The Climbing Club

at the University of Washington
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2003 11:53 am 
Limp Gimp
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Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2002 1:34 pm
Posts: 187
Location: Mountain View, CA
I flew in to Las Vegas Friday night. Daniel picked me up and we drove to Zion that evening. We camped and in the morning drove to the base of Spaceshot. By the time we were done sorting gear and packing the haul bag, it was around 11am. My goal was to learn something about big walls; Daniel's goal was to train a potential big wall partner; our mutual goal was to play on the rock, enjoy the views, and have fun. By dusk (around 5pm), we had accomplished getting the #$@%#&% heavy haul bag to the ledge atop pitch 3. Daniel said:
Q: Why do people climb big walls?
A: To get the haul bag to the top.

The climbing was mostly easy 5th to 5.6. I did one section of 5.8 on the last pitch because the easier variation would have involved going way right, more rope drag, and something creative to avoid having to haul that way. The hauling was crazy. I don't know why people do this stuff. I don't know why I'm going to do it again. I lead all three pitches, so I got to haul all three pitches. I had to set up a 3:1 pulley system 'cuz without it, I couldn't budge the bag at all. It also kept getting caught on bumps along the route, so Daniel did a lot of work getting it unstuck. Hauling the third pitch was ok because the rope ran straight up a face from the 2nd anchors to the 3rd anchors.

The night was gorgeous. The ledge on top of pitch 3 has two perfect flat spots, as wide as a person and about 5ft long. Total comfort, gorgeous view onto the river below and the narrow canyon, a full moon. We occasionally saw the headlamps of two other parties, one rapelling off Spaceshot (far to the right of the route), and another across the canyon. "Vertical camping," Daniel called it.

In the morning, the thickening clouds and forecast of 50% chance of rain convinced us to rap down. We didn't think we could do 5 aid pitches in a day to top out, nor were we sure when or how hard the storm would hit. A gorgeous show of lightening later that evening reassured us that backing off had been the right decision, although we could have aided a pitch or two in the morning.

Monday, we played at Red Rocks. We were going to climb but the wind convinced us otherwise. Standing in fleece pants, polypro top, fluffy North Face jacket, and goretex pants & jacket over all that, I shivered and commented that belaying might not be much fun. So we hiked a couple of miles instead, looked at the route Johnny Vegas, looked at the Rainbow Wall and talked about the aid route up it.

Las Vegas is a crazy city. We only walked around for a couple of hours Monday afternoon, but my impression is that it's all about fantasy. If the hotel and its staff are all dressed up as something they're not, perhaps it's easier for the visitors to also pretend that they're rich, beautiful, or whatever else they'd like to be. We watched a guy playing blackjack with $100 chips, and plenty of people mesmerized by the 25 cent slots, pushing the button like automatons in front of an automaton.

Beta if you might want to climb Spaceshot: On the first pitch, instead of climbing the easy way to the tree, climb up the obvious (yes, very obvious) pillar that rises from the start of the route. It's about 5.9 up the crack on the right of the pillar, or 5-easy to the left side and french-free (or 5.9) for the last 5 feet to the top. There are fixed anchors just above the pillar, and hauling up the pillar face will be WAY easier than what we did.

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