Steck Salathe/Narrows. Would 9 or 12 inch giant cam help?

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p

Mountain climber
ny
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 29, 2009 - 03:50pm PT
I became a proud owner of 9 inch and 12 inch valley giant cams. I am planning to do Steck Salathe next week. Would these help protecting the narrows or the chimney above? I have read about using #4 big bros on the route.
Thanks
Paul
Alexey

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Sep 29, 2009 - 03:54pm PT
you do not need anything bigger than #4 old camelot. It protect well initial hardest entry move into the Narrows . After that you can not fall - just inhale and your chest hold you better than any pro
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Sep 29, 2009 - 03:56pm PT
Yup! You only need a #4 friend. Just remember to take off your rack and dangle it below you.

Bruce
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 29, 2009 - 04:10pm PT
Geez...you can't fall out of the thing, it's a question of being able to move up.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Sep 29, 2009 - 04:31pm PT
Don't worry about the Narrows.

It feels like you could fall out as you're first sucking up into it. That's gotta be why so much ink gets spilled on that move. But I'll bet no one ever does. Just set those elbow-palm locks and make like a snake.

Once you get your knees up into the narrower bit tho, you'll probably wish they were still flailing out of the way. Seems to be harder for tall guys, but look at it this way: where else will you ever have one-up on Dean Potter?

Soon enough it'll be just another great story, mimed in the firelight.
p

Mountain climber
ny
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 29, 2009 - 05:23pm PT
Thanks guys. that makes sense.
I want to mention though that I climb predominantly in Gunks (read roofs/overhangs) and even 5.8-5.9 chimney/squeez/OW is a challenge. Any opinion from 5.9 chimney climber who did it?
BASE104

climber
An Oil Field
Sep 29, 2009 - 05:27pm PT
Someone beat me to the "just inhale" part, but it is true.

You will love it. The route is super fun.
Moof

Big Wall climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Sep 29, 2009 - 05:31pm PT
I love the "Breath Jam".
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Sep 29, 2009 - 05:31pm PT
I climbed the Narrows in the middle of a furious thunderstorm and the chimney was a virtual waterfall. It took about five or six tries for me to get wedged up in there because each time I tried to move up into the slot, the waterfall just spit me back out. Pretty scary and cool all at the same time.

Bruce
Ryan Tetz

Trad climber
Flagstaff, AZ
Sep 29, 2009 - 05:40pm PT
It'd be a pain to carry, route protects surprisingly well overall. Could maybe bring 2 fours at the max to absolutely sew up the off width cruxes. One is totally fine. I remember doing it as a newb and pushing a 4 around while I didn't know how to climb pure 5.8 leg jamming odub. A 4 bro seems overkill imo.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Sep 29, 2009 - 06:06pm PT
You bought them, you might as well take them.
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Sep 29, 2009 - 07:12pm PT


Brutus enters the Narrows...
martygarrison

Trad climber
The Great North these days......
Sep 29, 2009 - 07:49pm PT
Mark disagree......no need for these things in the narrows and then you whould have to drag them up the whole route, never when they are needed. Go lite and fast on this one.
That's Papajoto to you son!!!!!

Social climber
Oatmeal Arizona
Sep 29, 2009 - 07:50pm PT
A #4 Camalot and a pair of huevos.

PJ
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Sep 29, 2009 - 07:53pm PT
I don't think you need anything than the old #4 to get/aid into the narrows. I just don't see anyway to slide down that thing out of control. It is too narrow and it is actually sort of wavey on the inside (gives your feet something).

Exiting the narrows can also be exciting. However, you can climb up high and get a #3 camalot in (you then have to downclimb to actually be able to exit)--this protects the getting out and most of the rest of the pitch.

I thought the scary pitch was the one below the narrows that is a flared crack/chicken wing size. You most definitely could fall out of that thing. I don't know if it would take a big cam or not (we didn't have any).
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 29, 2009 - 07:56pm PT
A friend of mine did the SS in the early 70's with Brit Richard McHardy. Richard supplied the gear and when they got to the bottom pulled out 6 manky nuts, none of which were large. When questioned, Richard said: "Aye, but too many pieces lower me standard."
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Why'djya leave the ketchup on the table?
Sep 29, 2009 - 08:10pm PT
This image shows the placement of the crucial #4 Friend, you can see the entrance is protected.



Now ya just gotta get on with it... the Narrows brought out a more claustrophobic feeling then I ever got in a cave. You can definitely feel trapped in there, esp if you have big Hara.



This last image is the nice chimney just above the Narrows.



Hey Marty, followed Stu up that pitch. One of many greatuns I did with him.

Say... I heard from a little birdy he was flying again....

DMT
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 29, 2009 - 10:16pm PT
A blue camalot works every time.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Sep 29, 2009 - 11:11pm PT
Marty, I'm being facetious, there is no need what so ever for cams that big. In fact, if someone even considers taking gear that big then they should seriously re-consider doing the route. Remember, ability trumps all and all routes are not for all people.
Mike.

climber
Sep 30, 2009 - 09:18am PT
Not only do you not need an oversize cam, you don't need to squeeze chimney the Narrows. Head out to the edge and do the back/foot and stem thing for a couple moves to and past bolts. I think those bolts have bee replaced.
martygarrison

Trad climber
The Great North these days......
Sep 30, 2009 - 09:51am PT
Dingus, I led the pitch with Stu back in the day. I remember it was bombay at the start, but not much else. good to hear Stu is getting out again. Mark sorry I was slow to catch on.
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Redlands
Sep 30, 2009 - 10:49am PT
The narrows isn't an issue at all as far as pro, #4 getting in and you can't fall out. The pitch below the narrows is more of a problem to protect...we had a 4.5 camalot that I used there. You can get a finger sized piece in a foot or two below that, so if you're strong on right-side-in flaring squeeze, you could easily get by with a single #4 and nothing bigger. I think that was the only place we used the 4.5, but we used the 4 in several places.

Here's what it looks like, dudemanbro in pic has just finished the crux.



My $0.02: Read up on the descent descriptions people have written on the Taco, I did and it helped out alot (especially descending in the dark, which is a good possibility on this route), take plenty of water and a lighter.
Rankin

climber
North Carolina
Sep 30, 2009 - 11:03am PT
No way do you need that big of a cam on SS. I took a #5 WC and would have been fine with less. As seen in the photos, plug that baby at the bottom of the Narrows, get up in that thing, game over...laugh your way to the belay ledge.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Why'djya leave the ketchup on the table?
Sep 30, 2009 - 12:31pm PT
Yo Elcap...

That was my scariest lead on the climb. I got like 3 points of pro in the chimney. Nearly yellered my self. I forgot about that. It was called 5.8 then.... broken pins, blah blah blah

DMT
le_bruce

climber
Oakland: what's not to love?
Oct 7, 2009 - 02:37pm PT

Soon enough it'll be just another great story, mimed in the firelight.

Nice.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Oct 7, 2009 - 03:28pm PT
"I want to mention though that I climb predominantly in Gunks (read roofs/overhangs) and even 5.8-5.9 chimney/squeez/OW is a challenge." If it makes you feel any better, I've climbed in the Valley for over 40 years and "5.9 chimney" still scares me more than "5.11 face."

I agree with those who think the flare below the Narrows is the scariest pitch on the route. Burly and not all-that-great pro.

Incidentally, a friend of mine did the SS last weekend, and did the outside variation rather than the Narrows. He said the protection for the initial moves is the same as that for the Narrows. He also said there were a couple of original Salathe bolts with dubious hangers, but overall the protection is fine. I wouldn't know because I've never tried to go that way.

John
Mr_T

Trad climber
The 7th Pin Scar on Serentiy Crack
Oct 7, 2009 - 04:59pm PT
A 9-12 inch would let you do the outside stem variation! Go for it!

(Don't bring a #9 for the Narrows - will get in the way.)
Mike.

climber
Oct 7, 2009 - 05:17pm PT
No need for that huge cam outside. Old #4 C4 to bolts, maybe 15' runout on 5.9d. The crux is max ten feet from the cam. Stack an approach shoe with your largest cam if you want more options.
mongrel

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Oct 7, 2009 - 11:01pm PT
Mike is right about the outside var. We were fine with just a #4 Friend. But it's only one move of 5.9c+ at the lip, then 5.9b later on. Pitch before is no terror either, it really is only 5.8b (burly). Just go climb. It's a solid old style route, if difficulty of individual bits is a concern, you're probably toast. Great route, great setting, long descent though. Don't lug a lot of excess or big gear, it's so much work already that the extra weight is a bad idea.
wildone

climber
GHOST TOWN
Oct 7, 2009 - 11:09pm PT
I've actually heard that the best protection to take is technique.
BASE104

climber
An Oil Field
Oct 7, 2009 - 11:23pm PT
I wouldn't want that big sucker battering my knee for just one move that is really pretty easy.

The big deal on a route like this is speed. Keep your changeovers quick and your gear organized. I would also put your gear on an old school over the shoulder gear sling. They are super for chimneys and offwidths. You will figure it out.

Speed will get you home before dark. I am like Donini on this..don't take too much crap because it will slow you down. Speed is about organization and changeovers at the belays. Always keep someone climbing. Can't stress that one enough.

Other than that, the route is a ton of fun, especially the upper part.
okie

Trad climber
San Leandro, Ca
Oct 7, 2009 - 11:35pm PT
Base104, from an oil field... Hmm... Hearndon?
I remember the Narrows as being the place I ran out of gas. Very claustrophobic unless you are a skinny sport climber, which I am not. Don't wear a helmet- it won't fit. Don't wear anything at all, especially big cams... You can't really rate these things- the chimney below goes at 5.8 or 10b. The higher rating sells more guidebooks...
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
Oct 7, 2009 - 11:43pm PT
The route seemed casual in 1972 with a rack of caveman hexes and wedges. The Narrows seems to have a big rep, but I don't know why, yer all wedged in there an sh#t, you'd have to try to fall.

Route finding up there, and making good time so as not to epic is more challenging than any of the "cruxes".

Bail the big ball and chain cam, check the forecast, and get an early start.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Oct 7, 2009 - 11:50pm PT
I've done it twice, BITD. I don't remember there being any protection at all (this is precam) in the Narrows. I guess there could have been a fixed bong up there I've conveniently forgotten, but I'm sure we didn't place any.

At the time I did it, I too was a Gunks climber with little offwidth ability (as Peter Haan, who tried to teach me some, can testify). The thing is totally secure, but a little hard to move up in. It isn't at all like some of the base of El Cap testpieces; its ripply and you can effectively palm your way up. It isn't the crux; there's a short, shallow bottle-shaped crack lower down that is harder (but also well-protected at the time with a fixed pin).

The one thing I'd mention about the Narrows (as told to me by Dick Williams, another Gunks climber who climbed the SS in the sixties), is to turn your head so you are looking out at the sky rather into the darkness, because it may be too narrow to turn your head for a few feet, and your disposition (as well as your glasses if you are like Dick and me) will be a lot less cloudy if you are looking out into fresh air.
Mr_T

Trad climber
The 7th Pin Scar on Serentiy Crack
Oct 8, 2009 - 03:07pm PT
Whoever just said this above is a genius!!!

Stack an approach shoe with your largest cam if you want more options.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Oct 8, 2009 - 03:29pm PT
If you need to take a 9" or 12" you aren't ready
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Oct 8, 2009 - 04:12pm PT
I remember finding an almost perfect replica of the Narrows just to the west of Swan Slab. However, I have since gone back to find it and failed. The dimensions match almost perfectly. Once one's knees are up, however, it is over; the upper chimney is capped.
Mike.

climber
Oct 8, 2009 - 04:37pm PT
Absolutely, dc. I didn't take approach shoes up either time, just watched my partner do it. I think he was trying to offload bulk and weight more than pro the thing better. (Hey, Scott R.!) I was probably as serious with that reco as I was doing DNB as a warmup. But yea, they'll both "work"...

What wildone said. Technique and hauling ass is your friend.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Oct 8, 2009 - 06:18pm PT
Wear acopa scramblers and you don't need climbing shoes.
p

Mountain climber
ny
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 13, 2009 - 07:42pm PT
Thanks for replies. I left my overgrown cams in the tent. Took 4 and 5 camalot. U probably can do without 5 but I did not feel sorry I took it. Route was great. Lead all pitches but took over 10 hours.
dogtown

Trad climber
JackAssVille, Wyoming
Oct 13, 2009 - 08:21pm PT
Seems to be harder for tall guys, but look at it this way: where else will you ever have one-up on Dean Potter?

I can bump that Shizz When DR and I did it, It was a war for me I’m 6’3” great route and the view of El Cap. Is of no other in the Valley.





Ryan Frost The Narrows.


Sentinel is the Valley out post. Period.

Photos Frost.

Rankin

climber
North Carolina
Oct 13, 2009 - 08:55pm PT
Great job p! God I love that route.
dogtown

Trad climber
JackAssVille, Wyoming
Oct 13, 2009 - 08:58pm PT
Here I have a Question for you all? Who has freed the Steak, Salathe dihedral that avoids the narrows? I think one of the Raleigh Boys Duane or his bother gave it a go if I recall, Nasty !! Has anyone? And when.?

Dogtown.


Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Oct 13, 2009 - 09:25pm PT
congratulations p!
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
Oct 13, 2009 - 11:24pm PT
Good job P,
10 hours is faster than average!
Zander
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