Monday, October 13, 2008

Middle and South Rabbit Ear Peaks in one day

I'm starting to get a bad habit: I see a climbing route that looks fun. I jump on it. The climbing starts to get hard. I panic. I fall. I lose my confidence and bail on the route. I tell myself it is 5.10 climbing. I go climb a 5.6. This is how the climbing day started out. Ross and I hike dup the Rabbit Ears canyon with no real route in mind. Once we got close to the Middle Rabbit Ear, I spied a few bolts heading up a fairly steep face. Above this face are improbably looking overhangs, and I should have taken a cue from those and set my sights somewhere else. but what's the fun in that? I rope up and tackle the route:

The start seems ok, a short corner where I clip a good bolt. Past the bolt is a delicate move to the left to gain a shallow crack system. I place a good wire and blue TCU in the crack system. More delicate moves are pass the crack but I still feel pretty good. I get 5 ft past my pro and gain a stance where I can clip the second bolt. The moves above this bolt are thin, and I take few false starts trying to decide on a sequence. Eventually, I commit to doing a hard sidepull on a shallow corner. I get high enough and reach up to what I hope is a good hold in a shallow crack, but turns out to be not that great. I'm about 10 ft past my bolt (CG speaking) and starting to not feel so good. I know what I need to do, make a smear with my feet and continue side-pulling on the shallow crack until I can gain a stance (and hopefully pro) but I can't make myself do it. I start cursing, and then shout "falling". Ross catches me all the way below my wired-stopper, about a 25 ft fall. My knee is alittle banged up and my arm is scraped, but I'm otherwise ok. I decide I don't want to try again though, and clean my gear and bail off the high bolt. Ross top-ropes up to the bolt and makes it look easy. My climbing esteem is pretty low.

Ross doesn't lead trad yet, so I get to pick the route we do next. I pick the easiest closest route to where we are, which is the Normal Route on the Middle Rabbit Ear. The route is fun, but it's not much. There was really only two pitches of climbing, and considering we hiked a considerable distance to get up here, it didn't leave us totally fulfilled. There were supposedly some harder variation finishes that I thought we would give a shot, but as soon as I got close to them, I balked. The one variation that looked do-able to my ego-weakened state had ants coming out of the holds.

Ross down-climbing to the bottom of the 3rd pitch.>>

At the summit, there still isn't a working pen at the register. the last entry is from June 2007 when Scott and I climbed the West Face route. Fortunately, I had a pen with me, so we sign the register and leave the pen. The register needs to be replaced badly. The PVC tube is not water tight and the pages are molding. I know those pages are only a year old too, because I left them there. Once agian I vow to bring a new register on my next summit bid.

After we rappel down to our packs, I'm starting to feel like we need to do something else before hiking out, so I suggest we run up an easy route on the South Rabbit Ear. After checking to make sure he has his head-lamp, Ross is game. I shed part of my rack and we strike off up the West Ridge of the South Rabbit Ear. We make short work of the route and I'm starting to feel better. Two technical summits in a day is pretty good. And an idea occurs to me: Both the North and middle Rabbit Ears have descent routes on the south, there is a very logical link-up which could summit all three rabbit ears.

The sun has set by the time we get down the steep gully underneath the peaks and we have to use head-lamps all the way out Rabbit Ears Canyon. Once we hit the Topp Hut road, a big moon rises over the rocks we were just at the top of, and the rest of the walk is casual and relaxed.

Another great day out in the Organs.

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