North Face 5.11c
Trip ReportThe Rostrummmmmmm
Been s c a r e ddddd of the Rostrum for many years.
For the last ten years: le_bruce, you ready for the Rostrum?
This summer: le_bruce, you ready for the Rostrum?
Then a few weeks ago: le_bruce, you ready to climb the Rostrum?
Thus bluffing myself into the notion of readiness, and knowing that the ropegun partner was beyond solid, I read the Rostrum TRs. Cultureshock, Vitaliy, RyanD, nopantsben, Elcapinyoazz, Crimpergirl. Iíd read them all before, but never as a person who was going to do the Rostrum. Kind of gut churning to read them in the days before a go on it. ďAm I going to be able to do this?Ē
A few days before the climb, partner and I talked sandwich options, which brought on hurt and anger and strife in the partnership so we scrapped those options, decided on bars.
The night before, we bivied in good cheer - as with every 24-hour run we make to the Valley, singing quietly together with steady eye contact until we were tired enough to sleep. You guys all do that with your partners right? Good way to keep away the pre-climb jitters. Birds woke us up in the morning.
We kicked ideas around about the rack Ė I agreed this time to the partnerís strict and strictly foolish No Aliens policy (makes me want to puke, policy-wise) but clipped the yellow and green to my harness anyway. ďIíll just carry them, youíll never have to touch them.Ē
The partner is a quiet and contemplative man. Here are the main points of our strategy talk on the drive from the Magic Bivy to the pullout above the Rostrum:
Before the tunnel: Iím thinking youíll lead all the hard pitches.
A nod of the head, then silence for the dark length of the tunnel
Emerging from tunnel: And Iíll lead the easy ones.
An exhale, a second nod of the head
As we were about to start the stroll to the raps, we felt a certain tightening in the atmosphere around us. A figure materialized at the opposite end of the pullout, and though he was whispering from 100 yards, we could hear him with perfect clarity:
We didnít like the look of that, so hoofed it down the path barefoot and to the raps.
Liking the pardís new bi-weave 70m on the first of two raps. Looks like the rap bolts had been recently placed? Replaced?
I told my mom about the cool fact that you approach the Rostrum from above, and she looked at me like a punk. ďI thought you climbers started at the bottom and went up?Ē Subtle insult, strike against a sonís feeling of worth.
Here begins a mini-TR within a TR on the habits of climbers. All of the following photos taken within forty steps of the first hand jam on the route. Fun! I counted five!
Because digging holes is hard, and those leaves will probably keep it kosher.
Yeah that ought to do it wrt good style.
Mmm hmm, no trace left.
No one is without sin. But this is next level, just embarrassing, and nasty. And only climbers go to this corner of the Valley.
(Climbing down off of high horse)
Finally I remembered to stop looking at the deuces on the ground and to take a look up. MFíing swoon!
Oh ok yes, YES, the psych now setting in! Sweet jesus it looks steep and clean and splitter from toe to head! And hard, oh god, hard. Will the Merced be low enough to bail??
But then that feeling of a force drawing nigh in the spaces around us again, and crystal lattices forming and being atomized out of view above our ears.
Oh wait, no, thatís just Vitaliy. Just a weekender like us. Since it was his birthday, we let he and his strong partner go first. Also, they may have been 100% more competent. Nice way to spend a birthday. On the .11a option of p2:
Here comes the partner in his new helmet up p1:
Really fun chimney and exit sequence on top of p1:
Little downclimb with crimps and balancey moves to start p2. Lighter, lilí brother version of the Vampire crimp traverse:
Thin pulls with good feet and good gear to get through the .11a sequence to a sinker fingerlock. This pic is rotated - it's not this steep
Then itís fun jamming to the belay
Pitch 3 is every bit as classic as everybody says. So long, so clean, jam after jam of 10/10 climbing. The off-balance lieback sequence off of the belay was tricky and weird. I think I did those three moves horribly wrong but survived it.
Pitch 4, steep fingers, really good climbing. Vitaliy lowering for a second lap on something easier over to the right there Ė itís nice that you can bail to the easier line from the ledge and still top out. Think itís a 5.9?
Partner was incredibly solid on the OS attempt but took a fall on this lead, foot slip Ė his only fall of the day. It felt pumpy but solid on second, with a couple of key rest spots, though different ball game when youíre on lead. I had to weight the rope after the business to get a walked small cam out with two hands. Tainted the TRonsite.
A safe lead
Pitch 5 has the what I though was the routeís sleeper hard section on it @ .10d, turning the roof and up to the belay
Comes right after placing this piece under the roof. Once I left the last stem and committed to the burly moves out and around the roof I was in full on desperado liebacking mode, and I fell at the last move to the ledge. What a beautiful pitch. If you like a) stemming, and b) handjams, you will like this pitch. Two things that are impossible to dislike.
Good hardware all the way up adds to the all around American Luxury feeling of the climb
The .10c face to .10a OW pitch 6 was one Iíd mentally filed under Easy while looking at it on paper that morning. Problem was, I was feeling a little toasted after that wasp-sting .10d lieback section.
Staring hard at the myriad chalked up holds between me and the crack on the arete, I took the rack and asked for a hug from the partner. I might have held the hug a little longer than he did, always a little awkward. Belay hugs can be like that. Felt better though and set off.
Face sequence was cool and went fine, though there were some spun holds, then the steep hands section was yep pretty steep. The only loose rock I saw all day was on this bit. Phew, finally the pedestal rest before the OW. At .10a, everything should be ok from here to the belayÖ
Of all the intimidating aspects of the Rostrum day as I had conceptualized it, the OW part was the only one I hadnít worried about. Leaving the security of the initial stemming section, it occurred to me that maybe I should have. Thereís a solid 20 ft section of clean, slick, featureless, blue collar, #5 O-Dub work to be done after the stems vanish and before the angle kicks back, with several bonus spans where if youíre my size you canít get a knee in.
Hnngnngnhh. Push #5. Hnnnngngnng. Push # 5. Hnnngngngnhhhnnngh. Push #5. Voice in back of head: Pull on it! Pull on the cam! Easier! Safer! You have a daughter Ė pull on the cam for her sake for verily you are going to die if you donít! No one can see! No damnit no I wonít pull on the cam! Lots of back and forth like this during a slow OW lead that is systematically draining you of all energy. I didnít pull on the cam but I did take once where the crack does a mini-dogleg to get my sh#t together. Tough!
Meanwhile Vitaliy next door was hucking laps on Blind Faithís .11d and .11a pitches with a very determined look on his mug. I could hear him mumbling things in another language on his OW lead while I was suffering up my side. Guess both OWís climb opposite sides of the same flake? Pretty neat.
Partner motoring through the easier top section of pitch 6
Cool chimney and stem box to end that pitch. Notice the bloodbath that occurred on partnerís right kneecap, like somebody went buck wild on his knee with a bludgeoning weapon
Pitch 7 is maybe the coolest of the day, though itís hard to pick just one
Memorable belay stance
You get to chill in the cave before the last OW. Coordinated footwear and pant-leg roll a key part of any successful climbing partnership
The stinkbug traverse right is good for a laugh!
Looking at the last section to the summit. ďTake the #5 out they say??Ē
°Hasta la cumbre, compaŮero! °Que Dios te acompaŮe!
The Rostrum exceeds the hype I think. One of the best climbs Iíve done, no question. I didnít get it clean, but thatís just a good reason to return, which we did a couple of weeks later.
There comes Vitaliy. Big day slaying hard pitches.
Summit @ dusk, easy walk back to the road, iron chariot waiting in the dark to fire back to Oakland.
Didnít get the climb clean. Didnít make the Valley commutersí goal of sub-24 hour door to door. Did have a f*#king blast. Good!
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