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The Doctor and MisterE's Excellent Adventure

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We recently found out that John Burcham (sp?) recently finished a 7-year project in Sedona - a 10-pitch 5.12a arete. We got what beta we could, which was "bring 1 rope and 16 draws". We also got directions, and last Saturday headed out to do the climb. I was a bit tired from the day before, having just finished a first ascent of a 100-foot 5.11c with 4 seperate cruxes, but we were so psyched to do a long route I sucked it up.


We parked on 89A and hiked up to the obvious prow. The crux is pitch 8, on the wild overhang visible above:




As we were casting about for the start of the climb, David found some "cleaning" tools and got a little silly:




The first indication that **maybe** the beta wasn't exactly right was a crack above that looked like it needed gear...

Well, we found a chimney to the right of the crack that had a bolt 50 feet up, and David said it "looked like easy climbing to the bolt" (this would be a recurring theme to justify our lack of protection). David leading out the first pitch:




And finally getting to the bolt just below the squeeze chimney section:




I followed, and since I suck at chimneying, I got stuck in the squeeze and had to pull through it. **Sigh** So much for a clean ascent!


We found the anchors at the top of the chimney, and a nice line of bolts heading upward. Looking up:




David lead the second pitch - cerebral slopey and pocket moves on rippled sandstone.A 5.10 pitch and Classic Sedona!


I took the lead on pitch 3, weighing in at 5.10:




David took the lead on pitch 4, striking out on to the arete and great position. I followed,and when I got to this roof and saw David had basically soloed this flaring bulge, I KNEW we were supposed to bring gear! It was solid 5.11! Notice the fairly useless bolt on the slab below:




I looked at David with newfound respect as he said, "It wasn't that bad..." Shaken by this turn of events, I then took the sharp end, wandered out in several directions with no sign of bolts. Damn, I need some gear!!!

I spotted a line of bolts above me for the next pitch, so knew I was on the right track. I sucked it up (thinking of David's last lead) and lead this munge pitch with one slung sandstone handle in 100 feet (dirty 5.7). Did I mention it was sandy as all hell and I was gripped out of my skull? My foot slipped a little once, and my body coursed with adrenaline. I got to a good ledge, belayed David up, and he took the lead. The next pitch was short, traversing a roof to the very edge of the formation. I followed, looked up and handed David the draws: "It's all yours!"


David leading out pitch 7 on the amazing prow:




When I followed this pitch (another .10) and got to the anchors, I saw the amazing overhanging wall above and we knew this next pitch was the business.

Just one problem: the first bolt was 60 feet up, past another roof that looked solid 10, and 40 feet up a steep diehedral!

"Itlooks pretty straightforward" David said, and he took off on lead. I watched with trepidation as he soloed up to the first bolt, and turned the corner:




As he disappeared, I heard him yell: "This is the business!"


He lead the pitch with one hang, and I followed up. "He's crazy!" I thought as I pulled the roof into the diehedral and up. Whe I turned the corner, I was amazed at the clean, thin corner above me. Some solid .10 moves petered out into solid .11 layback/jamming culminated by a few 5.12 slab moves, then the corner opened back up into nice jams. I aided through the crux and was stunned by the amazing position.


The final pitch was one of the most exposed pitches I have ever done. The climb goes straight out to a vertical arete, with a wild swing move with 200 feet of air below my feet. The final moves of the 10th pitch were solid 5.10+, and we gained the summit:




The thought that we should have brought a second rope for the rappel was in the front of my mind, but David assured me he had never done a Burcham route that you couldn't get off with one rope. I was unconvinced, and insisted he find the rappel anchors.

Off he goes!




I was relieved when I heard him shout: "I found the rappel route!" and I rapped to the end of the rope on the vertical wall.

David took off again, and shortly thereafterthese words drifted up to me: "I am at the end of the rope, and don't see any anchors!" Oh, crap.

"Wait! I found a ledge!" Then the rope went slack as he went off rappel. I followed him down, and saw to my amazement David perched on a 2-foot ledge 15 feet to the right of the line, and 50 feet off a large, sandy ledge. I swung over with the end-of-rope knots at my belay device, and stuck a handjam into the back of the ledge, perched precariously. I took a deep breath, and released one of the knots. I traversed the small ledge, pulling the rope with the remaining knot through the anchors above with each move.

Meanwhile, David had scrambled down a few feet, and found a perfect horn to sling. He took off his 8 mil perlon belt ( noting that his pants were going to fall down now), slung the horn, threw a 'biner on it, and declared it bomber. Things seemed almost surreal as I watched him weight and rap the line, just waiting for the perlon to roll...It never happened, and I followed to the ledge with great relief.

The rest of the rappels went uneventfully, and soon we were on the ground. I was happy to be alive at that point, and completely knackered.


We later found out the gear notes:


bring 6-7 peices of gear to 2"

bring 2 ropes


It's nice having a ropegun! Thanks, David!

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