Saturday, December 27, 2008

Organ Mtns: Barbs Buttress in the Cold

Liz had to do some school-work today so I took the dog and the climbing gear and hiked up into Rabbit Ears Canyon. I wanted to jump on something slabby on Barb's Buttress, so despite the cold wind coming down the canyon and a light dusting of snow visible on the slab, I made right for it. During the winter, this slab gets very little sun, and the wall was still ice-cold when I reached it. The ledges and positive holds were slightly snow covered, appearing almost liked overly chalked up holds. I picked what looked to be one of the easiest routes on a slab to the left of where Scott and I climbed almost a year ago. Since Sasha isn't such a good belay partner, I took out the old Wren Soloist.

Route Description
Name: Un-known. For now let's call it Cruise Control
Length: ~60m. I only got about 30m up which is the height of the corner route directly to its left. The slab appears to extend for another 30 m, with potential crack systems for protection.
Protection: The bottome had nice cracks to protect in. About 40 ft up is a ledge. An option to the left follows some cracks and joins up with the top of the corner route on the left. I chose the option on the right. This one has 10-15 ft slab/face moves between protection. I ended up rapping off a block at 30m because my hands were frozen solid. An interesting note is that the point where I rapped can be reached by scrambling up the gully behind the wall and popping out around onto the face. I was able to retrieve my rappel gear this way.
Rating: Probably a 5.5 with pg13 protection. The upper section looked a little more lichen covered and it was less obvious that there would be protection up there.

Jumping on this route was remiscent of winter climbing. I'd reach up for the next hold and it would have snow on it. My fingers would freeze as I climbed high enough to get my feet up, then I'd get snow on my climbing shoes and they'd feel slick for the next few moves. This wasn't too bad for the start which had good protection, but when I got higher and the protection became scarcer, I wasn't too happy with this situation. Not one to take crazy risks on my soloist, I found a good rappel spot that happenned to be about half a rope length.

Next time: I'd like to climb the corner route which looks like a low-angled off-width. There was also a route marked by a piton in a steep seam just to the left of the corner which looked promising. The start looked cruxy, but the slabs above are what would worry me, because from a distance they do not look very protectable. An option would be to climb a different crack to the left of this and then rappel the route to see if it is protectable.

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