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chris

[TR] Guye Peak, West Face - Improbable Traverse 9/1/2012

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Trip: Guye Peak, West Face - Improbable Traverse

 

Date: 9/1/2012

 

Trip Report:

I'll add some photos as soon as I'm able, but yesterday I climbed the Improbable Traverse with Dave. The route is surprisingly good, and it can be easily climbed with a 40m rope. The topo/photo description in the Select is pretty much spot on, and the photos of Kittleson and Nelson help identify exactly where the traverse is.

 

Because of the plethora of loose rock sitting on random ledges, I don't recommend linking pitches (its possible to link 1-2, 2-3, and 6-7 with a 60m).

 

Of the two pitons protecting the 5.8 crux, the first is a bottomed-out short KB hanging out enough to slip-hitch, not clip, and ignore the flexing. The second piton - a lost arrow copy - has visible stress-failed at the end of the blade and shouldn't be trusted. The third "off route" piton described by Nelson is 6 feet above it, so I used it for protection with a long sling and there was also a good spot for a 0.75 cam soon afterwards. At the end of the pitch, someone before us using a lot of chalk downclimbed a corner to access the ramp, but I found a good spot for a #3 stopper and followed Nelson's direction to climb up on good edges and incuts.

 

These piton placements would be ideal bolt candidates.

 

Topping out on the ramp is a great place to put away the shoes and the helmet, but I'd keep the harness, rope, and a slim rack out. There are a couple of 4th class steps where we were happy to have a quick belay and even a few pieces of pro near the top.

 

We used the rope one last time to get over the north summit - you can go down and around, but up and over is more fun. Then followed the scrambler's trail back down to Alpental.

 

Gear Notes:

Cams to #4, consider bringing doubles .5-3.

1 set of stoppers

40m rope is adequate - keeping pitches to 30m minimizes incidental rockfall

 

Approach Notes:

There are two pullouts on Alpental Road, either side of the Ober Strasse intersection. Hike up the road to the obvious switchback nearest the talus, and head up.

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These piton placements would be ideal bolt candidates.

 

In fact, you can add a whole bunch to the entire route and really dumb-it down!

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These piton placements would be ideal bolt candidates.

 

In fact, you can add a whole bunch to the entire route and really dumb-it down!

 

That's a bit of hyperbole, but:

 

When those pitons were placed, I'm confident they were bomber - the leader and the follower were confident that they had adequate pro. But now, after all these years? After all the freeze and thaws - and now that the second piton is unreliable (and likely unremovable)?

 

So we can do one of two things - we can head up with a hammer and a few pitons, do our best to reset the bottomed out, metal-fatigued old one; and try to replace the broken new one. And in another five years another generation will be worried like the first team never was.

 

Or we can replace the two pitons with bolts that would last 20 years, and still provide the same experience as the FA team (or the team that placed those pitons, since we don't know who did that).

 

Obviously, I think the bolts are a better idea. I know that you disagree. But I don't think there's a difference between pitons, rivets, or bolts - at least not for the first ascent team.

Edited by chris

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I'd be for sticking with the pitons. It would be a literal travesty to bolt that traverse.

 

...You don't take a 1960 Chevy and put a waist and shoulder strap seat-belt in it because it would be "safer": you stick with the existing waist restraint device because that is how it came stock.

 

That said, you might need to replace the piton.

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...You don't take a 1960 Chevy and put a waist and shoulder strap seat-belt in it because it would be "safer": you stick with the existing waist restraint device because that is how it came stock.

 

That said, you might need to replace the piton.

 

Ed, that's not an exact analogy. A well placed piton, on the day its hammered in, can be treated like any other piece of fixed gear, including a bolt. It just loosens and weakens much faster than any other piece of fixed gear.

 

If we're going to leave fixed hardware in the mountains, I'm in favor of using fixed hardware with the longest lifespan, so the it lasts longer in the same condition as the FA team that got to use it.

 

At least that's my opinion.

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I'd be for sticking with the pitons. It would be a literal travesty to bolt that traverse.

 

...You don't take a 1960 Chevy and put a waist and shoulder strap seat-belt in it because it would be "safer": you stick with the existing waist restraint device because that is how it came stock.

 

That said, you might need to replace the piton.

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Hey, on a different note, I just read Klenke's description of the route over on Summit Post. I tried to log-in there but I'm having some difficulties resetting my password.

 

I followed Nelson's description of the route from the Select Guides, which differs a little bit from Klenke's at the traverse. In my opinion, Nelson's is a better description. There's a great crack in the alcove (top of p5) that took two #1 and a #2 cam. When nearing the end of the traverse on p6, if you climb up and over on very solid, incut edges (instead of down 6-10' as Klenke proposes), you'll reach a vertical running crack on the high angle ramp. It's perfectly located for a three-piece anchor and will provide a great belay for the follower.

 

Klenke description: Climb the whole traverse in one 150' pitch, down-climb the finish.

Nelson description: Break the traverse into two pitches (50' and 100'), and climb up at the finish.

Edited by chris

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An interesting idea about the bolts Chris, but it may set a dangerous precedent...

 

Little-known climber Meinold Ressner once warned about the "murder of the improbable."

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its not 5.8. if you think so you need to go climb some real 5.8s somewhere.

The CAG and the Select call it 5.8 (I think). If you don't think its 5.8, that's cool with me - call it what you want.

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I took a hammer and some replacement pitons up this route on Sunday.

 

The first pin is a terribly short knifeblade and is only about .5" into the rock. It is not trustworthy, though it does sing a good note. Good for show only. A tiny C3 camalot can probably be placed close by.

 

The middle piton broke (as predicted) upon removal and we could not replace it. The flake the pin was in also broke off when we tried to set a new piton.

 

The third ("off-route") piton was rusted through. It broke with the first hammer hit. We managed to place a pin nearby that sang a good note.

 

Be warned of the potential 30' pendulum fall if you botch the moves after the first pin and before the last pin!

 

-----

I agree with Chris in that one bolt may be in order here, though the pitch getting up to Lunch Ledge is probably enough of a filter to keep folks incapable of the sending the Traverse from getting to it. Someone else can make that decision.

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These piton placements would be ideal bolt candidates.

 

In fact, you can add a whole bunch to the entire route and really dumb-it down!

This is an adventure route. Please don't bolt it and make it open to the masses.

img_7655edit.jpg

Edited by wetslide

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These piton placements would be ideal bolt candidates.

 

In fact, you can add a whole bunch to the entire route and really dumb-it down!

This is an adventure route. Please don't bolt it and make it open to the masses.

 

Wetslide, I don't mean to suggest that we retro bolt the entire route in order to, as Raindawg and yourself suggests, "really rumb it down" and "make it open to the masses."

 

I do believe that if fixed hardware is necessary, that it be such that requires the least amount of maintenance for the longest possible use before replacing. Using that criteria, bolts are the best option.

 

Pins get used more often by FA teams, in my opinion, because they are quick and easy to place, and on that day - and for many days after - they are solid and adequate for lead protection. But give them a few seasons and they become untrustworthy, as the pins on this route certainly have been.

 

No one deserves to climb on untrustworthy protection that may have been bomber when first placed but are suspect now. The FA team - or whomever placed those pins - had more security and safety on that traverse than anyone who did it this year.

 

To repeat: I'm not suggesting that we add bolted anchors, or install bolts elsewhere to protect run-outs. I'm simply suggesting that bolts are equally secure to a well-placed pin, and last far longer with greater reliability. Therefore, I believe that bolts should be placed to replace the pin (now only a singular PIN), that once adequately protected that pitch.

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Hey Chris,

 

Good bumping in to you in Mazama a few weekends ago and chatting about this. I appreciate the conversation you're trying to have with this, and not taking the obvious bait dangled by those opposing a few SINGLE pieces of sturdy fixed gear in a valley full of choss and colorful webbing.

 

I think I might have found a solution though that will fall closer to the local ethic? During a quick AM Tooth lap today, I cut off the mountains of excess (and often poorly placed) tat; tomorrow I'll go remove more from the places it's not needed on Guye's S. Rib, East gullies & everywhere around the NW Ramps and upper W wall. I plan to then create a few pieces of fixed-pro at the site of the old pitons by drilling a 'Stone Abalakov' and threading this recycled webbing tat.

 

No bolts will be placed, and this 'fixed-pro' can be replaced monthly with the colorful webbing we love to garter the Tal with! I do plan to do it on lead, hand drilling so I can with a clear conscious say I had an authentic 'first-ascent party like experience' and not dumb it down for myself, I will be looking for a partner/photographer if you're not working!

 

Cheers,

Morgan

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So you've tested this method on a roadcut where it doesn't matter if it messes up? You're now drilling two holes where a bolt would be just one.

 

Someone should try again with pitons.

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My opinion is that a well placed bolt is better than a fixed piton on popular routes. Hardly anbody sees them but climbers apprecieate them and the rock likes a hole better than getting a piton hammered up its crack.

Edited by matt_warfield

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Morgan,

 

The stone Abalakov sounds interesting. I'm guessing that one drills two fairly wide (1/2"?)intersecting holes in a V shape, and then threads a runner through it. Do you have a picture of one? Was it hard to thread?

 

Seems like it would be about as permanent as can be. But I wonder if the corner of the V would cut the runner under a high load. Perhaps some sort of prepping with a sand-encrusted runner would rub off the sharp edge?

 

 

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Climbed the direct version last weekend and was pretty psyched on the splitter hands. We had followed the corners below to the climber's right and set our belay twenty feet to the right of the fixed anchor in the above photo. From here we approached the obvious crack from the right passing a death block with a low hand traverse. Nice overhanging flake gets you into the crack which overhangs for ten feet or so. Really enjoyed the pitch. No bolts needed here. No regrets for not climbing the "classic" line. Fun route.20121006_Guye_Peak_097.JPG

Edited by crankinstein

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Robin Barley tried to create some of these "stone Abalakov" type anchors in Squamish* [*as chiseled nut placements where the wedge of rock between the two bolt holes is removed] in areas where he thought habitual wetness would result in bolts rusting. And also due to his being a cheap bastard.

 

All it created was shitty routes and a lot of animosity.

 

The routes in question have either been bolted or have overgrown through disinterest.

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I say leave it alone. leave a little bit of uncertainty and risk to this climb, and 5.7 max if anybody cares? put an R rateing on it if worried

Edited by kukuzka1

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