Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ground up on Gulliver's Travels

Midnight Rock from Noontime (Jens Holsten photo)

Jens and I made a rare visit to Noontime Rock last week, our first visit to Midnight Rock's somewhat less illustrious neighbor. We had our sights on the formation's only bottom to top free route, Gulliver's Travels. Almost 50 years ago the incredibly prolific Mr. Beckey nailed his way up this interesting series of disconnected features. Some 25 years ago a young Peter Croft cranked his way past Beckey's pins for a free ascent. If it wasn't for a shiny bolt at the first belay I would've guessed that we were the 3rd party to visit this stretch of stone. Whoever the mystery bolter was they neglected to do much cleaning.

Jens following the first "pitch", dirty but engaging 5.2

After I got our rope and bags up to the first station Jens racked up and headed towards the first crack transfer, getting some high gear before unlocking the first tricky traverse of the pitch. The crack that he gained was choked with moss but revealed itself to be relatively moderate and accepted some good protection. Jens tired of the moss-dust and lichen shower so he lowered down and handed me the rack.

Jens, round 1

After gaining Jens' highpoint I managed to pull my way up to the second traverse which ended up being the free-climbing crux. Beckey's pins still sat deep in the thin flake and held long enough to get some gear into the next crack. A short and steep finger splitter gave way to a thin hands to hands crack where I gladly stopped aid climbing and enjoyed some easy jamming.

Max, round 2

I took a brief look at the crux moves on may down and wished Jens luck on the toprope reconaissance. It didn't look easy but there's always a way. Jens didn't have much luck but he did manage to pop one of the ancient pins out with the weird toprope pull. A new relic for the mantle and also a marginal but usable new hand hold. After a lap up the hand crack Jens came down and I gave it a shot. Despite the new hold I was unable to unlock the sequence, quickly defending my weak fingers with the classic Leavenworth excuse:

"Dude, a hold probably broke on this thing, there's no
way this is .12a!"

Jens wasn't willing to give up so easily. Unfortunately for my ego he got back up there and figured it out in a few tries.

Jens, round 3 (looking cleaner)

There wasn't enough time in the day (or energy) to try the lead and though it was looking a lot cleaner than before it could still use some wind and rain, not to mention traffic, to get it back into shape. Hopefully we can get back up there this year and try to finish it off, the third pitch looks pretty fun.

This was an interesting outing in that we decided to just head up and clean on lead. Coming in from the top probably would have been more efficient and less time-consuming but the ground up style made for a little more adventure and something a little more akin to a first ascent experience (yeah yeah, except for the bolt and two pins).

Another view of Midnight, try to spot the immaculate splitter of Super Crack.
Major props to Jesse Huey on a ressurection and redpoint of this super classic.


Blake Herrington said...

Seems like your Jens' pin collection is expanding at a rate commensurate with the local granite flakes.

jfs said...

nice to see you are on the blogosphere max, i grabbed your man jens, we are staying the night in junction because my car is in the shop (actually not out of gas this time)