Trip: Morning Star Peak - Beyond Redlining (Rope Solo)
Trip Date: 08/04/2020
Preface: I just got back from a long weekend at Smith to escape the hot pow and persistent weak layer. Drytooling is fun and all, but I wanted to remind everyone how much more fun summer rock climbing is than winter climbing. Anyways, on to the long overdue TR.
I like to climb a lot. With a 4 days on, 3 days off work schedule, I have a lot of time to do so. I also like to spend some time alone in the mountains moving at my pace and enjoying the little things.
Over the last several years I have dabbled and somewhat perfected my rope soloing system. It all really started with a sketchy half belayed, half solo ascent of a seeping Ground Hog Day out in Leavenworth in 2017. After numerous other climbs, I finally came up with a system that worked for me, and in early April 2019 I rope soloed Outer Space in just around 4 hours base to top. Pitching everything out and reclimbing every pitch on TR solo. Two months later I came back and soloed everything except the crux pitch and the 3 other 15ft insecure cruxes which I pitched out. That hand crack pitch without a rope is an incredible experience.
Jump forward to last August and I am as driven as ever. The thought of another lockdown pushing me to eek every ounce of adventure out of my days off. Then the news came out about a new 11 pitch 10+ alpine sport route. It seemed like the perfect route to test myself on.
On August 4th I grabbed a stupid number of draws and loose krabs and drove up to the Sunrise Mine trail. The approach was nice, but brushy and wet from the morning dew. As I passed a few parties of hikers in the upper basin, it was looking as if I was going to have the route, if not the whole wall to myself!
Once near the base of the wall, I was very glad to discover that the spring at the base of MHC was still running. For weights sake I had brought a total of 0 ounces of water for the hike up, fully relying on a recent report that the spring was alive and well.
The route was easy to find from the spring, I simply walked back along the wall keeping my eye out for some shiny new bolts marking the start of the route.
The first pitch was fun! A long 55ish meters of engaging varied climbing that gets you on your toes right off the bat. By the end of that pitch, I was feeling rusty and my feet already hurt. This was going to be a great day.
Blurry picture of P1
In an effort to move efficiently I had decided to try and link as many pitches as possible. For some reason at the time 35m+40m=65m, meaning I would have just enough rope to link pitches two and three. As it turns out it actually equals 75 meters, and Rad’s pitch lengths are spot on. This left me tugging at my rope a couple feet above the last bolt, trying to pull every last bit of rope stretch the rope would give me. To no avail, I backed off and downclimbed back to the final bolt. I then proceeded to assess and bounce test the fuck out of that bolt. The rock is good, and the bolt is well placed. I decided to call it my belay and continue as normal, rapping down to clean the pitch.
The next two pitches linked without issue, and honestly while writing this several months later I can’t remember anything about them.
Now below the first crux pitch with the cobwebs dusted off I was feeling good and moving fast. Following the most obvious bolt line took me up to a steep corner system. While trying to suss out the moves from below I happened to glance over and notice a couple bolts far to my left. Much to my annoyance I had inadvertently started up the 11+ unfinished direct line. Luckily I was still at a point where I could downclimb back on route and finish the correct pitch. It went off without a hitch.
This was the first pitch that I did not clean “cleanly”. I did not jug any of the pitches, instead I would repeat the pitch on TR solo, pulling on the rope or draws to use as little energy as possible. It seemed to work well, and was by far the fastest option.
The headwall pitches now loomed above, a long line of bolts weaving their way through corners, roofs and overall blocky complex looking terrain. I somehow managed to link both pitches together cleanly, making for a single mega 65m pitch through the headwall. By the time I reached the crux corner of pitch 8 I was already pretty pumped, but discovered a tricky stem/drop knee right in the middle that allowed me to rest, figure out the moves and futz with my grigri. The climbing is 3 stars, but the position is all time!
Looking down the headwall pitches, the rope showing the way.
The routes crux IMO
Looking back up the pitch(s)
One more time looking down the headwall to show steepness.
The next two pitches offered some more excellent climbing, but also some of the worst. There comes a spot on P10 where the rock gets incredibly dirty and friable, with the next bolt just out of view above a bulge. I damn near pitched off this section trying to figure out if I was on route or not. I was, and it all worked out just fine.
At the base of pitch 11 I finally took a real “shoes off” break and sat on a really nice flat ledge in a desperate attempt to depump. Having taken no real breaks up to that point, the constant climb-rap-reclimb had started to take its toll. Too antsy to get to the top, I saddled up and kept climbing. Much to my relief, the final crux was an awkward slab move! No forearms required. It took a bit of ups and downs, but my sore toes stayed where I wanted them, and it was all over in a move or two. The hardest part of the day was by far leaving the summit to clean and reclimb that last pitch. It’s over! JK no it’s not.
Now at the summit I ran into a sneaky team who had just topped MHC. They were very confused how I got up there. I filled out the register, high fived myself for a good climb and started over to the raps. It was at this point that I realized I had forgotten both my ATC, and the rap beta. Having climbed MHC ~4 years ago I had assumed I’d remember. A couple raps, one damn near stuck carabiner block, and some totally botched routefinding later I was safe and sound on the ground. I then hiked out and blah blah blah it's pretty up there.
Overall I really enjoyed this route. It had a little bit of new route funk, but was really quite clean for how long it is.
Good looking mountain!
I’m sure someday I’ll whip, my grigri will explode and I will fall to my death. Will someone please sell me a Silent Partner for a reasonable price? I’m a poor gear shop employee that doesn’t want to die.
I brought something like 15 draws and 10 loose carabiners. Normal people not linking pitches should bring 17 draws. Beal Escaper just in case, 70m rope. I now own an 80m rope for stuff like this.
It's pretty obvious. If you have any questions check out the MP listing