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Valhallas

Mary Jane Dihedral questions

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Bob -

thanks for "risking" the thoughtful and thought provoking posts. I too had a mentor for whom climbing was pure fun, and that's likely the reason I'm still climbing at my age.

 

Matt- I'm not sure where I'd move that belay to -- I don't recall a comfortable place to stand anywhere close, and I'd be hesitant to move it any great distance. If I make the improvement, I'd be inclined to add a single 3/8 modern bolt out left of the existing two, and set up the anchor with the existing bolts equalized as a single element, and that combination equalized with the new bolt. This configuration would improve, rather than replace the existing anchor, and would not create additional scarring of the rock. It would move the focal point of the anchor further left from the dihedral, making the stance more spacious. There still wouldn't be anything to stand on, and if I were to do this climb again, I'd hang slings to stand in to make the stance more comfortable.

as long as we're already debating, I'd appreciate feedback on my proposed improvement. I'm really not inclined to remove the old bolts, and I do believe that they are solid enough to be a functional anchor element. And I readily admit that part of my resistance to removing bolts is pure laziness - pulling them and filling the holes just seems silly to me. (critics - fire away!)

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My vote is to remove the old 1/4"ers, drill them out to 3/8", and throw some new shiny stainless in there.

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I second Kurt's recommendation. I see this as an oppurtunity to refurbish the entire route (scrub, rebolt, update topo). I am happy to help but an upcoming graduation, pregnant wife, and new job leaves me with little freetime. Nonetheless, Montypiton shoot me a pm when you head out there if you need a hand and i'll see what I can do.

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My thoughts exactly Sol.

 

I'm even willing to haul the gear up there and fix a couple lines from the top and give it a good scrub and pruning. My time is short too, until at least the end of July. If even I get to this project this year, it won't happen until at least September.

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It is not that hard to pull 1/4" bolts and replace them with 3/8" - I'd be glad to help with this as well.

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Bob thanks for the great stories about Ron. Ron and Thom had more influence on where I took my own free climbing than anyone I met climbing besides yourself. They did some amazing cracks together here on the west side, the Stauart rance/Enchantments, at Chimney and Mini. Ron was one of the physically strongest climbers I had ever seen.

 

MJ? I did it back in the late 70's with Jim Donini. I backed off the crux thinking I might die. Jim lead it with little effort, while laughing at my cowardice and giving me a good lashing. I was just embarrassed. I went back to MJ a couple of times but by then I thought it was great climbing...after that original run on a top rope and pretty thrilled to eventually find those little hidden flake incuts ;)

 

My vote would be BOLT AWAY!

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Dear All,

 

Maybe I can help with some thoughts regarding your concerns about rebolting the belays and the position of the belays--but if my comments are not helpful, then okay--don't beat up on me too much.

 

First, thanks Dane, for your kind comments about Ron--I am pleased he inspired you as well. Same for Thom Nephew.

 

Second, I agree with Dane. Do not be afraid to replace bolts that are more than 40 years old, which have been in a alpine/sub-alpine environment all that time with something stronger and better. If the first ascentionists had, had better bolts they would have used them. It is illogical to think they, upon choosing to place a bolt for a belay would then say "lets use an inferior bolt when a better one is at hand." If they had at their disposal the kind of bolts available today I am confident they would have used them.

 

Third, with a bit of "Sherlock Holmes" and some probability deductions, we can come to some understanding of why the "structure" of this route is as it is. I looked in my copy of Fred Beckey's original 1965 guide to Leavenworth climbing--the route is not listed (I did not expect it would be, but wanted to double-check). Jim Madsen died on El Cap in 1968. The Kramer guide (1st edition 1996) states Don, Ron, and Jim as the first ascentionists. This sounds right to me because when you cross reference with the Index guide, etc., those guys were climbing a lot together in that time, plus they were friends as students at U of W (my wife as source--she says they hung around together on campus while she dated Jim). So, when did they put up the route? Likely 1966 or 1967, more likely 1967 (between Beckey's guide and Jim's death).

That leads me to what rope did they use and how long was the rope? In the PNW kernmantle rope was not the norm at that time. I got my first climbing rope in 1971 in Spokane from the REI catalog--it was goldline. Kernmantle rope became the norm a few years later, but was far more expensive than goldline. Remember these guys were poor college students. It is likely they used goldline because that is all they could afford or even get their hands on in 1966/1967 in Seattle. How long was the rope? Things were in transition in that time from the norm of 120 ft, to 150 ft, due to the California/Yosemite influence, where due to the nature of the rock and routes, longer ropes were needed. But Cascade climbing in that time (the influence of shorter ropes for glacier travel was dominant), the norm was still 120 ft ropes. My first goldline was 120 ft--that was the "recommendation" at the time. So deductively (we would have to ask the surviving team members to know for sure--and they might not remember), we can surmise they likely used a 120 ft goldline. Now subtract out some rope at either end for bowlines, bowlines on a coil, or swami belt for the tie-in. Their pitches were likely in the 100-110 ft range--or shorter. Switch to today. The 60 M to 70 M, or longer kernmantle rope is the norm. If they had, had access to the ropes of today they would have used them. If my deductions are correct, then they (assuming they put up the route in 2012) may well have set up belays in different locations, and thus the "structure" of the route may well be different.

In my view, I think you can re-position the anchors to take advantage of any logical features (ledges, corners, etc.), in light of today's "norm" for rope length, and still retain the "spirit" of the route--by consensus a somewhat committing, hard 5.9, which requires gear placement skills, some route finding skills, and a bit of a "leader's head."

As I said previously I do not speak for those guys, nor would I pretent to, but I think the "spirit" of a route can be retained, while perhaps belays upgraded with new, stronger, more rust resistant bolts, and perhaps the hanging/semi-hanging belay(s) re-positioned to be more logical. At least the Ron Burgner I remember would likely not protest too much, if at all. As I said before I just think he would be "tickled pink" that a route he helped pioneer some 45 years ago is getting a "face-lift" and is of interest to the current generation of climbers. To alter the "spirit" of a route is something alltogether different, but that does not seem to be the direction of this conversation.

I hope the comments of an old, semi-broken down climber are of some help :-).

 

Cheers,

 

Bob Loomis, Spokane, Washington

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Dear All,

 

I decided to double-check myself with respect to the deductions I made in my previous posting as it concerns the type and length of rope they likely used, as this helps to shed some light on your current discussion. In Royal Robbins, Basic Rockcraft (copyright 1971), at p. 14 he makes mention of the use of 120 ft ropes for many situations (suggests even 100 ft ropes are adequate--by the way, Kronhoeffers are shown on p. 12 of that book), but using 150 ft ropes for steeper, longer routes. Wheelock's Ropes, Knots and Slings for Climbers (copyright 1967) is more ambiguous about this transition in American climbing regarding rope length, but broadly is in line with Robbins. Thus, I could be very wrong, but it does not seem to be too far out of line to deduce that there is a good liklihood they used 120 ft goldline based on what they could afford as college students, and the "state of the art" in the PNW in the mid-1960s.

So imagine yourself hiking up to Snow Creek Wall at that time facing an unknown, and still early in your career as a climber. I can imagine them looking up at their prospective route, not sure of the dihedral's length, just left to "guesstimation." I could imagine the conversation boiling down to "go until rope runs out and build a belay wherever that is." That might have been what I would have done. That could very well result in pitches of about 100 ft or so--i.e., breaking up the dihedral into several pitches not because that is the most logical thing to do by today's modern rope standards, but simply the result of what they had to work with at the time.

If I am correct in my deductions perhaps in light of today's norms for rope length the need for a hanging/semi-handing belay is not even needed. I do not know, but, for instance using a 70 M rope (225 ft approximately) the dihedral might just be one long pitch--wow, wouldn't that be something! Right in line with the "spirit" of adventure, courage, and commitment they showed in the mid to late 1960s--eliminate the mid-point hanging/semi-hanging belay in favor a big solid 5.9/5.9+ lead!

Where I am going is to encourage you to be thoughtful and creative. I think you might have an opportunity here to honor the adventuresome spirit those three showed and the spirit of the route by using what you know in 2012 and the technology at your disposal to perhaps "re-structure" the route and even make it a more adventuresome route. I do not know. I am only making suggestions. But I could imagine those three feeling honored and respected if this generation built upon their achievement, and in this small but tangible way kept the flame of the core of climbing alive.

I am confident that the future of climbing is in good shape so long as climbers recognize it is not just a sport like golf or tennis, but something more than just athleticism--that the commitment, courage, adventure, etc., that are at the core of climbing make it different from other forms of athleticism and sport (by the way my achievements in climbing leave much to be desired under this measure, I am embarassed to say).

Hope I am helping the discussion not detracting from it.

 

Cheers,

 

Bob Loomis, Spokane, Washington

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thought-provoking posts! I hadn't considered "restructuring" the route. thinking in those terms, there may well be superior stances within "modern" rope-lengths, and given modern styles, (I try not to use the term "ethics") it makes sense to use them. eliminating the one hanging stance would "improve" the route without changing the character of the climbing. (although, for me, it would alter the character of the overall route experience) and if the consensus is that the old bolts ought to be removed, I'm not truly against removing them, I'm just lazy. If I truly believed using them presented a real hazard, I'd feel a lot less lazy. I like consensus decision-making. The final product may take a while, but I think the discussion is productive, and will yield a superior solution.

 

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Dear All,

 

It turns out my deduction about the year of the first ascent was not too far off. A friend has a copy of Jeff Smoot's Rock Climbing in Washington, A Falcon Guide , copyright 1999. He tells me that at p. 286, it states the year of the first ascent as 1966--same three guys. The more I think about the time, their age, the equipment they had to work with, the more my respect for them grows.

 

Cheers,

 

Bob Loomis, Spokane, Washington

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Any word on the cleaning of this route? Were the belay bolts updated?

 

I'd say it's clean enough. But still gritty in spots. I've added a few photos here, taken by Steph Abegg when we climbed it earlier in the year

 

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/mary-jane-dihedral/107781733

 

Only the first pitch anchors need updating. As seen in the MP photo, it can be backed up with a couple cams above. The rest of the bolts are good enough I suppose.

 

Despite the dirt, which isn't too bad, it's a very worthy climb!

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Awesome. Thanks!

Edit: The hanger looks good. Can't assess the bolt ;)

110808030_medium_73217f.jpg

Edited by yikes

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I think I remember a hanging belay that really wasn't very comfortable and there is a better spot to set up below it. Is that the spot? Mary_Jane.gif

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The 1st belay bolts on Mary Jane Dihedral have been replaced with 2 stainless 3/8 bolts and hangers, plus a chain for rapping. Couldn't get the 2 1/4 inch bolts out. Rusted and the nuts stripped. Maybe someone else can do that.

Of course the hanging belay still sucks. But its now more trustworthy.

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