Steck Salathe vs Northeast Buttress

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Fingerlocks

Trad climber
where the climbin's good
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 20, 2005 - 03:48pm PT
I see on the Steck Salathe beta postings that many people consider the Supertopo "time to climb" estimate quite low and that they spent a lot longer.

So I got to wondering how people's times on Northeast Buttress compared to their times on SS? How about respective times on the approach and decent?

We've done NEB a few times and know it well. We just did it at a relaxed pace in 7 hours. We are doing SS soon, and I'm trying to figure when to start so that I can still get a pizza when I get down instead of morning coffee.
jacs

climber
Colorado
Jun 20, 2005 - 04:27pm PT
my base-to-summit times:
NEB- 8hrs in my 3rd year of climbing; cruiser descent.
SS- 12hrs in my 6th year of climbing; complicated, difficult descent

Forget pizza. Have dinner premade in the cooler so that you can scarf it before passing out in your tent.
Fingerlocks

Trad climber
where the climbin's good
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 20, 2005 - 04:48pm PT
No, not that. I never finish climbs quite as quick as I plan (hope). Planning to finish after dark might just mean getting back in time for that coffee. I'll stick to the pizza goal, but I'm wondering if we will have to kick ourselves hard to do it.

But, yeah, one of the nice things about the NEB is that the descent is so tame. It is one that would be easy to do onsight in the dark. If you do SS from car to top in 12 hours this time of year, that should leave plenty of daylight to get down.
Alexey

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Jun 20, 2005 - 05:13pm PT
NEB - done may 2005
we climbed route in 10 pitches- 10 hours, I led all upper part with no problems. Decent took- 2 hours

SS - we done year ago- may 2004 - I was about same shape as now.
we bivy at the base - climb 14 pitches in 15 hours. Last pith climbed at dark with headlamps. Spent night on top ( pretty comfortable). Descend - took about 2-3 hour
We switched leads with my partner until pitch 11- because after climbing Narrows - I totally lost energy and ability to climb. ( Not because of particularly difficulty of Narrows, but because of sustain nature of the all SS climb). Fortunately my partner was able to lead 4 remaining pitches where I hanged as dog on 5.7

For comparison NEB and SS I think the best is realize that SS contain at least 8 pitches physically same hard or harder than NEB pitch 7 ( with 5.9 squeeze chimney which I considered a crux of NEB route)
I think between those two routes is a big gap like 5.9 and 5.10
Fingerlocks

Trad climber
where the climbin's good
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 20, 2005 - 05:48pm PT
Thanks. I was wondering if we'd be able to do SS in half again as long as NEB like you did.

I'll be leading most if not all of the SS. Losing steam on the upper bits just because it has been a long hard day is an issue. My partner might be able to finish out the leads, but probably no faster than if I just did them. I figure being tired coming down will add to the desent time a bit as well.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 20, 2005 - 06:13pm PT
The descent off Sentinel is not that bad if you just drop off the back side, head down and left and angle away from the formation till you reach easy terrain. Most people go wrong by staying too close to the formation. Same thing with descending the Was. Col
Hike a ways away from the rock and get onto easy ground.

JL
Fingerlocks

Trad climber
where the climbin's good
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 20, 2005 - 06:24pm PT
Good, we'll do that. Been burned by that "let's take the quick way" impulse more than once.
climberweenie

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Jun 20, 2005 - 08:36pm PT
How about a comparison between route-finding and descent times on north dome gulley and sentinel. I found NEB descent to be very straightforward (more so than E Butt Middle Cathedral), and North Dome Gulley to be atrocious (mainly because we had no real beta to follow).

Thanks for info re: 8 pitches on SS comparable to crux of NEB. That's an eye opener.
WBraun

climber
Jun 20, 2005 - 10:20pm PT
I think you need to stop thinking so much Fingerlocks. You get up in the morning and go climb the thing and then descend. Then when your back at your starting point you can start thinking about your pizza and stuff.

What’s with all this thinking and stuff?
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 21, 2005 - 01:22am PT
I'm going to stick my neck out and say that you should plan on Steck Salathe taking twice as long as NEB. Not only that, you should make sure you bring a lighter and a foil bag incase you have to spend the night on top.

I've done the NEB dozens of times and SS maybe 4 times.

The descent from Sentinal can be convoluted and I think Largo oversimplies it. Yes, you hike away from the formation (First come the manzanita tunnels, then a gully, then a ramp, then talus) so you're finally on easy ground away from the formation, but if you go straight down there, you hit the worst imaginable loose exposed talus/scree hell. You have to look for a little switch back down into a gully to the North. Which is a quick way of saying it's darn hard to onsite descend from Sentinel without risk to life and limb.

So then you hike down this only semi-awful gully (forever) to a stream which fortunately might be safe to drink from cause it's pretty hard to resist. Then you're heading down North toward the valley on the East side of this stream and hit a steep slabby area. Steep enough that you'd be tempted to rappel if you don't find the right downscramble which is still hairy. Then it's through brushy trails back down into the gully of the stream again where you can finally cross over just above where the base of the approach ramp starts and reverse the approach from there.

The short version: The descent from Sentinel has top sucking honors in Yosemite Valley.

In my crazier days, I've soloed all but two of the pitches of NEB. (brought a rope for them) Werner solos the whole thing like it was sidewalk. I can't even think of one pitch on SS that I'd want to solo, until you count the final "4th class ramp" (5.6)

Forget pizza, it will be a miracle bonus unless you start at night, which is a bit hard too since the first pitch is the mother of sandbags.

Other than that, don't sweat it, you'll fire the thing!

Peace

karl
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 21, 2005 - 07:24am PT
Jeez, Karl, you sort of reversed the whole ascent/descent thing. I can soon imagine that whole threads will be devoted to alternative ways to get to the descent off Sentinel, with a whole slew of detailed variations and attendant horror stories.

Not that I disagree with you. I just don’t have such a good memory.

I am inclined to agree with Werner's set-the-alarm-hike-to-the-base-climb-to-the-top-hike-down-and-find-something-to-eat approach. But I can also remember staring down at Bircheff while leading in the upper chimneys and remarking how utterly exhausted I was. Dave felt the same way. I don't remember many free climbs where being tired but not pumped was part of the memory.

I have vague recollections of moving away from the rock to the SOuth and East to avoid the steep slopes, as John suggests. We didn't rappel.

We left the Valley at about 5:30am and were back in Camp at about 8:00pm. We cleaned up quick and tooled over to the Lodge.

SS is a great climb. And even if we didn't think the pitch ratings were so high, it was still a lot of work. Preparing for a night out sounds like good advise. A variant on Werner’s take: set-the-alarm-hike-to-the-base-climb-until-it's-dark-bivvy-climb-to-the-top-hike-down-and-find-something-to-eat.

Best, Roger
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Jun 21, 2005 - 11:10am PT
"I think you need to stop thinking so much Fingerlocks. You get up in the morning and go climb the thing and then descend. Then when your back at your starting point you can start thinking about your pizza and stuff.

What’s with all this thinking and stuff? "

Golly gee Werner, you wouldn't be trying to make more work for YOSAR with advice like that, now would you?
Fingerlocks

Trad climber
where the climbin's good
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 21, 2005 - 11:31am PT
Besides which thinking is an old habit I can't break even if it doesn't fit in the 21st Century. I even think while climbing. Imagine.

Planning ahead has improved my enjoyment to misery ratio. I just like to have fun.

Anyway thanks all
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 21, 2005 - 02:09pm PT
I don't exactly remember how many times I climbed Sentinel but it must be somewhere close to a dozen, and I never remember thinking the descent was that grim--not after bashing up those chimneys on SS or blazing up the West Face or the Chouinard Herbert. I think anyone who can do 5.10 climbing can easily negotiate getting down once the real climbing is over. You just keep your eyes open and use common sense. Compared to Basket Dome, or the Half Dome slabs, the Sentinel descent is simply not that hard. I understand that the mentality has changed over the years but 20 years ago I never once remember anyone balking at the Sentinel descent, while everyone regretted the big hump to get to the base of the wall.

JL
Fingerlocks

Trad climber
where the climbin's good
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 21, 2005 - 02:34pm PT
I'm not worried about coming down--I just figure it makes an already long day longer.

John, by chance do you remember about how long it took you to climb the SS?
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 21, 2005 - 04:32pm PT
The first time I did the SS I'd only been climbing for about 18 months and it took Jim Orey and I about 6 hours. I'd been climbing alot of cracks and flares out at Josh over the prior year so the SS seemed strenuous but not cruxy. I think it's mainly the chimneys and flares that give folks a problem on the SS. I had the advantage of having a local area (Josh) to hone those skills. I suspect that many SS parties come from areas that have hand/thin cracks and face climbs but little to none of the wider articles. That would make the SS a real struggle, as it's not at all a place to learn how to dick wide cracks. The next time I went on the SS I was a 5.11 crack climber so it seemed more manageable than the first time around.

I can't overstate the fact the routes like the SS are all about your comfort level with wide cracks. If you're solid up to say 5.10b, you're mint. If you top out at 5.9, the SS will be hard indeed.

JL



JL

Fingerlocks

Trad climber
where the climbin's good
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 21, 2005 - 05:07pm PT
I thought you would have been pretty quick on that.

No doubt I'm faster than I used to be, but I find that the wide cracks are more of a problem of keeping the pace up as opposed to feeling like I'm coming out. Even just putting in some pro eats up more time than it should. They make for interesting climbing though; I'm not in the yuck, wide cracks, camp.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 21, 2005 - 07:33pm PT
I might just be out of my mind but I think there was a major rockfall event that messed up the upper part of the descent. My first trip up Sentinel was actually the West Face with Corbett. The descent was no problem, at least it didn't stand out.

Years later, after doing SS one time, it was all of a sudden super sketch, and I remember rumours of rockfall. Way worse than the death slabs of Half Dome in my experience.

I don't think the SS approach is much of a big deal either.

Sometimes I suppose you just get an antipathy in your head about an approach or descent and it's not kind to you. I had to do the worst parts of that descent twice in one day once after topping out on Chouinard Herbert with my girlfriend at the time. We did it as a wall with a pig. I'd hike down, drop my pack, return for her and carry her pack too.

Sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn't. I did SS once with a friend of mine and it took a long time. It was my first unplanned bivy as we kept going up and down loose talus slopes looking for the way down with our headlamps but not confident enough in our path to head down the sketchy parts. Finally the light died along with my partner (figuratively) and I threw in the towel. Later we went back and fired it in full daylight.

You need to practice chimneys of all sizes for SS, not wide cracks. There's not more than a half pitch of offwidth on the whole climb and precious little fist either. It's all open to swallow your body.

My recollection anyway. That climb has a way of fogging your brain so you'll go back.

Peace

karl
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 21, 2005 - 08:19pm PT
Hey, Karl, my bad. When I said "wide cracks" I meant chimneys and flares, not off size. I don't remember doing any off size stuff on the SS, and I've done it a stack of times--but not in the last 20 years.

JL
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 21, 2005 - 09:45pm PT
No Prob. I just didn't want to see the poor guy whittle himself into ground meat on Generator Crack, Chingando, and Steppin Out only to find himself trying to arm bar up the belly of the beast!

Practice for the narrows, Lie under a sheet of plywood. have 4 guys sit on the plywood, then try to wiggle your way out.

BTW. The climb really isn't that bad. I weigh about 190 so the Narrows is twice as bad as any other pitch up there for me.

Peace

karl
WBraun

climber
Jun 21, 2005 - 09:54pm PT
" ...Lie under a sheet of plywood. have 4 guys sit on the plywood, then try to wiggle your way out."

Ha ha ha ha, ... that's great Karl!

Weird, I've done the Steck Salathe 3 times and I can't remember how the narrows were. Maybe cause I'm so skinny?
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 21, 2005 - 10:38pm PT
I weigh 210 and I never actually went into the Narrows--same for the Harding Slot. Always climbed on the outside. Barely . . .

JL
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 21, 2005 - 10:42pm PT
Karl, your plywood line is one of the greatest yet. How to practice for the SS in Ohio. Yep, we have plywood, we have big guys who, if you gave them beer, would stand on your board and watch you squirm. Got any suggestions for thin cracks or run out faces?

I have few distinct memories of SS.

"Hey Dave, have you ever done the SS?" "Me either, want to do it tomorrow?"

But I remember a pitch low on the on the main buttress where I decided to climb inside a crack from the bottom. It was slightly wider inside that at the lip and--at least in memory--once I was in I could not get out until the top. Tight. Dave decided to climb on the outside.

Is this real? Does, or did, that pitch really exist?

I also don't know if I remember the narrows or not. I have a memory of being in a back/knee or back/foot chimney, with my upper body in a squeeze chimney--back on the east wall, facing west. I turned sideways right at the lip and locking upper and lower arm bars, moved both legs into knee/heels above the lip and shuffled upwards in a horizontal position until I could dropped down into a vertical position. Is this real? Or...?

Roger
WBraun

climber
Jun 21, 2005 - 10:47pm PT
Ha ha ha ha, Yea John

Once I took Herman, the big Mexican feller up Astroman. I told him to go on the outside of the Harding slot. He would not listen to me and got stuck so bad that I had to climb down to him and calm him down, (he was hyperventilating), due to panic. After calming him down and smoothing his breath with much pulling and other weird maneuvers he managed through.

He bruised his chest and ribs very badly ……

Edit: What most people who never have seen Largo climb have never witnessed the pure speed and precision power that a big man as Largo exhibited. It was truly awesome!

It also gave one the urgency that you never, ever, want to fu-ck with this man.

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 21, 2005 - 11:23pm PT
I can't take full credit for the plywood idea. I think some variation of it was suggested by Brutus or Dingus or somebody. Somebody email Brutus and get him in on this thread. He's Mr. SS.

I'm sure he has no problems with the Narrows though. He's like a leprechaun on steriods!

Peace

Karl
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Jun 22, 2005 - 12:42am PT
OK. Here's my SS story. We were climbing reasonably fast,
1/2 hour per pitch and were at the Narrows by very early
afternoon. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm rolled in just
as we got there. The Narrows was a total, gushing waterfall
as I tried to climb the pitch. I would wedge myself halfway
into the slot and then just get spit out by the rushing water!
After about three or four tries I finally stuck and up I went.

We hauled a gallon of water up the climb; we poured 3/4 of it
out on top!

Bruce
Ben Wah

Social climber
Jun 22, 2005 - 01:49am PT
Roger,
The chimney you remember does indeed exist. I remember getting slightly stuck until I slid down and slung the rack beneath me on a sling. There are rumors of a variation to the right, but I always opt for the security of a chimney, so I never investigated.
As to the descent, I did it last year, and though there is much loose scree, there is no technical downclimbing or rappelling necessary (like on, say, the Cathedral chimney or the Gunsight), which in my book makes it mighty nice. One must just place his feet with care.
The worst part of the Sentinel for me is trudging for a whole mile up the lousy, switchback-y Four Mile Trail. Bleagh.
Ben Wah
Scott_Nelson

Trad climber
San Diego
Jun 22, 2005 - 02:36am PT
SS: 12 hrs
NEB: 7 hrs
+ approach + descent
steelmnkey

climber
Phoenix, AZ
Jun 22, 2005 - 10:00am PT
JL wrote:
"I weigh 210 and I never actually went into the Narrows--
same for the Harding Slot. Always climbed on the outside.
Barely . . ."

Same here... I was pushing about 205 when I climbed the SS. No way I was going up into the Narrows. Brutus led it in about five minutes and then swung the rope back in outside the chockstone with gear on the end. I went to the outside. Interesting climbing, sideways "L" chimneying to a sort of pirouette move to turn around and see Salathe's bolts tinkling in the breeze.

Damn that thing is burly...but classic.



Dingus Milktoast

climber
NorCal
Jun 22, 2005 - 10:32am PT
Werner, I can totally relate to that big Mexican feller's feelings.

I did a lot of caving back in the day in Tennessee, including many wild caves where we were squeezed in as tight as a mole, way underground. Oddly enough, I never once suffered any kind of claustrophobic feeling doing that, not once.

But stuck in the Narrows, unable to move up and afraid that if I slipped down even an inch I would be stuck permanently, I felt true claustrophobia for the first time. I didn't panic but I did have a lot of trouble breathing... I couldn't expand my chest enough to get enough air to catch my breath.

Finally, FINALLY, wiggled my way up.

I think claustrophobia is two parts... the tight space accompanied with a sense of no control over the situation. In the caves I still felt in control, in the Narrows I was close to losing it.

Staying on an airplane too long makes me antsy... after 3-4 hours I start to really get agitated. Funny to think an airplane can remined me of SS.

A jedi mind trick for creowded flights... you're stuck in a middle seat, wedged inbetween Bertha Butts and Jack Bodysweat, and the as#@&%e in front of you reclines his seat till you're staring at the top of his balding head and counting the fleas as they scamper across the savannah of his scalp. You thought you dozed off while taxiing out to take off and figure you must be half way home. You look out the window to realize you're still on the f*#king ground and you're still facing 4 more hours of torture... and the goddamned pilots won't dare tell you why,why why you're stuck in traffic on the damned ground.

Its times like these... that I conjur up things like SS. I figure I should be able to take some extended seat-torture. I just imagine I cannot move at all, not one muscle. I just sit there, catatonic, stuck in the Narrows of my mind.

Damn I hate that shit!
DMT
macgyver

Social climber
Oregon, but now in Europe
Jun 22, 2005 - 11:00am PT
Largo clocks in at 210? How tall are you?

I had no idea...it gives me hope (I am 6'1" and 195 lbs).

It is even more inspiring for my buddy and favorite climbing partner who is 205 and 5´9"...he was the rugby captain and so strong the boy could pull off your arms in a fight and then beat you with them. Luckily he is the nicest and smartest guy you can meet.

So....what would be the "road to the SS" routes...5 routes to get you prepared and to test your mettle.

McG
Mike.

climber
Jun 22, 2005 - 11:42am PT
Road to SS...good thinking.

Moby Dick
Sacherer? Never done it.
Whodunnit/Swallow (Tahquitz)
Reed's Direct
Nose through the Stovelegs
NEBoHCR
Epinephrine (RRocks)
DNB
(Sorry, I've gone out of the area)

Maybe the SS should be on the road to the DNB...? I think the chimneys are not the hard climbing on SS, the flares are (and the continuous difficulty of the route).

The Narrows are avoided by climbing outside exactly as steelmonkey described; back facing east, foot/feet out west (left side in). I'm 5'10" with long legs and can just do the back/foot. Eventual bolts out left (possibly ancient). This variation is erroneously labeled an OW in ST Yos Free Climbs--the feature may be OW, but the climbing up it is chim/stem/face to eventual chim. Exposed and scary, but not hard.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 22, 2005 - 01:13pm PT
Hey, WBraun--

Hard to imagine dangling above the Harding Slot trying to coax some stuck-fast Mexican out of that Black Hole. That's some pretty good exposure there to be dinking around in that way. Sounds epic. Glad it was you, not me.

JL
climberweenie

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Jun 23, 2005 - 02:56am PT
What are good cragging squeeze pitches to practice laps on for endurance in Yos? I know Reed's Direct, what else is nice squeeze rather than OW?
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 23, 2005 - 03:27am PT
Climb pitch 1, Moby Dick center. Tope rope Ahab. Puke, then climb pitch 2, Moby Dick Center and top rope Moby Dick left.

Best practice session for SS that there is.

Don't worry, nothing quite as horrible as Ahab on SS

Peace

Karl
climberweenie

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Jun 23, 2005 - 03:42am PT
This has given me a purpose for this weekend. Now if I can only find a suitable victim... uh, partner....
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 23, 2005 - 02:00pm PT
I know of one preparation for the Narrows right in the Valley near the road, on Reeds. At least the mental preparation.

Last year, Karl reported that someone climbed up the back side of the second pitch to a point near the top. This was named Deer. (The thread still exists.)

On a hot summer day a long time ago, I was cooling my heels waiting for my party to lead the second pitch of Reeds Direct, the long, undulating hand crack that ends on the main ledge at the base of the pinnacle. I climbed under the slab and started chimney climbing behind Reeds. Rather than stay close to the crack, I angled up and to the left toward the last the pitch. You come out in the tunnel that connects the right and left sides of the pinnacle. It is long, dark, and at places tight. You also have to go sideways at different places and work around chock stones. A head light would be useful, but a helmet might be dangerous—if it got stuck—and would definitely limit your progress. If you got lost and lost your presence of mind, you had better hope that Werner is close by and willing to find you.

The only reason to trail a rope is so that someone can find your decaying body. (I think that rope drag might be a problem if one were on belay. On the other hand if you carried the rope up and paid it out as you climbed, someone could follow your line and find you to say last rites.)

I cannot say that I recommend this, but if you wiggle up inside Reeds, and meet your party on the main ledge, you will never be afraid of getting stuck in one of Harding's horror shows on in the Narrows.

Roger
Texplorer

Trad climber
Portland, OR
Jun 23, 2005 - 02:58pm PT
Stecke Salathe is my FAVORITE ROUTE EVER, ANYWHERE. I remember every pitch to be fun and fairly sustained. Even a "face" pitch about half way up had fun moves.

The crux is definetly the pitch before the narrows.

Contrary to what you'll hear in C4 there are no off-size cracks to my recollection. It is 5.9 but you better be ready.

A good rule of thumb is to try to allow for 1 hour of light on the descent after that it becomes a long talus descent.

I heard a larger valley local (The Beast from the East) had to take his harness off to climb the narrows pitch.

When you climb the Stecke-Salathe you can say you climb 5.9 in the valley.

yo

climber
NOT Fresno
Jun 23, 2005 - 08:00pm PT
Largo said something telling, that if you're solid up to 10b wide, you're mint. Solid up to 5.9 and you're earning it. Think about that for a long while. Once you've ruled out yourself and everyone you know as solid on 10 flares and chimneys, try to even think of a route like that to practice on. Good times.

KB's plywood gladiator training wins some kind of prize.

I'm not sure the SS is my favorite route, but it's my favorite to spray about.
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jun 23, 2005 - 08:08pm PT
...and you sprayed about it most masterfully, indeed! If I ever climb that route and if it is as rough as I've been led to believe, I hope that my story is at least half as good.

The training lists that I've seen seem to lead from the NEB to the SS...yet folks say the SS will take twice as long. So...if the NEB still feels like a huge but doable endeavor, what next? Try to work on my C2C time on the NEB? Any longer routes good as an intermediate point of suffering between the two?

In any case, as this years soltice time comes and goes, I know I'm waiting at least another year, if not a lifetime, to go thrash around up there.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 23, 2005 - 08:36pm PT
You've done the DNB Mel, which is abou the same scale as SS. DND minus Runout scary slabs plus long approach and more burl equals SS.

Doing the NEB and then adding a lap on Braille Book in the same day would be great training.

More Training suggestions

Church Bowl Chimney then Church bowl terrace

Washington Column Direct

All sides of Moby Dick

Sacherer Cracker to the Slack. TR the chimney on Slack center from the Sacherer Anchors for extra points.

All three pitches of Reed's direct, then tr Reeds Left. Bongs Away left for extra points.

Peace

Karl
Rhodo-Router

Trad climber
Otto, NC
Jun 24, 2005 - 09:14am PT
Melissa, the wide fetish hasn't rubbed off on you yet? I'm kinda surprised to hear that you haven't been up the SS.

Roger's "set-the-alarm-hike-to-the-base-climb-until-it's-dark-bivvy-climb-to-the-top-hike-down-and-find-something-to-eat" is how it went down for us.


This route took top honors as Hardest Thing I've Ever Climbed...
until last fall:

http://www.climbingboulder.com/rock/db/mt_evans/the_black_wall/road_warrior.html

The Road Warrior, we agreed, was The Burliest Thing Either Of Us Had Ever Done. Which includes non-climbing ventures.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 24, 2005 - 12:35pm PT
For SS practice, consider the L side of Absolutely Free, Chingando, Rixon's East Chimney, and as Karl B said, Ahab and Reeds Direct last pitch. These are all harder than anything on the SS but get you dialed into thrash fests.

JL
Frozenwaterfalls

Ice climber
California
Jun 24, 2005 - 01:56pm PT
Okay, I think I might have actually met Karl at the base of Ahab when he was suprised to see so many of us working on it. Yes, there was a crowd on Ahab (this was back in April some time, I think). As for the TRing of Ahab (which I did after a friend led it), just remember, while you do not have the falling/pro issues associated with leading it, you get the joys of climbing it about the equivalent of 20 times in one go since we had to use 2 ropes to TR. The scenario for me went something like this - work myself up a good 6 inches of squirming, pushing, armbarring, knee barring while flipping faceup to facedown to see what works best. Sag in a worked heap and have 12 inches of rope stretch negate every bit of upward progress I made plus my previous efforts. Sigh, go at it again. And again. And again. With the occasional fun of inhaling as deeply as possible so I could squeeze as far back into the crack as possible to clean out the #6 Friend that had walked really far into the back so that it could adorn my harness and slam into my leg every move. Continue until you can take it no more. If it was Karl, at least he was complimentary in that he said I did not swear, whine, groan, projectile vomit or blame my belayer(s) (yup, I was rather slow and had a belayer swap midway). So anyway, you can double or even triple your fun if you TR Ahab.
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 24, 2005 - 04:20pm PT
I read the recent Andy Selters piece (at least I think it is recent) in the Mountain Gazette, 114, about Selters and Allen Steck climbing the SS.

Selters recounts their climb with a nice touch. The main story can be summed up in an early paragraph.

“Now we’re stuck for the night, 600 feet from the top, and I’m thinking that climbing the chimneys on this route are like bench pressing a Land Cruiser. Five-nine my ass. People warned me. Doug Robinson said: “I wouldn’t go up there again unless I was in really good shape.” Then Peter Croft: “It’s not as technical as Astroman but is probably just as strenuous. At least.”

Makes Karl’s plywood training sound sensible. Once you have that mastered, park your Land Cruiser on top and then wiggle out. Do laps.

So now I am really curious. For those of you who have the technical skill to climb Astroman and have done SS, is Croft's assessment right?

Reassessing-my-summer-plans-Roger
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 24, 2005 - 04:50pm PT
That was me at the base of Ahab. You guys are sick! That's the most gluttons for punishment I've ever seen gangbanging that route. Nice to meet you.

Yup, the more likely you are to flail on Ahab, the better it would be to belay from the top, which, in my non-sportclimbng world, is still top-roping.

Peace

Karl
BrentA

Gym climber
estes park
Jun 24, 2005 - 05:32pm PT
The SS was my best day of climbing ever...ever...ever!!!

It always strikes as odd that I can zero in on ONE day that is my best...I'm thirteen years deep (nothing compared to some of you posters, you guys rule!)

But str8 up, this was it. I was soooooooooo hungover from the night before and pukin on that approach. We reached the first pitch. I was with my best friend and partner...this is 2001. He hands me our rack and says when the rope comes tight I'll start climbing. Ten minutes later I'm wanting to puke again and only about 20 feet up thinking "I;m such a stupid drunk poser!!!!" I think I place like 8 pieces of gear on that first pitch. Somehow the rock gods smiled on me and my good drunken style...the next time I saw Ryan was at that ledge before the rapppel (cool DH memorial laminate on rap anchor). That block nuked me...I remember on 60 foot fist section in the middle where I had no gear and thought "this is how Timmy and Dean do it CHARGE!!!!!!" Gripped senseless I sent.

At the ledge we cleared up our vision with some glaucoma medication and he sent to the summit in one "pitch" as well.

We topped out and descended without incident. I remembe some good beta after the initial descent is to look for the lowest point on the cliff band to hike down. We sprinted down the trail...I come across an Earth muffin and full on yard sale in her presence...dirty I grimy I don't miss a beat smile and continue down the trail...fifty feet back Ryan is falling over laughing at my "smoothness"

Str8 to the deli...some cobras(cheaper than the Ole E) and then the South Face of Washinton Column made for my GREATEST day ever. Great in the sense that I was so in the zone...I have had many other more productive days, but somehow this one ALWAYS warms me up when I think about the great day with my man RYan.

Ryan has a picture of me fetal and destroyed in the dirt on top of the column...my fav.

I only share this because it is such a great memory for me, and so many of you have shared your experiences with us.

The route is stellar with lots of physical climbing. IF you are a 5.9 leader I can see a bivi REALLY possible. A terrific route.

Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Jun 24, 2005 - 06:25pm PT
Chockstone Chimney is good SS training. It's pretty strenuous. Leave early though because of the decent.

How about Entrance Exam? Is that good SS training?
Fingerlocks

Trad climber
where the climbin's good
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 24, 2005 - 07:08pm PT
We noticed Chockstone Chimney in the Reid book, but haven't gotten around to going up and having a look. This is the first time I've ever heard anyone mention it. Can you describe it a bit? Is it worthwhile?
BKW

Mountain climber
Central Texas
Jun 24, 2005 - 07:37pm PT
If you get on Moby Dick Ahab be wear long pants or at least cover your knees. I lead this as a warm up for the Salathe offwiths in shorts and had gobies above the knees, became scabs that lasted for my whole stay in the valley. No didn't get Salathe, but thats another story.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Jun 25, 2005 - 12:40pm PT
Northeast Buttress: A fun day hike
Steck Salathe: A beat and a half
Texplorer

Trad climber
New to Las Vegas
Jun 25, 2005 - 01:37pm PT
" . . .cleared up our vision with some glaucoma medication and he sent to the summit . . ."

CLASSIC BRENT!!!!!
HalHammer

Trad climber
CA
Jun 25, 2005 - 10:38pm PT
Steck Salathe wasn't that bad. My buddy and I were pretty new to the wide climbing stuff last summer. We did Moby dick, then NEB, and went for it on SS. With that little wide climbing ability we pulled it in 11 hours.......The point being....The gear is bomber all around, except for the pitch below the narrows I would feel fine whipping off just about all over that route when it comes down to it. The route isn't half as bad or scary as people make it out to be. If you felt alright on NEB, you could do it probably. And the places like the chimneys that you wouldn't want fall in feel more secure than you'd like. I remember the first pitch was a offwidth 5.8 crack for a bit BTW.

The descent is no where near as bad as the bogus endless raps off of the WFLT or the Death Slabs or even the Snake Dike approach. I hate the spires gully more personally too, just because i always biff it on that talus!
Brutus of Wyde

climber
Old Climbers' Home, Oakland CA
Jun 26, 2005 - 12:27pm PT
I've done the SS 5 times, but not recently. It's one of my favorite climbs in the Valley. I'd say definitely as strenuous as Astroman, but nowhere near as hard.

What's this about a Derek Hersey memorial on the rap chains?

Brutus
thebleeder

climber
Jun 26, 2005 - 12:38pm PT
there's a laminated photo of derek (the one where he's laughing) tied to one of the rap bolts. it says "we miss you derek" on the back i believe.

that route gave me a good rogering. do the descent in the dark without a headlamp for full value.
climberweenie

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Jun 26, 2005 - 04:27pm PT
Taking recommendations in this thread to heart, I found a victim/patner for Moby DIck + Ahab this weekend. Only it turns out I was the victim (thanks Mei!)

We started on Royal Arches for exercise/endurance (maybe simulate SS approach?), and in an unplanned way turned into both of our first solos (rappeling took as long as the climing it seemed). Then we went to C4 Wall and did Doggie Deviations, Doggie Diversions, & Doggie Do. I think Doggie Do should be added as intro to the squeeze practice circuit (5.10a, but short and crux is only 10 feet but sweaty and awful). Doggie Diversions starts 20-25 feet no gear except at top chimney (awkward but fairly easy), and second pitch is awkward as hell sustained off-hands, off-fist with body contorted way sideways and head smashed into rock to get position for both hands in crack.

Then on to Moby Dick + Ahab. Moby Dick pitch 1 starts in THIN 10a fingertips, to nice finger crack, gradually widening through wide hand jams, fist jams, to easy and comfortable hand stacking. I enjoyed following this pitch, and by this point didn't have the energy or the passion to go for 1st pitch of Ahab. But my partner is a dynamo and I became her belay victim while she kicked Ahab's ass on toprope by sunset. That is one badass pitch. Not just cruxy thrashing and transitions, but LONG!

KEY BETA: Bring 2 ropes for Moby Dick + Ahab. We had 1 60m rope, TR'd Ahab from top of belay station, and descent was dicey (partner lowered me, then was a few inches from end of rap ropes onto delicate thin ledge between Moby Dick & Ahab, pulled one rope end for tension traverse as slack played out and then short rap from tree area on Ahab.
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Jun 27, 2005 - 11:11pm PT
Fingerlocks,
Sorry it took so long to reply. Chockstone Chimney is a great climb. I wrote a TR recently here which you could read. It really cool that in Yosemite there can be such a classic climb that not to many people have done. A climb that very ordinary climbers like me can do. 5.8 hand jambing, stemming, chimneys its got it all. Mainly it just takes place in this great feature- pitch after pitch. The 5.9 squeeze is short and, with creativity, protectable. I think it's harder than EB of M, EB of El Cap or Arrowhead Arete. Start earlier than you think needed for 8 pitches. We may or may not have found the easiest decent but plenty of people reppelled the same route before us. The only decent info we could find was in the 1972 Roper guide. It wasn't much help so ask around to see if you can find better info.
It's way easier than the SS.
Enjoy
Zander
Fingerlocks

Trad climber
where the climbin's good
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 28, 2005 - 11:34am PT
Nice report, Zander.

Did you have some info about the decent that makes you think you were not on the regular one? Maybe those are just very old bolts that should (but haven't yet) been replaced.

Anyway, your description of the climb sounds better than I was expecting. I'm putting it on the list.
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 28, 2005 - 03:41pm PT
Hey Fingerlocks,

Enough of this all-over-the-map-speculation. When are you going to go for it? I am sure that you will live to tell about it. If Steck can bivvy at 74 below the narrows and keep his chin up....Anyway easy for me to say.

We want bold action and a trip report, come what may.

Best, Roger
Fingerlocks

Trad climber
where the climbin's good
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 28, 2005 - 04:54pm PT
Roger, Chockstone Chimney isn't on my list of "training climbs". It's just going to be on my list of worthwhile multipitches. There are so many cool obscure climbs hidden in among the deservedly obscure climbs that I'm always asking around for ideas instead of just trudging up loose slopes hoping there is something I want to climb at the top. Can't climb on the internet, but you can always ask a bunch of questions and maybe even get a climbing thread going.

We figure that we will climb North Buttress of Middle next. I've heard good things about it. This, instead of East Buttress of Lower which sounds like it has a lot of loose junk from a rock fall (true?). Saddly, that one might be off my list.

So SS next week? Sounds good to me. And I'll let you know how it went. BTW, this has been a good thread, thanks all for the stories.
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