Swoop Gimp or be Dust V 5.9 C3
Trip ReportSwoop Gimp, Zion National Park, Trip Report
Day 2 in zion with Ammon “The El Cap Pirate.” We vowed to get earlier start on today’s climb… so of course we showed up at the base of Swoop Gimp right at the crack of noon. And, of course, Swoop Gimp only gets morning sun. If we couldn’t climb a north facing route, at least we could wait until our east facing route went into the shade. The good news: today felt a little warmer than yesterday. Maybe even above freezing.
The route climbs in the SHADY side of the sun/shade line
“How is it?”, Ammon asked.
“Its like walking through a hot spring… in the summer… in Bali. If only the bottoms of my feet weren’t burning up from these scorching river rocks.”
If you don’t believe me, just look at the look on Ammon’s. Doesn’t he look uncomfortably warm?
Ammon lead off. After a 5.6 pitch came the crux. A super-bad-ass pitch of overhanging C3 brass offset nuts and small cams. The pitch was overhung about 10-15 feet in 160 feet. Because the pitch was so overhung, many of the stoppers cleaned themselves as soon as I weighted the rope. Nice.
Ammon starting off on pitch 2
Ammon higher up on pitch 2.
I killed time at the belay by taping the core shot I caused the previous day on Desert Shield. The last two climbs that Ammon and I had done together had yielded two core shots. Somebody has to keep the rope companies in business. And the rope needed a middle marker anyway.
However, this was a pretty weak core shot compared to the one on El Capitan’s Horse Chute, last year.
On the next pitch, Ammon called down, “so there’s a bolt ladder going out left and one going out right. Which one do I take?”
Hmm. Its moments like this that you wish you had brought a topo for the route.
“Uhhh… go right.”
“Are you sure,” he asked?
“yeah, pretty sure.” But from looking at a topo for 30 seconds at the visitor center that morning, I seemed to remember the route trending right… I thought?
A few minutes later, Ammon called back down “These are old crappy star drive bolts sticking way out…. We must be on route!!”
Here he is on pitch 5
A few pitches later, I started leading the last 5 pitches. I got all the free climbing including a great 5.9 ow. It was great because it really didn’t involve any offwidth climbing. I face climbed fun 5.8 flakes on either side of a nasty looking wide crack.
I’d climb about 20 feet on the face, then place a big piece of gear in the offwidth, then climb more face. “Look” I called down to Ammon, “Its sport offwidth climbing!” Why can’t all offwidths be like this?!
After this it was mostly 5.7 with a touch of 5.10 thrown in to keep me on my toes. At one point I almost pitched when a big ledge/hold crumbled under my feet. That’s sandstone for ya.
Part of of what makes climbing in Zion so exciting in the winter is you only have a 5 hour window of non-ridiculously cold temperatures. So if you start climbing at noon, you better be done by 4. Luckily, we topped out 3 hours and 40 minutes after starting. Leaving enough time to descend and chill out for a few. We met up with the only other people we had seen climbing that day, Jordi and Heidi from maine. Two surgeons who spent there vacation time climbing big walls. Pretty cool. I joked about the lack of crowds and how we essentially owned zion’s big walls at that moment. “Tell you what, tomorrow, you take this side of the canyon and we will take that side.” (Brian McCray, Zack and James had already claimed the end of the canyon near Moneky Finger).
We headed back for food and drink in town with all 7 zion wall climbers at that moment. Another perfect day of big wall cragging. There are benefits to there only being about 5 comfortable climbing hours a day. Namely, you only have to climb for 5 hours a day. No full days of climbing El Cap style that then take a day or two to recover from. Instead, you put in your 3-4 hours on the rock, then spend about 20 hours eating, drinking, chilling, sleeping and, of course, spraying on the internet.
For the trip reports for Days 1 and 3 click here:
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