The SS is a GREAT route. It has a little bit of that alpine feel because of a fair amount of broken areas, and for the most part it isn't that exposed, despite being on a big vertical wall.
OK. You don't need to be able to do generator crack. You don't need to be able to do Astroman. You just need to be fit. Since everyone has their own opinion of where the crux is, you can think of it as sustained. It isn't sustained for full pitches though. It is sustained in having short little cruxes here and there. The rest is groveling, and damn fun groveling, with great pro even before cams.
No kidding. When I did it I couldn't climb 5.11 or beat my way out of a wet paper bag.
I was embarrasingly skinny, 18 or something, and all of the chimneys were easy. I had never done a chimney of any difficulty, so there ya go. I was also no hot kid prodigy. I think that the hardest crack I had done was CPOF. It was my first trip to yo.
Perhaps it is because the old green Roper guidebook or the Reid topo showed most of it as 5.7. Not having heard a single scary story, we thought it was a total romp. From the old description, it said that the slab was the crux, so I did my quiet trick of counting the pitches to make sure that my partner got it. You know, "I'll take this first one." Or, "Hey, why don't you take this first one. It looks easy."
So maybe a lot of it is psychological. I thought that the slab WAS the crux.
I was yacking about that route with a buddy last fall, and he said that on the Narrows, he just climbed outside and that it was super easy. I had heard that it was scary but he said not so. Are there modern bolts out there now?
Those chimneys keep you from experiencing any exposure, so I can understand how leaving the womb of the narrows pitch being pretty scary. He said it was piss easy. He looked at the narrows and just went outside. I suggest barrel chested people do that as well.
Having the physique of Nicole Kidman, I had no problem with the squeezes.
Don't waste time at the belays. The route is long. Pro is everywhere. Go fast on the easy stuff, and there is plenty of easy stuff.
I agree with you on all counts. I was about 22 years old, when I did it, and I wasn't a particularly gifted climber. I don't remember any problems, except I was pretty skinny, 32 inch waist then, ( 34-36 inches now). My chest was not nearly as big as it is now, so I might have problems in the narrows.
Most exposed part of the route is on the outside of the Narrows. Totally drops off, like, Wow!
And no, the bolts out there are the originals--Star Drivin's with flat aluminum hangers. I found the climbing to be about 5.8 OW ...
Lots of folks have trouble with the squeeze after the Wilson, but I take the very exposed 5.8 improbable traverse out right. It's a bit scary starting off, and there's no pro for a few moves. But once you commit, it goes fast and you're quickly on your way.