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Triple Direct/Grotto Jan '01

By Jim Herson

For the first time since Kara was born two years ago, Anne and I had a climbing weekend to ourselves -- albeit separate days. On Saturday Peter Coward and I, faced with absolutely perfect Valley winter weather, had no choice but to run up the Captain. On Sunday, probably inspired by the recent Kyrgyzstan exploits, Anne and that Berkeley dynamic duo of Jeff Schoen and Jimmy Thornburg, with nothing more than mere rumors of four 40' bolted routes 400' from the Grotto, embarked for the unknown.

Peter and I snuck out of work early on Friday just in time to catch peak rush-hour madness. Anne met Jimmy, Jeff and Tonya Sunday morning and sipped Lattes out to Sonora.

Peter and I headed up the Triple Direct working the free climbing on the middle pitches of the Muir. This section has a bunch of excellent climbing. A thin 12- crack (which Pete-man styled on TR with a pack!), a thin, fun stemming 12+, and an all time 5.13 thin stemming corner. These are all very doable so we'll be back! At this point (pitch 18) we were a few hours past our turn around time, with a light rack, no jugs, and headlamp batteries of unknown vintage but with no Love-Line broadcasting that evening we could think of no compelling reason not to knock off the last dozen pitches of the Triple. We calculated we could top out by headlamp (just to prove that one of the batteries almost had a pitch worth of juice) and be back to the bay by 7am Sunday so Anne could take off and we could rest up for the rescue that was sure to be needed that evening when Greg was scheduled to solo Alex and Peter.

After splitting into two teams so one team could watch the other team climb, Anne and the Berkeley speedsters had ticked the 3 warm-ups by mid-afternoon. At this point Jimmy found himself faced with an excellent 12b face. Calculating that they could walk the 40' back to the car by alpineglow and be at the brew pub by first call, Jimmy could think of no compelling reason not to take a long nap. After a good snooze Jimmy felt the route was very doable and so, time permitting next trip, the other two climbers will give it a go.

On a serious, almost very serious, note I took my worst whipper. I wasn't feeling great all day and it showed by the time we got to Pancake Flake on the Nose. I slipped once but caught myself, placed a manky piece and then climbed higher. Figuring I was blown I placed another piece, stupidly over my head, and slipped after I pulled up a ton of slack to clip. I went 20' to a ledge. Fortunately the rope must have just started coming tight since I didn't shatter my ankles. Both the ankles and ego were bruised but I could still climb. Kind of sobering considering I rarely place gear in this section. Nevertheless the Captain, as always, was most excellent fun!


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