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ahparker

[TR] Washington Pass, Liberty Bell - Thin Red Line 09/01/2018

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Trip: Washington Pass, Liberty Bell - Thin Red Line

Trip Date: 09/01/2018

Trip Report:

 

My buddy Andy Traylor and I had set this as a goal route to free for the summer season.  Neither of us had really approached a bigger route like this with a redpoint mentality before and weren't sure exactly how to do it.  With many different ways to consider an ascent "free," we settled on what we believe is a pretty commonly followed set of rules.  We wanted to swing leads, and either redpoint or follow cleanly on every pitch, lowering back to the belay if necessary.  Our plan was to spend one day and check out the first six pitches to get a feel for the moves and the gear then try and send the next day.

On day 1 we took our time climbing the first six pitches, with no real pressure or time crunch.  We TR'd the cruxes a couple times and feeling pretty good about going for it the next day, rapped off and headed down for a big dinner.

The next day we set out a little nervous, but also feeling good about our chances.  Once we were on the route we were moving and climbing well.  Thoughts on the pitches for anyone that cares (some gear beta here so purists need not read on):

P1. Straightforward crimping and edging straight up to the anchor.  I actually headed right after the last bolt, going more directly to the anchor on day 2 and thought that was slightly better.

P1.thumb.jpg.b5589ee17dbd11813ff624d01b662d87.jpgAndy getting all artsy with the iPhone on P1

P2.  Short pitch. Boulder problem over the bulge through the mini changing corners. Good pro and the pin at the end of the crux seemed in good shape, not tested. Belay on gear.

P3. Awesome and memorable pitch I thought, shorter than it looks in photos.  Super thin edging and stemming in the dihedral leading to a roof with wet holds that allow you to exit the corner and gain a stance. I basically punched myself in the face popping out of the wet locks first go round.  Pin in the corner seemed good, I tested it and it held. Mostly finger sized cams. Belay at full on hanger.

P3.thumb.jpg.67884bf9e5ec7bc2a52d10d40285f948.jpgAndy in the corner/roof that ends the crux on P3

P4. Fixed gear in the roof seemed only ok, hard to tell with the tat and I didn’t spend much time examining it, but you probably won’t come off under the roof anyway, clip and go.

P4.thumb.jpg.308ad14e1b00fd1c9c11230c10f09413.jpgAndy exiting the roof on P4

The last bit traversing back toward the anchor we both found a little awkward and harder than it seemed it should be.

P4-2.thumb.jpg.28963eff428a7685a49a57869457b86e.jpgOn the traverse back to the belay on P4

P5. Business #1. Super fun 5.10 traversing and edging to the corner.  Corner gets progressively harder with the real business starting at the bolts.  I will say on my initial go I was not super happy to have left basically all the rack at the belay, expecting only a few pieces then bolts.  I'd take mostly finger sizes, but I was happy to have a black Metolius and a #2 C4 (certainly not necessary but provided me with some mental fortitude to try hard).  Bring lots of slings, I think I had like 14 and ran out somehow, placed too much gear I guess. The crux moves are technical, a little powerful, desperate and amazing.  The last move, while not the hardest, has the potential to be a heart breaker and I can only imagine being very desperate if you’re under, say, 5’9.  Belay on medium sized gear above the bolts, significantly better stance.

P5.thumb.jpg.1cba48d73eede5619002de683d5a1de2.jpgAndy sticking the last move, he never fell once climbing this pitch over the 2 days.

P6. Business #2.  No picture.  First roof is super casual.  Leading up to the second roof the climbing gets less secure but good small finger gear is there between pins.  The boulder problem is powerful, but pretty straightforward cranking (V4ish?) on pretty good holds.  We were a little confused by all the talk about a necessary and specific red C3 placement.  We couldn’t find anywhere by the beak, or below the roof for that matter, where this would go.  Any clues?  However that piece or a blue Metolius or equivalent went in bomber just above the lip.  If that’s the placement everyone is talking about, then there is no need to scavenge around for a red C3 if you don’t have one. We left it out in favor of a blue Metolius on round 2.  Climb past the bolts (if not rapping from here) and belay on the better sloping ledge with hand sized pieces.

P7. Only dog pitch on the route.  Thought the rock was poor quality, basically a connector pitch.  Ends on the scary looking “how is it still hanging there” block creating the ledge.

P8. Another techy and pretty thin 11+ pitch.  Really really good.  Looks super thin but there is gear to be had and both the head and pin are in good shape, Andy tested both and approved. Some small hand sized gear higher.

P9. Excellent and fun 10+ climbing again builds as you get higher.  Looks like the seam dies out at the top, but keep going up instead of traversing left.  That’s probably super obvious but I was getting tired and moving more timidly by this point.

P10-12. Progressively easier climbing.  Nice to have Scott's topo for P10 to know where to get started.  The last belay sits basically on the arête between the east and north face, we came back into the sun here.  There are brand spanking new bolts here instead of the pin/fixed wire combo some guide mentions.  Maybe it’s obvious, but the climbing heads left up the lighter colored dihedral.  This looked too steep to us to be the 5.7 climbing, so Andy headed out right on the lower angle terrain and we had a bit of an epic on the easiest and last pitch of the route.  The rock quality deteriorated into kitty litter, so Andy tried to sling a chockstone to lower back to me, only to get the rope got stuck forcing even more shenanigans (face palm).  All in all we wasted some hours and all hopes of pizza. Once corrected we soloed to the top without further incident.

5b92edaa2ad02_Dontgothisway.thumb.jpg.61ce25bc6c31688f989c3aee86ce542a.jpgDon't go this way.

Summit.thumb.jpg.3e5e8948f6c92b6c555ea495e9249b41.jpgWhy is this photo so big?

All in all, neither of us fell following any of the pitches.  On lead, some of the pitches took a try or two, but in the end we pulled it out and nabbed a free ascent.  We learned a lot about climbing in this style and really enjoyed the process.  Thanks to Mikey Schaefer for figuring this out, it provided one of my all time favorite experiences in the mountains so far.  Psyched for the next one!

Pano.thumb.jpg.72bcec3a4ca442968d4b999401575354.jpg

Gear Notes:
Doubles from purple Metolius to .75 BD, singles to #3 BD. Our second set of cams were Metolius offsets.  They worked amazing (as always for granite) and I always carry them as doubles, but far from necessary.  Nuts. Placed 1 RP but probably not necessary. Lots of slings, like ~16. We used a 40M tag line and hauled the bag on most pitches.

Approach Notes:
Most casual "alpine" approach ever. Like 25min from the car.

Edited by ahparker
  • Like 5
  • Rawk on! 8

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Nice work!  We found a critical placement for a red x4 at the lip right above the beak on P6.  But then again, we aided through . . .

Edited by Winter

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Winter, that's interesting.  Was it in the shallow little pin scar right above the pecker? We thought it might be that but it was too flared and narrow to fit the red C3, about the right size but too narrow.  Other than that it seemed so devoid of placements around it, even hanging out on the pecker to see where it might go.  I do know aiding can breed some pretty good creativity though so nicely done!

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The infamous red c3 placement is where you slotted a blue. (a foot or two above the beak?)  It for sure takes a variety of gear, but most folks I know that did early repeats (Blake, et al) hyped up the red c3 and it seems to have stuck/evolved into lore at this point.  I never tried anything else because I already owned c3s and was up there with Blake on my first trip up there.  Sounds like it's not all that specific, (many cams work) but for sure crucial!

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Good job Alex and Andy!

Having been up there numerous times over the years (most recently this august) I think the pin scar that takes the famous red c3 has really improved.  I remember it being pretty finicky 10 years ago and now it seems like it will take any cam of the appropriate size. 

Glad to hear you guys figured out the correct belay stances and didn't stop at the two bolts near the end of pitch 5.  I should probably just remove the old bolt so there is just one there, which would force people to keep going to the good stance in the corner.

It is also possible to easily link pitches 2 & 3.  I hadn't done it that way till this summer and not really sure why not?

Bummed I missed you guys up there.  It was a really lonely August on that wall...

Edited by Wallstein

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mtep, Thanks for the info, always interesting how gear lore evolves.  Sounds like it might just be the same placement, although the one we used was like 2 feet above the beak, it was out right, above the good right hand to start the roof sequence.  Interestingly, the placement was in a crack, not really a pin scar, a few, maybe 6 inches long.  I think I even used the same crack as a finger lock/layback above the cam.  Anyway, minutia at this point!

Mikey, thanks! Bummer we missed you, we tried all August to get up there buy schedules never aligned.  We were pretty blown away how continuously good and varied the route is, gotta check out some of your other creations up there now I guess.  Linking 2&3 seems very reasonable actually, will definitely do that next time.  Curious, how is that very last move to the jug on P5 for someone under 5'9?  Seems like it'd be so hard!

Good2Go, awesome pic, one of the few I feel I've seen where you can see the entire route. Unfortunately I don't think that us, different clothes.  We were up there labor day weekend, my post was like a week and a half late.

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4 hours ago, ahparker said:

mtep, Thanks for the info, always interesting how gear lore evolves.  Sounds like it might just be the same placement, although the one we used was like 2 feet above the beak, it was out right, above the good right hand to start the roof sequence.  Interestingly, the placement was in a crack, not really a pin scar, a few, maybe 6 inches long.  I think I even used the same crack as a finger lock/layback above the cam.  Anyway, minutia at this point!

Mikey, thanks! Bummer we missed you, we tried all August to get up there buy schedules never aligned.  We were pretty blown away how continuously good and varied the route is, gotta check out some of your other creations up there now I guess.  Linking 2&3 seems very reasonable actually, will definitely do that next time.  Curious, how is that very last move to the jug on P5 for someone under 5'9?  Seems like it'd be so hard!

 

That's the same gear spot that Max , etc, are  referencing. I rapped over the pitch maybe 4-5 years ago, and it didn't take a blue metolius. Now it does, which is no surprise. The whole route is a lot cleaner and kind of smoothed out. A variety of small gear will work and it really isn't finicky or runout.

 

Linking P2 and P3 still makes you use the hanging belay. Try linking P1+2 and P3+4. No lame belay stances. You can make the route a little harder but less rope drag by substituting that crux FOD pitch for P3 and P4 on TRL.

 

Really short people can make a higher traverse left to end P5, without needing to do the span.

 

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Well done gents!  

I wanted to share an observation of the under-roof-pins in P3  & 4: Due to the near constant (certainly this year) wetness in the crack these pins are in, they are corroded more than others on this route. A couple weeks ago a pin was *easily* tugged out from the P3 traverse (highlighted below (back-up pro noted!)) : the wet, corroded tip then fell to the talus, followed by the remaining once I threw it down.  Bottom line: Said pins on these pitches are no longer in ideal condition. 

 

Pin.PNG

Edited by SethKL

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SethKL, thanks for the conditions update.  I do remember looking at that pin and not being super psyched on the condition and definitely opted to back it up as you noted.  The nut placement there I remember being absolutely bomber and by that point the climbing has eased significantly.  But as a whole it's a great reminder about being cautious with old fixed gear like that!

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SethKL, yikes. I think I opted to just place a piece next to the pin instead of clipping it when I was up there this summer, glad to see that hesitancy was warranted but at least it's not in a critical spot regardless. Wonder how long some of the other fixed stuff is gonna last.

Ahparker, nice work on the send!

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