This is what I kept saying to myself as I enjoyed a refreshingly cool hike up to the Slab Happy Pinnacle in September. I tried to tell myself otherwise. Running thoughts about how moderate the temps are and how its a random blessing to be climbing this route when usually, it is way too hot for direct sun scaling in this environment.
We were not cool by any stretch by the time we reached the base of Slab Happy. Slumped in the shade my partner closed his eyes and took a nap for a bit while I characteristically hopped around to the base of all known routes in the area. Thinking of when past forays to this killer climbing destination yielded fine corners and absurdly traditional face climbing. My brain also created pictures of myself ascending the other routes that have yet to be ventured to. Routes created with very traditional ethics yielding what appear to be some of the better looking old school face lines the park has to offer in my opinion.
On this day our goal was a route by the name of "Random Blessings" which was co-established by Rob Dillon aka our very own Rhodo-Router of the mighty Taco.
This particular route goes up left of SHP a couple hundred feet. To me the line is awesome in that it, for the most part, follows an intersection of gold and grey rock the entire way to the East Ledges. You can find it here and zero in. http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/49244
I came across this route while reading through some old threads on recommended climbs. In this case ST's Cultureshock received some feedback from Rhodo on their line.............. I emailed Rhodo immediately to see if he would oblige me in handing over a topo of the climb.
Rhodo pretty much instantly responded and I had the topo for Random Blessings spewing forth from my printer in minutes. This topo is drawn over a rough photo (don't have terminology) and is a pleasure to look at. I may try this technique next time I participate in a first ascent.
I was excited to do the route as soon as I found someone interested and fortunately for me that doesn't take long. An old partner of mine who I've done some of my best personal accomplishments with stepped up. We hadn't climbed together for over a year. Awesome!!!!!!!!!
THE GO GETTERS
P1. A right leaning seam shining in the sun just as if a ten ton barrel of coconut oil was left at the top of the pitch to melt upon it. The rock was as hot as it looked, but thankfully not as slippery. An issue we faced was not being able to feel our toes for they were cooking. I can only compare this to climbing with extremely cold feet. When the toes lose all feeling and the climber just goes on trust that the rubber will work. This situation was pretty much the same, but with a looser shoe and a bit of a different pain masking any feeling that would lend a hand to really knowing what your toes are up to. It was a bit more of an intrusive pain than pain from cold.
Secretly, as I belayed my partner up the furnace-like fun of side pulls and locks, I was hoping it would prove too hot for him and we would go down. Well, this did not happen. We are not known to share these sorts of things with each other until after the fact so we pushed on up the 900 foot broiler plate. 10a.
P2. My partner seemed to be adopting the wise technique of getting the f*#k off the belay and up the next pitch as fast as possible in order to be all the closer to finishing with this chosen torture festival. He cruised to the plan thankfully.
I found out as I followed that the pitch consisted of incut after incut aka smile after smile. I like those incuts in the heat. I can perceive a bite in the rubber better than a smear while my feet swim in lava. 10a
P3. Some interesting overlaps were overhead and the topo shown a line crossing to a small head-wally looking feature with seams and grass. With that said I certainly wasn't looking forward to hard grassy, hot as the core of the earth climbing, but was pleasantly surprised by ultra positive underclings (in a shade pocket no less!!!!!!!!!) to sinker locks that those first ascentionists made sure to clean out. The "grass" were just some dried flowers to which some smelled very nice. Great work FAists. It was hot, but the positive locks and airy position made up for it. i can still feel the cool from the undercling. An oasis in the middle of the Sahara. 10b
Sorry, no photos on this one. I was the only one to carry the camera, this pitch kicked back after the business, and we were melting. My ass and everything else was painfully infested not only with heat, but lovely little needles from this beauty.
P4. The crux on the topo. My partner again adopted his proven technique of getting the hell out of there. We were pretty much down to a few mutterings back and forth to each other with no similarity to any sort of conversation. We were roasting embers on the tip of the dragon's tongue. The last bit of moisture steaming out of us with an almost audible whine.
The climbing proved continuous, but positive the entire way much to our joy. My partner was waiting and waiting for it to get hard and it never did. Continuous it was yeeeeeeessss, but not hard. Oh praise sweet Mother Earth!!!!!!!! We pretty much thought it was over. Heh heh.
My partner opted to pass up a nice bolted anchor on this one and gunned for the sanctuary of a small tree. A very cramped belay, but the shade exquisite in its life giving energy! Yay 70 meter ropes. 10b
P5. We sat looking up to what was called the "mungearete" and couldn't really figure it out. All we could see was a nice looking corner with a wide crack in it and, wait, what was that? Oh my God its, its like a gift from the heavens cast in that unmistakable sanctuary of..................................... THE SHADOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As it engulfed us we could feel clarity of mind replacing thoughts floating in a mire of liquified grey matter and volcanic mud. This was a refreshing feeling to say the least. It was a happy feeling.
No pitch photos, but damn what a view!!!!!
P6. Kicking back on the shady ledge it was apparent that many options existed from this point, but I was looking for a bolt and there it was! Yeah. The bolt appeared to be way the hell up the face, but in this case the face yielded some fine gear in seams and such. Very enjoyable. We had shade, smiles and what appeared to be the new crux of the route for us. It wasn't really tricky, just kind of hard so the crux it was at that point in the game. Honestly, my most vivid memory from this pitch was belaying my partner and simply basking in the shade and it offerings. 5.10
P7. Yeah, sick brown and grey rock with a flake to boast about. Along with that all so lovely rating of 5.9 I was certainly out of there! East Ledges awaited! I climbed smooth up the flake thinking how it seemed as hard as anything else on the route near its termination. Then, I went out right to supposedly easier ground and found what my partner and I felt without a doubt was the crux of the route. We were cool, comfortable, and our feet were happy. It was the hardest part of the route for sure!!!!!!!! I had a whoa moment because my guard was down. Yikes, but on I went to the East Ledges. 10c
No photo of pitch just looking down.
My partner and I shared quite a few laughs at the top about the heat, the ratings, and our various states of mind. The light in the Valley was starting into its late afternoon phases and the colors were letting loose.
We met some other fellows who were coming off the East Buttress of the Captain and passed the topo on to them with some of our thoughts. Maybe they'll go do it sometime.........
The descent of the East Ledges was the best one I've had. I wasn't in pain, the lighting was just right and my body simply felt refreshed as opposed to the usual complete exhaustion, fatigue etc that I usually feel when I'm coming down the East Ledges. We were only medium rare instead of well done. Ahhhhhh.
We both felt this route to be fun and a great way to get up this section of rock and actually top out. The position is sick. A nice aspect of this route is that its not a runout death festival. It is most certainly not a sport route and gear is a must not to mention the ability to climb above said gear, sometimes well above it, So it is an adventurous route, yet doable.
The ratings for us were very different from the FA party. We never thought 11a existed anywhere, but the 5.9 pitch held the sting at what we thought was a 10c boulder move tradski style.
Definitely save it for a cool day or just be fast in the afternoon on longer warmer days. Blah blah. Everyone knows what they have to do for their own situation.
Thanks to Rob and Ned for their hard work.
Peace out ST and thank you for your time. Hope you enjoy.