TR 2009-10-18 Coonyard Pinnacle (Frquent Flier Miles)


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Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 18, 2009 - 11:40pm PT
If every foot I fell today earned me 1000 frequent flyer miles, I'd have earned a first class ticket to New Zealand. Holy shnikies!

I'm sure we weren't the first to invent this scale, but today we created a new way to measure the distance of a fall. It's called the FVCK scale. For example, on the first pitch of Coonyard (Reid's pitch 2, but I linked first two), I made a 3 FVCK fall, which means that as I fell, I had time to yell FVCK three times while my partner was yarding in slack before I came I came taut on the rope. I actually had another 3 FVCK fall in the same spot after painstakingly working my way up to the same spot. This time was worse because I thought I was going to pull it out... the foot slipped from the high point, I caught myself hanging on a single fingernail (!) and repositioned the foot, got the hand up to the almost-thank-god ledge, and the foot blew again, and the flake my fingernail was on, and my sweaty fingers greased off the polished downloping ledge, and then a hearty round of F--V--C--K, F--V--C--K, F--V--C--K! (all the while accelerating). The burning rubber smell was like a car wreck. Layers of my shoes sloughed off. My fall funknessed out a fixed copper/brass bashie that had appeared totally welded into the rock. Somewhere else in there I took a 2 FVCKer, but my memory of it was overshadowed by other stuff.

Because you see, the FVCK scale is nonlinear. Well, technically it's a linear 2nd-order function (you know, the whole 1/2[g-f]t^2 + 2vt +d thing). The acceleration is less than free-fall given the slab friction force countering gravity, but there's definitely acceleration going on.

So you can imagine our chagrin when on the 3rd pitch, we each took a 4 FVCK fall. The topo said to go straight left, but it looked pretty improbable in that direction. And looking up and left we could clearly see a double-bolt anchor with ratty slings on it. Seemed like a short pitch, and not too bad! So my pard heads up there, making it look harder than it probably is. He's dinkin' around putting in little wired things and I'm thinkin' "just get up there already dude, enough of the procrastinating." How quickly I forgot how I took the better part of the morning linking the first couple of pitches! So when he's done tweakin' on these little offsets and a shallow TCU placement, he heads off and the foreshortening becomes a little more evident.

I hear the sound of his palm scraping along the slab looking for anything to make the absence of good foot spots seem palatable. I was going to say footholds, but there weren't any footholds... just spots that seemed a little sharper or more rough where the feet might stick better. Might. So he teeters a little higher up, and finds a rusty thread sticking up just enough to take the metal swage of a nut. He clips and goes, to what what seems like a great postive layback ledge just a few feet higher. After delicately moving along, he ends up standing on this sloping layback ledge, dinking around some more looking for the next 10 feet to the bolts, and he cuts loose for some big air. You guessed, it off of the rusty thread! I had time to pull in 4 big armfuls of rope, but he's still a good 20-25 feet below that thing. Big ol' hole in the pants and butt bruise from bouncing down a little ledge along the slab path. He took a big one for the team! A full four FVCKer all right!

It's my turn. As I retrace his steps I come to appreciate that it's trickier than it looks, and longer between the good spots. And the good spots aren't good. It's often like that, but how easy it is to forget while safely tucked into the belay! I reach the rusty rivet, and take a few pictures while balanced on the slab. Pretty nasty. I head on up and past to the layback, and to my double chagrin this thing just isn't any good at all! You can do a sloping lieback leaning left, but it's all licheny and slippery for the feet there. I high stepped onto a dicey but better spot, moving my right foot up to complete the delicate mantle onto this badly angled thing, and my left foot popped. F--V--C--K, F--V--C--K, F--V--C--K, F---V---C---K! Stop. Quick check, all body parts still attached. No blood flowing. Glance up, the rope is taut on the nut on the rusty rivet. Deep breath, regroup, take a look out left as we come to accept that maybe that's the way to go. But I think I can get this thing.... (denial phase)

I delicately climb back to the high rusty rivet from straight below, with a healthy dose of tension assist. I'm mentally bracing for nutted rivet to blow and for another slide. But it holds. I reach the high spot, look out to those double bolts that are so close.... We talk it over (bargaining phase):

"Hey, if I get us up to those double bolts, are you willing to lead the next pitch after that?"

"But there's nothing above that."

"Yeah, it's a bulging wall that's much harder than this part that we can't do. But it looks like after the first 20-30 feet it levels off and should be easier. So are you going to lead it?"

"Uh, I'll be the first to rap off it."

So it's decided. I just don't have the heart to go for another big slider onto a rusty rivet hung with a nut, in the name of getting to the next double bolts that lead to nowhere. I don't bother trying to get higher than the rusty rivet this time. I clean what I can, and rap off that nutted rivet and another nut we leave in a crack below it on the other rope (we climbed with doubles).

While rapping down the rest of the way, some other dude rapping off of Patio to Coonyard, who did the direct Coonyard route a few decades ago, confirms we're supposed to traverse all the way left. It looks grim to me even after knowing where it's supposed to go. I took some pictures. Maybe someday?

I'm beginning to understand why some people don't like to climb at Glacier Point Apron.... But I'm a little thick-headed, and probably need some more convincing.

David Wilson

Oct 19, 2009 - 12:10am PT
that's a hilarious story! thanks for posting. i remember doing that route BITD when it was popular. it seemed ridiculously hard then, and sounds even worse now. i just remember being about to fall off for long periods of slab, feet oozing. gotta remember your fall factor scale
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 19, 2009 - 12:26am PT

Roger following p3

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Oct 19, 2009 - 12:34am PT
Now THIS is a thread I can really get behind, being the veteran of at least a 5-FVCK 70-footer off this very climb in 1969. Great narrative, nutjob!! Had me reaching for the chalk bag right here at the computer. My particular air time - long-distance, but not frequent - was logged off the 3rd or 4th pitch in Reid, or somewhere off route in that general area. Of course, at that time, there was not even the green Roper, there was only the little red book, we had no idea WTF we were getting in for (except that the Plan was a complete ascent to the top via the Hinterland: hilarious!). And there were not nearly as many bolts (maybe two on the whole route?) as there are today, which is not too many at that; and we were climbing in RDs with virtually Teflon soles.

So everything went as well as might be expected for the first 3; actually, way better, no leader falls at all! We work our way up to the last belay we got to, a single piton driven straight down no more than 2/3 of the way in, behind a tiny ledgelet. This was possibly at or near the two-bolt anchor shown in Reid. Or maybe some other godforsaken off-route ledge. No topo: who knew? In those days, we considered this arrangement to be a totally bomber anchor, so off I launched into the featureless 5.9 friction wasteland, sketching and slipping and clinging on, not willing even to try to swing the hammer to maybe get a knifeblade into a flake. This would surely have resulted in a slip off the glassy sloper, but at least at that point only a 2-FVCKer. No, onward.

Somewhere way way beyond any possible thought of return or traverse to an alternative line (as in, back toward where I should have been, probably), I arrive desperately at a little round thing, nicely big enough for about 3-4 fingers, but otherwise glass all around, nary the minutest Glacier Point flake to try to work some other move. Not yet having mastered the thumb-toe switch mantle, I am done for, but hang and wriggle for many long minutes delaying the inevitable; the hold was plenty big enough to hang for quite some time in this condemned man condition, as if in the classic Ambrose Bierce short story, the whole of which takes place in the time period from the drop of the gallows trapdoor to the arrival at the end of the taut rope noose. But arrive I do, F-F-F-V-V-V-C-C-C-K-K-K!!!! ...somewhat approximating the long rappel arrow in the Reid topo. Even so, it could have been worse: the poor belayer had to have been worrying all during this huge plunge whether that miserable piton would pull out, or whether his hip belay would fail (or even worse still, succeed with the obvious consequences to some tender fleshy part).

Incredibly, the piton and belay hold, and I do not die; not only that, but we rally the next day for the Regular on Higher Spire. But I've never been willing to take a fall on GPA again, a determination that has served me well on numerous sketch-fest leads.

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 19, 2009 - 12:38am PT
Deduct one "FVCK" for spelling "taut" correctly. Two if you correctly used "led" as the past imperfect tense of "to lead".

Nice report!

Trad climber
Canoga Bark! CA
Oct 19, 2009 - 12:48am PT
Nutjob - I am loving your TR's ! Keep the stoke coming!

PS Just found the Canoga Park costume store, and am going mullet shopping very soon.


Trad climber
Oct 19, 2009 - 12:52am PT
"Big ol' hole in the pants and butt bruise from bouncing down a little ledge along the slab path."

That has gotta hurt!

I guess I need to go look at that route. Maybe with binoculars. Prolly safer.


Trad climber
Lake Tahoe
Oct 19, 2009 - 12:55am PT
Way to keep at it, Nutjob.

Reads like good prep work
for your return to Conness!

What a hardman!


Social climber
Oct 19, 2009 - 01:36am PT
Zander it did hurt a bit. I think I'll be doing my cycling standing for a few days.

I turned around during the sliding fall, probably to protect my ankle. Kinda glad I did. Less than 2 years since achilles rupture, and I'm glad whatever hit my a$$ didn't hit my foot. Despite pants shredding, no rock rash there, and only a little scraping of hands. Scott earned the flyer miles, and got scraped a bit worse.

A highlight of the day was doing "the most sought after route in the valley", as the approach. Yup. Monday Morning slab, right side. According to Roper's green guide (1971). I love easyish climbs, and I like the idea of a time when a route like that was popular.

Clint: OMG! From your topo it looks like I went the old way? Kinda stout...
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 19, 2009 - 01:53am PT

Yeah, I looked up at that "old way" this summer, and I thought it looked way too hard to try! Pretty slick. The 5.9 traverse of the freed p3 was not that bad, but I was glad I didn't fall on it.

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 19, 2009 - 01:12pm PT
Ho Mongrel, I know EXACTLY the little round thing with glass all around... I spent a lot of time contemplating at that spot, relieved to pull off the thumb/foot mantle but then flummoxed at what to do next. One or two moves past that was the site of two of the three FVCKer falls!

I remember clipping that downward lost arrow hanging out a bit way off-route to the right, and was heading off into wasteland when I luckily listened to Davidji to backtrack to the left. That was at the start of P2, but it was near the end where that "hole" thing you have to mantle before a few more BAD moves to a thin belay ledge.

Davidji definitely pulled the stoutest slide of the day on Clint's yellow line. I have to add the picture of his high piece (won't be until tonight). I guarantee you the most sack-shriveling photo of the day (when considering the falls it held). I don't think I would have led past it, but after he did and it held a fall and lower-off, and acting as a top-rope for me to get back up to that point, for some reason I trusted it too.

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Oct 19, 2009 - 02:00pm PT
Nutjob...sounds like I missed a party! Glad to see you made the most of it and sadly...I still wanna do this line.

One of my earliest partners recounted a story of a BITD golden age fall he took on the apron of nearly 100+feet!!! He told me the fall was long enough to turn over after first burning though his pant seat and palm skins to (yikes) his groin. Apparently not bad enough though as next day (with tape) he was back on the stone....crack climbing only for a few days.

He did melt his shoes how are YOUR Mythos? No excuses now, pick up some Acopa Aztec's.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Oct 19, 2009 - 02:08pm PT
Funny story, but I didn't think that anyone climbed up there anymore; I thought it was reserved for skateboarding.

Mountain climber
A van down by the river
Oct 19, 2009 - 03:33pm PT
If you yell FVCK for a while before you actually peel does that affect the overall score? If it does then I might be a contender for a record or two.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Oct 19, 2009 - 03:35pm PT
I don't yell FVCK anymore. I yell REPUBLICAN!!!, has the same meaning and makes me feel way better.

Oct 19, 2009 - 04:57pm PT
Sounds like a good time :)

btw The introduction to the Reid guide says on p. 14 that someone once took a 270' lead fall and survived (!)

Trad climber
San Leandro, Ca
Oct 19, 2009 - 05:00pm PT
People actually fall on that route? wow! I didn't think I was allowed to fall on it... so I didn't...

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Oct 19, 2009 - 06:09pm PT
Eee lads, now you know why we climbed in leather in times of old. When men were men and sheep were still sheep.

Curious how many bolts are now on the route? I believe we only placed two on the first ascent and they were on the first pitch.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 19, 2009 - 06:19pm PT

There are now 5 protection bolts: 2 on p1, 1 on p2, 1 on p3 (but only 8' left of the belay), 1 on p5, (pitches numbered on my overlay photo above) and 8 belay bolts, plus a Rohrer rappel anchor partway up p4 which probably counts as a pro bolt. The anchor at Coonyard also looks like a Rohrer anchor. The same bolt locations as shown in the 1982 Meyers topo, except for one added just left of the belay at the end of p3.

(In 2008) there was also an off-route bolt below the 5.9 crux traverse on p4. I don't know if it is still there.

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Oct 19, 2009 - 10:01pm PT
Holy cow, Clint, it's a sport route by comparison to BITD! Not that I wouldn't clip the current pro in a nanosecond. My memory of the route in 1969, well, most of it anyway since we didn't quite get to the finishing corners, fits guido's statement: 2 bolts. I couldn't be sure about both being on the first pitch, but certainly none at all up where all the big screamers are (still!) happening, either for belay or pro. The numbers may seem humble by today's standards, but the full old-style slab climbs are pretty damn proud ascents if you get up, and unforgettable if you don't. Good opportunity to express again the whole slab-nutball community's appreciation for the work you and especially Roger have done to rebolt on GPA and elsewhere. Thanks guys!

Edit to add: some time after my (to me) epic winger on this route, we heard of multiple broken ankles having been scored on that very same pitch, easy to see how this could happen but if you happen to just slide down a smooth bit, no problem (except for the tire tracks your shoes leave).

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 20, 2009 - 08:33pm PT
Photo Update:

We solo'd up the three pitches of Right Side of Monday Morning Slab. Our guidebook said it was 5.1, but I thought that was a little stiff. Last night I saw Supertopo calls it 5.4. Here's a pic looking down from right after the crux:

It was a beautiful fall morning:

I linked the first two pitches of Coonyard, taking way too much time:

I earned my merit badge on the first big fall in the last half of my combined pitch:

I made sure to keep Davidji on a short leash as he joined me:

The ravens were circling, waiting for carrion:

And here's David trying his best to satisfy them:

Well, he put up a fight and tried to get some pro in where he could:

Note how close those anchors seem! Don't believe it sucker.

This was the highest piece of pro he got before floating into a sea of granite... pretty bomber:

Well, we were dry on pictures for a bit, what with being busy yelling F-V-C-K, F-V-C-K, F-V-C-K, F--V--C--K and all.

But here's a picture of where I was regrouping after my attempt (the higher yellow rope is hanging on the nutted rivet):

No more pics of the business after that. But on the way rapping down, a parting shot of North and South Domes:

And a pano on my second photo-stitching experiment:

So for our trip, Humans 0 Ravens 6:

Social climber
Oct 20, 2009 - 09:47pm PT
Ropes were mine, rack Nutjob's, except for my BD micros, purple Metolius TCU, and a few tied slings.

At the rusty rivet or busted bolt, I spent some time time trying to find a nut I could use: the wires had to slide, and it had to be small enough so the wires would sit close to the rock.

The pro I had below that was the purple TCU, and a BD micro (which we ended up leaving). I was really grateful for my small contribution to the rack.

Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Oct 20, 2009 - 09:58pm PT
Yes! excellent stuff here. thanks and keep up the good work.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Oct 21, 2009 - 10:46am PT
Adventure leading!

Thanks for the stories.

Mountain climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Oct 21, 2009 - 12:37pm PT
Guido & his mates placed just 2 bolts on the 1st ascent, both on pitch 1 above Monday Morning Slab. Paul Kunascz placed the bolt on pitch 5 in the mid-60s, after taking a fall that broke his leg. He did lead the pitch after putting in the bolt.

As Guido says, those bolts were enough back in day before we had sticky rubber.

Social climber
Oct 21, 2009 - 02:49pm PT
Guido, stout FA! I'm curious if y'all went up, and lowered over like the yellow line on Ed's photo (hard!), or traversed directly like the red line (bold!).

Social climber
West Linn OR
Oct 21, 2009 - 07:28pm PT
We went up the Clint's yellow line and over on the first ascent. It wasn't because we were avoiding anything, I was making fun of first ascents with pendulums so I had to have one. Well, it was a tension traverse, really. I feel kind of bad people getting hurt on this route as it was supposed to be a great spot for an off day after being up in the world of the vertical and hard cracks and the like. On the first ascent I placed two bolts, both on the first pitch because it was so slippery and Guido was a little guy who kept saying "Holy sh!t Amborn" as I would slide and down trying to get going. The first bolt was placed by putting an angle iron piton in sideways for aid in a small slot that also serves as a handhold. I tensioned right to the flake and worked my way up it until close to the bush at which time I felt I needed protection before I grabbed a dead branch and so put in a knife blade piton under the flake. This did not assuage my feelings for needing protection so I stuck in a second bolt. Both bolts were poorly placed as I have always been somewhat impatient with these sorts of things.

No one ever fell with me on several times on the route except Foott when we were coming back in the dark and he took a rolling tumble with "oh god" and maybe an "Oh sh!t" or two. I have photos of Dave Kraft, one of the original Vulgarians from Da Gunks on Coonyard. I'll post up one day with them. He was bemused by the lack of holds.

In any case, it's great to see people having fun on the route. I sure did, and Guido has asked if I would come to Da Valley for a 50th anniversary climb. I think I'm in good enough shape for it, but...

Social climber
Oct 21, 2009 - 08:44pm PT
Thanks BBA. Impressive stuff!

The only non-original protection bolt we used was this one up on the yellow line (same as in nutjob's photo above):

We did see the added bolt on the traverse though.

Nutjob cleaned up the route a little by removing a fixed bashie between the 2 P1 bolts--by falling on the upper bolt.


Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Oct 21, 2009 - 09:06pm PT
Here is the link to the First Ascent Posting from last year.

I think Haan is going to have to perform some more magic and give me a hand with these photos!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Apr 13, 2015 - 12:58pm PT

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Apr 13, 2015 - 01:13pm PT
On the first ascent I placed two bolts, both on the first pitch because it was so slippery and Guido was a little guy who kept saying "Holy sh!t Amborn" as I would slide and down trying to get going.

Ten years after your FA, BBA and Guido, I was taking those same slides trying to mantle up to your first bolt. It took a few tries.

Incidentally, the third member of the first ascent party, Rich Calderwood, taught me aid climbing at Little Table Mountain near Fresno. On that trip, I got to hold my first leader fall when Rich's aid sling broke.


Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Apr 13, 2015 - 02:07pm PT
gangster falling onto that sh#t headless bolt.

Trad climber
Anna, Il
Apr 14, 2015 - 08:01am PT
I had the great fortune to climb Coonyards, in the early 70's, with the venerable Art Higbee. Art and I were concerned about being too hot and decided to climb in only shorts and shoes. Mine were PA's, I don't remember what Art was wearing. We only brought one rope and were counting on the team behind us to have enough rope for the rap down.
It's been many years so the details are a little distant. I remember spending some of the time using my overturned palms for friction.
Neither of us took a fall and I'm grateful as the prospect of tumbling could have easily killed us. If we fell and didn't tumble, the road rash!
We made it to the pinnacle and were waiting for the party that followed us to make it up so we could rap off.
Well, they had a heck of a time getting to us. I don't know how many times the leader took a fall but it was at least 3. Meanwhile, the sun had gone behind the rock and Art and I were Freezing!
Great tension as we watched the leader almost get it and whoosh, another slide. To make it worse, the guy was wearing Robbins boots.
Eventually, they made it and we all rapped off.
Hats off to Art. I only learned a few weeks ago that he has passed. A great climber.

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Apr 14, 2015 - 11:21am PT
thx for the story Poloman

Trad climber
Bay Area
Apr 14, 2015 - 11:23am PT
I think everyone who's climbed Coonyard has a good story.

I had hooked up with an ex-Marine guy in C4 who turned out to be a really scary belayer on P4. A fine time for me to find out. He'd tied the rope into the anchor, but not himself to the anchor.
So I very definitely DID NOT FALL on P5. He was even pretty unsafe on the raps down. What DO they teach these guys in the military?
AAAACCCKKK as Calvin would say.

Speaking of PA's, I had recently graduated to EBs.

A really wonderful Old Skool climb. Full Value. Very much a Head Trip. Spectacular views. And you're very likely to have it all for yourselves.
Gotta go back.
Thank you Guido and BBA!

Additional beta on NutJob's 2009 Trip Report.
These days the right side of Monday Morning Slab and everything to the right is considered at high risk for major rockfall.
Harry Daley route or Monday Morning Slab left side might be a better start.

Oakland, CA
Apr 14, 2015 - 01:00pm PT

I remember you telling me about this one Scott, but hadn't seen the report. That nut on the headless bolt. Yikes! And it was a purple TCU beneath that? Heady.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 14, 2015 - 01:17pm PT
These days the right side of Monday Morning Slab and everything to the right is considered at high risk for major rockfall.
I've done Point Beyond / Angel's Approach and even Mr. Natural several times in recent years.
My personal assessment is that rockfall risk is somewhat high in the Punch Bowl.
(and also left of The Calf).
Other folks rule out the entire Apron....
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