Stay close to the corner and wander right just a bit before stemming out to a great stance with a tapering crack about level with the traditional 1st pitch anchor 20 feet right. Bomber .5, clipped direct as well.
As the flaring crack ends step right to great foot holds and up to what I think of as the 5.6 crux. Bomber #1, clipped direct as well, before making a few steps up to easier climbing and crossing over the traditional chimney section of the route.
addy threw paper, I threw rock. he would get the first lead. on the sharp end, casting out up a beautiful left facing corner crack addy climbed smoothly up the first pitch. a few minutes later, he had set the belay and it was time for tomas and I to start climbing. we marveled at the amazing crack, and addy's impressive confidence to climb on above the last of his hand-sized pieces. we worked our way up to an alcove where addy was belaying us up. it was my turn to lead.
looking up at the corner, I was vibrating with nervous anticipation for the next lead. addy put me on belay and I started up, liebacking the seemingly endless corner crack. the granite started as a clean dihedral, forming an open book. as the pitch went higher and higher, the right hand side of the book began to curl over, forming a giant wave of granite which enveloped me as I climbed. the endless fingerlocking and liebacking at the thin corner eventually gave way to a transition. instead of continuing up vertically, the crack made a sharp left turn and went out horizontally 10 feet to the left, before turning back upwards to continue vertically. to add to the complexity, the crack widened here from the friendly finger-sized crack to a gaping foot wide off-width crack. I placed the last of my protection for the pitch, creating a mini anchor, and set off horizontally into the unprotectable off-width. underclinging the horizontal crack with my feet pasted on the slab, I reached the end of the horizontal and continued liebacking up the off-width crack. chalking up after every move to counteract the sweat which was coming faster every moment, I focused on moving steadily upwards, trying to avoid thinking about the distance to my last protection in the fingercrack below. the belay ledge approached, and I silently begged my forearms to let me make it. three moves away, two moves, away, I threw for the ledge and felt it solidly hit my hand. yes! mantling out onto the belay I gave a involuntary shout to my friends below. I was safe at the belay. what an incredible pitch!
addy and tomas worked their way up the pitch, hooting for the fun of the climbing as well. we regrouped and drank some water when they joined at the ledge. the crux of the pitch was behind us, with only two more pitches to go to gain the summit. the next pitch looked pretty horrendous, so I was relieved it was addy's turn to take off on lead. with no crack to place cams and nuts, the next pitch was bolt protected. unfortunately, the traditionally bolted pitch had only 4 bolts for ~150 feet of climbing. this meant that the leader needed to climb as much as 40 feet between bolts, facing the possibility of an 80 foot fall down the slab, a fairly harrowing proposition. the pitch also featured a fairly insecure style of climbing, with small ripples in the rock to climb rather than positive holds to grab on to. tomas and I watched on with baited breath as addy stepped out onto the slab and started up.
a beautiful splitter finger crack off the ledge led to low-angle scrambling as the dome rounded out at the top. we unroped and hiked up the final ridge to the summit! it was about noon as we exchanged hi-fives and smiles. it was the best climb of our short climbing careers so far!
Once we gained the rock slabs of the North Chimney we switched to climbing shoes and roped up. We simul-climbed the entire North Chimney in one pitch on our doubled lead rope. Stefan led and I followed. Stefan had to bridge one snow section down low and then climb a very steep, very hard snow section to get to Broadway. This final part had steps already kicked in it and Stefan followed very carefully in his rock shoes. On Broadway we took our first break of the day. It was now just 7 a.m.
Stefan followed without difficulty. He was nearly at the 5.9 section before I set up belay. We were employing the same strategy we had last time of climbing the 7-pitch route in just four pitches. Stefan took off on the next section, a long, steep dihedral rated 5.8, but it always feels harder. Today it was even more difficult as one section was completely covered by a snow mushroom. Stefan had to yard on a piece to gain a wet slab and then climb on top of the 6-foot tall mushroom by kicking steps in the vertical snow while digging his arms into the top. When his feet gave way he thought he was going for a ride, but his arms held. The identical stress befell me when I followed. Once on top of the mushroom we both crawled across it to regain the crack in the corner. As Stefan put it: full value climbing.
Once free of the chimney I saw the crux above me. I just wanted this lead to be over. I moved up to a fixed stopper, clipped it, and pulled on it, hard. Stemming my feet, I placed a #2 Camalot in the crux hand-jam slot. I figured to have a better chance pulling on the cam than jamming the crack. I did so, and moved up again, grabbing some good holds and pulling myself finally onto a descent foothold. I placed another piece and then climbed the remaining twenty feet to Table Ledge, which is only a stance at this point on the face. I clipped the single fixed pin and backed it up with four more pieces of gear before calling off belay.
Yeah. Jealous of the activity, but 3rd and 4th is 3rd and 4th. It may feel harder in winter gear. You may want a rope and pro, but it doesn't justify a rating increase. Just know what your full condition capabilities are.Way to rock though! 2b1af7f3a8