Some very interesting stuff. Sol nice photo's of Dragon Scar. Looks like a great line. I saw your reference to it in Craig Gyselinck's trip report on the Boving RT in 09. Having read that comment I took a look in that direction from the end of pitch 5 and it looked difficult to go up and right to hook in. It may just be one lead to easier ledges but it was not staight forward. It may be worth a serious look in the future.
I have been struggling to post pics from last summers climb. We took some that really show the quality of the climbing. Anyone out there an expert?
Interesting that "to the top" mentions a huge rockfall twenty-five years ago. Matt Kerns and Bill Crawford climbed the route at about that time and reported to me that the climb had been destroyed by a rockfall, covered in sand and dust. They did not think it would ever be worth climbing again. It was their second time on the route. Bill pulled a rock off the third pitch on an earlier attempt and cut Matts thigh to the bone.
I'd like to give a little historical perspective on the first ascent. Paul and I had been climbing partners for about four years. In the summer of 77 he had me hired to work on the same DNR fire crew and we lived and worked together that entire summer. Part of the job was 30 minutes of conditioning which Paul led. Needless to say the whole crew got "enhanced conditioning". We would carry oneanother piggyback up a 400 foot high ridge behind the fire station. We had several 300 pullup days. Days off were spent hitchhiking to Leavenworth or if we were lucky getting Paul's parents car. We did a new climb on Prusik Peak and I was with Paul and Matt Kerns when they did their FFA of the NW Corner of South Early Winter Spire. I had contracted giardia on Rainier the week before and Matt and Paul requested that I go down after the first pich having shit my pants. Big disappointment. We did a lot of climbing on Midnight Rock top roping and attempting to lead Super Crack. Paul got within two feet when he kicked out his last peice and down climbed a good twenty feet to the next peice of gear.
At that time Yvon Chouinard and Royal Robbins were preaching the ethic of clean climbing and Paul and I were total adherents to the new ethic. We were about as likely to drive a piton on a free climb as we were to spend weekends finger painting. The previous summer I had done hamerless ascents of the West face of Sentinel Rock and the Nose. Paul and I were both looking for glacier polished granite as white and clean as what we'd found in Yosemite. The slabs above the Colchuck Gracier fit the bill.
We bivied on ledges at the base of the wall and at around six in the morning uncoiled the rope, tied into our swamis, slipped on our EBs grabbed our single rack of Chuinard stoppers and hexes and launched up the wall. We went sans hammer or pins. Pitch one went quickly until the traverse left nearly three fourths of the way up the pitch. There you make a 5.10 face move to a substantial foot hold. Paul was perched there for several minutes when he called for me to give him slack. He then made a very awkward leap left into the next crack system. Twenty-five more feet of unprotected 5.8 or 5.9 lead to the ledge (photo of me following this with a lot of rope and no pro). You can now use a marginal cam or two to protect the climbing after this dynamic move. I asked Paul how we should grade that leap after following it and we both decided you couldn't grade it because you are not in contact with the rock. I took tension on it this summer and Jim felt it was 5.11 when he followed it (the launch is super slipper, it is totally no hands and the rock bulges out pushing you away from where you want to land). Pitch two was the make or break pitch with a forty foot traverse linking several crack systems with face climbing. I started off a little sick not certain that I could put this thing together with the possibility of getting stuck out there with no way up or back. It began badly with the belay off of two small wires and 5.10 moves 10 or fifteen feet out with no gear. I followed this this summer and the climbing was harder than I remember and the pro for the first 30 feet was worse. Once established in the new crack system the climbing was secure enough but I had to hang and clean about six feet of heather out of the crack. Paul followed it free with another move or two of easier 5.10. Our belay this summer was a fixed pin two #3 bd stoppers and a number 000 bd TCU all equalized and I was pretty comfortable with it. Paul lead pitch three quickly and went over the crux roof without hesitation. This past summer I spent considerable time at this roof and culd not free it. There is a white scar left of the corner where a hold has obviously pulled. I placed a bad peice and stood in a sling to get past it. Jim could not free it on a top rope and last summer niether Craig Gyselinck or Ryan Painter were able to free it. I thought then that Craig had had a bad day but now I beleive a critical hold pulled. I led pitch 4 which crosses back and forth between two crack systems. I hung again at an undercling to remove about four feet of heather from the crack. Paul followed it free. This summer Jim lead pitch four and found the first crux forty feet up to be very committing with potential for a forty foot plunge if the crap gear at the move pulled. Above is an amazing 5.10a undercling that is well protected. Paul took pitch five up a shallow corner that turned out to have no crack in it. He was out of sight for nearly the entire lead and I was horified to follow this 130 plus foot pitch and find that there were only three peices of gear in the entire pitch. We both thought it was 5.10a and sustained. Today there is a great pitch just right of our original line but getting into it is not a cake walk. At the point where Paul's original line turns a corner left there is a thin line of holds leading right into a perfect corner crack and if you commit yourself to one poorly protected 5.9 move things become very reasonable. I am certain that Paul saw that sketchy business getting into the corner and thought there must be something better to the left as it looks lower angle but you can't really see it. After getting into it though there was no coming back. I did the perfect corner this summer and it was brilliant. Still getting into it had I fallen and a #2 bd stopper and a poor #000 bd tcu pulled I would have taken a thirty or forty foot plunge. Eleven hours after Paul and I had left the glacier we reached the summit pretty pleased with ourselves. The second bad belay that Mark Westman remembers is at the top of the fifth pitch. Someone has placed a quarter inch bolt there. It has a bent hanger. With a 60 meter rope I was able to keep climbing and found a belay right at the end of the rope equallizing two wires and three of the smaller TCUs.
I don't think this climb ever received any press because the big news two months later was Paul's death and all of the trauma that sorounded that. We also really did not know what we had done. Looking back through the guide books this was probably the hardest free climb in terms of length and sustained technical difficulty done until the mid eighties in Washington. We climbed it in the best style of the day and left nothing on the wall (there are now a fixed peice or two on every pitch and off route and at belays). It thrills me that there are people out there that hold it in high regard. I hope to be able to post photos of this summers climb so that you can see the quality of the climbing. As a warm up I did the Davis Holland-Loving Arms at Index for the first time and in my opinion the rock and the climbing are much better and far more sustained on the Boving Route. The Index climb took us four and a half hours up and down and just getting up the first five pitches of the Boving route took us nin and a half. Thanks Everyone, Matt