Trip ReportA Laywoman's Account of Astroman
This climb was equal parts sweat, blood and manic enthusiasm. What began with a, ‘WE WILL BE ON THE TRAIL AT 5AM SHARP TOMORROW’ pep talk ended in a post 6am start. My clock has 8 buttons. I was hoping one of them would go buzz and that the other 7, you know, did not hinder in its duty. No bueno.
6:30am In the Awhanee parking lot fumbling with gear and taking blurry photos of the topo. Still no real lateral movement.
7am Appreciatively following the cairns, the approach took about a half hour and change. Tired and uncaffeinated, motivation was a wee low. Until we saw this:
Enter the Vienna Choir Boys singing Hallelujah.
Psyche back. It was on like donkey kong.
We linked P1 – P3 to the base of the enduro corner. Pitch 1 was soggy, but protectable where needed. As said previously by many, soloing to the base of the 10a lb is mellow. Confession: I’ve led it, followed it and never felt solid leaving the tree or at the grassy mantel. I’d still rope up if the pitch were bone dry.
P4 If you’re a 5.10 gumby like me, you will have probably brought everything but the kitchen sink. See exhibit A. Dump it all on your belayer except for your red, green and purple cams. If you onsight this pitch, you are a machine. If I had a dollar for every time I mumbled, “I can’t believe Peter Croft free soloed this when I was two,” I would be 17 bucks richer today.
P7 Excited! It was time to meet the great, polished overhanging birthing canal that is the Harding Slot. Brilliantly fun laybacking brings you to the start of the slot. My friends tried to free this pitch a few days earlier to no avail. They didn’t have anything larger than a #4. I returned with them and a #6 to aid as Plan B. I have no shame. That, or I'm too lazy to photoshop the shiny green cam out of the photos.
There was some strenuous stemming and a lean in with the elbow, but definitely no dyno’ing of the chicken wing. I got in without the #6 which I still carried on my harness. Awesome!
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the next fifteen minutes were not enjoyable.
But fifteen minutes later? PURE ELATION! Off belay! I don’t know when Type II fun turned into Type I fun and when Type III fun upgraded to Type II fun, but it did at some point. This was definitely type II fun.
If you’re bigger and are forced to climb on the outside, you can protect the move with a #6 up top 10 feet before the anchor. We saw that it nicely cams in the narrow section on the right side. See exhibit B. I don’t think I could do that on lead, but again, 5.10 gumby here. I think I mumbled more Croft free soloing befuddlement. $11 and counting. TL;DR: It's possible to protect the moves if you're climbing on the outside. You just have to lug around a huge chunk of metal. Alternatively, you can use your helmet as a chockstone.
I’m rhapsodizing too much for a trip report. Sorry. More pictures, less talk.
P8 Comparably moderate, great climbing!
P9 Changing Corners. If this pitch were at the base of the cookie, there would be a congo line of monkeys waiting to have at it. It’s brilliant that the Harding Slot is below this pitch acting like a form of contraception.
P10 More nice laybacking.
P11 The view from under the roof just before stepping onto the ledge.
P12 There is only one piton on this pitch. I couldn’t free this even if you put a gun to my head. The two copperheads are still good. I had to pendulum over to unclip the draw from the last copper head. I was spooked. On top rope.
Summit! We scuttled across the slabs and down Serenity/Sons. It was late enough in the day; there were no climbers on the route. This wasn’t recommended in the topo, but we headed for a rap line we knew really well and would be comfortable descending in the dark. There are heaps of cairns for the RA rap. I heard the gully isn't bad at all. That is just what we did.
9:30pm On the ground. Rain starts to fall. We were lucky. We woke up to two inches of snow this morning. I can only imagine how miserable it would have been to shiver bivy up top.
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed the trip report!
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