Trip Report
EB of MC, Commitment and Surprise TR
Sunday June 15, 2008 2:35pm
A couple of years after I started climbing I went to Loverís Leap with my friend Mike. He had learned to climb with stoppers and hexes mostly because the club he was in didnít have many cams. I didnít have a very good rack so we climbed on his gear. It turns out that two sets of stoppers is a good beginning to a Loverís Leap rack. At least for the moderate classics we climbed; Bears Reach, Corrugation Corner, The Groove and the Farce. Soon after that he stopped climbing and started road bike racing. Well, five or six years later he started climbing at the gym again so last fall we went to Sugarloaf where I led all the pitches of Scheister 5.7. This is a great climb with a classic chimney in the first pitch. It was actually one of the first true chimneys heíd climbed. Shortly after he was in Yosemite with some visiting family and he went climbing with the YMS. His guide was supertacoís own Jobee. She must be a great guide because he came back breathing fire and ready to roll! And he was ready to start leading again. Since he was tearing it up at the gym and I prefer to climb longer routes I suggested we do the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral. It would be longest climb heíd ever done but Iíd done it before and was sure weíd cruise it. I had two vague notions; one was to free the bolt ladder and the other was to climb the original chimney route. On 10/18/07 we did the route.

Hereís a pictures of the first pitch.
Instead of going right around the tree as the topo shows I went straight up toward the 5.8 rooflette on P2. Thatís the way Iíd done it before. Itís not hard. P1 and P2 easily link with a 60 meter.

Hereís a picture of P3 from the belay after Mike lead it.
This is a fun pitch and Mike cruised it.

Hereís a picture of P4 looking up the lieback.
Mike linked P3 and P4. My first time on the route I took one of my few leader falls on this lieback. I looked up from the ledge at the start of the lieback and saw a jug about 25 feet up. So I put in a piece as high as I could and then fired for the jug. Well, the jug was not a jug. Now I was looking at a 30 footer or I could go higher where there appeared to be a good hand jamb. Instead I started down liebacking and finally popped about eight feet above the ledge. I landed safely on my feet. The ledge is about 18 inches square. Ha ha! Sometimes you get lucky. My partner was wondering why the rope suddenly coiled at his feet. Mike didnít have any trouble with this. I started freeing the bolt ladder on the next pitch until I got to a part where you make a thin high step when I abandoned my plan. My excuse was that I had on my old shoes with the worn out edges. Or maybe I had the wrong hairstyle that day. Probably because I had wimped out on the ladder the 5,9 roof seemed a lot harder than I remember.

Hereís a picture of Mike coming up to the belay on P5.
You can see the offending old shoes in the pic. I better get them resoled because Iím not sure I can use that excuse again. Mike now led over into the chimney of the original route. He looked up the 5.7 chimney and remembering that heíd really only done one chimney before, on Scheister, he declined the honor and returned to the belay. So we abandoned my 2nd vague notion and I lead the standard traverse pitch.

Hereís a picture of me following P7.
We were getting to the rhythm of the thing now

Hereís a picture of Mike following P8.

Hereís a picture of him leaving the belay on P9.
When I got to the belay it was kind of a mess. It was safe but all over the place. I hassled him just a little about it. I remember the first climb I did with my friend Bob, Arrowhead ArÍte, I lead pitch two. When he came up to the belay, he took one look and said, ďThis is a clusterĒ. Only he didnít say it that nicely. These days my belays are pretty clean. A little hassling goes a long way.

Hereís a picture looking down P10 above the 5.8 section.

Both times I climbed this route this was my favorite part. Not so much the actual moves, though they are good fun, but more just the way I was feeling. Both times I was just starting to get tired so I wasnít thinking so much, just climbing, making a move, putting in a piece, letting it happen. Thatís the best.
I kept going and belayed most of the way up P11. The descent was dry this time so we were pretty quickly back at the car. A really good day.

I took the winter off after this climb. No bike riding or climbing at the gym. I was trying to let my ankle heal because it wasnít recovering from the surgery Iíd had in May. I started up slowly in February. The ankle wasnít better but I sure wasnít going to lose a climbing season waiting for a miracle healing. Besides I already had big plans for the summer!
Mike and I hooked up again April 21st. Our plan was to climb some of the Five Open Books. We started with Commitment.

Hereís a picture looking up from the 5.8 start.
This first 10 feet was the crux of the route for me because Iím particularly bad at thin hands. It is a great pitch.

Hereís a picture of Mike leading P2.
You can see the crux roof above.

Hereís a picture of me after the 5.9 roof.
I found this boulder problem to be the easiest 5.9 Iíve encountered in the valley. I was spouting off at one of the Wide Wood Sessions about finding the easiest 5.9 in the valley and both Ed and Jay told me, ďWhen itís wet itís one of the nastiest slime fests aroundĒ! I hate being wrong all the time! The 5.8 above is fun too. Fearing the rumors of loose rock at the top out I belayed in the trees and it was fine.
Next we moved over to The Surprise.

Hereís a picture of P1.
Mike was looking around to make sure he was on route when he half pulled out a block about the size of a small microwave. I was trying to figure how to get out of the way while keeping him on belay when he managed to push it back! Whew!
The traversing second pitch is really funky. A sketchy bolt, slung flakes, I enjoyed it. The last move down and around into the corner was a bit iffy just because of the rope drag and that I wanted to be above the traverse to give some sort of a good belay for Mike following. I back cleaned quite a bit after I got high enough.

Hereís a picture looking down P3.
Mike was still a little frazzled by the incident with the block so I lead this pitch. This is a sustained, at times thin, very cool pitch. A mix up we had combining our racks meant that we didnít have gear in the 5/8Ē to 3/4Ē range. Unfortunately, I needed just that size to protect the bulge before the anchor. I ended up climbing out and around to the right. It was runout but easier.

Hereís a picture looking up the 10a P4.
I was getting tired by then, which did not bode well for all my big plans for summer. We rapped. Still, it was a good day in the sun.
I went to the doctor a few days later. They had finally figured out that my ankle problem was actually a back/nerve problem, Spondylolisthesis. Hereís a picture I got off the net.

The drawing on the left shows what the back is supposed to look. The picture on the right looks like my X-ray.
I was in the Docs office looking at the X-ray and thinking, ďDude, youíre brokenĒ! And then in amazement and horror I realized, ďDude, you broke your back to get out of leading P4 of The SurpriseĒ! Now thatís wimpitude.

  Trip Report Views: 1,516
About the Author
Zander is a trad climber from Berkeley.

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Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Jun 15, 2008 - 02:49pm PT
thanks for the TRs Zander, I'm still on a quest to do the FOBIAD...

and that picture of your spine condition makes my back sore and stiff!

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Jun 15, 2008 - 02:53pm PT
Zander....kick ass!

Sorry 'bout your ankle/back problems. Heal up! Nice job on the route though.

Just livin' the dream on the California coast
  Jun 15, 2008 - 03:17pm PT
Great TR and photos, Z.

I've got a friend with that same "condition". He still keeps doing things no sane person would (ie climbing :-)), too. Said he'll have an operation one day if he has to, but in the meantime...mountains are callin'!

Thanks for the post!

Social climber
  Jun 15, 2008 - 04:34pm PT
Hell yah, broski. You just convinced me to jump on them roots.

  Jun 15, 2008 - 05:16pm PT
This is such a fun linkup. Nice job and feel better soon!

Just south of one Valley or the other
  Jun 15, 2008 - 06:57pm PT
Nice story and pics Zander. We did Commitment a few weeks ago and loved it. That adventure on the EBMC sounds perfect. Hope your back gets heals.

goatboy smellz

Gulf Breeze
  Jun 16, 2008 - 08:49am PT
Good going Zander...sorry to hear about your back...hopefully it will only act up when you have to do house chores.

  Jun 16, 2008 - 12:11pm PT
Great pics, and good luck with the spine !

Author's Reply  Jun 17, 2008 - 10:40am PT
Hi Folks,
Thanks for the best wishes on my ankle/back. Actually, it is a relief to finally know what the problem is. It's really not that bad in the sense of how many 48 year olds do you know who's backs don't hurt? The docs just want me to train smarter and develope strength in my core. Sounds good to me!
See you on the rock.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Jun 17, 2008 - 10:53am PT
Nice TR Zander, as usual.

That's a scary looking picture of your back.
Back surgery is always a terrifying prospect. I know
people who were paralyzed having 'improvements' made.

I hope the core strengthening helps to the extent you'll
never need surgery.

Keep up those TR's too!!!!

Gym climber
  Jun 17, 2008 - 11:03am PT
classic climbs. thanks for the tr, and easy on those back-jams.

Released into general population, Idaho
  Jun 17, 2008 - 11:15am PT
Pictures of cliffs and ropes and shoes and guys climbing away from you and climbing towards you. Man! It doesn't get much better than that on the Internet.
Doug Hemken

Madison, WI
  Jun 17, 2008 - 01:29pm PT
I always enjoy your TRs.

Fremont, CA
  Jun 20, 2008 - 09:13pm PT
I climbed these routes with Zander. Before I go further, I am trying to post a couple of pictures of him climbing EBMC. This is my first time trying to post.

This is the format I am using, except I am using square brackets.

Hopefully, here is Zander.

If this does not work, sorry for the spam.


Trad climber
Boulder Colorado
  Jun 22, 2008 - 01:07am PT
cool thread guys, fun stuff and good pics,
makes me remember why I started climbing in
the first place - thanks.
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