can climb Mother Earth. Then again, I didn't climb the crux pitch. Which brings me to my next point.

My climbing partner I'm sure has no interest in climbing the thing again. At least whats been done so far, but I do. I'd like to send the thing from the bottom to pitch 10, so if anyone's interested, drop me an email. I'd like to swap pitches, so don't ask if you're not willing to commit. If we get up there and you start sketching, I'm yanking your rope until you fall and we're bailing.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 10, 2009 - 11:33pm PT
Chad,

Cool trip report! I'm psyched that you checked it out, with the refurbished bolts. Thanks for trundling those flakes at the start of p3, too - perched right above the belay, definitely a good riddance.

I wish I could sign up and climb it with you, but I am not climbing hard enough to be useful up there. I bet Jesse would like to go back, though. Eric Bissell, too, although I don't know if he is in town yet.

[Edit to add:] When Bob and I traversed in and rapped from (10) to fix ropes for Roger, we added a bolted rap station above (8) at a big ledge. We fixed the highest rope for Roger there. From there we rapped diagonally left about 55m to the 3rd bolt on p7, at a nice little stance. I replaced that bolt and used a double ring hanger there to fix Roger's next rope. When Roger finished up, he [edit:] considered adding a second bolt there, but he left it as is and rapped off a single bolt. So there is now an optional single bolt rap anchor at the 3rd bolt on p6, at the start of the traverse right. Incidentally, the anchor we rapped from at (10) is minimal - I replaced the first bolt on p11 and we rapped from that with a biner and tiny sling.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
May 11, 2009 - 09:25am PT
"My partner thought it to be kinda mediocre and would probably only give it one."

My understanding is that you got to the start of the 7th pitch? That's where the shizat starts - a totally different climb from then on, especially interms of difficulty. You go from 10c/d to 12a. Hope you go back for the glory.

JL
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 12, 2009 - 08:21am PT
So no fixed pin maintenance then on this retrofit???
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 12, 2009 - 10:30am PT
Steve,

> So no fixed pin maintenance then on this retrofit???

I was thinking the same thing. Maybe Roger will post.

It was dark when Bob and I rapped down the joined ropes we had fixed for Roger, so we simply tried to locate the belay anchors and clip the ropes in.

There may be an overemphasis on rebolting sometimes, as Roger is really good at it, and deciding if fixed pitons are still needed is more complicated. But I agree they should be tested while rebolting, since it's an ideal opportunity. And it's still American Safe Climbing Association, although sometimes I like to say American Safe Bolting Association! :-)
JesseM

Social climber
Yosemite
May 12, 2009 - 05:19pm PT


After Clint, Roger, (and Eric's) work last year I've been dreaming of getting back on that "Mother". My short exploratory trip up there a couple years ago was before the bolt refurbishment, and didn't inspire the confidence of nice ASCA metal anchored below. I ended up bailing (with my tail between my legs) at the 2nd pitch after a little sheath shot on my rope.

Although Chad's comment, "If we get up there and you start sketching, I'm yanking your rope until you fall and we're bailing.", makes me kinda want to wait for Grasshopper (Eric Bissell to get back before I go up there.

Eric will be back to work for the Climbing Ranger Team in early June, and I'm looking forward to having him back!

-Jesse
Roger Brown

climber
Oceano, California
May 12, 2009 - 07:33pm PT
Clint,
Yea, I was all ready to start adding that second bolt at that double ring hanger when I changed my mind. Its still just a single bolt. Only time ever rapped off a single bolt so took a picture of it:-) I just checked the log and nothing was said about fixed pins so they were probably just reseated, bounce tested and left there.
Roger
Salamanizer

Trad climber
Vacaville Ca,
May 12, 2009 - 07:51pm PT
Haha!

I wouldn't pull you off the route. You're bound to get sketched a time or two up there, that's the fun part.

I don't think it would matter if that pin was re-set or not. The crack it's in looks to be part of a huge expanding flake and probably flexes with the temperature. Even if it got re-set (which I wouldn't doubt if it did) would more than likely be loose again within the year. Who knows though, it's un necessary anyway. You can get in several different sized pieces both cams and nuts from a good stance there anyway.

Good to know about the rap option, the traverse pitches off the ledge look like a major drawback to the route. What's the harm in adding a few anchors so you don't have to deal with that B.S. anyway?

Anyone down for a quick little jaunt up there? I'm jonesin for that crux pitch? Jesse???

Promice I won't pull ya off.
It's a serious route, that's seriously good.
I have to go back.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 12, 2009 - 10:02pm PT
Thanks for the update Roger - I edited my post to make it a single bolt with ring hanger. Sorry we left you in a position where you bent your rules and rapped from a single bolt. Maybe we can get some permission for the next person willing to add a second bolt with ring hanger at that stance (3rd bolt on p7, at start of traverse right), so it can be rapped more safely from there or above in the future?
John?
Kevin?
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
May 12, 2009 - 10:40pm PT
Go for it.

Tighten that Mother up!


But not too tight, like 20 ft/lbs or so.
Salamanizer

Trad climber
Vacaville Ca,
May 12, 2009 - 10:52pm PT
Clint,

Would it be possible to add a bolted/fixed anchor at the top of pitch 7 and continue down the Smith Crawford or another route from there? Havin a double anchor mid pitch always bums me out. Too tempting, especially when looking at a long gnarly traverse like that.

If not, what about an anchor added below pitch 7 solely for the purpose of bailing? From there, you could link up with the Smith/Crawford for sure.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
May 12, 2009 - 11:24pm PT
Clint,

Maybe I'm not following this...

When you say you'd like to create the option of rapping from the third bolt on the seventh pitch, are you speaking in terms of that third bolt being a potential high point or topout on the ME route for people to climb to and then rap from, without doing the traverse to the corners et al? Or are you talking about using that bolt, and maybe doubling it up as a rap station which is reached from above on a potential rap route from The North Face Traverse?

My input might change depending on which of the above you're considering.

I appreciate what salamanizer is saying about not liking doubled up bolts midpitch, if there's a way around it.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 13, 2009 - 01:03am PT
Kevin, I was thinking of that 3rd bolt on p7 being a rap station for rapping down Mother Earth from (10) or from the rap anchor Bob and I placed between (8) and (9). But I agree with Chad's and your points that adding a midpitch anchor creates some problems (this is why Roger took some risks to avoid it).

Chad's idea of placing an anchor at the top of (7) might work best. I don't think you could reach (6) from there, but you might be able to reach (5) on the Smith Crawford. If it doesn't reach (5), like Chad suggested, probably an intermediate rap anchor could be placed well below the p7 traverse to bridge the gap to (5).

Assuming some solution is found, the double ring hanger at the 3rd bolt on p7 should be swapped for a regular (Fixe) hanger. If people need to bail there, they can leave a sling or biner.



Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 13, 2009 - 06:30am PT
Mid-pitch doublers are jive, IMO. Finish the lead or deal with it yourself. Don't place unnecessary convenience anchors. Keep it clean ...and tight! LOL
Roger Brown

climber
Oceano, California
May 13, 2009 - 07:48pm PT
Hell Clint,
I rap from a single device, single biner, and a single rope all the time. I guess I can rap from a single bolt once in a while. Especially since I know the guy that placed it:-),
Roger
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 5, 2009 - 09:59pm PT
Mother Love Bump!
MMCC

climber
New Zealand
May 11, 2010 - 01:45am PT
badassness!!!
Chief

climber
May 11, 2010 - 07:49am PT
bump for a great thread and for adventures on Mother Middle!

I've mentioned a factor about all the climbing on MCR before, or most north facing walls for that matter - the routes look real licheny, grungy even, from the base because you're seeing only the undersides of all the roofs and scoops on the wall. But after climbing a pitch you look down and see the true colors of the rock appear on all the upward facing texture which has been scoured by weather for eons. The foreboding lead you stepped out on, looks instead like a mosaic of bright colors and generous, clean holds. It's always a kick to watch your partner negotiate the pitch from above.

This wonderful phenomena had Sutton and I trying to think of some names with an orange theme when we did The Grand Wazoo. Orange Sunshine, Orange Barrel, Tangerine Dream etc. Zappa trumped em all.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 12, 2010 - 07:07am PT
Look here ,brother. Who you jivin' with that Cozmic Debris?!? You could make more money as a sportclimber, so don't waste your climb on me...
Red Wing

climber
Truckee
Jan 27, 2013 - 01:36pm PT
Didn't catch this the first time around. Anyone get on Mother Earth this summer? Anyone want to give it a go early June when the route is dry? Serious offer...

David Wilson

climber
CA
Jan 27, 2013 - 04:52pm PT
This is a great thread, one of the gems of ST. Mark, any more pics out in the garage?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 27, 2013 - 05:23pm PT
Red Wing,

Several people climbed the nearby new route Father Time in Fall 2012:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1962356/Father-Time-New-VI-Free-Route-on-Middle-Cathedral
Salamanizer

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
Jan 27, 2013 - 07:52pm PT
Father Time 5.13b... That's over my head.

I'd be up for another trip up Mother Earth. I've only been to the start of pitch 7. I'd like to finish it to p. 10.

Still have to figure out how to get off the thing from pitch 10.
Doing several pitches of 5.10 crap to traverse off to the gunsight is bullsh#t. I'm thinking of adding an anchor to the top of pitch 7 or just below and rapping into the Smith Crawford.

Either way, I'm your huckleberry.
Red Wing

climber
Truckee
Jan 27, 2013 - 07:56pm PT
Thanks Clint! When was the last time someone topped out this route?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 27, 2013 - 09:27pm PT
Chad,

An anchor at (7) would not interfere with the climbing, but it would be hard to reach (6) from it because p7 traverses so much. Maybe you could reach (5) or something on Crazy?
Also, the anchor near the start of (10) which we rapped from is a single (newly replaced SS 3/8") bolt.

The traversing to the Gunsight is just one 5.10 pitch and a bunch of 3rd/4th class. And it is just a couple of 5.10 moves. If you did that 5.10 pitch, there is an anchor for Border Country at its end, which you could rap if you didn't want to scramble down the Gunsight. Not as straightforward as rapping Mother Earth, though.

Maybe simplest is to leave a biner or sling on the bolt on p7 and rap from it.

Red Wing,

I don't know when someone last climbed the entire Mother Earth. We know Mark and Max did it, but I don't know if others have repeated the entire route since then. Mikey might know.
mikeyschaefer

climber
Yosemite
Apr 7, 2013 - 04:10pm PT
Gotta bump this one again.

And say thanks to Long, Warbler, Meyers, Kauk, Chapman and everyone else that inspired me to look deeper and go farther up there on Middle Cathedral. Father Time wouldn't exist if you guys hadn't been inspiring me for so many years!

Red Wing, not sure if anyone has topped out ME lately. My original plan was to go up there and try and free the thing but I got distracted by the virgin rock out left...

Here are some pics by Jeff Johnson that will hopefully get others psyched to go check out Middle Cathedral. The season is almost here!

Some classic and amazing runout 5.10 up on Middle
Some classic and amazing runout 5.10 up on Middle
Credit: mikeyschaefer


Looking down toward the Smith/Crawford and Mother Earth
Looking down toward the Smith/Crawford and Mother Earth
Credit: mikeyschaefer

Me sticking the jug on the v8 boulder problem up high on Father Time
Me sticking the jug on the v8 boulder problem up high on Father Time
Credit: mikeyschaefer

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 8, 2013 - 12:26am PT
wonderful place to be
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Apr 8, 2013 - 12:55am PT
Anybody wants a taste of this stuff, try the Flakes first. Just advisin'.
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Apr 8, 2013 - 08:11am PT
Man, that looks good!

I'd love to get back up there on some new ground - there's nothing like it. That upper buttress was the unrealized Mother Lode of MCR for too long.

Big props to you guys for working the routes out. It looks awesome up there.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Apr 8, 2013 - 08:31am PT
Spectacular looking route, Mikey. We pushed it about as far as we could given we were going ground-up, on-sight. I remember being stoked that when we finally did Mother Earth on the 2nd go, I climbed the whole thing, bottom to top, no falls.

Now I wish we had gone up there at least one time with a modern approach and tried to boulder out a dandy. Great you guys did. Middle is a fantastic playground but the routes take a lot of time to establish for many reasons. I can only imagine how much work Mikey and the others put in to get this line on the wall.

JL
Rollover

climber
Gross Vegas
Dec 25, 2013 - 08:12am PT
Bump
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