I flailed on this pretty badly, although really only on the crux section. I would say that this is a pretty serious lead. Even after having finished it, I don't know if I would want to go back and try to lead it cleanly. In fact, one of the falls I took on it was probably the scariest lead fall I've taken yet, not that that's saying much.

Trip Report:

This looked hard, but in a technical way, and reasonably well-protected, so we decided to give it a try. I was able to place a very solid piece (a green-yellow hybrid alien, although a regular green might have sufficed) before the first bolt, which was comforting. I then made it to the second bolt, clipped it, and went a move or two higher without falling. (I guess I can be happy that I made it cleanly that far, but after that I struggled mightily.) The crux section was in between the second and third bolts, and I took my first fall when my foot slipped as I was attempting to enter this section. I tried to lieback it first, but when that failed, I tried a few other ideas. Liebacking ended up being the only way that really seemed feasible, although it worried me, because I couldn't find any way to keep my legs on the outside of the rope, and I knew that falling in that position could easily flip me upside down. The route follows a very thin crack/seam, and at that point, it's really just a seam. I was liebacking to the left of the seam, and the bolts were all to the right of it.

On one attempt I made it all the way to the third bolt, but didn't manage to pull myself back in and get a stable position from which to clip the bolt. When my foot finally slipped that time, I was set up for a pretty long whipper, and just as I had feared, I got flipped upside down. If I remember correctly, my leg actually went between the rope and the rock below the second bolt, and it was the quickdraw on the first bolt that flipped me. I ended up upside down, with the top of my head just a few inches above the top of Helene's head! I was quickly losing my will to work on this route fairly. I got back up to the second bolt, placed a not-very-bomber #4 stopper in the only spot where the seam opened up a little, promptly clipped a sling to it, stuck my foot in the sling, and full-on aided up to clip the third bolt. Once it was clipped, I had Helene lower me back to the second bolt so I could try to climb through the crux cleanly on toprope. The next couple moves above my previous high point, right at the third bolt, were also fairly tricky, but after a few attempts I figured out a very nice sequence to get through that.

The final moves looked easier, but I was on a technical slab, I was thoroughly worked, and I was still a bit sketched, so I wanted one last piece of gear. There was a nice little slot above me, just past the end of my reach, that looked like it would take a nut. I placed one, and it looked decent, though not great, so I gave it a good tug to test it. As if this climb hadn't already given me enough shit, the crack crumbled a little, and the nut popped out and smacked one of my front teeth. It hurt so badly that I thought at first that I might have chipped or cracked a tooth, but so far the tooth seems fine. I managed to place a slightly larger nut a little higher and to the right, and that one seemed totally bomber. Finally, with decent pro above me, I carefully climbed through the relatively easy finishing moves.

Helene followed this with remarkable ease. Not only did she not have to hang at all, but she moved incredibly gracefully through the crux, liebacking it just as I had. She didn't even seem to get the least bit pumped by any of it. I was thoroughly impressed. A little later when we went over to Labor Dome, we met the group that we'd seen climbing there all morning just as they were leaving. One of them was Jan McCollum (the first ascensionist of such gems as Loose Lady and EBGB's), and he said he'd watched me take a nice flight on this route. Yeah. Some flight. :-)