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[TR] Mt. Hardy - The Disappearing Floor (5.10c) 8/12/2012


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Trip: Mt. Hardy - The Disappearing Floor (5.10c)


Date: 8/12/2012


Trip Report:

Matt S. and I had met up via a mutual friend on a canyoneering trip to Zion earlier this year and we figured our climbing styles might match up pretty well. After several months of near misses to plan a trip to climb something, I just started throwing out of random ideas when we finally had a few days to work with. “How about Mt. Hardy?” I asked over voicemail, browsing the Selected Climbs book in my lap. Matt called back a day later, “I couldn’t find much info, sounds like it doesn’t get climbed much for a supposed classic?”. Sounded like the perfect adventure so off we went.


We thought it wise to bivy at the pass as suggested in the Nelson description, and because bivies are fun. Not wanting to hike up the hillside in the heat of the day we met up in Monroe and then made a stop in Newhalem for a few fine pitches of granite sport climbing as a warm up. After playing on bolts we headed farther up the road and parked on the side of the highway, hiking uphill into the forest a little after 5 PM. Matt kindly let me lead to clear the copies spider webs out of his way and we trudged up, and up some more. Pretty much the only relevant route description if you’ve parked at the right place is “walk up hill”. We made the pass after a couple of sweaty hours to the pass but then decided to camp on a bench a couple of hundred feet down (south side) where it looked a bit more pleasant and there was still a good snow patch for water. The mosquitoes were still out but tolerable and died off after sun set.







We woke reasonably early and started out over the pass again and down the other side. After the annoying narrow gulley of the stream and dropping down nearly to the river we cut over and had minimal brush to bash before we got to scree and finally views of the route. We crossed a short snow field and scrambled up the gulley where we roped up and I led off on a simul block until we found the appropriate place to cross the gulley again to the buttress. Along the way we passed one tree with a bail sling and one bail anchor with two nuts. There wasn’t an obvious chock stone where we crossed but it was roughly three pitches up the rib and there were several small trees and an easy ledge leading right into the rubble filled gully and the easiest looking route up the other side.










From here Matt led up a short bit of 5.8 which seemed to match the guidebook description and then right and up into a V groove. Here we made our first route finding error missing the exit left from the groove and deciding it looked easy enough to find our own way. I led farther up the groove to the top and around the corner and set off up some dirty mossy cracks and flakes but with reasonable rock. What I thought was easier ground above turned into steep licheny slab with a totally filled in crack. I struggled for a bit to dig out things on lead until I finally took a fall and resorted to a couple moves of aid where the crack pinched down (a 2 lobe blue alien and a purple tcu) and then I managed to reach the easy big ledges above. We had bypassed pitch 5 and part of pitch 6 but found the route again with the traverse left on pitch 7 and the ugly loose chimney/gulley. The climbing up here was easy but the rock was so shattered that pro was mostly mental, nearly every hold was a block clearly only held in by gravity.










Matt got the “improbable” pitch that goes off the left side of the top of the gulley (not really a notch as described). The right hand side had a piece fixed part way up but the option we took was easy and led across the shallow dihedral to a finger crack and up to a sandy ledge. Fighting rope drag Matt combined this with the traverse on pitch 9 to put me directly under the steep flakey corner.






The hanging flakes in the corner looked scary but were all pretty solid except for a few obvious loose bits that weren’t hard to avoid. I enjoyed the interesting moves and good pro and then combined this with the offwidth pitch that I felt was more like classic 5.9 although Matt disagreed. These two pitches were probably the best part of the route IMHO, and probably the most solid rock. Matt trundled an annoying block on the unprotected traverse on his way up and then tackled the crux 5.10c finger crack. Maybe it was 5.10c with some cleaning several years ago but the whole thing was filled with moss and mud again so he groveled and finally resorted to aid as I shouted encouragement (and aid tips) from below. I followed mostly free but still grabbed a couple of nuts after pulling off a loose horn before finally getting up onto the ridge.






Feeling crunched for time now I set off on a simul block up the easier ridge finding lots of loose rock and sparse pro but easy climbing including one stellar sidewalk bit with huge exposure on both sides and ran out of useful gear a pitch below the top. Matt took the final bit with one move of 5.8 and had us up. We had wasted quite a bit of time on the aid pitches and with routefinding so we enjoyed sunset from the summit, made a quick note in the summit register (placed in 2009 with all the recorded ascents via the 4th class backside), and blasted for camp.














I made it back to camp just in time to avoid turning on my headlamp (crucial since my headlamp was still with my bivy gear), and Matt came along a few minutes later with his headlamp lit. We shared the homebrew I had stashed in the snow, had some dinner snacks, and set off for what we knew would be an unpleasant bushwhack down in the dark. It was astounding how easy it was to get off course on the way down in the dark. What had seemed like an easy straight up approach actually had some slight contours to stay on the subtle ridge crest and now in the dark the fall line would suck us constantly into the younger trees on either side of the clearer crest. My GPS kept us roughly on track to the two points I took on the way up and we ended up back at the truck two and a half hours later (yes, longer than the hike up). There was much celebrating with the donning of flip flops, and we began the drive back home.


More pics here: https://picasaweb.google.com/104708573545176184583/MtHardyWithMattS


Gear Notes:

Double rack from blue alien size to #2 camalot plus a #3, #4 and a #5 (%$^#*'ing #5 that we didn't really need but were suckered into taking by the previous TR).


Approach Notes:

Park off the highway and start hiking up hill.

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Hey, looks like an interesting adventure. Good report, thanks. Wondered about that route. Would you call it "select"?


Hehe, I'd call it a "select adventure". There was a lot of loose rock and mediocre climbing for a few ok pitches. It's a cool looking chunck of rock from a ways away and a nice long technical bit, but the fractured rock and dirt kinda take away a bit. Maybe if it had some regular traffic but it doesn't seem like that's gonna happen.

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Woo-hoo, been waiting to see another report on this routes ever since Jimbo and I did the second ascent back in 2005. I've been trying to sandbag my buddies into it every year but haven't been able to convince anybody to give it a burn.




It sounds like you guys had a similar experience to ours: started off on track for a few pitches, got lost somewhere around the chockstone, climbed a couple of off-route scary/loose pitches, got back in track for the flakes and we're thankful they stayed put, fell off the crux d/t dirt and crumbly rock (I don't think it's been freed yet..), then got lost on the descent to the hwy in the dark, bushwacked, swore, then finally hit the hwy after a mysteriously long descent.




My off-route variation pitch I led still stands out as the worst situation i've ever climbed myself into and I am still very thankful that I pulled the horrific mantel with handfuls of kitty litter pebbles 35 ft out from my last piece of pro:



FWIW, Jim Nelson apologized to me a few years later for putting the route in his guide book after only one ascent and stated that it would not be included in future additions.


You dudes could very well have gotten the 3rd ascent.


This picture taken the morning after our climb has always pretty much summed up how I feel about that route:



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  • 8 months later...

Ralph Ferrara and I did this route in July of 2012. He hated it but I thought it was a great adventure although pretty chossy and the quality no so great (but the line is really cool!). It sounds like we had a similar experience as most -- chossy and difficult route finding on the bottom third, good climbing through the flakes and traverse, mud in the finger crack, and a thrash back to the car. We also had some huge cornices on top that we had to negotiate.


Jason Keith

Moab, UT and Mazama, WA

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