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Newest Valley Clip-Up 5/26/02

By Jim Herson

As Valley ancients Chandlee Harrell and I have seen it all. Or so we thought. We'd like to think we're not an easy bunch to rattle and yet we were somewhat taken back this weekend to find the Salathe's famed Hollow Flake is now the newest Valley clip-up.

Because let's face it Robbins, Pratt, and Frost dropped the ball all those years ago spacing on their Bosch. Had they any vision think of the untold angst they could have spared. This silly gumby oversight has cost countless hours of dreaming and training, strained or solidified endless partnerships and humiliated or exulted generations of climbers. Whether ultimately prevailing or not, this gaping granite maw has never failed to humble. Nothing a good grid bolting couldn't solve. Enough already of the 40 years of campfire horror stories the world over regaling tales of proud Hollow Flake heroic feats. Pushing ones mettle and exploring unknown personal limits has no place in our egalitarian sport. The Hollow Flake has been tormenting climbers for long enough! Good riddance!

El Capitan: now just as safe and as intriguing as your local gym top rope.

Well maybe it can still be a bit exciting if you ignore your local Valley forecast. To appease Chandlee's constant harping on the arctic storm forecast for that evening I begrudgingly wore my rain jacket to the base of the Captain. The fact that I tossed off the 2oz water proof shell right before lift off to save weight is an irrelevant detail that Chan seemed to fixate on during the fierce negotiations for his rain jacket as we swam through the freezing torrent on the last few pitches. Besides had I actually taken my rain jacket it would have only gotten wet and the absurdly overpriced piece of nylon might have gotten dirty. And in any case what I really needed was my snorkel. Never thought I'd be wishing for snow as my only hope of warmth. Did you know that at a certain out of control shivering frequency you can actually set up standing waves in a torrential runoff? And I'll bet those Shackelton chaps on their Antartica cruise were also a bit surprised by the thermo insulating properties of super-lightweight cotton climbing pants and shirts.

Perhaps Chan would have been more open to compromise on his jacket had I not just stuck him with the Sewer pitch. Chandlee was a dripping, stinky, slimy mess before the storm even broke. In fact he was looking quite a bit more dapper after the storm broke than before. Following the sewer pitch clean -- in the climbing not hygienic sense -- was the proud achievement of the day.

We redpointed or followed with the pack cleanly, with a few pitches jugged, to a pitch below the roof (P28). And then the game was called on account of weather. With two hours of daylight and one hour of dryness left we down shifted and motored for the top.

Almost drowning on the last pitch wouldn't have been an issue had I not had constant flashbacks to the last time Greg Murphy and I topped out in a brisk November snow storm in the dark. Stepping out of the final chimney I hit an unexpected ice patch and went for a wild, arcing 25' ride stopping just short and upside down of a rather solid looking ledge. It was such an unexpected and jolting fall that it almost woke up Greg at the controls.

On top we caught a small window in the weather which made the East Ledges possible. But we missed out on some undoubtedly fine roller blading when the good size hail didn't start in earnest until we were most of the way down the steep stuff. Had a slight delay back at the base when Chan had some difficulty digging through the snow drifts looking for my rain jacket. And had we actually been conscious driving home at 3am through thick fog and heavy rain it might have indeed rattled us to the core!


From: Ann

Can I get a copy of the Ashok version of this TR?  Do you mean to say
that someone bolted the hollow flake pitch?

From: Clint Dear Jim, Pretty bizarre to discover those bolts in the middle of a big adventure day. Any clue as to who placed them? Too bad the weather prevented headwall free climbing. But at least you survived another adventure and retrieved the jacket from the snowdrifts. I take it this was on Sunday. We were down at the Cookie on a low adventure day, although we had a pretty good workout. Sincerely, Clint
From: Matthew rob- how funny is this! i was sitting in the meadow between 5 & 6pm on sunday (when those guys were about to be "cleaned up" & wishing for snow!) with greg murphy & peter coward- & between blaming eachother for dropping the ball on getting this tiny little eye-dropper sized bottle of salsa, they were laughing about how jim would always take a 15 lb. lunch up el cap, but no freakin jacket! (they did say he would never complain about the cold tho'- i think the phrase was "some kind of sociopathic ability to withstand extreme discomfort"). then greg was telling me about a few climbes he did in snow storms & the like- but jim's whipper didn't make the short list he gave me that day... does that guy send those little reports out all the time? (i wanna be on that list...) -matt ps- so are we gonna go climbing or what? pps- is he serious that someone added a bunch of bolts up there? i gotta think those won't last very long...
From: Matthew you should really be getting published somewhere pal- btw- good thing for you that this past wk. greg & peter had me & my friends to talk good natured shit to (most of it about you), or they surely would have ripped your rig apart in a deranged low-blood-salsa inspired search for some secret stash of del taco hot sauce packets. say- you wouldn't happen to have any similarly accurate recolections of climbing the lost arrow chimney route??? -matt
From: Bill What!!! Give details! Are there bolts on the Hollow Flake? Really? Are you going to chop them? Did you clip them? Sounds like an epic adventure up there. Can't wait to try it with you! :-)
From: Dave Who did the bolting? Any suspects? Dave P.S. During your adventure, I was NOWHERE NEAR the Valley. Honest. [ed note: I don't believe Dave has ever climbed on a sunny day]
From: Aunt Pat Hi Jim, Anne and Kara, Thanks for the latest soggy write-up, Jim! As Mugs would say: "We'll weather the weather whatever the weather, whether we like it or whether we don't" Well, you may not have enjoyed it, but I sure did just reading about it. LOL, as we say in Cyberland. Bye for now. love, Pat and Ron
From: Derek You are not kidding about the hollow flake are you? Who did that?
From: Ken I feel smart; I understand 5% of this.
From: T Jim, (warning: this is a tirade.) as Peter's wife, next time you make decisions about carrying extra weight and safety, remember that your safety/unsafety affects your partner's safety/unsafety and if EVER your decisions about carrying extra weight versus safety EVER jeopardizes Peter's safety, I'm going to come and clobber you. So, at the base of El Cap, remember there are many eyes watching you and relying on you. Anyhoo, hope all is well with you and your family! T.
From: Sidney What we really want to know is did you clip the bolts? And are you going for some kind of record of most assents of a single El Cap route? Sidney
From: Adlai When I asked about uncharacteristic caution I was thinking of your bailing, not taking a shell. Ad
From: Troy NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not bolts next to an unprotectable crack!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What low life amoebic relic of pond scum would do such a thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [ed note: Troy once earned some attention by bolting a crack]
From: Jim Herson To: valley-climbers: ; from supertopos.com: the bolts that were placed on the hollow flake were placed by a certain unamed climber...an outstanding climber who totally screwed the pooch...the rumor in the center is that this guy was doing a three pitch new route that combined four different existing routes and didn't bring a topo with him...after an outrageous pendulum at around midnight our hero launched into a series of difficult offwidth movies in an enormous chimeney...being totally gripped he screamed for the bolt kit...he did the offending act and set up camp...much to his dismay he realized where he was...you could hear the obscenities flying from the cafe...our hero went back and chopped those bolts as soon as he topped out...i think they were gone two-three days after being placed...moral of the story bring a topo and not a fucking drill kit linking 4 lines at night with no topo???? I suppose stranger stuff has happened on the big stone. I just can't think of any off hand. -Jim
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