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Michael Telstad

[TR] North Early Winters Spire - Labor Pains (Retro Bolt) 06/21/2021

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Posted (edited)

Trip: North Early Winters Spire - Labor Pains (Retro Bolt)

Trip Date: 06/21/2021

Trip Report:

I know, I know, I'm sure someone will be upset that retroed this hardman test piece but hear me out. Labor Pains has been on my to-do list for years, but I was just too intimidated by its reputation. I knew that when I did eventually climb it, I wanted to replace some of the hardware to make it less of a death route, all while retaining it's character.

Since I wasn't able to get permission from the FA party, I committed to doing it in the best possible style I could manage. I self belayed every pitch in it's original state, then replaced the hardware I felt was warranted on the way back down to clean the pitch. I placed 3 bolts total, all hand drilled. 

As far as the climbing goes, I thought the grades listed on the topo were largely quite soft. The one exception being the 11a mantel on P4. If climbing this with a partner, rope drag would be a serious concern. I might actually consider climbing this with half ropes to mitigate the drag, but proper slingage should help considerably. 

P1 5.0: Start up Chockstone route, then traverse up and left, through a loose chimney system to the ledge just below P2. Confident parties should just solo this, however the looseness should be taken into account.

P2 5.10: Climb the somewhat crumbly right facing corner system. This pitch protects well enough, and is the only pitch you really want the #3 and #4 on. The bulge is much easier than 5.11. Once above the bulge, slab left to a thin corner system and up onto the sloping ledge above. 

IMG_9204.thumb.jpg.b4c0d516ebd939cddb11741398f13d06.jpg

Looking down P2 from just above the bulge. 

P2+ 5.9?: I recommend moving the belay up to the ledge above. A horizontal overlap and sloping ledge will provide a good stance for the next pitch. You could even move all the way up to the base of the thin cracks if you wanted to.

P3: 5.10+: Aim for the obvious thin crack above. This "mini west face" is actually a double crack, with the easier of the two being the right crack. Once through the seam, traverse left below the roof, and look for the bolt around the corner. I determined this bolt to be in good shape, and not yet in need of being replaced. I re-drove the piton above it, and it can be adequately backed up by a .1 cam just to the left of the pin. Replacing the pin with a bolt would be nice, but I determined the pin, supplementary cam, and proximity to the bolt to be safe enough.

Continue over the bulge on cool flakes to where you will now find a new shiny bolt. This used to be a rusty pin behind a flake. The pin turned out the be pretty damn good, but certainly not sustainable. More somewhat runout climbing takes you to the right, then back left to the newly updated bolt anchor.

IMG_9206.thumb.jpg.2aa046b8c6350ff7f0eeeaa563d8b0ae.jpg

Broke my tuning fork before I was able to remove the old button head. It now suits as a good spot to hang your shoes.

IMG_9209.thumb.jpg.9c9bf2e60e6ef40457da27f16651bce1.jpg

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The old pin, and the new protection bolt.

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P4 5.11a: From the bolted anchor, step up on good edges until you can reach the new bolt up and right. Slab your way hard right under the loose flakes to the sloping ledge. A thin crack which takes good pro will take you up and over a steep bulge. The topo calls out a "not so great fixed pin" which was gone before I got there. If you are already feeling some rope drag, I recommend belaying on the slab just above the mantel. The remainder of the route climbs flakes and cracks up and left on licheny but easy terrain.

IMG_9221.thumb.jpg.7627e16826b0b3d8bf1e303c45909a7d.jpg

The previous runout straight off the P4 belay.

IMG_9223.thumb.jpg.6d2327839fe6f0a7edac869a436951de.jpg

The new bolt that protects you from falling straight onto the belay.

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Overall I thought this routes reputation was a bit overblown. In it's previous state, all the hardest climbing was well protected, but some falls could have been catastrophic. As it stands now, I truly believe I was able to retain the adventurous excitement of the route, while mitigating the danger. It is still PG13, as bolting all the runouts would be unreasonable. Get on this route, It's really fun!

 

 

 

Gear Notes:
Double rack from micro to #2. Single #3 & #4. Standard rack of nuts plus some brassies might come in handy. Many shoulder length slings. 70m rope to take advantage of the W-face raps.

Approach Notes:
Standard Blue Lake approach

Edited by Michael Telstad
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Couldn't get permission... like you couldn't contact the FA party or you did and they said no?

(far be it from me to criticize someone making the effort to hand drill to make something safer, I'm just wondering)

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30 minutes ago, underscore_child said:

Couldn't get permission... like you couldn't contact the FA party or you did and they said no?

(far be it from me to criticize someone making the effort to hand drill to make something safer, I'm just wondering)

I wasn't able to find contact info for them. I honestly didn't try too hard though...

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Trying to contact the FA team is good. Replacing exising bad hardware is fine. Adding new bolts where none existed before wo FA permission is a no no in my book.

I appreciate your honesty, work ethic, and eye to bringing new attention to obscurities. Without your work this likely wouldn't get climbed at all and hardware would just get worse and worse. 

Cheers,

Rad

 

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OK so hard to tell exactly what you bolted, but based on here and what you posted on MP... one fixed pin replaced with bolt... one replaced bolt at anchor... one to mitigate factor 2? 

Doesn't sound so terrible to me. 

I find it funny that 'this route's been on your todo list but you were too intimidated' and then you go on to rope solo the whole thing in its original state. Maybe ya weren't so intimidated after all.

Big props for honesty too.

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Posted (edited)

i'm not surprised you couldn't reach steve risse as he is dead. not sure about his wife. http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12199432900/Steven-Craig-Risse-1952-1993 

it was clearly not so much of a "death route" that you couldn't rope solo it & the route has been retro'd 2x already. http://www.supertopo.com/rock-climbing/Washington-Pass-North-Early-Winters-Spire-Labor-Pains

the internet is such a hard place to find info.....

 

Edited by rat

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, rat said:

i'm not surprised you couldn't reach steve risse as he is dead. not sure about his wife. http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12199432900/Steven-Craig-Risse-1952-1993 

it was clearly not so much of a "death route" that you couldn't rope solo it & the route has been retro'd 2x already. http://www.supertopo.com/rock-climbing/Washington-Pass-North-Early-Winters-Spire-Labor-Pains

the internet is such a hard place to find info.....

 

I'm aware Steve passed away. I was also aware that it had some bolts replaced already.

Regardless of the previous rebolt, consensus was still that the route was in unnecessarily dangerous condition. Both parties I know who have climbed it, Wayne Wallace and John Plotz both agreed that some pins should be replaced with bolts, and the anchor updated. 

It seems that I may have been off base adding the bolt above the P3 anchor. However I stand by my decision, and believe that it retains the character of the route.  

If I hear from enough people who have climbed the route that the bolt is not acceptable. I am happy to spin it out and mask the hole.

Edited by Michael Telstad

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Posted (edited)

i climbed it in the early 2000's. two points supporting removal of the added protection bolt are: 1. the bolt does change "the character of the route"; and 2. previous retro efforts did not feel the need for an added bolt. at this point i don't really care whether you remove the added bolt but bear in mind that just because you think you're doing a public service doesn't always mean it's so. rock on...

Edited by rat

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