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[TR] Smith Rocks Monkey Face - West Face Aid Route 10/27/2007

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Trip: Smith Rocks Monkey Face - West Face Aid Route

 

Date: 10/27/2007

 

Trip Report:

So last weekend Dan Forester and I tried our hand at the West Face of Monkey Face at Smith Rocks.

 

It was really cold in the AM and I got the joyful task of first belay... Soon I had every scrap of available clothing on and I was still shivering. But the sun was coming and Dan shed an hour off of his previous climb time for the first 40 meter pitch.

 

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So I jugged up towards the sunshine and cleaned the pitch.

 

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By the time I got to the belay ledge I was sweating my ass off so I jettisoned my soft shell. Dan actually tossed it and it basically landed in my girlfriends lap at the base. Nice shot! I had the technically easy but mentally daunting task of running the next three pitches together up to the West cave. It's all bolts so what's the big deal right, right..

 

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I pass the first set of anchors and the over hang eases up a bit. Keep on chugging and pretty soon I'm at the second set on a little ledge. It's a very shallow dihedral and above it the wall starts overhanging again leading to the West cave. Only problem is the first bolt is like 9-10 feet off of the ledge! WTF!?! I'm just using two aiders so if I try to top step only one leg bears the punishment. I simply can't do it. Too strenuous and too off balance. Clipping the anchor and stepping as high as possible the with a stiff quickdraw the bolt is nearly a foot out of reach (I'm 5'10"). Hmm well it looks like I could free climb it. Dan is wondering what is going on at this point so I tell him I'm going to put my climbing shoes on and try to free a move or two to the bolt. I try that for a bit and between the exposure and the thought of landing back on this little ledge I don't think I could have free climbed a staircase at that point. Someone around the corner on West Face Variation is suggesting a nut tool for extra extension but I don't have any tape.. I suggest Dan jugs up to me but he quickly reminds me that if I can't reach it he won't be able to either.. Then my MacGyver instinct kicks in and I get an idea. So with my boots back on I put both aiders on one daisy and try top stepping it. Bouncing on my tip toes I can just nick the bottom of the hanger with the draw. I shout down, "I just touched it!!!!!!!" Dan is probably regretting his choice of partners at this point.. So I just need a couple of inches. I have some sport draws and it looks like I can wedge an oval biner in the loose end lengthwise. Sure enough it fits, albeit very tightly! So now I'm able to hold the very bottom of the draw. I get back into position and whamo it's in. Before I lose my grip on it I clip my other daisy in and we're off again. Two or three more times I need to consolidate my aiders on one daisy to reach a bolt on the way up to the cave. None required the Richard Dean Anderson signature series quickdraw though..

 

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Dan had told me a trick about pulling your daisy's off of your aiders so you could leave the aiders behind in an awkward situation. The lip entering the cave is one of those situations. So again I put both aiders together on the last bolt, get up to the 3rd or 4th step and have the lip at belly level. There is a ton of small lose rock here! So I find some holds and commit to it. I bring my right knee up onto the ledge and crawl over. Leaving my aiders dangling on the last bolt. From this ledge there's another 4 foot tall step into the cave proper and it has gravel right up to the edge along with lots of bigger rocks. The main trail runs directly below and my girlfriend is sitting down there. I'm pretty sure Dan is out of harms way due to how overhung the climb is though. So I spend a few minutes pushing rocks back from the edge and still managed to send a fist sized rock over. I yell rock and luckily it didn't hit anyone!

 

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Half monkey half man..

 

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I set up the fixed line and try to let Dan know he can start jugging but he can't hear me. My GF ends up relaying messages between us. Soon he's on the way. We had a second rope for the rap that we used as a belay line so I was able to monitor progress. Soon it stopped and I hear my GF shouting that Dan wants me rap down. Huh? No way. Dan couldn't have said that. So I double check and sure enough.. So I'm looking at all this rock the rope is going to bring down and the fact it's almost entirely overhung so reaching the anchors will not be fun at all. I quickly decide if we need to bail the West Face is not way to do it. Dan was concerned about how late in the day it was. I thought he was at the third anchor and it was only 5 bolts and a scramble to the top from where I was.. Plenty of time! Turns out he was at the second anchor and it took another good hour for him to get to me.

 

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By this point summiting was not our first option but there's no obvious rappel route from the West cave. So we decide to rap out of the South side of the cave in hopes of penduluming over to Bohn Street and bailing from there. By now it's starting to get dark and we only have one head lamp. Dan glanced over the South edge and yells that he doesn't think he can see Bohn. Hmm. Not good. Maybe we do have to go up. But I remember seeing a sport route on the topo leading from Bohn Street to the West Cave.. So we set up a rap with a single 70m rope and over I go. The rope ends were knotted (Dan kept the headlamp so he could set up his rap) and I was using a kleinheist. Soon in the failing light I see Bohn Street and my fears were eased. Now I just need to get there. I lower down 15-20 meters and start swinging. Soon I'm in range and dive for a hold. Bingo! I crawl up and clip the line in and yell for Dan to follow. I give him some tension and soon he's standing next to me. We set up the last rap and within minutes the rope is coiled and we're jogging down the trail to gather up our gear and locate my GF.

 

 

 

Gear Notes:

 

 

That is without a doubt the most exposed climb I've ever been on. The exposure is very sustained too. High recommend the route! Tons of fun. I'd take a stick clip or your favorite NBA player along and probably split up the bolt ladder next time. 3-4 aiders would probably be a good idea too. I'm no whiz at jugging but I just had to do the first pitch which is pretty much vertical. Dan had a lot of trouble on the overhung sections with his setup. I'm sure he'd be happy to comment about what was going on. The sustained over hang makes seemingly easy tasks very difficult.

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Guess I should have gone that weekend, nba type tall and all. MMMM oh well maybe next time. Dan we will have to give that sucker a go again and finish :) Jogging down the trail...right...lol. Glad you guys had a good time. So dan what was going on with jugging the over hang?

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SWEET MONKEY GOODNESS!!!! Damn I wish I was in shape to climb. Looks live a fun fall time out guys, I'm super jealous.

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Yeah, Porter, it was a good day out. We'll see you down here when you heal up, OK?

 

Thanks Josh for putting the TR + pics up. For those of you who haven't climbed with him yet, he's a super solid partner. When I got to the cave we didn't have a ton of daylight left and it was really cool to have someone who had it together mentally & organization-wise to rap off a way we were both unfamiliar with.

 

Will, I had trouble on the jug mostly because of basic mechanical ineptitude. I haven't done a ton of jugging, and it's all been on vertical or less than vertical stuff. When you're free-hanging you really have to have it dialed, or it's extra strenuous. I got burnt out fast physically. Mentally it was taxing as well - the exposure was tremendous, and there's something about unclipping a bolt and swinging out into space, a couple of hundred feet off the deck, that started to wear on me. I was gibbering and incoherent by the time I reached the lip. But the sad thing is, now I want to go back & try it again.

 

I was super psyched that Josh hadn't finished off the water when I got to the cave. Thanks again for that.

 

So I don't usually like rapping off in the dark, etc, but watching the sun set over the mountains from the cave and then walking back along the crooked river under the stars, and then under the nearly full moon, was a cool experience. Just reminded me of what an awesome place smith is, & why it's one of my favorite spots in Oregon.

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Well done Josh and Dan :tup:. Enjoyed the TR immensely. Nice that your GF was willing to hang out and take pictures, she got some really nice shots of you guys.

 

WOW, it’s been almost 25 years since I did that climb. Reading about your adventure brought back the memories. My own experience and feelings closely matched yours. It was my first aid climb and I remember well the slow, strenuous, awkward, movement up the ladder, struggling to “be rational” about the exposure, and when it was finally all over, loving it. It also was a dawn to dark event.

 

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Take some hooks next time and you wont have any problems with reaching that first bolt. Coming out of the cave to the top is essentially just two moves of easy aid and then a scramble to the top.

 

Thats a fun route to get your clean aiding dialed in.

 

I had the same feeling about rapping out of that cave though--it was up and over for us though--we only had one rope.

 

 

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Good to know, Rob. Our one (grappling) hook was conveniently clipped to my harness back at the belay. That might have helped, though I don't think Josh has used one before & that would be an exciting spot to do your first hook moves.

 

Tim, that would be a wild first aid climb! 25 years ago, what, were you like 12 or something?

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That was also my first aid climb. I got the overhanging bolt pitch, and from what I remember there were a lot of OLD star head nails and mystery metal hangers. I still have one of them that fell out in my hand. Nice to see it's been rebolted.

 

We had a stick clip, which helped immensely. But we also did it late in the year (December I think) and got to the cave after dark. We did the Bohn St. escape as well. As I was reading your TR I was wondering if you would go that way!

 

The Backbone looks sick from that route!

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Nice TR & photos. It's a fun, very exposed route. Supposedly it's easy to rap down the North Face but never tried that. Clipping that reachy bolt 1st time around took some thinking; 2nd time had a cheater stick. I had a couple of hooks but could not find a placement for one - probably missed something?

 

Haulbag gives a plumbline reference:

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Edited by fgw

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Wait until you make that first move out of the cave to the top. You are catching big air then (at least for orygun).

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Thanks for the kind words everyone!

 

Those of you that have not climbed with Dan take the chance if you get it. He's very safe and his technical know how is impressive. I'm just learning aid climbing and am really glad to have Dan helping me out. I never doubt his judgment for a second. When you have a couple hundred feet of air under you it's nice to know the guy on the other end of the rope has you covered.

 

I think a stick clip and another aider would really smooth out the ripples on this climb. Heck just knowing I can actually reach that bolt makes all the difference! Like Dan I'm looking forward to doing it again now...

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HA HA HA HA ! LOVE THAT STUFF! GREAT TR AND PICS TOO, Thanks for sharing it!

 

BTW, I never remembered that route having some @#XX! free moves in the F#@XX! middle of it, so Imade the mistake of taking my ratty-assed street shoes and in the bitter cold/30 knot winds early last spring HAD TO belay Ujahn up to make those moves. (He had his rock shoes on).

 

I was feeling very old and tired.

 

The good news is that the lad was as tired and sore as I was afterwards.

 

PS, Andrew Tryznka is getting that first pitch done in 20 min. He timed me (wasn't shooting for speed and wasn't uber organized ) at 30 min.

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No offense, but it sounds like you guys need to read John Longs bigwalls book and practice closer to the ground your texas style and maybe actaully have someone show you how to jug before you get back onto overhanging aid.

Camped in the back notch cave (planed bivy) in January of 1997, found a fairly new headlamp up there, please describe if you think it might be yours and I can give it back. You don't need nearly as much pro as it looks like you were packing, a couple sets of stopers, 00-1 tcus, a and a few single cams up to about 2 inches and cam hooks and 1 bat hook is all you need to sew it up.

Good luck next time

Edited by shapp

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No offense taken, shapp, thanks for the advice on the jugging practice. You're right, the first pitch was mostly stoppers plus a couple aliens; a red & then a yellow camalot about midway. I did a few cam hook moves, that and offset nuts in a couple pin scars made it pretty easy.

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Nice picks!!!

 

It's a fun route even though it'smostly a bolt ladder. We did it in 3 pitches to the cave and hauled a small bag. I was suprised how steep the second pitch was when we cut the bags loose and they swing way out. It would be fun to do as a party of three; I want to jug the free line on the second pitch.

 

A couple of you have mentioned cam hooks. Is the rock as smith hard enough for cam hooks? Anyone ever blow out a placement with one at smith? I know they are a no no in zion but that place is a bit softer than smith. Just a thought.

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Those of you that have not climbed with Dan take the chance if you get it. He's very safe and his technical know how is impressive.

 

And if you happen to get snowed in for some bizarre reason, I can personally vouch that Dan is a world-class snow cave digger. Actually seems to enjoy it...

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great pics! try the east face or nw passage for more sustained and a tad harder clean aid. mabey a little more rack than the west and a few more hooks and youll be set.

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Thanks for the great TR Joshua. Looks like you guys had a great day out. Happy Birthday Dan!

 

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Guys,

 

Very nice TR and esp. nice photos. I climbed this last year.

 

For anyone thinking of this route . . .

- bring med. Leeper cam hooks

- bring 2 headlamps, esp during shorter days

- learn to jug and clean elsewhere before you get on a route this steep. Have your chosen ascending system dialed before geting on any "real" route.

 

Go get em!

 

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