Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Two days of climbing with my dad in the Organs

My dad came to visit for a week. I was expecting a leisurely visit with some climbing high-lights. This changed a bit when the first day he was here, the conversation turned to painting our house, something my wife has been wanting to do for a year. My dad seized on the idea, "I'll help you paint! You'll need this, this and this..." The next thing I know we are spending our time together painting the house bright yellow. After 4 days of painting, I had enough. There was still some trim-work to be finished, but if we were going to have any father-son climbing adventures, it needed to happen right then.
Dad low down in the Chute

Despite my Dad feeling sick with bowel troubles, we took two days to climb in the Rabbit Ears. Our first day turned out to be frigidly cold and windy. By the time we had hiked up through Rabbit Ears canyon, we were being buffeted around by the wind like rag-dolls. Not wanting to admit defeat, we opted to climb up Boyer's Chute. This turned out to be an excellent choice, as the chute was very well shielded from the wind. It is also simply a fun scramble. My dad soloed the first "crux" 5th class section by going on the right side of the chock-stone. I attempted to bypass this by climbing a bit further to the right, and what looked to be an easy ramp. This is what John Bregar had climbed before and said was kind of sketchy. After climbing it I agree, while none of the climbing was difficult, the rock was a bit crumbly and it involved some awkward balancy steps.
Dad at the first "crux"                            Dad climbing up the crux chimney

Dad let me lead the crux chimney, not feeling up to snuff himself. We then simul-climbed the rest of the way to the top. I was pleasantly surprised to see 5 or so new entries in the Summit register that I recently had replaced. A couple parties had climbed Boyer's Chute and someone had done one of the West Face routes, but wasn't sure which one.

Dad near the top of the chute
We descended back down the chute, and I replaced the bolt rappel station at the top of the chimney pitch. Dad timed me, it took 20 minutes for me to drill and install a bolt. I wasn't able to cleanly remove either of the existing bolts. I was able to shear them off though, so they are unusable and not so conspicuous. Overall, thoe choice to climb Boyer's chute was a good one, it was probably the only route well protected from the howling winds and allowed us a great day out despite the weather.

The next day we had much nicer weather, calm and warm and headed back up Rabbit Ears Canyon to attempt our original goal: The Church Key route on Middle Rabbit Ear. This route is described in Ingraham's guide as being "5.7"" and with a possible pendulum move on the first pitch. The first challenge was just making sense of the route description. The route starts at the saddle between NRE and MRE, by scrambling upa mossy 3rd class slope.
Dad on the 3rd class
From here the description says to head directly up a chimney, or take steeper rock on the left until climbing becomes "impossible" and then pendulum into the corner.

I tried the direct approach first, climbing directly up the corner crack pictured below. This was surprisingly steep, and I ended up below the wide section of crack and scratched my head. I was hoping it would be a squeeze chimney, but it looked too small for me to squeeze into. I hadn't brought my off-width cams, and I'm not even sure if they would fit, but after scopung it out up close a few minutes, I though "No way this is they way they went" and I bailed off a chock stone to try to find the alternative 1st pitch.
The "steep rock" to the left was up this blocky arete. The climbing was pretty easy up to the last step, at which point it became nearly blank. This matched the Ingraham description where the climbing became "impossible". It actualyl looked pretty doable, slabby but not impossible, The only problem was that there didn't appear to be any protection if I continued up the arete. The alternative was to place a pendulum peice here and move back into the corner. However, it was clear that this would land me at precisely the same spot under the wide off-chimney that I had decided not to attempt. After some deliberation, I decdide to bail again, this tiome simply down climbing.
By the time I had bailed off both the first pitch attempts it was getting close to 2pm, and we decided we'd pack it in for the day. While dissappointed that we hadn't climbed the route it was still a nice day out with my dad. The whole way down I was thinking about how I should have tried harder to squeeze into the off-chimney, or if I had only brought a bolt kit I could have mustered the courage to attempt the arete. This will have to be added to my list of "next times". 

Dad scrambling down on the descent. The large chimney shown above him is bypassed by going around the left and up to the NRE/MRE saddle. The mossy 3rd class scramble puts you on tom of this chimney/shoulder where the climb "actually" starts.

1 comment:

Eugene Smith said...

Wicked cool post. Looking forward to the next one where you handle that arete. Cheers.