Tuesday, March 18, 2008

OMTRS: Tyrolean traverse

The OMTRS did its annual Tyrolean traverse training at La Cueva last Saturday. There was a lot of equipment involved: large tripods to set up anchor points, pulleys galore, ropes, emergency litters, the whole shebang. This being my first exposure to technical rescue techniques I mostly sat back and watched the experienced members of the team run things. A lot of the rescue techniques are new to me, but the equipment is all pretty familiar and I do not doubt that I'll be able to pick up this skills with a little practice. My only complaint is that everyone was too occupied fiddling with rescue gear to want to go climbing. Next time...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

North rabbit Ear: Awful Buttress

Today felt like mountaineering. Cold winds buffetted us through-out the day, and I was actually forced to climb in a toque and wind-breaker. Scott and I stabbed at the North Rabbit Ear, blundering onto a route called Awful Buttress . For some reason the name failed to ward us off, but the main reason we ended up on this climb was it was the one route with a descrption that I could vaguely follow up the North-West face of the NRE. One thing we forgot to account for was that the descent was off the south-face, and unless we wanted an additional hour of scrambling/bushwhacking, we needed to climb with our packs. Another reason that it felt like mountaineering...

The meat of the climb was dealing with chimneys and off-widths. Having packs on made this more difficult than it should have been, as well as scarier. Below the crux pitch was a delicate face traverse under the lip of a roof, at which point Scott started looking for alternatives. Instead of completing the traverse, he convinced me to abandon the crux pitch and attempt a corner system 100 ft to the right. This also ended up to be a chimney (last pitch of the PeaPod route I think), and for once we got smart, and dropped our packs to make the squeeze chimney climbable. We then angled back left on a rising flake and re-joined the Awful Buttress route just above the crux off-width.

Of historical note, the last entry in the summit register was May, 2004. This doesn't really surprise me as Dennis Jackson omits the Rabbit Ears from his guide, and local beta is hard to come by. A lonely peak on a windy day. I thumbed through the register to an entry in the 70's, Dick Ingraham's second ascent (solo) of the NRE, where he rants about the soon-to-be-built Aguirre springs campground. I sometimes wish that the Organs had better access. Roads that any car could get up, a network of maintained trails. While these would make climbing up here so much easier and more accesible, I also see the beauty that Ingraham saw: rugged inaccessible mountains, that will stay that way as long as roads and trails are absent. A proving ground only for the truly determined and adventurous. A bastion of wildness only a stone's throw away.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Dona An Mts, Charlie's route on V-dome

It's been a long week and it was looking like I wouldn't be able to go out climbing. I got called in to work on Saturday and couldn't join the OMTRS at Percha Creek. But since I've been getting up early consectuively for such a longs spell, I figured it wouldn't hurt to get up early this morning and tackle a short route the Charlie Cundiff showed me a year ago in the Dona Anas. The route is located on the dome in front of the Checkerboard wall, and we dubbed it Vedauwoo Dome because of the parallel wide-cracks that we climbed there last year. Last years trip with Charlie was a follow up trip for him, as he had already climbed one of the best looking lines on the formation, and dubbed it "Cultural Learnings of America" after some movie. Liz got up with me early this morning and we dragged the dog out there to try it for ourselves.

Cultural Learnings of America
I didn't remember the approach being too difficult, the usual scrambling up boulders and dodging the prickly plants. KLiz and Sasha felt otherwise. We slowly picked our way up to the gully beneath the route and when Liz saw that I expected her to continue scrambling up the 4rth class gully, she put her foot down. We roped up for the gully. The climb itself was a great little route. The business was the first 20 ft, which were steep, dark, and dirty. Absolutely no evidence of Charlie's FA is left, and I felt as though I was making the first ascent all over again; brushing off the dust and dirt, cleaning out the cracks before trusting my jams, carefully testing the rock for soundness.

CLA is the shaded corner on the right side of the Dome.