Trip Report
Absolutely Free to Hawkman's Escape
Monday May 19, 2008 4:12pm
Was up there this weekend with Le_Bruce. Whoa. Not ready to write it yet. Most important immediate feedback for Hawkman's: bring a topo with you (we really wished we had one with us, or that we at least carefully studied a topo before), and one part deserves an R/X (really an X) rating.

I've looked through old threads for info, just brief mentions:
Lesser known classics thread: http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=63128
2nd free ascent of Basket Case: http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=229851
Welcome to Phil Gleason thread: http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=379087

Spyork did a write-up of our first reconnoiter:
http://www.spyork.com/climbing/tripreports/AbsolutelyFree/index.htm
(where we never touched Hawkman's by the way)

And that's about it. Anybody who has been up there, I don't care how good they are, would remember the climb... amazing views, cool rock formations, "interesting" sections to negotiate.... So where's the stories?

Dingus, did you do a write-up of it, or just "recommend" it to folks?

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nutjob
About the Author
nutjob is a climber from Berkeley, CA.

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deuce4

climber
Hobart, Australia
  May 19, 2008 - 05:25pm PT
Walt and I onsight soloed it together once. It started raining half way up. I was pretty gripped. I think the cruxes were down low, but lots of slabby climbing for a long, long way. Seemed to go on forever.

We went over to the cache to see John Dill and talk to him about the climb right afterwards.

I was glad to have survived that one.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Author's Reply  May 20, 2008 - 06:22pm PT
Yikes. With the loose rock, I was thinking this would not be a contender for soloing.

After the modest adventures I've had and what it takes to get through those, I have a deeper appreciation for how skilled/insane/amazing/lucky/etc the real hardmen are. Kind of like looking up at the Yosemite walls and not really being able to appreciate how big they are until you spend time up close.
weeds

Sport climber
Bishop, CA
  May 20, 2008 - 09:18pm PT
I did Absolutely Free with Kim Walker two springs ago. I think it started to rain and Margina was waiting at the camper so we were not terribly tempted to continue up Hawkman's. However the crack, visible from below, and perfectly climbable will have me back again. If we continue onto Hawkman's what do you suggest for routefinding?
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  May 20, 2008 - 09:21pm PT
Bring plenty of water and don't drop your chow!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  May 20, 2008 - 10:05pm PT
Yeah nutjob I've done Hawkman's at least 3 times. The face pitch to gain that amazing 'hanging chimney' is runnout, similar to the face pitch on the E Butt of El Cap. There IS pro but you have to wander around to find it and the last 50 feet of so to the belay is dada if you blow it. R/X in a modern sense for sure.

For some reason I loved that route. My buddy Angus has done it at least 5 or 6 times.

Cheers
DMT
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
  May 21, 2008 - 12:02am PT
In terms of actual sketchiness of the rock (and pro in the rock) meets actually difficult moves, meets committing to stuff that you can't feel all over from a huge stance, I think the 5.9 pitches are scarier than the 5.5 where the runout is always obvious, but the good holds are always there for the lookin'.

The hardest part is that it's just a huge amount of climbing and hiking (more than it would seem from the topo) after a long winter though. :-)

Glad you guys saw it through.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Author's Reply  May 15, 2009 - 10:47pm PT
Have there been any ascents in the 21st century?

I have decent evidence that nobody has climbed the thing from May 2008 to May 2009. How far back since previous ascents?

NEWS UPDATE: Le_bruce and nutjob got it done yesterday (well, finished the climb, reached the top, scrambled around by headlamps on the Lower Brother summit ridge, bivied, then this morning rapped and did the long walk back). Trip report with beaucoup pictures and video coming soon, but alas I'm on my way back to Yosemite tonight for more fun (of the mellow nature this time).


So for the 21st century ascent log:

2009-05-14 nutjob & le_bruce
2008-05-17 ? (first 6 pitches) nutjob & le_bruce
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  May 15, 2009 - 11:07pm PT
Very cool route and a feather for Gleason and Johno D., who are so cool. Here you are "boldly climbing forth where no man has been before" up that unique headwall at 5.8 and kind of watching where the hell the line is as there is a variety of possibilities. Steep too. And the general area is funky otherwise. Good on Phil G and John D. Been up there twice and loved it.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
  May 15, 2009 - 11:45pm PT
Okay- here's a lower brother question for someone who doesn't have the green book.

Hawkman's and Absolutely free are on the say south east side of lower brother- is there a good route pn the opposite side? sort of above Manure pile? The rock looks solid and it's certainly and it's certainly a big piece of rock.

I think there is an old fourth class there, but it sure looks like there would be something really fun up that big old face.

spyork

Trad climber
Tunneling out of prison
  May 15, 2009 - 11:57pm PT
I need to get up there and do the second part. It still feels undone to me.
martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
  May 15, 2009 - 11:59pm PT
Not sure how many folks have done that decent off michaels ledge. It always scared the sh#t out of me.
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  May 16, 2009 - 12:02am PT
Lower Brother...........SO LOOOOOOOOOOSE! Big adventure, Mandatory Skull Caps!
Isn't AF to Hawkman's a Grade IV?
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
  May 16, 2009 - 12:21am PT
How about around the corner toward manure pile? That rock looks solid, anyone tried?
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  May 16, 2009 - 12:27am PT
always meant to do Hawkman's but never have.

Where to start never seemed too obvious but I never looked hard.

I'm getting far too tempted to up it on my list

PEace

Karl
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
  May 16, 2009 - 01:18am PT
The subject line is Absolutely Free to Hawkman's Escape and all anyone on this thread is talking about, so far, is what a great climb Hawkman's is. Kind of makes my point about Ab Free Center
being forgettable.

Bruce
ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
  May 16, 2009 - 04:14am PT
Thread drift , but what tom woods was talking about can be zoomed-in on here I think . http://gigapan.org/viewGigapanFullscreen.php?id=7151
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  May 16, 2009 - 09:00am PT
Well, there are several ancient routes in there already, if you do check the green Roper and the red one. Zooming in with gigapan, it's clear there are little sectionettes of pitches in the general area that look like semi-fun problems. And I suppose there might be some unique problems in that lower apron-to-headwall setup. This side of L. Brother is quite a bit better rock than the sugarpile on the opposite, valley, side for sure. That side might be the worst rock in the entire valley actually. And the large fractured apron that is the real back of L. Brother theoretically might have some, again, problems in the overhangs but I suspect maybe not really worth it. Easy enough to hike up there and look at it. Lots of rattlesnakes up in that area, btw. While up there, do the East arete of Split Pinnacle, a fun old classic.

Much more interesting is the zoom-in on the back of Mt Watkins from this particular gigapan vantage: not many people are aware of the potential there...........ck it out. Really quite a lot of climbing to do there.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
  May 16, 2009 - 09:17am PT
that gigapan thing is awesome. thanks for the link. except the ridge I didn't see much. i never did see much there before, but the rock looks good, so I guess I'll have to wander up there.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  May 16, 2009 - 10:46am PT
Marty, it was Stu that put me onto this route dude. He was always steering Angus and I onto your old adventures. Did Arrowhead Arete with him first time too.


So...
You go up and right from the top of Abs Free, instead of down and left on Michael's Ledge. There is a 4th class corner in the manzanita jungle, then you reach the base of the upper wall.

You are actually looking up at the 2nd pitch and its like 'mother of god...' so don't look up there.

Up and right along the base is an obvious right facing dihedral, p1. Its an easy corner to a big ole ledge. Belay there to avoid rope drag. Then walk back left on that ledge (class 1+) to the base of P2... the 'obvious' 5.9 overhanging diorite boulder move into a crumbly corner.

That crack gets better with each move so hang in there.

Above that is a ass puckering face but pro can be found. Then an all-time chimney... Gimme Shelter in the middle of a sea of granite. Its like 5.6, protects well and you can freaking HIDE in there.

Above that is a fearsome 5.9 overhanging nasty bit but once you pull the roof in the top of the upside down V its great climbing for a while.

The last two pitches are crumbly bitches. Very much like the last two pitches of Yosemite Point Buttress, only chimney.

From the top of the route walk back along the crest of the Lower Brother, and work down and left toward some trees at the junction with the base of the Middle Brother.

5 or 6 short raps tree to tree from there puts you down on terra firma.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  May 16, 2009 - 11:15am PT
Here's Angus following (I think) the upper 5.9 pitch - the little roof he's knee barring under is 5.8 with the obvious jug handle there.

Big air on this route. 3 pitches to go....



DMT
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
  May 16, 2009 - 12:19pm PT
"The subject line is Absolutely Free to Hawkman's Escape and all anyone on this thread is talking about, so far, is what a great climb Hawkman's is. Kind of makes my point about Ab Free Center being forgettable."

Hawkman's is the obscurity with little info and the topic of the OP, so no surprise its the discussion. However, I've always liked Absolutely Free. Not an all time classic, but still a fun route. Now, if that squeeze hand pitch (p3?) was off the deck with a short approach, it would be every bit as famous (and crowded) as Reed's Direct.

Sounds like it might be fun to keep going higher...
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  May 16, 2009 - 01:17pm PT
DMT wrote
"From the top of the route walk back along the crest of the Lower Brother, and work down and left toward some trees at the junction with the base of the Middle Brother."

So you rap down toward El Cap instead of descending the junction down to Michael's ledge? Can be done with one rope?

PEace

Karl
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  May 16, 2009 - 02:47pm PT
Yes Karl, but you would have a righeous time retreating off Hawkman's itself with one, if for example a T storm snuck up on you like it did us one day. We were able to rap off w 2 ropes from the base of the chimney in 3 raps.

First time up we tried M Ledge. We descended all the way to that big jeffery you can see up above Rixons and could not find a ocnnection to m ledge from there. Does it even exist anymore? I suspect one of those rock falls took it out.

WE trudged all the way back upp and found the other descent. The raps in the trees are short so yes, 1 rope will work. Its really slabby there just with some big overlaps. Short raps to keep the rope from getting stuck.

Then down the drainage gully and eventually hook into M Ledge desent near the toe of the buttress.

Cheers
DMT
cleo

Social climber
wherever you go, there you are
  May 16, 2009 - 03:24pm PT
Is this the tree (in red) at which you arrived? Were there any old fixed ropes about?

The blue circle is the start of the 3rd/2nd class Michaels Ledge.

I'm quite curious as to the route myself, although, I think there might be a couple hundred yards of exposed 4th class between that tree and the next fixed rope. And, given the exposure to rockfall between the two places, I'm not sure I'd want to be hanging around long enough to belay anyone across.


martygarrison

Trad climber
Washington DC
  May 16, 2009 - 04:38pm PT
cool linkup but scary place that michaels ledge. loose as heck with a death fall looking at you in the face.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  May 17, 2009 - 05:18pm PT
I believe EP locals Nate and Brian climbed this linkup in the 21st century.

Me, no.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  May 18, 2009 - 04:18pm PT
Tom,

You asked about routes on the Lower Brother facing Manure Pile Buttress, and Peter Haan mentioned that some are listed in the Roper guide. Here's the merged list of routes, including new ones:

Lower Brother

1081. Lower Brother - West Face - North Corner 5.3, Ro
1082. Lower Brother - West Face - Middle 5.6, Ro
1083. Lower Brother - Southwest Arete - Left 5.6, Ro
1084. Lower Brother - Southwest Arete - Right 5.5, Ro
1085. Lower Brother - Michael's Ledge 4th, Ro
1086. The Feeling is Back 5.10-, 4p, G
1087. Free & Easy 5.10-, 5p, G
1088. Avenger of Evil 5.11+, 6p, G
1089. Old Dad #11 5.10, joins The Boogie Man, G
1090. The Boogie Man 5.10, 7p, G
1091. Ramblin' Rose 5.10, 5p
1092. Ramblin' Rose p3 direct. 5.11c
1093. Hawkman's Escape 5.9, 8p
1094. Hawkman's Escape - p7 var. 5.11a
1095. Valley Locals 5.10 A1, 5p, G
1096. 420 Route 5.10-, 5.9 R, 1p, G
1097. Mother's Day Pinnacle 5.9, 3p, G
1098. Walter's Wiggle 5.9, 1p, G
1099. Euro Route - Left 5.10, 1p, G
1100. Euro Route - Right 5.10, 1p, G

from
http://www.stanford.edu/~clint/yos/YOS.HTM

[Edit: First 4 on West/SW face, remainder on SE face visible from Camp 4]
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
  May 18, 2009 - 06:24pm PT
I need a copy of the green book, sheesh.

The first 6 are on the west face? While the other routes are on the steeper wall that faces more toward camp 4?

I figured there would be old obscurities there.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  May 18, 2009 - 06:30pm PT
yes cleo that's the one. It doesn't lool all that far from the camera's perspective. All I can say is haha.

If the M ledge descent is still there its some crazy f*#king sh#t from above, having never laid eyes on it. My weinie ran back up to the top of the Lower Brother long before my feet did (that ain't easy mate!)

DMT
spyork

Trad climber
Tunneling out of prison
  May 18, 2009 - 06:42pm PT
Cleo, having been to the blue circle myself, there was no way I was venturing out towards that tree. It looked like death for sure. Plus there is tons of more loose blocks piled on intermediate ledges ready to rain down on that area and the base of middle brother.
msiddens

Trad climber
  May 18, 2009 - 07:05pm PT
Very cool....I ended up doing Absolutely Free a few months back and found it to be a blast and clean. Well worth doing even with the approach and descent. Defiantly want to repeat it with the Hawkmans add-on. Michaels Ledge was longer than I would have liked but easy enough to stay on route.
rockermike

Trad climber
Berkeley
  May 18, 2009 - 07:58pm PT
Anyone know where to find a topo of absolutely free? I want to give it a go (again).

I actually started up it sometime back in the late'70's. Turned into a 100+ degree day (my water was gone after a pitch) and I was climbing without chalk at the time (a matter of principal long since abandoned - ha) and sweated and slipped out of that 5.9 crack a half dozen times before we bailed. Got to go back and settle scores.

Hawkman's will have to wait until I get into better shape. ha
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
  May 18, 2009 - 08:10pm PT
Good job, guys!

Le_bruce...I'm curious if you ever got my note. I'm not sure that when I respond to ST e-mails that they ever go through to the original sender.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  May 19, 2009 - 02:07am PT

Hey Melissa -

Yes, I did get that and I shot one back your way - did you get that? It was basically to say thanks.

DMT, also sending thanks your way for the beta. When you said we "had it in the bag!" after our high point on the first try, you must have been high! But I kept repeating that to myself as the pitches kept stacking up, each one physical and hard, after that ledge that we were marooned on the first time around. "It's in the bag, DMT said so!"

Having done it twice now, I think Ab Free Center is a good, clean line. It's a cool crux because it's a rooflet, it demands at least one honest fist jam out of you, and the pro is good.

Ab Free Right looks like a climb that hasn't been done in decades.



Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  May 19, 2009 - 07:59am PT
Of course I was high Bruce. But if you were above the 2nd 5.9 pitch, the one Angus is pictured in above? Not the ledge above p1 but much higher than that right?

You DID have it in the bag brother. You just missed the last 2 pitches is all. Chimneys, crumbly assed chimneys, yummy.

I was thinking about this route... what is it?

Cause the rock cquality sorta sucks in places. And as melissa pointed out the cruxex tend to be in the diorite sections. And the top of the route sorta sucks.

So what is it?

A 'secret' south-facing grade IV linkup on an improbabe wall is one thing.

But really... its this imo... the first pitch of Hawkman's is like... THIS? This is EASY. No exposure, good rock, easy moves. Cool.

Then you walk across that ledge to the start of P2 and illusions are shatteded, right off the belay. The true character of the route emerges in the next 50 feet.

Then that wild assed but moderate face pitch with the big air moves well above pro to gain the belay at the base of the chimney. R the way I led it... X if you missed that last piece of pro.

By then, just 3 pitches into the route it feels like you're halfway up El Cap. Well, not really, but you're a ways up there anyway!

The chimney pitches (done as one with a 165) is a respite.

Then that upper 5.9 which has a bouuldey and physical escape at the top and a run for the border from there. 7 pitches... 6 maybe by running them together. Then the other 3 from Abs Free and that '4th class' Michaels Ledge pitch (haha)... a good day of climbing eh?

DMT
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
  May 19, 2009 - 10:02am PT
I didn't get it. Hmmm?

Re: nutjob's question, I think I've done it twice this century...maybe even since May 2008 since I think we did it around that time, but I'm not sure of the date. I don't recall the rap slings looking too bad. I bet it gets done a few times a year at least.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  May 19, 2009 - 12:36pm PT
rockermike-

there's a topo of AF in the Reid guide. It basically works, except where it doesn't, which amounts to finding the start. Friends of mine this spring hiked right past the route all the way to Michael's Ledge and had to come back the next week to bag it.

Park in wide dirt turnout on oppo side of rd. Find the toe of the buttress. Walk R (east) on OK trail for a couple hundred yards until in a flattish area beneath a low-angle, dirty slab to the R of a junky 3rd/4th-class corner. Rack up and shoe up, and hang your pack up. Follow the junky corner for what amounts to maybe 2.5 ropelengths, with a few heads-up slab moves [although I've never roped up and no one probably does], moving to the outside near the top.

You are looking for the base of the AF pinnacle, which begins out of a shady alcove in the gully with 30 feet of easy slab/ledges heading for a blocky corner/chimney thing. Above and L of this is a semi-attractive looking corner-crack, which you don't really want, as your goal is to surmount the blocks in the chimney-thing and belay on the nice ledge right above to stay in touch with your second. Notice the oak down and R on the ledge: you will be returning here on the raps, should you choose to rap, which you should. You have brought 2x60m ropes for this purpose.

Middle pitch: up to ledge, then splitter 5.9 tight hands into corner. Stay in corner (harder) or use crack to its left. If you run the rope out you can reach a great ledge; otherwise hang from the tree and do a short next one.

Up top, the last pitch in the topo follows a wide flaring affair through a roof for which most people would like 2 #4 camalots; what most peopple actually do, however, is to follow some nice fingery lb corners to the right which do not appear on that topo, and are no harder at 5.9 than the rest of what you did to get there. Rap from slung blocks, which you may have slung your own self as the fixed cordelette tends to come and go.

nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Author's Reply  May 19, 2009 - 01:35pm PT
It may take me forever to create trip reports for both of our visits... so here is a teaser from our first attempt, where we linked P2 and P3 into a 60m rope-stretcher pitch.



We had probed out left past a huge dead tree that used to be a belay station, and we had probed way out right beneath a menacing razor blade of a winnebago-sized rock teetering on a point of attachment the size of my finger. It was truly sickening to look up at this thing. A route looked plausible tunneling underneath it, but it would be absolute insanity to risk touching the thing with a rope. Razor. Perched. Winnebago. That left the middle way, which we had ruled out from the beginning because it just looked ridiculously difficult on crumbling rock. This was supposed to be a 5.9 climb. We were at the point of bailing because it was getting late and our sacks weren't big enough.

Suddenly I grew a pair and said "watch me," which began the single most non-stop horrifying pitch of my life. The dead tree looked too sketchy as a belay, so we were way to the right and using our big cams in the belay. I hand-traversed out left for about 20 feet on pretty easy territory where the slab meets the headwall, with a loose cam or two in decomposing granite.




At this point, the business begins with an overhanging series of thin cracks and flakes. I launched up into the first flake, and took a moment to make the world stop spinning as the flake bent under my body weight. I my back was parallel to the slab 15 feet below, fully committed in a lieback, and my last pro was ways back to the right in the horizontal crack at the base of the headwall. I quickly pulled through into a powerful handjam and desperately clawed my way into another thin handjam, where I hung while plugging a cam in a sandy pocket lined with exfoliating granite. With shaky arms I clipped a sling to the cam and the rope and made myself keep going; I didn't trust the cam to hang on it, and I was quickly flaming out in this overhanging wall. Bryce later said "cams would later pull from the rock for me with ease - no need to retract trigger as layers of bad rock fell away from the flakes."



Another powerful jam enabled me to get a more secure piece in, then each move got a little easier until I could take a deep breath up by the pillar where I planned to belay. Whew!

As I chimneyed up behind the 30-foot pillar, with my back to the headwall, an ominous wind came howling from the direction of Ramblin' Rose. Then, a deep moaning sound accompanied the pillar rocking away from my feet! "Aaaaaah!" I screamed like the terrified child that I am, and quickly shimmeyed back down. After a few more minutes adjusting to a new level of fear, I tunneled behind the pillar again. I needed to get a look at Ramblin' Rose up left, because I saw a whole lot of nothing up right where my route Hawkman's Escape was supposed to go. I hear the ominous wind again, and this time I'm only mortified by the deep moaning and the outward swaying of the pillar. At this point I really need a break to get my head together, maybe vomit or fill my pants. But there's no time for that.

I head up right into a decomposing and widening crack that marks the lower end of a massive upper headwall ready to shear off of lower brother. The climbing is pretty moderate, but with the buffetting wind, accumulated sense of dread, and wondering what will happen to me if the sky-scraper sized headwall decides to go right then... well it was all just too much. I moved quickly and methodly through the easy wide crack with lots of footholds and steep wild exposure. I got in a few pieces and launched into the open face up right around the corner. The easy 5.5 face moves lured me onward, bringing hope of easier movement and relief. I didn't want to waste time looking for pro as I didn't have much in my rack, and I wasn't in a state to find tricky spots for placing gear on the open face. The rope drag was horrendous, and with each footstep I levered up the rope on my thigh to get enough slack to shift my body upward.

I am completely in the zone, moving methodically up this face. I'm mantling up edges as wide as a digit of my index finger, and get lots of rests here and there on better edges. I'm hand traversing with feet reaching way off balance to the side. I'm focused on each move in front of me, and I'm pulled from my reverie when le_bruce calls out "10 feet" signaling the end of my rope. I look around and suddenly realize the enormity of my situation:my last pro is 30 to 40 feet down and to the left; if I fall, I will land on the enormous perched razor-blade winnebago rock. My belay is about 20 feet to the left and 10 feet up. The rope-drag is a constant risk to pull me off. I stood in that spot for a long while. The moment is clearly burned into my brain, and no passage of time will soften it. I stared downward, immersing myself in the fear, bathing in it, relishing it. I thought of what I had to lose, I thought about falling, and then I reeled it back in, concentrated that energy into a tight little focus. Methodically, I began the traverse back left. I had wandered too far to the right, and the moves getting back on track were sketchy. Every move successful move raised my hopes, but I didn't dare lose focus yet. The rope drag increased moment by moment, threatening to cramp my thighs from the constant resistance. As my outstretched finger-tips tried to friction-wiggle over the ledge at the belay, I hear "that's me!" I get my hand over the ledge, and try to mantle over to safety, but I'm stopped hard by the rope! Aaaaagh, I panic for a moment in a half-crouch, arm over the ledge, with an endless sea of rock and a tight-stretched rope going to the bottom of the face with nothing clipped. I take a deep sigh. And stay calm. And regroup. I summon everything I've got left, and tie it together with shattered nerves, cramping muscles, and a sea of panic held at bay by a paper-thin barrier of my remaining will. In a sustained explosion of my last power, heave against the rope and get my leg onto the ledge. Now I can grab a hollow flake and press up hard with my legs, pulling through enough rope to stand up and tie a sling through the pillar formed by the hollow flake. It takes a while doing it one-handed because I don't dare let go of the death-grip handjam inside the flake. At last I clip in, get another bad cam or two, and call out "Off Belay."



The belay is acceptable, but it's not textbook. I'm still hanging out over the big face, and the blood in my body has oozed out myriad fleshwounds and been replaced by adrenaline. Some time later le_bruce reaches my position, and I have never seen him looking so awful. His face is literally green, like an old polaroid picture. By this time I'm starting to get a little high from the fact that I'm still breathing, and that I have another human that can relate to what I just went through... the crumbly hand-traverse, the overhanging crack and flexing flake, hanging from bad jams to place bad gear, the moaning pillar and shearing headwall and endless face with razor winnebago waiting to catch me. He looks like I probably did a half hour before, and it is scary. He is not happy with my belay station. I try to explain my limited options. He sets another piece or two, we regroup. It's getting late. We've not eaten since 5:30am, and we both ran out of water during the pitch. Let's hurry up and get off this terror.



There is so much more where that came from! Passing out in the sun while lost on a ledge, flaming out while trying to aid up the wrong exit crack system, cough-drops stuck to our dry teeth and the roofs of our mouths, considering how to make a rescue signal fire from the pitiful little bushes we could reach, prussiking up stuck ropes in a crumbling chimney, chopping ropes twice, leaving a small rack worth of gear strewn across the route, jumping rattlesnake on Michael's Ledge, nearly 30 hours without water in a heat wave... good times.

It was way less eventful during our last successful bid; but it is still a burly climb. I have a sinking feeling that I might want to return again some time to do the whole thing including the raps and walk-off without a bivy. But then again, sunrise on top of Lower Brother is very hard to beat.





Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  May 19, 2009 - 02:37pm PT
yes nutjob that sums up the route nicely haha. You type up desperation well!

Marty Garrison's old partner Stu turned me onto that climb with a 'its fun, you'll like it.'

I guess he gauged his man...! Angus and I swarmed it that first try though I went through a similar crisis to yours on that first 5.9 pitch.

We always belayed at the top of the rotten pillar, some small cracks there that are solid (I rapped from them in a storm once too)

I can't believe you had to do that face as a linked pitch like that. Goddamn that must have been character building. That final mantel is scary enough with NO rope drag haha.

I always wondered about the name of this route... Hawk Man from Flash Gordon? Some other Hawkman?

I just like saying the name I guess... Hawkman's Escape is justa cool name for a scary ass, crumbly motherf*#ker of a climb. with a tiny smattering of the wide on Abs Free this is a full experience valley climb eh?

DMT
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  May 19, 2009 - 02:48pm PT
Yeah DMT, we're talking about the same second ledge, this one right here:



All the hardest/scariest climbing is below you at that point, but we still had to fight to reach the top.

Here's Scott around the same place as your man having fun with the kneebar:





I thought that was the hardest and best pitch on the linkup, with diamond hard, tiger stripe granite from the big chimney to the ledge.

But the true crux is the diorite roof off the p1 ledge and steep crack that follows. I'm glad Scott led that both times.



The pro at Scott's feet here is a laugh - wouldn't hold a feather - and he won't be getting anything trustworthy for another 10 feet or so of gritty, steep, off-balance jamming.

What a killer climb.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Author's Reply  May 19, 2009 - 02:57pm PT
So Dingus, any more "you gotta try it" climbs you recommend?
;^)

These pics sum up the state we were in during our first trip:


Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  May 19, 2009 - 03:06pm PT
Yes nutjob... do the NE Face of Lower Cathedral Spire. Not the "Regular Route"... its sterner cousin.

BTW, pretty cool you didn't die on that pitch. You gotta be proud of yourself man, keeping it together like that. That face pitch can make your anus fold up like the end of a hot dog.

DMT
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  May 19, 2009 - 03:09pm PT
Hey Bruce

That last pic does a great job at illustrating the crux... the next 30 feet are 'don't look back' terriroty for sure haha.

I remember better now... there are some good locks behind untrustworthy flakes that draw you up for 'one more look.' I led that pitch on our first time up the route and we switched lead pitches the 2nd time. I remember getting sucked up that thing to the point of no return. Oh SH#T....!

That crack just above the leader? Awkward for a few moves, off balance. One of our trips I found it was way easier to layback the right side of the thing - way more scarier though. (like the awkard 5.7 at the start of the DNB - way easier to lieback than to jam straight in)

DMT

ps and there's nutjob's dead tree. That's where we always belayed from as well.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Author's Reply  May 19, 2009 - 03:14pm PT
Yeah, beta for folk who want to go up there now, the tree is good enough.

We also made an intermediate belay this time past the rocking pillar but before the run-out face... somewhere right in the fracture line of the shearing headwall. Each piece looked decent, but the overall position and rock quality left me feeling uneasy. I think it's the right strategy though.

Here's a pic looking down from the spot:
Zander

climber
  May 19, 2009 - 11:58pm PT
This is a great thread. thanks all!
Zander
Captain...or Skully

climber
in the oil patch...Fricken Bakken, that's where
  May 20, 2009 - 12:03am PT
Adventures abound!
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Author's Reply  May 22, 2009 - 01:42am PT
Alright homies, grab your popcorn and your blankies, and brace yourselves for a feature-length presentation (almost):
http://www.vimeo.com/4776865

Don't start watching it at work unless you have some time to kill!
ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
  May 22, 2009 - 02:15am PT
deuce4 : " Walt and I onsight soloed it together once. It started raining half way up . I was pretty gripped . "
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Author's Reply  May 22, 2009 - 02:20am PT
That whole 'we onsight soloed it' thing is mind-bending. Clear proof that badassedness has an exponential distribution (with well-known characters from this site pretty far on the right side of that curve).

John, how did you guys get off during that adventure? We had 8 raps and a couple hour walk-off after reaching the summit. I was looking over at the open slabs and imagining you and Walt cruisinig down that thing when it was wet. shiver

Edit: But I suppose that part would be casual after the actual business!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  May 22, 2009 - 02:56am PT
make a big bowl of popcorn!

I like the line:

"Trophies of our Shame"

definitely route-name material!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  May 22, 2009 - 05:07am PT
Some views of the wall from Sentinel:











Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  May 22, 2009 - 10:07am PT
Excellent pics Clint. I have some from Taft Point but they weren't clear enough to post.

The only quibble I have with the line is you show it going around the left of the giant flake above the runnout face when in fact if chimney's behind it, straight up.

DMT
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Author's Reply  May 23, 2009 - 05:37pm PT
And the route touches the right side of the shaking pillar on P2
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  May 26, 2009 - 02:08pm PT
Sounds like y'all need to check out this little canyon near Gunnison...
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Author's Reply  May 28, 2009 - 03:27am PT
I admit it's a shameless self-bump, but I've gotta scratch my bro's back after he scratched mine.

Both times on Hawkman's, I wanted NO part of that backless chimney deal. First time through, I was upset when le_bruce came down partway up the pitch led by headlamp well after dark. Next morning after he went back up, I fell while trying to follow and I nearly poopled myself imagining him up there by headlamp the night before after what we had been through.

Next time in mellower circumstances, he charged it again, and I was greatly relieved. Still wanted no part of it. But I didn't fall this time!

Thanks homey for saving me from dealing with that. I guess that's a sign of a good partnership: you each follow stuff where you said "I'm glad I didn't lead that"
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  May 28, 2009 - 10:43am PT
Back in 1975 Ed Ward and I did a variation to the finish. See below the wider yellow line surmounting the roof up and to the right of the final walk-off. It was 5.11a and had several tough moves over the roof/bulge via a flaring nubbly fingertip crack with doubtful protection. The slab above was trivial.

Mr_T

Trad climber
Northern California
  May 15, 2013 - 08:04pm PT
Considering this adventure for Sunday. Nutjob - what would you recommend for a rack? Sounds like a couple #4's and a #5.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Author's Reply  May 15, 2013 - 09:45pm PT
Excellent...

I'd say a standard "adventure rack" 'biner full of nuts, doubles of everything to #3 (I like to mix Camalots and WC Flex Friends because they're slightly different sizes), and a #4 and a #5. I'm pretty sure you can survive without the #5, but if you bring it you'll use it.

A few long runners, tied slings (at least one belay anchor was threading a natural feature, and double ropes are handy for some wandering or at least faster raps.

And if you bring a pack, make sure it doesn't like to come unzipped! And come to think of it, I probably stopped using those camelback water bladders after this trip too... convenient sipping mid-pitch, but too scary to lose the water.

And bring a phone to call yer mommy, cuz yer gonna die and she'll want to hear from you first!

In case you don't die, make sure to post up some pics and share your adventure. If you cruise it, out of respect just make it sound a little tough please?
Mr_T

Trad climber
Northern California
  May 24, 2013 - 03:58pm PT
We ended up doing only Absolutely Free Center as we had NEB of Higher planned for Sunday. We'll probably try this later in the summer. The wall looks fantastic from below. The Ramblin' Rose line also looks great. I'm just surprised there aren't more routes on that upper wall.
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