Royal Arches 5.10b or 5.7 A0

 
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Royal Arches Area


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Cobra with Karl
Monday November 5, 2012 1:29am
Cobra with Karl
Oct. 27, 2012

“//Courage is being scared to death but
saddling up anyway//.” – John Wayne

“//I have a huge, active imagination, [and] I
think I'm really scared of being alone;
because if I'm left to my own devices, I'll just
turn into a madwoman//.” – Clair Danes

“//If too weak and old for sport and bouldering,
go bold, big trad is rad//.” – Wall Gumby

Credit: wallgumby

A week ago I sat waiting in the Orthopedist office. In an hour I expected to be calling my bud to cancel our Yosemite plans. Stitches were being removed where a chip of bone had been extracted from a broken toe joint. It was still grotesque, swollen and hurt like hell. I explained my plans to spend several days climbing small edges and jamming my foot into crevices to the doc. My pony-tailed hippie M.D. said no problem man, fine to be active if the pain was tolerable dude. Really?! The nurse looked at us both like we had lost our marbles. Before she could offer advice that might get in the way of good climbing, I shot out the office petal-to-metal to do laps on the 800’ elevation gain scramble on Castle Peak and test out his advice. I drowned out the initial pain with Drops of loud Dub-Step on my MP3. My foot actually felt better afterward and more so the next morning. Hippies know their medicine. Yeah, I had stomped that swelling and pain right out baby! Yosemite was a go for WallGumby! Plans were for a big free climb then a small big-wall.

Sexy Foot
Sexy Foot
Credit: wallgumby

Two years prior Karl had rapped in and spent a day with screwdriver, brush, and trowel cleaning out cracks and replacing a bolt on the seldom climbed Cobra. Now all prepped for ascent he was excited to revisit. Fueled up on Runde’s hearty daily griddle (scramble of eggs, ground beef, squash, tobasco, and an avocado I contributed) we wobbled over to wait in line at the Royal Arches start. As part of my evil plan to ask to pass them shortly, I helped a German team in front of us by hauling their day-pack up the chimney for them. It had to be 30 lb. Ouch, they were going to suffer. RA was packed. Using route variations and distracting people with “helpful” comments about their anchors we passed 4 additional parties. Karl never had to unpack his Menace face. Now we were in Pole position! The ego boost would not last long. Sixty minutes from the base we had topped pitch 9 of RA, our highway turnoff to a road less traveled.

The Cobra starts from the top of the pedestal that marks the RA pendulum (FA Bob Kamps and Mark Powell, 1966). The initial 5 pitches diagonal rightward up a sea of slabs. Reid’s guide gives grades of 5.8 – 5.9R. Hmm.

Third Pitch of the Cobra
Third Pitch of the Cobra
Credit: wallgumby
Looking Back Across 3rd Pitch
Looking Back Across 3rd Pitch
Credit: wallgumby

Karl handed me the sharp end for the 1st pitch which had many new bolts. (Recommendation: the top of 1st pitch has two massive hangers. A higher belay is easily reachable with 50m, which I think may allow pitches 2 & 3 to be combined.) Now the pitches got spicier and I was quite agreeable to let Karl take over. Much of the pro looked like original 1st ascent hardware, Star-drive, ¼”er, handmade hangers, soft iron ring-angle piton. With a quick refresher glance at my 900.UDO.SLAB mail-order instruction guide, even I was ready for smooth granite paradise. Scan for next credit card edge, divot, or rough spot. Torque body to maintain pressure angle. Hold breath. Lift foot. Check sudden acceleration down slab has not occurred. Release breath. Place foot. Gently transition weight. Repeat. Following this 8-step process the pitches flew by, melding into one big glorious blur of movement uninhibited by pro. That’s when you know you are having fun! Or is it that thing where your brain blocks out tramatic experiences?

Karl Leading 5th Pitch
Karl Leading 5th Pitch
Credit: wallgumby

Pitch 5 is horizontal, the start/end belays are directly across from each other where the top of an expanse of slab intersects the headwall. It was certainly the crux slab pitch of the Cobra. There is a tricky sequence right off the belay, long (80’ ?) runout to 1st pro, and another crux at the end. Karl started out reversing left, then down, right, down, right, up, right, down, then up, (no I am not joking) then down, then up, found a spot for a micro stopper, scratched his head, went back down, looked around, went up, the stopper came out, started right, mumbled about the route seeming different from last time, stared at me for a bit … I offered some lies of reassurance but my deer-in-headlights look of fear was not fooling anyone. He had a big smile when he finally reached the belay.

Karl at End of 5th Pitch.  I should Have Taken a Pucture of the Sweet ...
Karl at End of 5th Pitch. I should Have Taken a Pucture of the Sweet Hand Crack Above Too.
Credit: wallgumby

Because of its traversing nature, following this pitch would also be quite committing. Flipping again through my 900.UDO.SLAB guide, the chapter on run-outs turned out to be just a bunch of toilet paper. What kind of sick joke?! Karl pointed out we had enough extra rope so I could re-rig the belay as a top-rope anchor and practice the initial crux. Fortunately I had mapped Karl’s now invisible maze of down-left-up-down-right antics on my pocket etch-a-sketch, and following it carefully I made two repeats without falls. Wired. After resting a bit for the pain in my healing toe to subside I went for it. Even without sudden acceleration it was exhilarating!

Giant Cave to Left of Top P7.
Giant Cave to Left of Top P7.
Credit: wallgumby

Now we were in the big dihedral that as viewed from Royal Arches looks like a Cobra hood and the nature of the climb had transitioned completely. There still weren’t any holds or edges, but there were steep cracks. I led a 10b hand crack in poor form to a belay in a Bay Laurel. There is some other kinda tree in Yosemite that that likes to occupy belay spots and harbors big nests of biting ants – but that is another story, and the Bay Laurel was ant-free with a fragrant soothing smell to boot. The wound from my surgery now wafted a festering smell so I wrapped it some of the Bay Leaves like a poultice. I saw that on TV once I think.

Karl took P6, an easy hand crack followed by a ramp with awkward gastons, sketchy smears, and committing run-out. It would have been truly serious if not for a wobbly #1 stopper placement in the middle. Har! Now it was early afternoon and we had only 2 real pitches to go. Time for a lunch break. I offered Karl the last of my mushy mango then stared hard at his bag of cheese and carrots. He did not take the hint so I drank the remaining water to teach him better manners.

Granite Cascades
Granite Cascades
Credit: wallgumby

The view from here was tremendous. Striped granite buttresses cascaded to the valley below. A gargantuan cave lie to the left. No weaknesses out the roof of the cave were visible, but there seems to be a seam that runs along the back. Someone (not me) should try a grand aid traverse of it with perfect shelter from weather and sun.

Pitch 8 was a flaring clean cut crack, toe to heel on the outside, sweet hand jams deep in, and a few short sections of arm-baring . Now we were at Karl’s goal pitch. His red point did not work out and here an apology is owed - I should have carried more of the water, food, shoes so you could have stayed fresh, sorry. When you need a partner for another try at the red-point, I’m your Huckleberry. I was so beat I didn’t even try climbing, and immediately resorted to laboring up on Tiblocs trailing the backpack. It was worth it just to see this crisp crack though. This pitch would be famous if not for the 16 below it.

Larl on $ Pitch 8
Larl on $ Pitch 8
Credit: wallgumby

Well, I wish this yarn continued with tales of solo fun up Wet Denim Day Dream. The walk past the Death Slabs and down North Dome Gulley was a teeth gritter. My surgery incision was oozing copious blood by the end. So much for power-poultices. Maybe I should have chosen a Doc who didn’t suffer from Woodstock flashbacks? Additional stomping no longer seemed to be helping the inflamation. A hardman would have continued on, but wimp that I am, I decided to take a break before my next dose of mountain style toe rehabilitation.
Now that the Cobra is all clean and purty, you good bold climbers should go get on it and traffic it up so it stays it scrubbed!

Cheers,
-Wall Gumby
Credit: wallgumby


P.S. Karl, thanks for the great time and leading all those scary pitches, you rock!
P.P.S. There is a line of new bolts and anchors than runs horizontal below the original line for a few pitches?


  Trip Report Views: 2,426
wallgumby
About the Author
Wallgumby is a wannabe big wall climber from LA LA, CA.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  Nov 5, 2012 - 01:36am PT
Delightful - thanks! I always wondered about the Cobra. It's quite a striking feature.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Nov 5, 2012 - 01:40am PT
Oh hell yeah! Awesome report, killer photos too! I hope your toe feels better.
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Nov 5, 2012 - 01:58am PT
Very cool!!!!

Flipping again through my 900.UDO.SLAB guide, the chapter on run-outs turned out to be just a bunch of toilet paper. What kind of sick joke?!

That had me laughing my ass off haha
krahmes

Social climber
Stumptown
  Nov 5, 2012 - 10:49am PT
Now that's something you don't see every day. Nice.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Nov 5, 2012 - 10:58am PT
Very entertaining! Tell Karl to get a bone dome if for nothing else
to cut down on the glare for the rest of us!
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
  Nov 5, 2012 - 10:59am PT
I've looked at the Cobra, and the Cobra has looked back so many times. Neat to hear about someone actually getting up close and personal. I'm too afraid of the traverses. It was especially cool to see the picture from under the big roof.
RP3

Big Wall climber
Twain Harte
  Nov 5, 2012 - 11:00am PT
Yee haw! The Cobra is awesome. Go back and get it!
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Nov 5, 2012 - 11:00am PT
Holy crap!!!! Karl "muthafukkin" Runde out on the Cobra??? I better start doing some pullups or something. Great report!
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
  Nov 5, 2012 - 11:04am PT
That's one sweet looking corner crack.

JL
Zander

climber
  Nov 5, 2012 - 11:06am PT
Nice! I need to getup there.
Z
Sewellymon

climber
.....in a single wide......
  Nov 5, 2012 - 11:26am PT
Great to see Karl still gettin' after it
hossjulia

Trad climber
Carson City, NV
  Nov 5, 2012 - 12:05pm PT
Wat to tough it out and get er done man!
Thoroughly enjoyed this, thanks!

Now ice the hell out of that foot and let it heal. ;->
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
  Nov 5, 2012 - 12:31pm PT
fun to read cuz'a what you wrote. hope this empathetic limp/cringe clears up soon
Onewhowalksonrocks

Mountain climber
In the middle of the ocean
  Nov 5, 2012 - 12:28pm PT
Great report for a great route. One of Bob Kemps great routes.
Jeremy Ross

Gym climber
  Nov 5, 2012 - 12:33pm PT
Awesome send thanks for posting up!!

Your partner taught me physiscs in college. Well, he tried his best that is....



-JR
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  Nov 5, 2012 - 12:37pm PT
The Cobra....

Good job.
Texplorer

Trad climber
Sacramento
  Nov 5, 2012 - 01:20pm PT
That pitch 8 looks primo!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Nov 5, 2012 - 01:32pm PT
Karl never had to unpack his Menace face.

I didn't know he had one! He's one fine person, for sure. I thoroughly enjoyed the TR of a climb I'd long wondered about. Thanks much.

JOhn
G Murphy

Trad climber
Oakland CA
  Nov 5, 2012 - 01:40pm PT
A great route, for sure. Thanks for posting.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Nov 6, 2012 - 04:04am PT
Pretty rad to go up there with new stitches.

Much of the pro looked like original 1st ascent hardware
I was up there this summer with Mike and replaced 2 bolts on p2 and placed the new belay anchor (30' above the old one with the Star-Dryvin bolt).
So progress is being made on replacement, but as it was that day we ran out of daylight and ended up climbing most of Royal Arches in the dark....

There is a line of new bolts and anchors than runs horizontal below the original line for a few pitches?
This is a fairly new route called "Fat, Feeble and Afraid"; it will be in the new guidebook. [le_bruce edit: sorry, no forecast on release date; this is notoriously hard to predict]
Cobra Slab  [updated 11/2012 for bolt replacement on p2]
Cobra Slab [updated 11/2012 for bolt replacement on p2]
Credit: xRez / Clint Cummins
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Nov 5, 2012 - 06:10pm PT
10/10. Liked that "stared hard" line.

Cummins: "...it'll be in the new guidebook..."

"...the new guidebook..."
"...new guidebook..."

New guidebook!!!!!?!! Heard the rumors, seen some binders at the Reeds pullout... but any target on when?
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
  Nov 5, 2012 - 06:36pm PT
Fine trip report of a storied climb. Tobin Sorenson and Mike G were rescued off it in a storm about 1973. Tobin went back a few years later with his brother Tim and bagged the FFA.

How hard to you figure? 11a(R) as reported?

Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Nov 5, 2012 - 06:43pm PT
Way cool. TFPU.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Nov 5, 2012 - 06:46pm PT
Cobra Kai.

Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut

Proud route guys. Well done.
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Nov 5, 2012 - 06:51pm PT
Very nice...the toe. Ouch.
Very nice fortitude


Susan
snowhazed

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Nov 5, 2012 - 08:02pm PT
Sick!
westhegimp

Social climber
granada hills
  Nov 6, 2012 - 02:19am PT
Nice!

Um... what is with the green toenails?

Wes

:)
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
  Nov 6, 2012 - 09:04am PT
you make it pretty obvious why this route has light traffic. does anyone beg to differ with 5.10b/5.7 A0?

no one wearing helmets for those horizontal runouts? or is that karl's tight-fitting helmet?
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Nov 6, 2012 - 02:34pm PT
Totally awesome, thanks for the stoke!!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Nov 6, 2012 - 02:54pm PT
does anyone beg to differ with 5.10b/5.7 A0?
Um, yeah, it's 5.11a - the diagonal barn door lieback pitch that Karl was trying to redpoint. Some huge whippers have been taken up there.

Here are a couple of photos from 2004 to fill in the gaps.

slab traverse


5.10b corner, prior to Karl's cleanup

upper part of 10b corner


p8


Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Nov 6, 2012 - 03:07pm PT
Looking up at the Cobra 30 yrs ago scared the poo right outta me. Way to get att'er.


The horizontal traverses look heinous.
Sparky

Trad climber
vagabond movin on
  Nov 6, 2012 - 03:49pm PT
Nice! Hope you're healing up fast-
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
  Nov 25, 2012 - 07:00pm PT
Cool looking route! Thanks for sharing!
Gal

Trad climber
going big air to fakie
  Nov 25, 2012 - 09:37pm PT
Very cool, wow, thanks! Heal on up.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
  Nov 27, 2012 - 04:29pm PT
Thanks, always wanted to do that route...sorta

A gargantuan cave lie to the left. No weaknesses out the roof of the cave were visible, but there seems to be a seam that runs along the back. Someone (not me) should try a grand aid traverse of it with perfect shelter from weather and sun.

Jerry Anderson put up a bolted slab route that went right up there (with some A0 in it) and intended to climb out the roof but said it was too rotten

PEace

Karl
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
  Dec 14, 2012 - 03:41pm PT
All the black streaks make me think this is a bad choice for winter climbing...

Bump anyways!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Feb 13, 2013 - 08:17pm PT
Bump for Karl!
eKat

Trad climber
  Nov 11, 2013 - 07:43pm PT
BBST!

(As a reminder = BBST = donini for Bump for a Better SuperTopo)
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