Spaceshot IV 5.6 C2 or 5.13

 
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Leaning Wall


Zion National Park, Utah, USA


Trip Report
Spaceshot Solo
Thursday March 20, 2014 9:50pm
Here's a brief trip report from my recent trip to Zion. I climbed Spaceshot as my first big wall solo.

My first climbing day was Sunday morning. Here's a look at the base of the first pitch and one of me getting about to start climbing.
The base of Pitch 1 of Spaceshot
The base of Pitch 1 of Spaceshot
Credit: Ryans
Me racking up for the first pitch.
Me racking up for the first pitch.
Credit: Ryans

I hadn't made up my mind how much I was going to do on the first day, so I wasn't prepared to haul or anything at this point. I was just shooting for the top of pitch 2.

Here's a look at pitch 2.
Pitch 2 and beyond of Spaceshot, as seen from the top of pitch 1
Pitch 2 and beyond of Spaceshot, as seen from the top of pitch 1
Credit: Ryans

The second pitch climbs a wide crack to a squeeze chimney with lots of jams and holds. I actually enjoyed this pitch quite a bit. This was the first time I had ever free climbed using my Silent Partner. The clove hitch was jamming often, making progress difficult. Sometime during the second pitch, I decided that I should haul to the top of pitch 3, so that I could have a better start the following day.

Here's one of me on the top of the second pitch. I'm getting ready to go down, eat some lunch, and pack the haul bag.
Looking down from the top of pitch 2.
Looking down from the top of pitch 2.
Credit: Ryans

I decided to break the haul up to the top of the second pitch into two shorter hauls. I fixed a single 60 meter rope from the top of the second pitch down to the top of Alpine Start (5.9), a nice looking, but short, corner with a tight hands crack. It was good I decided to do this because the bag got stuck within the first 10 feet of hauling. I rapped down, freed the bag, and continued the work with no further incidents.

The Supertopo guidebook lists a few options for pitch 3. I decided to take the steep flare chimney. It seemed to be the most direct and easiest hauling option. It was a fun climb, steeper than it looks. There was some cool stemming at the top. Again, I was fighting the Silent Partner for slack.

The pitch 3 anchors were two drilled angles. Somebody had used some climbing rope to add a fixed, equalized anchor to the pins. This rendered it impossible to clip any carabiners directly to the pins, which bothered me. The rope looked to be in good shape though, so I trusted it.

Here's a look at that anchor.
Fixed equalized rope on the top of pitch 3
Fixed equalized rope on the top of pitch 3
Credit: Ryans

After hauling to the top of the third, I decided to quit for the day. I fixed my lines and rapped off. I was at the car by 4:30. It was a full day, but definitely at a lazy pace. I made it to the Visitor Center just in time to get an overnight permit.

The next day's challenge.
Looking up at the 4th pitch and beyond.
Looking up at the 4th pitch and beyond.
Credit: Ryans

The next morning, I slept in a bit, due to nervousness. I probably didn't get started jugging until 8:30. I was ready to lead less than an hour later, still in the shade.

The first half of pitch 4 is a bolt ladder. The first bolt is pretty reachy and it is followed by an easy hook move. After the bolt ladder, the fun begins. Offset nuts and finger sized cams were the ticket for most placements.

As I worked into the crux of the fourth pitch, I came up on my first "tricky nut" placement. I put a #3 HB and it looked pretty great, I bounced it with my daisy a few times and it held so I started up my ladder. Before I completed the second step, pop!, the placement failed and I took a 4 foot daisy fall. It was my first aid fall. After the fall, I tried a #4 HB and it held fine.

Here's a look at the #4 HB that worked. If you look closely, you can see the "track marks" where my previous piece failed.
#4 HB worked, where the #3 did not.
#4 HB worked, where the #3 did not.
Credit: Ryans

A few moves later, I was at another crux. High above, I saw a nice constriction, perfect for a DMM offset alloy. The constriction even had a small lip to hold the nut in. If I could only reach it... I decided to place an intermediate piece for a handhold so I could top-step to reach the placement. This strategy worked and I got a red DMM offset to sit perfectly. I tested once with a daisy bounce and started up my ladder. As I became head-level with the piece, I noticed a hairline crack to the right and below my piece. I thought to myself, this whole chunk of rock could come off one day. As you probably expected, at that moment the rock exploded in my face and I took a 20 foot ride, caught by my Silent Partner. I batmanned up the rope and tried again, getting a cam to work instead. I was becoming discouraged by this point and contemplated bailing, but decided to push forward. I cruised through a few more moves, one of them being an oddly placed red tricam, and back-cleaned most of them. Soon I came to yet another crux. I placed a medium sized HB and tested it. It seemed to be good so I climbed up the ladder. Right as I was getting ready to unclip my daisy from the previous piece, the piece I was weighting popped and I took an 8 foot daisy fall, a genuine factor 2, onto a .75 camalot. Fortunately the piece held, because I'd otherwise have gone for a huge whip due to my back-cleaning. After some finagling, I finished the pitch.

Rapping, cleaning, and hauling went easily. I pre-rigged my haul through the micro-traxion and rapped down on the haul line.

Pitch 5 went better. I was more wary of placements and had a better idea of what would hold. I decided to take a lunch break after finishing and hauling pitch 5.

The view down-canyon from the top of pitch 5.
Down-canyon from Spaceshot. Angel's Landing is on the right.
Down-canyon from Spaceshot. Angel's Landing is on the right.
Credit: Ryans

Pitch 6 and 7 were much easier. They'd probably have gone mostly free if I were with a partner, but I aided them all the way through. It was fun hand jamming to help me top-step.

I forgot to pre-rig my haul after finishing the lead on pitch 6. When I finished cleaning, I decided to rig a quick Z-pulley with an ascender and a few slings. It worked well enough for me to the the haul line on the micro-traxion.

The anchor situation on Earth Orbit Ledge sucks. The drilled angles are on the middle of the ledge, 30 feet right of where pitch 7 ends. I decided to build a 4 piece anchor at the top of the pitch, and back it up with the drilled angles. Rapping down was easy from here and the hauling wasn't bad either.

Here's my belay cluster on Earth Orbit Ledge. I was pretty tired at this point.
Belay cluster on Earth Orbit Ledge. I'm hauling off a pseudo-equalized...
Belay cluster on Earth Orbit Ledge. I'm hauling off a pseudo-equalized 4 cam anchor, backed up by two drilled angles.
Credit: Ryans

I set up my sleeping situation in the dark. The ledge was much more angled than I expected, and in all the wrong directions. I ended up sleeping on a pile of rocks (with a pad, sleeping bag, and bivy sack obviously) because it kept me from rolling outwards. I clove hitched myself to my hand line so I wouldn't slide too much.

The sleeping locale.
My sleep spot on Earth Orbit Ledge
My sleep spot on Earth Orbit Ledge
Credit: Ryans

Looking down at my truck.
Looking down from Earth Orbit Ledge
Looking down from Earth Orbit Ledge
Credit: Ryans

I was slow getting ready the next morning. I had to flake out my ropes multiple times to get all the tangles out from my previous night's haste to eat, sleep, and drink. The rack was spread out between my gear anchor and the drilled angles.

I was tempted to lead the last pitch with only draws, because the topo said it was just a bolt ladder. However, my conservative side won over here and I brought a single rack of cams and nuts.

The pitch starts with some incredibly exposed 4th class traversing to the bolt ladder. These were scarier to me than the approach to Leaning Tower because there was 800 feet of air below you!

The first two bolts on the ladder are very close together, but the third one is significantly higher. So high, in fact, that I was unwilling to try to reach it. Fortunately, I had the rack. I was able to make a green C3 work for a handhold while I reached up to place a gold DMM offset. Once I was hanging on the nut, I realized that there had once been another pin here, but it was broken off.

The rest of the pitch went fine. I hesitated for a while on the final free moves, but once I committed they were easy.

Rapping back down to Earth Orbit was challenging. My haul line was very kinked and it didn't want to feed through the gri-gri. I ended up using my ascenders to pull myself over to the ledge.

Cleaning this pitch was exciting, to say the least.

Me, about to take my "spaceshot".
Contemplating my step into space.
Contemplating my step into space.
Credit: Ryans

Looking down at the bag, getting ready for the swing.
Getting ready for the swing out on Spaceshot.
Getting ready for the swing out on Spaceshot.
Credit: Ryans

Topping out wasn't very eventful. I spent some time re-organizing the rack and shuttling gear through the 4th class.

The descent was the scariest part for me. I'd never rapped with a bag before, so it was a learning experience the whole way. The first two raps were done backpack style. The second rap gets very steep and I nearly lost the bag. After that I "rode the pig" down. It was much easier this way. Five raps to the ground with double ropes and minimal down climbing.

Comments:

-There were fixed webbing, slings, and rope at every belay anchor on the route. Many times this prohibited one from clipping the bolts/pins directly. This was very annoying. I considered cutting them out, but wasn't sure what is customary here.

-In retrospect, I should have fixed to the top of the bolt ladder on pitch 4 and blasted in a day. I think I lost at least 20-30 minutes on every pitch hauling. An alpine start would have put me on top with time to spare.

-I hauled two #5 Camalots up the whole climb, never placing them once. This was a waste of effort. I only needed a single #4 camalot.

-A triple rack from #1-#3 is sufficient for pitches 6 and 7 if you're okay back cleaning them.

  Trip Report Views: 1,494
Ryans
About the Author
Ryans is a trad climber from Idyllwild, CA.

Comments
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Norwegian

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
  Mar 20, 2014 - 09:57pm PT
very nice,
thanks for reporting your adventure.
johntp

Trad climber
socal
  Mar 20, 2014 - 10:10pm PT
Nice TR. TFPU and good on you for carrying on after the 3 ripped.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Canada
  Mar 20, 2014 - 11:14pm PT
Going climbing is a lot of fun when you make up your own rules. TFPU !
10b4me

climber
  Mar 21, 2014 - 12:08am PT
Thanks for the trip report.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Mar 22, 2014 - 03:28pm PT
Way to go, I love Zion!!!!
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Mar 22, 2014 - 03:40pm PT
I hope the route lasts a while longer.
I've had much worse bivies than Earth Orbit, and yes, cut the tat.

What pisses me off are the people too stupid to clip into the belay chains leaving the rap link open, and end up leaving slings rather than remedy their error.
These people should be cited for littering.
eKat

Trad climber
  Mar 22, 2014 - 07:55pm PT
Hey, Ryans. . . did you have your Silent Partner rigged right?

The clove hitch has to come off the TOP of the drum. (TOP being where the attachment holes are.) If you rig it, like the photo in Rock and Ice years ago, with the clove hitch coming off the bottom of the drum, it will have a hell of a time feeding properly.

We had a friend do an entire wall with his rigged wrong and he was hating life!

Refer to page 6, Figure 3 of the manual.

http://www.bmi.gv.at/cms/BMI_Alpindienst/service/files/WREN_Silent_Partner.pdf
Grippa

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Mar 22, 2014 - 04:09pm PT
Nice work, and way not to bail! Cut the tat off any pins/bolts you find in Zion Canyon PLEASE. Most routes have a seperate descent than ascent which negates the need for tat on the anchors. Obviously people bail, but please leave quicklinks on the pins/bolts so others can clip in conveniently.
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
  Mar 22, 2014 - 04:21pm PT
Nice going, Ryan...and great TR.

I tried that thing twice years ago, and got weathered off both times. Looks like a relatively good choice for a first solo.
Prod

Trad climber
  Mar 22, 2014 - 06:52pm PT
Sweet TR

Prod.
fosburg

climber
  Mar 22, 2014 - 08:59pm PT
Good effort and thank for the report!
Ryans

Trad climber
Idyllwild, CA
Author's Reply  Mar 23, 2014 - 05:39pm PT
Thanks for the info in the tat. I wasn't sure the protocol in Zion for that, but I'll cut it out from now on. Quick links, or chains, on the pins would have been great. As far as I remember, none of the anchor stations had chain. That includes both the ascent and descent anchors. Maybe somebody should start producing a new ring angle piton for this style of anchor, with some permanent stainless steel chain and a big rap ring on the end.

I definitely had the Silent Partner rigged properly. I think the drag was likely a combination of two things. The first being that a few times I ended up with the anchor end and free end crossing over one another, making the Silent Partner want to twist on my harness. The second was that I wasn't using backup knots most of the time (I know...). This only affected me for the second half of long pitches, and if it was a problem, I'd tie a big loop of slack and clip it to my belt like you're supposed to. I also didn't use clove hitches or prussicks to hold the rope up, with a few exceptions (I kept forgetting to do this), so the weight of the rope may have caused my problems.

On the subject of the Silent Partner, the one fall that it caught was nice and smooth. I didn't use screamers or any trickery at my anchor to give a dynamic style catch.

The big daisy fall was pretty rough. Though you can definitely feel the nylon daisy stretch. I wonder if that piece would have held if I used a dyneema daisy? Any thoughts/experience?
Norwegian

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
  Mar 23, 2014 - 05:46pm PT
the rope weight on the silent partner
will bind you every time.

you've got to carry the slack end in coils on your harness,
and if you're climbing a plumb pitch,
you need to prussik / clove the anchor end
of the rope to periodic gear.
(this isn't necessary on wandering
pitches because the friction from the rope
passing thru the pieces (i.e. rope drag) is
sufficient to carry the weight of the rope.

actual rope drag is never an issue,
because the rope passes not between
the gates of heaven,

i've fallen on mine, too,
and it was no big shake.

once again,
congrats.
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
  Mar 23, 2014 - 05:53pm PT
Way to go, good job. We saw you at the top just before Earth Orbit, that was a windy night, how did you fair? We went up the next day as you finished the raps. You saw us hauling to the top of the third. Our plan was bivy at the third and blast to the top the next morning. When we woke the next morning we were met by a nice couple from Ohio who seemed to be moving fast so we let them climb through, big mistake that cost us the climb. We waited 3 hours while they fiddled with the 4th pitch and by the time we got on route it was late. We made it to the top of the 5th by the time it got dark and decided to bail. They topped out in the dark, glad someone made it. Bummed but it was still fun climbing. The next day we took it easy and did Led By Sheep on Aries Butte.

Moonlight was our original plan but Andy Kirkpatrick had fixed lines top to bottom and camera crews all over the thing.
Ryans

Trad climber
Idyllwild, CA
Author's Reply  Mar 23, 2014 - 11:17pm PT
I'm sorry to hear about the traffic jam you encountered. I came back that day and watched the gong show on Moonlight and watched you guys for a bit. There was a lot going on at the 3rd pitch belay and 4th pitch when I was looking. At least you were able to do the two crux pitches before bailing.

I had the climb to myself for 3 days straight. Nobody was on when I started and you guys didn't get on until I was back on the ground. I'm sure I'd have found a reason to quit if somebody came nipping at my heels.
Jeff Gorris

climber
Not from, Portlandia
  Mar 24, 2014 - 01:18am PT
Good tenacious mo fo attitude you-- way to go!
Chugach

Trad climber
Vermont
  Mar 24, 2014 - 08:22pm PT
F'n-ay, nice work
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