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Wallstein

[TR] Index - Upper Town Wall - Technicians of the Sacred 8/14/2012

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Trip: Index - Upper Town Wall - Technicians of the Sacred

 

Date: 8/14/2012

 

Trip Report:

Every time that I come home it feels like its been to long and I don't spent enough time in my native state of Washington. I just spent the last month in Ten Sleep, WY pumping up my ego at what maybe the softest crag in the country. No better way to have an ego re-adjustment than heading straight to the Upper Town Wall and continue working on a multi year project of trying to tick the whole cliff. Thankfully I've had pretty good success in the last few summers up there and have managed to tick 8 different free routes. Even with that much experience there was still one route that I feared more than the rest, Technicians of the Sacred. Like most long free routes on the Upper Wall there is more hearsay and rumors than actual reports of anyone climbing them. A few that I've heard for Technician are "bad bolts, impossible if you are short, and unrepeated." Never one to listen to other people's conjecture I had to see for myself.

 

 

Technicians-1.jpg

 

As with many of the other routes I've done on the wall I opted to do my first mission solo and from the top down, especially given the rumors of bad bolts and the lack of traffic. Though I was actually surprised at how clean the upper pitches look, maybe it was cause it was way steeper than I expected.

 

Technicians-2.jpg

 

Nothing like a good dangle rapping over the 11b or 12c arete pitch up high!

 

Technicians-4.jpg

 

These are two of the best climbing partners I've ever had. They are always ready, they never get tired or lazy, and I never have to belay them. What more can you ask for?

 

Technicians-3.jpg

 

It appears no has been to this anchor in awhile. And I think I may of actually been the one who left the faded cordalette here years ago while working on freeing Golden Arch. The blue stuff looked really old.

 

Technicians-5.jpg

 

This view never gets old for me.

 

Technicians-6.jpg

 

After one solo mission on the upper pitches, I recruited Kevin Kewl to take a lead lap. We opted to skip the first pitch which is the crux and just did the remaining 4, which break down at 11b, 12a, 11b, 11b (mostly accurate in the classic Index sandbag sorta way). Kevin put on a good show and managed a no falls ascent. I fell once on the 12a after not executing my beta correctly.

 

The upper two 11b pitches were some of the best I've ever done at Index and not what you'd normally find on the UTW. Big holds, above the head heal hooks, and technical stemming. Absolutely stellar climbing!

 

Technicians-7.jpg

 

Now that I knew I could do the upper pitches and was feeling a little bit better on the granite I came back alone and put some work in on the first pitch which is the crux 12b. Anybody who has been to the Upper Wall has seen it. It's a striking black and white streaked open corner that sits almost directly above where the trail spits you out.

 

This pitch in particular has been through the rumor mill a few times. I've heard of multiple solid 5.13 climbers getting shut down on it. But being able to climb 5.13 anywhere else has almost nothing to do with being able to climb 5.12b at Index. It takes more than power or endurance to figure out a pitch like this. Often it comes down to creativity and an acute understanding of the subtleties of Index granite. I couldn't think of a more fitting name than Technicians of the Sacred to describe it.

 

Though on my first burn I felt more like a technician of the irreverent than the sacred. I got straight up school'd. If I couldn't hold onto a hold I'd just try and grab it harder, if I couldn't reach a hold I'd try and crank farther, but mostly if I couldn't do a move I'd just slump into my harness and watch my ego slowly deflate to a more appropriate size. I had neither the respect nor the creativity required. I didn't even reach the anchors. Maybe the rumors were actually true this time?

 

But if I've learnt one thing from all the climbing I've done over the years is the first burn is just that, Its the first and not the last. And to go right along with that I've also learnt that I will surely send it on my last go if I try enough times...

 

I came back a couple days later with fresher tips, better shoes, and slightly more aligned ego. Which made a hint of a difference, I actually made it to the anchor after an hour and half of proper punishing. But the granite revealed a few more of its secrets which I met with a more respected and inspired approach. With little expectations I managed to do it with one hang next go.

 

Technicians-8.jpg

 

If nothing else I am persistent. I'd been in Washington for 6 days and had spent 3 on Technicians. MIght as well make it 4 out of 7... This time I enrolled my occasional "boss man" Fitz Cahall (of the kick-ass dirtbagdiaries.com check it out!) The plan this time was to go for it from the ground but still approaching it as another beta mission. My self given chances of sending where somewhere close zero. Confidence was high!

 

With highs approaching the low 80's climbing in the sun would mean certain death. We opted for the 5pm start once the climb went into the shade. It was so warm at the base that we could barely sit on the rocks. At least their was no need for a warm up... I laced up my nearly brand new TC pros (which maybe considered cheating) and ventured upward doing my best to execute every move correctly. What I lacked in technicians ability and confidence I made up for with primal screams of stoke. Somehow it managed to work. I made it through the brutal 4 bolt crux to the rest ledge. I was maybe a tad bit more than slightly shocked.

 

Technicians-9.jpg

 

Yes, that was a double thumbs up send!

 

Technicians-10.jpg

 

The 5pm start didn't leave much light left for the rest of the climbing and didn't leave anytime for falling which thankfully I didn't do. But It still got dark up there. Par for the course.

 

Technicians-11.jpg

 

A technician of the sacred? Maybe. Maybe not. A technician of persistance and stoke? More likely.

 

 

---

And a final note.

 

The bolts are good, it doesn't matter if you are short, and its been repeated.

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Stoke!

 

Are those 2 mini-traxions in your solo set-up? Does the rope need to be weighted to have them feed smoothly? Will it work on dynamic line or do you need the stiffer static? I've just been using the Cinch, which requires reaching down to pull rope through the device. A hands-free setup would be better.

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Fantastic TR and Index stoke! I really enjoyed the story and the pics--the one with the rappeller-in-shadow is particularly impressive and almost haunting. I had to laugh about seeing the plug for the TC's (aka "The Cheaters"). I broke down and got a pair of those this summer just for Index and have felt a little guilty each time I lace them up, too. :laf:

 

Congrats on ticking your project! Looking forward to hearing about the next one. :wave:

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Nice work! I've been rehabbing my finger this summer and have just been ruthlessly lapping the Lower Wall but the Upper Wall free climbs are always on my mind. I have vague memories of doing the first pitch of Technicians years ago. I remember it being really cool and pretty steep for Index. Also, it was extra clean because someone (Ben G.?) had just brushed it. BTW Mikey: that new Swim pitch of yours is quite entertaining. I think I was one thumb press move from a clean lead but it's definitely something worthy of going back for!

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Are those 2 mini-traxions in your solo set-up? Does the rope need to be weighted to have them feed smoothly? Will it work on dynamic line or do you need the stiffer static?...

 

Yep I've been using that system pretty much since mini-traxions came out. Probably somewhere close to a couple hundred days of use on them (maybe even more). Usually the weight of the rope is enough to make it feed fine. If there isn't much rope hanging I'll put a pair of shoes or water bottle on it. Will work on a dynamic rope but I usually use a medium stretch static. The sterling safety-pro is a good choice. Decently burly sheath with enough stretch to make the fall soft enough.

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Nice work! I've been rehabbing my finger this summer and have just been ruthlessly lapping the Lower Wall but the Upper Wall free climbs are always on my mind. I have vague memories of doing the first pitch of Technicians years ago. I remember it being really cool and pretty steep for Index. Also, it was extra clean because someone (Ben G.?) had just brushed it. BTW Mikey: that new Swim pitch of yours is quite entertaining. I think I was one thumb press move from a clean lead but it's definitely something worthy of going back for!

 

Nice work Mikey! Thanks for fore-running all those routes for me. Nice to know they are oompa loompa friendly :)

 

And, Drew, yes, I vaguely recalling you onsighting it after my scrubbing the death out of that first pitch. It was quite impressive.

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Nice send Mikey. Cool running into you in the Index lot. Thanks again for the spare nut tool!

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So that was the route you were on. I'd like to give it a go.

 

Nicola Masciandaro and I were doing the Davis-Holland and Lovin-Arms route on Aug. 14th and we saw two guys waiting out the heat at the bottom before heading up this fantastic looking line near the Golden Arch. We started at about 2 pm when our route was in the shade but the rest of the Upper Wall was still in the sun. We heard the whoops of success as we stumbled down the trail. Thanks for posting the photos.

 

Jon

 

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I was jealous of you guys in the shade! The rock was so damn hot.

 

Conditions should be perfect the next couple days to go up there with high's in the low 60's... You should go up there.

 

Also look at Good Girls like Bad boys. Really good.

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I forgot to ask: what is the deal with the direct arete variation of pitch 4? Did you check that out at all? I just went up on Green Drag-on a couple days ago and my psych is building again for Upper Wall routes.

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what is the deal with the direct arete variation of pitch 4?

 

I looked at it and thats about all. I don't want to say it contrived but it's not the line of least resistance. If you follow the corner 8 ft higher there is an obvious finger bucket rail that leads to the arete (the 11b way). Never been one to make things artificially harder. That being said it does look cool and kinda hard.

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