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first free ascent [TR] Index, Upper Town Wall - Rise and Fall, 5.12a 8/23/2010

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Trip: Index, Upper Town Wall - Rise and Fall, 5.12a


Date: 8/23/2010


Trip Report:

The Upper Wall "sport" routes have intrigued me since my first foray up to Sisu over 13 years ago. I had walked away from Sisu with my tail between my legs wondering how people even manage to climb 5.11 up there, let alone 5.12. As time went by and I gained more experience and knowledge of the area the Upper routes became even more elusive. In the last 10 years the only full length old school "sport" route that I know has been repeated is Swim which was this year (or maybe last). I've heard rumors of ascents but never full redpoints. WHY? What is wrong with these routes?


While doing Green Drag-on and Town Crier earlier this summer I often found myself staring at Rise and Fall which is in spitting distance of GD. It looked amazing! I knew if I had time this summer I'd have to try it.



Kate following the 5.10 third pitch


My first attempt was at the end of July with Colin Haley. We were both feeling ansi and started up the first pitch in the sun, though it wasn't to hot, climbing in the sun made the 5.12a pitch feel real hard. I battled my way up it. Standing in slings, grabbing bolt hangers in desperation, and doing whatever it took to get the rope up. My fist inclination told me this pitch was impossible! Surely the fist ascent had used smoke and mirrors to send it…. I continued upwards demoralized but still motivated to see what laid ahead. It must get easier? Thankfully I was able to onsight the 5.10 third pitch, though I can't say I made it look easy. And then their is the 5.11+ 4th pitch. Really how hard can 5.11 be? Well at Index it can be just as hard as 5.13 in some other areas. This pitch was another quintessential Index sandbag. After much cursing, floundering and flailing, I A0'd my way to the anchors, completely mystified. Another pitch that might as well be rated 5.IMPOSSIBLE I lowered back down and looked at every possible hand and foot hold. Real slowly the sequences started to appear. High step mantle, to high step mantle lead to a final hold-less deadpoint that would without a doubt be the MOVE while redpointing. I managed to link very little of this pitch on toprope. One more 11b pitch followed. The theme of the day continued with me grabbing draws and getting totally shut down on the crux, but luckily after a bunch of brushing and chalking of holds it came together. 3 star pitch! By the end of the pitch I had the rock climbing version of the screaming barffies in my toes and was having a hard time touching my tips to anything. We were both royally annihilated! Time to go down.




Kate in desperation on the 5.12 second pitch



Good weather and alpine climbing plans took me away to Alaska for a quick trip but all I could think of was getting back to Index in time to give Rise and Fall another go.


This time I enrolled my girlfriend Kate to go up their with me, which usually makes me climb better. I also had another trick up my sleeve this time, Alpine Anorexia. I had lost 6 lbs of the 125 I usually carry around in just three days while up in AK. I was feeling light! I almost sent the 12a pitch first go but lacked any cohesive beta to make it happen. I knew it would go down next try though. We cruised up to the 5.11+ only to get completely shut down again. I threw a great wabler up there and almost went down. I was letting falling on 5.11 get to my ego. NOT GOOD! I man'nd up, swallowed my pride and aided to the top to setup the toprope. After more inspection it came together and I was able to link the whole pitch on TR. I also knew it would go down next go.




Me on the start of the 5.11+ roof to slab pitch (Town Crier's triple roofs in the background)



Yesterday, along with Kevin Newell, I used my own smoke and mirrors on Rise and Fall. I eked out a redpoint of the 12a pitch first go which was going to be the mental crux for me. As always I'd hope to make a no falls redpoint but to my dismay one momentary lapse of friction spit me off the final move on the 11+ pitch. Next go found me much more relaxed and holds feeling that much bigger. I haven't been so thrilled to send 5.11 in a very long time! Now the self imposed pressure became thick as all I had left was the 5.11b pitch. Thankfully chalked edges and pockets appeared whenever they were critical and I found myself at the anchors in fading dusk light. Kevin raced up the pitch and made quick work of the final 50ft to the top of the wall. Just like the rest of my climbs on the Upper Wall this summer, I followed in near darkness by brail. My grin couldn't get much bigger once I hit the top!!!!!




Leading up to the roof on the 5.11+ pitch




This route is a testament to the skill and ability of Greg Child and Andy DeKlerk as well as the unbelievable sandbagging that was going on when those guys were putting up routes. For me this was nearly as difficult to redpoint as Green Drag-on and Town Crier, which are rated one full number grade harder or so. If you are looking for a route to fluff your 8a.nu card this may not be the one.





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Well done again. How do those bolts look on those 1980's full length sports routes? I had a problem with some old Greg Child bolts last year.

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damn dude, thanks for the stoke! i think it's about time i hit the road again :)

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Way to stick with it! It is amazing how height seems to really affect climbing grades at Index. Having 5 to 13 inches less reach at the Dex seems to make some routes grades harder... Us shorties just got to take everything with a grain of salt. The Fifth Force is a good example of this principle. 12b for some and 5.13+ for others. I'm still hoping to redpoint Model Worker someday! Isn't that 11b? Quadruple cracks next?



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congratulations Mikey!


inspiring summer ticklist to say the least.

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The bolts up there looked pretty good though a bit rusty. They weren't the kong hangers. A few of the bolts have been replaced and I believe a couple have even been added. The "runout" 5.10 pitch isn't runout anymore.


Though you do need a couple small finger size pieces for getting to the roof on the 11+ pitch. Thats the only gear you need on the route.





As far as being short and only 120lbs I agree I have a totally unfair midget advantage. I nearly meet the requirements for being federally disabled which would allow me to receive federal AID. So if that logic is true everything is A0 for me. Oh well, just playing the cards I got dealt....



Pink you should quit your job and hit the road again! See ya in Yosemite in September/October?





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