Home / Trip Reports

A Hot Link, 6/01

By Jim Herson

As they say you just don't want to know how sausages, laws, and climbing plans are made. Our co-opted democratic system requires dopey pet projects to be funded by tossing pork at the other guy's dopey pet projects. Unfettered by fiscal reality this system has worked just dandy and has given us such elegant documents as the US tax code among other gems. Climbing plans, on the other hand, are much more intricate. But the general principle of negotiating something utterly worthless and irrational by agreeing to something even sillier, while unconstrained by actual fitness, still applies. Thus Peteman and I did a Salathe/Half Dome link-up.

The problem of course was Peter. What Tatjana sees in a man with such poor judgment of route quality is beyond me. That's right -- Peteman didn't want to climb the Salathe?! Weird huh?

Borrowing a page straight out of Greg and Chan's play book I let Pete rant for a few weeks about just how done he was with the Salathe. [Greg and Chan always let Pete, their "nocturnal specialist" carry on for the week before one of their trademark 30+hr marathon climbs about just how done he was with the night shift. Only once his position is clearly stated will he happily cast off with the rack and headlamp.] Pete and I have done the Salathe together three times and rapped in once in the last four years so obviously I couldn't fault his Salathe fatigue. Instead I just ignored him.

That isn't quite true. Pete and I had been toying with the idea of a jugless Nose/Half Dome link-up since Pete hates to jug and I don't know how to jug. So I played the link-up card to dupe him onto the Salathe. [memo to self: get fit before buying off partners with link-ups.] Swapping the Salathe for a jugless Nose was trivial since as we all know Pete ("the man who can't say no") is -- how to put this delicately -- a climbing slut. He loves climbing way too much to turn down the stone.

Of course with a link-up the only goal is to be fast and efficient -- two total non-starters for me. As this was probably my last shot at the Salathe this season I had no intention of passing up the best free climbing in the Valley. Much to Peter's dismay I was bent on doing some good old fashion, anal retentive, time consuming redpointing. Unfortunately Peteman is a sharp one and figured this one out all by himself and placed a firm 10 hour cap on my free climbing nonsense. Darn him!

As I enter my fifth decade the infuriating Friday night traffic/late arrival/no sleep grind seems to have lost it's luster. In fact I refuse to fight it anymore. Instead we enjoyed a casual ride up Saturday afternoon arriving in plenty of time to cook a feast and make it to bed in time for a full six hours of infuriating insomnia. Arrg! Started the Salathe at 5:15am and simul-climbed some to the crux, P19, by 8:30am. Knowing that we had another 20 hours of climbing ahead of us I emptied the reserves trying to redpoint this pup only to blow it once again at the last move. Arrg! I'm tempted to punt on linking the entire pitch and just go back to the original half way anchors. Either that or I need a 4mm cord since the rope drag at the top (130' out) is so irritating. Fortunately the day was rescued a few pitches later when I (finally) redpointed the Teflon Corner. (Note, due to the emotional baggage I didn't pack the magic shoes this trip).

My final goal was to give the Headwall a good go but unfortunately after 8 hours of climbing my arms called it a day. I needed a good hour rest and I didn't have the heart to float the idea since that would definitely have been a non-starter for Peteman. So I pulled through and we topped out in the budgeted 10 hrs.

The turn around from the top of El Cap to the base of Half Dome in full sun was of course the crux. The 1:15 down the East Ledges wasn't bad and the major chow down at the car was yummy. But the 2hr, 10min death slog up the slabs to Half Dome was hell. It was only the fury at this obsessive compulsive case hiking next to me who wouldn't fold and call it a day that kept me going! [memo to self: find a partner who can just say no!]

At the base of Half Dome there were two way-too-peppy in-a-day parties although in our condition, Alan Greenspan would have seemed way-too-spunky They weren't quite sure why we were starting Half Dome at 8:30pm and we were too whipped to explain it. Anyway let's just say Half Dome was slightly less fun and slightly less speedy than our previous ascent but we slugged it out and topped out at 4:20am for a 23hr climbing day. On top we tried to nap until sunrise but it was too cold. We made a slow, painful descent in our climbing shoes back to the base where we took a quick snooze, again got cold, and then hike back to the car for a 28hr car-to-car-to-car day.

And then we committed the unthinkable: we headed home in day light and recovered off company time!? What were we thinking?? And although it's always tragic to rush the magical Salathe I'll confess the 60 jugless, mostly free pitches were a kick.


From: Clint Dear Jim, The jugless link concept is pretty cool. Bummer about that rope drag on p19. Nice that you bagged the Teflon corner without the magic shoes! I can only imagine going up the slabs when tired like that. Sincerely, Clint
From: Sidney I am getting worried about you. Sidney
From: Peter Hearse, you are a real nut case... Is that really fun?
From: Hans You cats are amazing! my hat off to you. I saw you at around 2pm on the headwall on Sunday on my way down to do a couple laps on Catchy Corner. Two laps on that and one on the 11a to the right of it, doesn't seem nearly as proud as your day. I heard Jason Singer and Jose Peraya climbed Lurking Fear in 4 hours and change,( 15 minutes?) then went to climb something else. waiting for more direct corrospondence from JS. Hans ps The Nose in 3:56, no problem. ( no jugging for you)
From: T Jim, your trip report is hilarious!!!!!!!!! One question: is anal retentive hyphenated? T. (P.S. Peter e-sent my sister a copy. She found it very funny. How about a one-man show?)
From: Greg That would be 58 pitches, Jim.
From: Sherry You know, I have been showing your Kara pictures to friends of mine to show how parents can influence their kids. Some little kids (e.g., my nephew) know how to say "garlic press" and wield a whisk at age 2; others swing on ropes over crevasses; others are probably dancing the cha-cha. Kara looks super-cute, *and* looks like she's having fun, so... You, on the other hand, sound like you are having a senior moment. Starting Half Dome at 8pm? Ewwwwww. Very impressive, though. And no car breakdowns, quite the feat. Anyway, love your stories. Our little JMT hike is so lame in comparison, but what the hey. 18 days of powdered lentils is, to me, a heroic effort :). -- Sherry.
From: Sam Hearse, thanks,i'm sure the report is great, i took a look at the lenght and i haven't read it yet, you have too much time on your hands S
From: Bill Hi Jim, AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm just astounded. How can people be this good and this fast and have this much endurance? Half Dome completely in the dark... One question: How does the second go so fast without jugs? Can Peter free-climb or even French-free the Salathe? I assume you led the entire Salathe and then Peter led the entire Half Dome? I know you can do that route without aiders. How much simul-climbing on both routes? Congratulations, Jim! That is truly an inspiring feat. If this is you when you're not fit, you'd be positively superhuman when fit. Heck, you already are! Did I ask you about freeing Moonlight Buttress? That would to be a natural for you. Maybe you have already done it. Lots of hard, free climbing in Zion. Once again, great job on the writing. Just hilariously fun to read. Bill
From: Jim Herson To: Bill Bill, I apologize for my misleading/ambiguous TR. I try to keep out details because of the micro-attention span of my friends. As it is most don't read them anyway. By "60 jugless, mostly free pitches" I meant I didn't use jugs but Pete did and "mostly free" was measured by total distance not redpoints. ie. I didn't use aiders on the Salathe but I pulled through any crux move while simul-climbing and on the pitches I didn't redpoint I would free between pieces and then clip in and rest. It was hardly pure free climbing (except for P19 which I fell on and P24). >Wow, simul-climbing 5.10/5.11... That is so cool that you guys are so >solid at that level. Do you use a Gri-Gri to throttle the rope length >like Hans does? No, I just kept a few feet of slack out and throttled my climbing. If we were really gunning for speed I'd use the gri-gri. I was trying to save myself and I was already using twice as much energy on the simul-climbing since you just can't fall following. >A good project for me would be to work on freeing Free Blast. Care to >comment on what you think are the most difficult sections and any beta I don't know, the Free Blast has never been my favorite. I'm not sure it's worthy of project status but maybe I've done it too much. The 3rd pitch 11b is tricky but short, P5 has a few very hard slab moves, and P6 has a damn hard 10b(?!) slab move getting to the pin. Better slab routes are Rambler and Shakey Flakes(missing bolts). Good luck but I still say you're better off spending your time freeing the Rostrum, West Face, or A-man (WF & a-man are much harder than the Rostrum). > For instance, with Peter leading the first 18 pitches, how many >times >did you guys re-gear the leader? What is a typical runout while doing this? I think we re-racked at P4, P6, Heart, and then I took over at P16 and we did a normal climb/follow or jug after that. If I was climbing with Hans we could simul to Heart, the ear, etc. Probably would only have to rack up ~10 times. >Do you bring any big cams for the Ear and offwidth below the Spire? We had one #3 Camalot which I placed once at the roof at P19 and which I now think was a big mistake. I've redpointed this pitch as two using Skinner's half way anchors but I'm getting beat-up by rope drag trying to link the whole thing. I think the rope is being pinched on a fixed cam way back in the wide section above the roof. At least that's where the rope seemed to be running. And I think the #3 Camalot is also pinching the rope since it ends up walking and pointing up. So I'm tempted to dump the #3 although the runout is already huge and without something at the roof I'd end up below the ear assuming I can push off in time to miss the top of the ear. But the Salathe with doubles to #2 Camalot would be fun! >What's next? You said that was your last chance for the Salathe this season. >Why is that? Family and other commitments. >try the Nose in a day. Given that I missed the best time (late May/early >June) >when do you think the next best time to try is? The earlier the longer the >days, Yeah, May/June is by far the best. Fall's good too but you need cooler days than in the spring because the sun is lower and El Cap becomes a reflector oven. For instance I can do hard redpoints when it's in the 80s in June but for the same climbing it has to be in the 70's in Oct. > I also know you thought about working on freeing Tis-sa-ack. It was just an idea to try the lower "Zebra" pitches" but Hans maneuvered it into a speed climb of the regular route. I've never been on Tis-sa-ack. Take care, Jim

Home / Trip Reports